It was recently my pleasure to attend the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee service at Rochester Cathedral shortly after installation ceremonies for both our new Dean, the Very Reverend Dr Mark Beach and the new Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend James Langstaff. I also enjoyed working under our Dean’s chairmanship last week to seek out common ground with the Occupy Faith movement on their march from St Paul’s to Canterbury.
I was shocked, however, to see that the Church of England appears to have told MPs that the Government needs to re-educate Eurosceptics. Its Archbishops’ Council has stated to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that it is unfortunate the Government’s referendum lock “ties the Government’s hands” into holding a referendum on future European Union treaty changes, claiming that the Prime Minister’s veto in December left the UK “without credibility”, and that we risk the “travesty” of splitting from the European Union.
Indeed, the evidence prepared by the Church of England’s ‘Mission and Public Affairs team’ reads as if it is a missive from pro-European Union lobbyists, rather than a document befitting a Church ministering to the people of Britain, over 80% of whom want a referendum on Europe.
The work of the Church of England and its Cathedral in Rochester are generally welcome and praiseworthy. The Archbishops’ Council’s extraordinary political intervention, however, is the reverse and a travesty of the gospel to ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’