Don't compromise, Church told

PA

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has urged the Church of England to resist politlcal and cultural pressures.

Writing in the latest edition of Standpoint magazine, the former Bishop of Rochester comments on the row in the Church of England over women bishops.

"Whatever the outcome of this debate, and whether women are ordained priest and bishop, we cannot have a monochrome pattern of ministry in which gender does not matter," he said.

The recent defeat of legislation to allow women bishops led to accusations that the Church is out of touch with society and irrelevant.

However, Bishop Nazir-Ali warned that the Church's effectiveness "cannot be bought by becoming trendy or simply reflecting contemporary values, as politicians want the Church to do, but by making sure that all of the gifts given to Christians are being exercised to make the Gospel helpful, intelligible and liveable in our age, our locality, our nation, our world".

He said it may be that the Church of England's position as the established Church is "gradually being eroded by atrophy and attrition", and that the Church would have to decide whether it wanted to struggle to hold onto it or "lose it gracefully".

Even if the Church is disestablished, Bishop Nazir-Ali said the Christian faith would remain vital to public debate on the big issues of the day.

"It would be very unwise to lose such a rich heritage which has provided our worldview just because of the disappearance of an established church and when there is no other viable worldview in sight," he said.

The bishop warned that the Church had a further task on its hands in effectively addressing the individualism he argues has caused alienation and a loss of social integration.

"It cannot do this by simply repackaging the nostrums of social science or by imitating the methods of secular therapies," he said.

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