Priest behind Reformation stunt protest: Canterbury Cathedral 'synonymous with abdication and dereliction of duty'

A priest is accusing Canterbury Cathedral of being 'synonymous with abdication and dereliction of duty' as he admitted to posting a list of conservative declarations in publicity stunt recalling the start of the Reformation.  

Rev Stephen Rae, Vicar of St James', Westgate-on-Sea, pinned the documents up in the Archbishop of Canterbury's home cathedral on Thursday night in a move that echoes the legend of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to a door of Wittenberg's Castle Church. 

The Southwark Declaration was pinned to Hereford Cathedral on Wednesday night.

It is part of a campaign targeting cathedrals around the UK by a group of priests in protest at what they see as the Church of England's increasingly liberal approach to same-sex relationships.

'It is with great sadness that I posted the Southwark Declaration in Canterbury Cathedral,' Rae said in a statement on Friday. 'This building that stands sentinel over the Church of England has been a symbol of Anglican leadership with, perhaps, the greatest global reach for centuries.'

He added: 'God never calls his people to innovate in matters of first importance. If a leader of the Church does this, he has misunderstood his calling. We are to hold out to a radically inclusive gospel that leads to repentance and faith.'

But a spokeswoman for Canterbury Cathedral said it appeared the sign was put up for the purposes of the picture, which was shared on Twitter, then removed immediately. No one at the Cathedral had seen it,' she said.

'If it did go up I don't think it was seen by many people,' the spokeswoman told Christian Today, adding no one from the Cathedral's extensive staff had admitted to seeing it.

London's St Paul's Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral along with Rochester Cathedral and Hereford Cathedral have all now been targeted and Christian Today understands the campaigners are deliberately focusing on cathedrals which they perceive to have a liberal slant.

The traditionalist move hopes to pressure bishops into maintaining a conservative approach to same-sex relationships and warns the CofE is 'corrupt' and in 'crisis' because of its softening stance.

The document is called the Southwark Declaration and has been signed by more than 60 priests. It was first published in 2015 and calls on bishops 'to regain the confidence of Bible believing Anglicans' in order 'to avoid a rupture in the Church'.

The priests posting the Declaration write: '500 years ago Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a church door in Germany. He did it because the Church had become corrupt. Today a Declaration is being fixed to a cathedral door here in England because the Established Church in our land is becoming corrupt.'

The document warns 'practice on the ground has already changed' in reference to allowing Church leaders to be in committed same-sex relationships and warned it was 'weakening and destroying the Church'.

The actual Declaration contains five 'affirmations' expressing  conservative theology.