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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Who cares?

From the BBC video 'Do you remember that, mum?'

A recent BBC report 'Do you remember that, mum?' explained how the condition of dementia sufferer Andriani, who was last seen in 2014, had deteriorated rapidly while the costs to care for her rise.

The report explains why the son fears for his mother's future care. He explained that he would like to be able to say that the system is broken so potentially it could be fixed but having seen it from the inside he said "I don't think we have a system at all". Sadly that is the experience of most people who have had the misfortune to be involved. They are desperate to see a fully funded, workable system.

Care should not be a lottery but it is. If you have cancer much if not all of your treatment will be paid for. If you have dementia, hard luck. You are often on your own. The effects can be devastating but who cares?

On the face of it, raising the assets limit to £100,000 from £23,250 in England may appear "reasonable" but it is not. Read why here and here. The fate of someone who has lovingly cared for his/her parent at home when the parent dies and the family home has to be sold to settle the care account is an added burden. "As soon as my mum dies, will the council come for its money? Will I be homeless?" asked one carer.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that the "complex new system" outlined in the Conservative party’s manifesto, which would force more elderly people to pay for their own care, “makes no attempt to deal with the fundamental challenge of social care funding”. This warning is backed up by the economist Sir Andrew Dilnot who reviewed social care for the coalition government in 2011.

Accusations that the Tories were imposing a 'dementia' tax and a 'death' tax prompted a swift clarification that there would be a limit on the costs carers would be expected to pay but that would have to wait for a green paper consultation. The Prime Minister said “I want to make a further point clear. This manifesto says that we will come forward with a consultation paper, a government green paper. And that consultation will include an absolute limit on the amount people have to pay for their care costs.”

Under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government we were told that "people will see health and social care fully joined-up by 2018...Co-ordination would see better care and support, fewer people falling through the cracks and a drop in patients needlessly stuck in hospitals." Some hope!

Getting bed-blocking patients out of hospitals into domiciliary care was seen as a priority but with the UK home care industry on the brink of collapse there is a grave danger that any action will be too little too late. As one care provider said in a BBC interview, he doesn't have to advertise for customers but he has to advertise for staff. There is a recruitment crisis due to competition from hospitals and supermarkets.

Carers are severely undervalued. They should be properly rewarded but funding has been squeezed to such an extent that many existing carers are leaving for less demanding work. This is an extra burden for providers who have to train their staff at considerable expense only to find that they leave for a hospital job on regular hours. The Labour party has made much of zero-hours contracts, now the subject of Government review, but it is the flexibility of not having fixed hours that enables carers to meet the needs of those they care for.

The situation gets worse by the day. It could be you next, it could be me but who cares? That is the question. The right answer is needed urgently before the system collapses completely.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Forward to the past

Jeremy Corbyn with Len McCluskey at the bi-annual Unite policy conference in July.
Photograph: Rob Stothard/Getty Images/Guardian


There is an odd irony in the Labour Party's election manifesto slogan 'For the many not the few'.

The intended meaning is continually backed up in speeches by the party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, but the slogan is more aspirational than realistic.

In voting terms 'the many' voters have little time for 'the few' party members who are driving the agenda with no apparent understanding that without power they can achieve nothing, thus leaving 'the many' as they were.

The fact that dyed in the wool party supporters who would never have dreamed of voting Tory are regularly telling reporters that they would rather vote for Theresa May than for Jeremy Corbyn appears to be a total irrelevance to them giving the impression of trade union conference where sectional interests are all.

The man pulling the strings is Len McClusky, General Secretary of Unite and a former Militant sympathiser. Wind forward from 1985 to 2017 and Momentum now holds sway so forward to the past.

Time for another Kinnock?

Monday, 15 May 2017

"A noble task"

The bishops of the Church in Wales, Llandudno 2012

 ‘The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he  desires a noble task.’  I  Timothy 3

In his Theology Wales paper 'A Noble Task' Bishop David Thomas reflected on his experience of ministry as Provincial Assistant Bishop and how this might change if the episcopate in Wales were opened to women.

Bishop David died suddenly last week in the knowledge that the first woman bishop had been enthroned in St Davids and the imported bishop-designate of Llandaff is to be consecrated in Brecon Cathedral next month. Neither of the women bishops is a Welsh speaker, a language dear to +David's heart.

One can imagine the pain and the hurt felt by this faithful priest, bishop and pastor as his noble task was pushed aside to make the Church more relevant to society, principally by prioritising sexual minorities and gender issues. 

Bishop David's paper makes interesting reading in retrospect. Listed alongside it on the Church in Wales site are back papers including one by the Rev’d Joanna Penberthy, now bishop of St Davids, 'Learn from the past and build for the future', illustrating just how much theology has been replaced by politics in the Church in Wales.

It remains to be seen if loyal Anglicans who have been encouraged against the odds to 'Be joyful and keep the faith' can any longer survive in the Church in Wales. There has been a deathly silence since the Credo Cymru 'Conference to Preserve the Breadth of Anglicanism in Wales'. The divisive 'Code of Practice in relation to the Ministry of Bishops following the Canon to enable the Ordination of Women as Bishops' has yet to be tested. 

This will be the ultimate test of sincerity by a bench of bishops who "unanimously committed to securing a continuing place in the life of the  Church for those who cannot in conscience accept the new situation created by  the ordination of women to the priesthood." For others it is already over.

"People sometimes ask me how I imagine my ministry as PAB might change in the event of women being admitted to the episcopate in the Church in Wales. The only honest answer I can give is that it would not change; it would be over."  - 'A Noble Task'.

+David Thomas RIP

Friday, 12 May 2017

Bishop David Thomas RIP

Bishop David Thomas with Pope Benedict XVI                         Source: Twitter

Many people in Wales and far beyond will be saddened to learn of the sudden death of Bishop David Thomas, former Provincial Assistant Bishop in the Church in Wales. There is a tribute from Credo Cymru here.

Updated Church in Wales tribute here [17.05.2017].

Bishop David’s funeral arrangements here.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Take it or leave it!

Churches coming together (CNS)                                                                                                         Church moving apart (Church in Wales)

As the Catholic and Orthodox Churches continue to come closer together the Anglican Church in the UK drifts further away from the unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church with every ill-advised congregationalist move it makes.

During his visit to the Coptic Church in Egypt, Pope Francis joined with the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the Eastern Orthodox churches, in placing flowers, lighting a candle and praying at the site where dozens of Coptic Orthodox Christians were killed by an Islamic State militant last year. Video here.

Christian Today reported: "As Christians face an increase in violence around the world and especially in the Middle East, there are significant signs that the major Churches are coming together, with the blood of martyrs acting as the 'seed of unity'." - But not the inward looking Anglican Church.

The contrast could not be greater. Coptic Christians are regularly attacked and killed in Egypt. Christians throughout the Middle and far East are constantly targeted by Muslims but in Great Britain Islam is affirmed as a religion on a par with Christianity while the Anglican Church pursues its fixation with secular matters.

As Scottish Anglicans move towards same sex marriage their leader has warned that GAFCON should "stay out of our territory" while the Church of Ireland is split over whether it should liberalise its stance on same sex marriage. Meanwhile the Church of England continues its shared discussions before its expected capitulation to the LGBT lobby in opting for secularism.

The bishops of the Church in Wales will still be smarting over their failure to lead the charge towards same sex marriage but they lost the plot years ago. Many congregations are elderly with little sign of younger people joining them. Indeed, for many youngsters in Wales religion has become a no go area. Some are even petitioning for an end to compulsory prayers in Wales' schools. They gained more than 870 signatures of support in less than two weeks. Without new blood collapse is inevitable.

Perhaps the experience of readers is different to mine but from what I hear, any faith visits to children in their formative primary schools are often carried out by female Methodist ministers, sometimes by an evangelical nonconformist but never by a traditional male Anglican priest.

I had hoped to be more positive in my outlook after Barry Morgan's retirement but I fear I was too hasty in my April entry, A promising start, when I reported that the bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the senior bishop on the bench of bishops, told the Governing Body to "put evangelism at heart of ministry".

My positive outlook crashed with the appointment of the bishop designate of Llandaff who has made it clear that her priority is to appoint more women to senior roles until parity is achieved. That is feminism, not evangelism. An appointment which, incidentally, has been met with a stunned silence in Llandaff after the clamour created by claims of homophobia, subsequently disproved, because the Dean of St Albans failed to secure the votes he needed.

So no new broom to address the disillusionment created by Barry Morgan as he bent the church to accord with his own views. Just more of the same. Take it or leave it. Many have decided to leave it, doubtless with more to follow. As Church of England rejects have been appointed in Wales the best of Welsh talent has left for England while the laity have opted simply to leave altogether.

One wonders how all those clergy who abandoned their former colleagues and faithful parishioners for a career in the Church now feel as they look at the state of the Church in Wales and see that they have no prospects in Wales.

Many more clergy and laity will be examining their consciences after the appointment of two female bishops. Doubtless many red lines will become distinctly pink but for others it will be the end of the road. A sorry, unnecessary predicament. In that, Morgan and his bench sitters have been cruelly successful. Opposition has been virtually wiped out in some areas, but at great cost, ignoring the expressed wish of the majority in consultations for alternative provision, leaving the fate of the Church to the Jackson/Wigley/MAE Cymru cohort.

Does anything matter anymore in the do-as-you-please Church in Wales? What of those who broke their Llandaff Electoral College oath of silence and the shameless campaigners including the unnamed bishop who put LGBT issues before the Church? No doubt that will be swept under the carpet by the bench along with everything else.

While some will find reasons to stay put, others will continue to leave. Evangelism is fine but for what? A church in which faith managers have shattered the parish system, interpreted the Bible to justify their own secular desires and ignored the wishes of its members when asked for their views while still claiming to be members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

How many more must leave before the bishops get the message? Without acceptable alternative provision, leaving is the only option for anyone who wants to keep the faith.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Your new home?

Christ Church, Rhosybol, on sale for £45,000                                                       Source: Daily Post

This is just one of twelve redundant churches currently offered for sale by the Representative Body of the Church in Wales following closure for worship which could be your new home. How many more to follow?

Worship often took place twice and more in bigger churches on Sundays, many with a daily Eucharist during the week. That was before they became the means of spreading political correctness, misapplying notions of gender equality to the priesthood, substituting equality for theology.

With few exceptions Church attendance continues to fall year by year. Ironically, in one of the largest ever surveys of peoples' attitudes towards the role and influence of churches in local communities published in Christian Today, more than a third of UK adults surveyed said that they would "campaign to keep their nearest church from closing because it provides 'vital' services to its local community." Without supporting members, who would maintain them?

MAE Cymru supporters. Source Church in Wales
 In former years five of the bishops of the Church in Wales held Oxford Firsts in Theology. The bishop designate of Llandaff studied social sciences. When interviewed by BBC TV News she was very much into gender parity so regardless of merit no doubt there will be an explosion of female appointments in Llandaff along with St Davids where the first woman bishop was appointed. Bishop Penberthy is a strong supporter of MAE Cymru, an organisation spreading feminism in the Church Wales under the guise of equality but only as they see it.

In response to my previous entry some commentators became exercised over a suitable spiritual home for disillusioned Anglicans. Sadly, as the declining numbers indicate in all but a few churches, most Christians do not look for an alternative. They give up in despair and stay home. Robbed of its mystery and otherness, church-going has for many become another weekly social occasion while others turn up at Easter and/or Christmas expecting their church to be there for them.

The obsession with gender politics has been a disaster. It has spread from the acceptance of the ordination of women to demands for acceptance of just about every sexual permutation including same sex marriage, the red line for many Anglicans.

Woe betide anyone who dares to hold a contrary opinion or to question the basis of different beliefs. Witness the Tory MP forced to stand down after a sixteen year old student and LGBT rights campaigner did not like the answer to her question after she asked him if he was planning on attending the Isle of Wight's first ever pride event.

Shades of Germaine Greer who was pilloried for expressing her personal opinion that she did not think post-operative transgender men are women, an opinion shared by experts.

Devout Christian Tim Farron the leader of the Liberal Democrat party was hounded until he gave a politically correct answer when asked if he thought that homosexuality was a sin. He had no support from the Church of England.

The first Church of England vicar to marry his same-sex partner has announced his resignation as a parish priest complaining that the CofE is 'institutionally homophobic'. He claimed that he and other gay and lesbian clergy were 'barely tolerated'.

That is an odd claim given the experience of remaining churchgoers, a claim which also contradicts the experience of the Rev Sally Hitchiner who told viewers of the BBC Breakfast programme on 30 April while discussing the marriage of Pippa Middleton that she was to "marry" her same sex partner next month.

Many, particularly younger, people today simply shrug their shoulders and say, So what? It doesn't affect me. But it does. As churches close some are converted into mosques while new Islamic centres are being built to accommodate the growing number of Muslims resulting from immigration and higher birth rates. Mohammed already tops the list of most popular baby boy names in England and Wales.

Islam is not tolerant of homosexuality. Woman count for less than men. It is ironic, then, that the politics which have split the Church will be unacceptable to the predominant faith group when Islam becomes the largest religion in the world by 2070.

If church leaders spent as much time exposing the ideology that is stamping out Christianity in its birthplace as they do on gender politics and affirming Islam there would be less need for GAFCON to send a missionary bishop to our shores to speak for traditional marriage.

Meanwhile in New Zealand a transgender weightlifter is causing controversy. Olympic Weightlifting NZ high performance manager Simon Kent described Hubbard's performance as 'magnificent'. "This is such a new issue for society to have a conversation about," said Kent, of the transgender question. "It really challenges how people respond to it - it's not something that is openly discussed and talked about." [My emphasis - ED.]

Transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard  Source: NZ Herald Photo: Doug Sherring

Friday, 28 April 2017

Liberal drift to engulf Wales?

The Dean of Salisbury addresses Gay Pride marchers.       Source: Facebook

The above still from a gay pride video on Facebook last Summer shows the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Rev June Osborne, encouraging participants to be strong in difference, standing against "prejudice and hatred" and to march with pride in Salisbury after she gives the parade her blessing.

Lobbyists interpret 'dislike' as 'hatred' and 'disagreement' as 'prejudice'. Allegations which stick whether or not they are based on factual evidence. Charges of homophobia are used as a matter of course to stymie any discussion on the legitimacy of accusations that LGBT+ people are treated unfairly. Say it often enough and people will believe it without checking the facts. Introduce something and people will get used to it. That is the strategy and it has worked, hence the liberal drift of the Church.

When a senior church person speaks, people are expected to take note. The fact that senior church persons increasingly speak not for the Gospel but for the advancement of liberal values in the Church makes the problem all the more serious.

Even though the implication is false, 'spread love not hatred' is a mantra that has become fully in tune with Anglicanism in the UK today as it drifts away from Christianity towards paganism. Love is all but the meaning of love has been twisted to mean acceptance of just about every desire. If you are not 'for' you are regarded as 'against'.

The image of the Dean of Salisbury at the gay pride march is considerably different from the image projected on the Church in Wales website where she is presented as a thoroughly competent woman who will take the Church forward. But forward to what? The irony of the 'homophobia' charges after Jeffrey John's rejection by the Electoral College will not be lost when the reality of another LGBT promoting appointment dawns on unsuspecting Anglicans in Wales. June Osborne previously lent her name to the suppressed Osborne Report on homosexuality which should have been published in 1989 and was finally published in 2012. Some think the Report damaged her chances of preferment in England.

The die has been firmly cast in Wales. Interviewed in Llandaff Cathedral on BBC TV News yesterday evening bishop John Davies candidly explained  that: "There is no truth whatsoever in the allegation that the bench of bishops or indeed the Electoral College of the Church in Wales is homophobic. I have said on countless occasions that homosexuality, participation in civil partnerships is no bar whatsoever to ordination in the Church in Wales whether that be to the order of deacons, priests or bishops."

The charge of homophobia was clearly absurd given the grovelling apology by the bench of bishops to the LGBT+ community for perceived errors. There followed the Changing Attitude, Iris in the Community propaganda film alleging homophobia while promoting the LGBT+ cause despite the  gay friendly stance of the bishop of St Asaph who not only has appointed a LGBT chaplain but has a transgender ordinand waiting in the wings. So at some stage there will be a 'she' at the Altar though she is he, preferring to be thought of as she.

All minorities are regarded as acceptable in the Church in Wales with the exception of orthodox Christians. After the stitch-up which saw the first woman bishop in Wales involved in MAE Cymru's 'Saints and Sparklers' event it appeared that things could not get much worse.

What has become known as the liberal drift in England is overwhelming the Church in Wales with seemingly no-one able to repel it. When the bishop designate said "I do want to be a bishop for absolutely everybody, [including] those who might have wished for another candidate", did she really mean everybody, including loyal, conscientious Anglicans who have found that their Church has left them without provision.

Para 346 of the Osborne Report will be of particular interest for traditionalists:
We believe that the bishops, as the focus of unity of the Church, need to affirm the catholicity of the inclusiveness of the Church. The bishops have an important role in helping the Church live with unresolved issues. The way to resolve the conflict and tensions between groups is not by exclusion of one or more minority groups.

Exclusion has been used as a weapon in the Church in Wales since the retirement in 2008 of the  Provincial Assistant Bishop. Every minority has been deemed worthy of inclusion except orthodox Anglicans. Are they not worthy of love?

This problem has become all the more pressing with the appointment of a second women bishop to the most Anglo Catholic and populous diocese in the Province. Many more Anglo Catholic clergy who have kept the faith find themselves with nowhere to turn. They deserve better.

I hope the new bishop of Llandaff along with the rest of bench will now consider the dire position of the orthodox minority in the Church in Wales. Many of these loyal Anglicans are now elderly, often lonely with little to sustain them other than their faith but after years of service they find that their church has left them.

The bishop designate claims that women can make a difference. To date that has been wholly negative resulting in a code of practice designed for exclusion. If women want to make a difference they can start by making arrangements to include all, not just all those caught up in the liberal drift.