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14 July 2010

Just occasionally, like in my prayer time this morning, there is the sudden sense of understanding of what the English religious tradition is at its best – or else the Christian tradition as best expressed in the English setting.

I would have said 20 years ago that perhaps we need to spend more time establishing this 'English Christ' figure, and less on which church - Anglican, Orthodox or RC - it is played out in.  Today the imminent demise of Anglo-Catholicism, and the inability of Orthodoxy to catch the British imagination, leaves only the RCs in the ring.

Anglo-Catholicism has lacked a single leading figure. In the second half of the 19th century it filled a gap between Victorian Erastianism and Papal Ultramontanism. It had the enormous advantage at the time of seeming to come out of English soil and not being a foreign implant. Was its ‘gay raffishness’ its undoing? Did it get sidetracked into birettas and maniples? Was its number up when Rome at long last appointed a clearly English (and not Irish) Archbishop of Westminster in the persons of Cardinal Hume and, after another Irish interval, Archbiship Nichols?

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