Royal Black critic is in the 1600s

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I am worried for one of your letter writers, an Anglican Sir Knight from Armagh (May 3).

He seems to have got stuck in either the Cromwellian 1600s or the Ritual Panic of the 1800s and cannot find his way out of those two dark periods in Anglican history.

Initially angered that anyone dare consider alleged acts by the Black Preceptory – like drinking wine from a human skull, the use of human remains in ceremonies, esoteric tradition that has no place in Scripture to name a couple – as even worthy of investigation by a Bishop.

In this he ignores the duty of the Bishop (as set out in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer service of The Consecration of Bishops) ‘ and the Canons which not only show the appropriateness but the necessity for such an enquiry.

Of course every word which disagrees with the Sir Knight’s view is dismissed as ‘hearsay, seemingly personal vendettas and misinformed enquiries carried out by other denominations’ while the deliberate misrepresentation, misinformation and what we shall call being economic with the truth by the official delegation from the Black is sadly ignored by the good Sir Knight.

Regardless of how much he can’t stand anyone attacking his boys club he none the less seems happy to attack his fellow church members, clergy and bishops for doing the unthinkable – lighting candles, bowing and other such evils.

This is a serious charge, after all how often have we not seen a good Protestant lad or lassie who after seeing a candle lit on the Lord’s Table got sucked into a life of Popery never to escape?

Or how many laymen after seeing a coloured stole on their clergy, started wearing chasubles and cassocks with 33 buttons and locking themselves into their rooms listening to Gregorian Chant?

There are those who would say most of these were practically sanctioned by the Ornaments Rubric prefixed to the Order for Morning Prayer from the time of King Edward VI, were totally legal in this church until 1849 and are legal now.

Certainly it could be said that even a basic reading of church canons and liturgical history would show how utterly ignorant the Sir Knight is of his own church’s liturgical practice and vestments. Even a quick glance at the numerous debates, conferences and even trials (like Bishop King who was jailed for making the sign of the cross) regarding these matters would have shown how insular, petty and ignorant the Sir Knight is being.

Then again as the sole guardian of the church’s faith and practice he would probably just say they are wrong too and on that note it is probably best if we just ignore the Book of Revelation’s depiction of incense use in Heaven lest he have to ask tough questions of God’s commitment to Ulster Protestantism.

J.H.Newman, Cookstown

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