Letter: Changing status of the Church

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The Independent Online
Sir: Regarding your recent correspondence there is a much better argument for disestablishment than the matrimonial affairs of the Prince of Wales: namely the hope of unity between the "mainline" churches in England - Anglican, Roman Catholic, Free Church - in the century that lies ahead.

If there is full sincerity in their prayers, affirmations, and conversations over the past decade and more, that is the end towards which they look, and it is hard to believe that a united Church of the future will wish to be yoked to a secularised state.

The British media have largely ignored the progress of the Ecumenical Movement, except occasionally at top level - gradual convergence being less sensational than conflict and controversy. Yet there are already more than 700 local Ecumenical partnerships in England, and plenty of evidence to suggest that denominational separation is less and less serviceable to the Christian cause.

It is true that there is no very strong pressure for disestablishment nowadays on the part of other churches. Establishment is hardly regarded as oppressive, as once it was, and loyalty and affection for the Queen extend far beyond Anglicans. And as your correspondent says (1 August), Parliament shows no great eagerness to grasp this nettle. The initiative for a first move, therefore, must lie with the Church of England itself.

There are more than 30 Provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion that can encourage such a move by testifying that dispensing with a state connection does nothing to impede the mission of the Church.