Acting in mysterious ways

Acting in mysterious ways

The Archbishop of York voted against democracy last night, after being slightly delayed by a royal banquet.

Though he just made the House of Lords vote in time, overall only four out of 26 bishops managed to turn up to cast their mitres against the idea of a fully-elected second chamber for the UK - which would mean, by sheer coincidence, losing their own as-of-right places.

Is it just me, or is this beyond satire? Lord Falconer entertainingly observed: "Although it looked as though the Church of England was rather depleted at the end of the debate, it was for unavoidable reasons — acts of God, one might say."

We are often told that the Establishment of the church under the Crown (bishops swear allegiance to the throne in all matters, spiritual as well as temporal) is purely an ornament these days. Actually, it continues to perpetuate a culture of presumption so enoromous that it prevents its perpetrators from even recognising it as such.

Church leaders, like all of us, should expect to be regarded according to the quality of their words and their lives. They should not presume upon a big hearing, a comfy seat in government and a place at royal feasts just because they hold church office. Whatever happened to "the last shall be first, and the first last"?

To try to protect the privileges of an Established church and to further seek to stop the nation's second chamber being accountable by ballot is not only shamefully self-interested - it is a counter-witness to the Gospel.

"Those who seek to save their lives will lose them", Jesus once reminded his followers. That's a tough lesson for all of us. It especially difficult for those who take power and influence as a right.

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