CANTERBURY, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - The mother church of global Anglicanism has issued a statement defending its role in hosting an award ceremony that conferred a doctorate on leading British abortionist Ann Furedi.
"The event in question was nothing to do with the diocese [of Canterbury] or the wider Church of England," the communiqué states.
It clarifies that Kent University, which conferred the doctorate, "regularly uses the Cathedral as one of a number of locations to host its graduation ceremonies," and the "Cathedral does not have any involvement with the content of these events or their choice of honorary degree recipients."
The cathedral statement, drafted as a rebuttal to a Jan. 14 Church Militant article, does not cite our story or provide a link to it.
However, an Anglican canon lawyer (who declined being named for this story) has debunked the statement as contradicting the Church of England's own Canon Law as well as a violation of Cathedrals Measure 1999, enshrined in English law.
The legislation, available on the British government's website, specifies that the "only objects of the Chapter," the cathedral's governing body, apart from conserving the fabric of the building and using it for charitable purposes, is to "advance the Christian religion in accordance with the faith and practice of the Church of England, in particular by furthering the mission of the Church of England."
The Chapter "must direct and oversee the administration of the affairs of the cathedral; and in performing that duty the Chapter must — in particular — order the worship of the cathedral and promote its mission," while the dean, "must in particular ... maintain good order and proper reverence in the cathedral."
"The dean cannot say, 'nothing to do with me, Guv' when an event takes place in the cathedral, since the dean and Chapter are corporately responsible for maintaining the sanctity of the place, in analogous fashion to the incumbent of a parish church (who is a corporation sole)," the canon lawyer explained.
The expert in Canon Law directed Church Militant to section F 15 and F 16 of the Canons of the Church of England:
F 15 Of churches not to be profaned: 1. The churchwardens and their assistants shall not suffer the church or chapel to be profaned by any meeting therein for temporal objects inconsistent with the sanctity of the place, nor the bells to be rung at any time contrary to the direction of the minister.
F 16 Of plays, concerts and exhibitions of films and pictures in churches 1. When any church or chapel is to be used for a play, concert or exhibition of films or pictures, the minister shall take care that the words, music and pictures are such as befit the House of God, are consonant with sound doctrine and make for the edifying of the people.
"Notwithstanding any of this letter of the law, the dean and Chapter should have protested against the award of an honor to someone with bloodshed equivalent to genocide on her hands, let alone in the cathedral where St. Thomas Becket was martyred. It is a searing affront to all that the Christian faith stands for," he added.
Church Militant contacted Dean Robert Willis on Jan. 6, over a week before the story was published, asking him if he knew of the award, and if he would protest — given the Church of England's position on abortion. Canterbury Cathedral did not reply.
"It is incumbent upon a cathedral to consider what goes on in its premises. A cathedral is not a commercial hire but a building whose purpose is to glorify God and uphold biblical truth," Andrea Minichiello Williams, member of the Church of England's General Synod told Church Militant.
"Canterbury Cathedral has an absolute right under the Equality Act 2010 to refuse the hiring out of its premises for an event, ceremony or the honoring of Ann Furedi, a woman in large part responsible for the horrific abortion numbers in our country," Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, emphasized.
Williams, who has blasted the Anglican hierarchy at the General Synod for prevaricating on pro-life issues, also responded to Canterbury Cathedral's statement reaffirming the Church of England's position on abortion:
Ann Furedi, Chief Executive Officer of BPAS [British Pregnancy Advisory Service], has led the catastrophic liberalization of abortion in our country. Given the Church of England's stated position that every abortion is a tragedy, did they not question whether the giving of the award in Canterbury Cathedral and its presentation to a woman responsible for 70,000 abortions in the past year alone, was appropriate?
The service, on Feb. 18, 2017, was prepared in conjunction with Dean Willis, who also preached the sermon, West Kent Masons said. Freemasons donated £300,000 to the cathedral for the restoration of its northwest transept.
The June 1987 meeting of the York General Synod concurred that Christianity and Freemasonry were not compatible.
The report "Freemasonry and Christianity: Are They Compatible" made it "clear that some Christians have found the impact of Masonic rituals disturbing and a few perceive them as positively evil."
Masonic rituals were "blasphemous" because God's name "must not be taken in vain, nor can it be replaced by an amalgam of the names of pagan deities," the report, passed by a vote of 384 to 52 with five abstentions, concluded.
Nevertheless, in 2013, Canterbury Cathedral marked the 200th anniversary of Royal Arch Masonry with a special service led by Sheila Watson, archdeacon of Canterbury. A number of other Anglican cathedrals have held special services for Freemasons.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also welcomed a donation of £69,000 for a new elevator when he was dean of Liverpool Cathedral.
The Catholic Church imposes excommunication on Catholics who become Freemasons. The penalty is explicit in the 1917 Code of Canon Law (canon 2335), and implicit in the 1983 Code (canon 1374).
At least 11 popes have made pronouncements about the incompatibility of Catholicism and Freemasonry.