Newton’s Law: Faux Apologia for Canceling Calvin

News: Commentary
by Gavin Ashenden  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 21, 2023   

Ordinariate twists itself into a pretzel while justifying a rainbow mob

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Calvin Robinson is an orthodox Anglican deacon fighting the culture wars on behalf of the Christian faith, which is being canceled step by step, day by day.

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Fr. Mark Elliott Smith

We expect cancelation at the hands of the State and secularists. But it always hurts and offends more when it is at the hands of the Church itself.

Robinson has just been canceled by a group of Catholic choir singers and the Catholic clergy they made an ultimatum to. Beyond the fact that this behavior was rude, brusque and took place just days before the previously agreed filming of a special Easter broadcast, it exposes things about the people doing the canceling that invite our scrutiny.

Robinson's public ministry paradoxically began by being canceled. In early 2022, Rev. Dame Sarah Mullally, now the bishop of London, had spent most of her adult working life as a nursing administrator. She was so cross that Robinson, as a colored man, would not accept the Leftist trope about the Church being institutionally racist that she canceled him. No ordination at her hands at St. Paul's in the Anglican diocese of London.

Someone has shot the Catholic Church in the foot.

Another layer to the Robinson phenomenon was that Calvin did a very good job of exposing the intellectual sleight of hand of progressive politics. He had become an expert at explaining to his audience how it had nothing to do with Christianity. And how nonsensical and spiritually vacuous it was of the Church of England to buy into it in such a naïve and fundamentalist fashion.

It is feminism that has provided the launching pad for the progressive agenda. Robinson had correctly discerned that the moment you accept the non-Christian premise of so-called equality (which is as impossible to define as it is to achieve), you dilute all your values with an accompanying relativism. And this relativism inevitably undermines the absolute claims of Jesus.

The moment Robinson saw that as an Anglican seminarian, he realized he no longer supported the ordination of women. But of course, it was feminism that had made Mullally the bishop of London. So it's no great surprise that she and her entourage wanted Calvin shut up and shut down. Calvin, however, was thankfully ordained as an Anglican minister in the (woke-free) Free Church of England, which is a small but faithful Anglican offshoot.


 

Having survived cancelation at the hands of the Church of England, Robinson has now had to experience it at the hands of a famous Catholic Church in London — the headquarters of the English Ordinariate. But what was not expected was that it was initiated by members of a Catholic choir. They appear to have pressured their clergy to unilaterally withdraw the invitation to broadcast Robinson's celebration of Easter on GB News

They chose the choir and canceled Calvin.

Last Christmas, Robinson presided over a celebration of the festival filmed at Brompton Oratory, one of London's preeminent Catholic churches. It was one of the few unambiguously Christian presentations of the Faith to make it onto the U.K.'s public media stage, and the oratory was widely commended for welcoming him.

At that point, Robinson and GB News had an agreement with the Ordinariate, which itself is a Catholic group of former Anglicans, to present the good news about Jesus and His resurrection on public television. If you were remotely Christian, maybe just even partially Christian, that would have thrilled you.

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Former Conservative MEP Enoch Powell

But according to secularists, there exists a value system that takes precedence before anyone's allegiance to Christ. And we are entitled to ask why. What is this competing superior value that has triumphed over the presentation of Jesus and His resurrection? To whom or to what is the primary allegiance of the Ordinariate HQ at Warwick Street that has supplanted their joy in Jesus?

As background to this whole drama, you are probably aware that Robinson has done an excellent job of defending Christian marriage in the public square. It's news to some people, bamboozled by the progressive feminist and progressive secular brainwashing, that it matters to the Christian faith that marriage is between a man and a woman.

It was just the crime of mentioning Enoch Powell that had so profoundly discombobulated the politically aware singers.

Robinson has very competently explained not only why it matters to Christians but also why it comprises the glue that holds a whole society together — secular or not. In fact, his Oxford Union speech, made at a debate defending heterosexual marriage, has gathered half a million views already. Of the various elements that Calvin's public reputation is made up of, this is probably the main one.

Additionally, he has been active in resisting predatory same-sex-attracted pedophiles getting access to children at drag queen story hours. But why would this new movement of same-sex-attracted, minor-attracted, cross-dressing men be so oddly desperate to get access to children? It's just to read to them, obviously! What would give any fair-minded person the idea that they had any other agenda?

Catholic Cancelation

Now, let's look back at what happened at Warwick Street. The Easter broadcast was set to be an exciting prospect. Helpfully, the clerics were generous enough to previously invite Robinson to speak there, and he had begun to develop a warm constructive relationship with the Ordinariate.

Following in the footsteps of Msgr. Nazir-Ali, Robinson had been invited to address the young adults group at Warwick Street. They loved him. The visit was a great success. Their faith was further strengthened and informed. 

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Msgr. Keith Newton at St. Peter's Basilica

Who are these young adults? A group of successful, intelligent, well-educated, largely heterosexual Catholics who have made their home in the Ordinariate. But as bright and sophisticated as they were, they had somehow failed to detect racism, covert or otherwise, in Calvin. They liked his witness to the Faith, and they were strengthened and blessed by it. 

All was developing well, but there was a sudden hiatus. It emerged, of all places, from the church's choir.

Certain members of the choir complained to the clergy about Calvin. They allegedly warned that if Calvin was allowed to come back to the church to film Easter celebrations, they would withdraw their services of singing the praises of Christ at the Mass.

The clerics were faced with the choice of either caving into the demands of their choir or allowing Calvin to bring the celebration of Easter to hundreds and thousands of homes on TV. They chose the choir and canceled Calvin. Again, we find ourselves asking why, and this question is as important as it is interesting.

When thinking about homosexual culture, if you are someone given to stereotyping, you may well have noticed that a good many of the church singers in London are — as a friend of mine so sweetly puts it — "not of the marrying kind." There is something about music and liturgy, art and dressing up, that appears to disproportionally attract gay men. We can reasonably assume that also applies to the singers at Warwick Street.

Given that Calvin is best known at the moment for his repudiation of same-sex marriage, "stereotyping people" might wonder if non-heterosexual members of the choir found his orthodox Christian critique of their gay lifestyle objectionable. Did that provoke them to give the clergy an ultimatum to ban Calvin Robinson from their church?

Now, if the "stereotypers" are right and it was Calvin's representation of the Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a disordered aspect of the human condition, and the clergy backed the choir, what are the implications?

People say to me all the time, 'Why haven't you swum the Tiber?' But how could I?

It would mean that the Ordinariate clerics were canceling the Anglican Robinson because he stood up for the formal teaching of the Catholic Church. This means that they effectively repudiate the moral and ethical teaching and witness of the Church. If true, this would constitute a serious moral failure and a degree of hypocrisy.

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Warwick Street church, London

But the clergy said it was not true and that it would be very painful to call their commitment to the truth into question, as well as their commitment to Catholic ethics. So it must be a great relief to us all to be told that the choir was not remotely upset by Calvin's presentations of Christian teaching about the homosexual lifestyle. They were, it appears, completely relaxed about it. Shame on any of us stereotypers who leaped to the wrong (but seemingly obvious) conclusion. 

Mentioning the Unmentionable

Instead, we are being invited to believe that the choir in Warwick Street is a sophisticated group of singers who are passionately engaged less in the gay subculture and more in "political issues."

They have been reading Robinson's blogs, and in doing so, they were horrified, shocked and alarmed to discover that some time ago Calvin had penned an article about racism, immigration and Enoch Powell.

We can be sure that the provocation was not due to the issue of sexuality because Dr. Jules Gomes, Church Militant's Rome correspondent, wrote a careful piece on this event. To check the facts, he phoned Fr. Mark Smith, the parish priest at Warwick. It was Smith who first made it clear that suspected racism was the real offense.

Smith claimed that "the difficulty was caused by the Rev. Calvin Robinson's reference to the speech of Enoch Powell's infamous 'Rivers of Blood,'" 

In 1968, Powell — a high-ranking member of Britain's Conservative Party, delivered a speech in Birmingham where he condemned ever-increasing mass immigration rates. Despite the fact that many British citizens sided with him, Powell was condemned as a racist by fellow politicians.

In Robinson's November 2022 article "Why Enoch Was Right," he carefully and painstakingly distinguished between parts of Powell's analysis on race, immigration and indigenous culture that he agreed with and those he didn't. So it seems it was just the crime of merely mentioning Enoch Powell that had so profoundly discombobulated the politically aware singers.

Jules Gomes found this surprising. As a man of color himself — or one should say an intellectual journalist of color — he wanted to test this hypothesis further. He asked Robinson if he had spoken to the ordinary, Msgr. Newton. He had. Robinson replied, "Monsignor Newton also told me when I called him, 'Your Enoch article isn't helping.'"

Gomes also asked Smith how many choristers had objected to Robinson's reference to Powell. He asked why the presenter's nuanced analysis had not been considered before accusing him of racism and about how ordinary people would perceive a largely White congregation with a White parish priest and a White ordinary canceling a deacon of mixed-race heritage for being racist.

Father Smith told Dr. Gomes that he wasn't prepared to even talk about the issue of homosexuality and said he would respond to Church Militant only on the issue of Enoch Powell. Smith maintained, "To reference that speech was, I think, a mistake, in that any nuance would be instantly lost in the swirl of emotions that the speech still generates, 53 years on."

Monsignor Newton took the same line in his comments to Dr. Gomes. Insisting that it was only the reference to Enoch Powell in this blog post that had caused all the offense. He claimed, "No matter how nuanced Calvin's comments might have been, on television, on Twitter and in articles, the headline 'Why Enoch Powell Is Right' has led to much concern at what he said."

So the choir experienced "much concern" about Calvin's remarks and came to the considered conclusion that he suffered from implicit, nuanced, judiciously balanced racism.

If we avoid the temptation to disbelieve Smith and Newton, which would bring dishonor on them and on us, what follows from taking the explanation at face value?

This act of censorship, they told Dr. Gomes, was political rather than homosexual.

Instead of canceling Calvin Robinson for his Catholic views on sexuality and marriage (which would be indefensible), the Ordinariate canceled him because some of their singers found it hard to get beyond a headline above an article inviting people to think further about the effects of mass immigration.

The article suggested that the complexities of large-scale immigration, multiculturalism, and the consequent severe shift in demographics involved consequences that undermined the indigenous, white and, in particular, Christian resident communities.

This act of censorship, they told Dr. Gomes, was political rather than homosexual. At least political censorship, distasteful as it is, isn't as depressing to faithful Catholics as the Ordinariate clergy canceling Calvin Robinson because he was enunciating Catholic ethical teaching on sexuality.

But there is one more aspect to this sad episode. It involves Robinson and his quest for the true Church. Hundreds of commenters on Twitter had been urging him to put relativistic Anglicanism behind him and become a Catholic.

Speaking to Church Militant, Calvin commented

People say to me all the time, "Why haven't you swum the Tiber?" But how could I? If I was to join the Ordinariate today and I said something that someone who's woke didn't like, would my ordinary back me up or tell me to be quiet? The evidence speaks for itself.

"It's disappointing, not just for me or GB News or our viewers or the Christians in Britain. It's also disappointing because we're currently seeing the Church of England entering apostasy with heretical bishops saying that people can bless same-sex unions," Robinson lamented. 

"People are looking for orthodoxy, and they're looking at the Ordinariate as a possible solution. But if the ordinary of the Ordinariate isn't willing to stand firm in the Faith, then who's going to?" he asked. 

Well, there is an answer to that bleak rhetorical question. Many of the ordinary rank-and-file priests in the Ordinariate will and do stand firm for the Catholic faith. But for Robinson, one of the most articulate defenders of Christianity today, the damage has been done. By canceling a faithful Christian for standing up for Catholic truth, someone has shot the Catholic Church in the foot — or, perhaps more accurately, in the heart.

Gavin Ashenden is the associate editor of the Catholic Herald, a former chaplain to the Queen, a former faith and ethics presenter for the BBC, a former senior lecturer on the psychology of religion, a former member of the Church of England's General Synod, a former canon theologian and examining chaplain to the bishop. He is also a Catholic lay commentator.
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