A week ago I posted on the hosting of the play “Jesus, Queen of Heaven” by St Chrysostom’s in Manchester. At that time I asked a number of questions of the bishop:
Given that Canon F16 of the Church of England states the following: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.
2. The minister shall obey any general directions relating to such use of a church or chapel issued from time to time by the bishop or other the Ordinary.
3. No play, concert, or exhibition of films or pictures shall be held in any church or chapel except the minister have first consulted the local or other authorities concerned with the precautions against fire and other dangers required by the law to be taken in the case of performances of plays, concerts, or exhibitions of cinematograph films, and the said authorities have signified that the proposed arrangements are a sufficient compliance with the regulations in force as to precautions against fire or other dangers.
4. If any doubt arises as to the manner in which the preceding clauses of this Canon are to be observed, the minister shall refer the matter to the bishop or other the Ordinary, and obey his directions therein.
I had the following questions, the answers to which we would seek to publish:
- Given the controversial nature of the play, were you or the appropriate suffragen consulted according to section 4 and, if so, what directions were given?
- Do you consider the portrayal of Jesus as a transexual is “such as befit the House of God, are consonant with sound doctrine, and make for the edifying of the people”?
I have received the following response:
“The decision made in the local parish to host this performance was not referred to the Bishop of Manchester under canon F16(4).”
A couple of observations:
- The answer is incomplete. It deals with the question of process (q1) but not the underlying issue of the appropriateness of the play (q2)
- The answer to q1 makes it clear that Canon F16 was breached at least once, given that the clearly controversial matter was not referred to the bishop.
Interested parties in the Diocese of Manchester who want to pursue this will now need to approach the bishop and possibly make a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure.