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The Church of England has voted to allow clergymen to ditch their robes and dress down for liturgical services (Telegraph, July 10). Anglican priests can now wear whatever they want, including casual clothing such as jeans and tennis shoes, to make services more accessible and relevant to the modern world. The changes “reflect the way society has gone in the way of informality,” said Leyland vicar Alistair McHaffie. He pointed out that Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, led the charge by wearing unorthodox footwear to this summer’s General Synod: “Years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury would wear sensible black shoes at General Synod — and I’ve noticed our Archbishop is wearing a pair of blue trainers.” Welby protested that they were in fact “walking shoes.” During a debate on the motion, there was concern that the new freedoms could pressure clergy into “foolishness.” But clauses specifying that clothing must be “suitable for a minister of the Church of England ministering divine service” have evidently allayed concerns.
British Christians are increasingly concerned about government plans to crack down on “non-violent extremism” after an opinion poll found that 28 percent of Britons believe Jesus Christ was an “extremist.” The poll, carried out by ComRes for the Evangelical Alliance, also found that 41 percent of respondents believe it is extremism to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Dr. David Landrum, director of advocacy for the Evangelical Alliance, which represents some two million evangelicals, said, “This poll shows the scale of moral confusion in our society with the public having no way of deciding whether something is extreme or not…. Detached from terrorism and incitement to violence, extremism does not work as a litmus test for judging peaceful beliefs and opinions. Indeed, the Government has tried and failed over the last two years to define extremism with any precision and this poll shows that the public share that confusion” (Catholic Herald, July 17).
Pope Francis has placed a sign on the door to his apartment reading “No complaining!” and warning that “violators are subject to a syndrome of always feeling like a victim and the consequent reduction of your sense of humor and capacity to solve problems.” The sign adds that “Sanction is doubled if the offence is committed in the presence of children,” and concludes, “To become the best of yourself, you must focus on your own potential and not on your limits, so stop complaining and act to change your life for the better.” An image of the sign appeared on the Vatican Insider website (July 14), which claims to have received it from an elderly Italian priest who is a longtime friend of the Pontiff. The sign was given to Pope Francis by Italian psychologist and self-help author Salvo Noè.
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