Are we radical and inclusive?
Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, recently spoke to the Manchester Chapter during their residential meeting at Gladstone's Library, Hawarden. Bishop Paul spoke very appreciatively of SCP and used the newly launched SCP website as a basis for his comments. He'd obviously looked at it carefully!
He pointed out that the word 'radical' did not appear on the website and he invited us to consider whether it should be overtly part of SCP's contribution to the church. He hoped SCP would feel it had a radical message. He himself spoke of how he had been greatly influenced by the radical Anglo-Catholic organisation, the Jubilee Group, formed by Fr Ken Leech and others. He spoke of the clear Catholic social message the group gave, and its emphasis on the sacraments. He valued the Jubilee Groups’ forthrightness, and witness. He had been part of the group and had been with members when he had protested at Greenham Common many years ago.
Bishop Paul spoke of 'radical inclusion' and encouraged an open table at Mass - where all who presented themselves for communion would be welcomed. He emphasised the importance of the church and indeed SCP getting priorities right, and the importance of a 'preferential option of the poor' in the life and ministry of the church.
Inclusion, he reminded us, is more than ‘welcome’ for it means allowing ourselves to be changed by 'the other'. He told of meeting a trans person who had been so damaged by the church that he, the Bishop, was changed as a result of the meeting. There is a deep and real challenge here. For example, we talk a lot about inclusion. Is SCP prepared to be changed by 'the other' or do we only want people who are the same as us to join us?