In 1950, the year of my birth, and about a couple of months before I was born, Pope Pius X11 announced that, way back when, the Virgin Mary was seen to ascend to heaven when she died.
This was the clearest example of Papal Infallibility, whereby we should accept that the Pope is God’s mouthpiece on earth, and never gets it wrong.
God’s shepherds on planet earth, whether Pope, bishop, or “humble priests”, have always been looked up to. So when the bishops in the House of Lords last week convinced their colleagues to defeat the government’s proposal to reduce child benefit payable to some families of the poorest, many Christians, including me, shouted “Hallelujah!”
But when the next day a retired Archbishop of Canterbury (Lord Carey) criticised these bishops for opposing government policy it seemed that the wires from heaven were crossed, if not down.
Lord Carey, writing in the Daily Mail, pronounced that the “greatest moral scandal” facing the country was not underprivileged children, but rather it was a growing national debt. He claimed that the welfare system (set up to minimise the hardship of the underprivileged) is “fuelling vices and impoverishing us all‘!
To top even that unbelievable statement, he accused the bishops of ignoring the Daily Mail, which he claimed represented the views of the country.
I think the five bishops, led by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, ought to be pronounced saints, and that, Lord Carey – who was appointed by Margaret Thatcher in 1991 to be Archbishop of Canterbury (he retired in2002) ought to get back to the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle.
Pity he didn’t do something more altruistic in his retirement.