Those of us who are over fifty years old will remember the black Book of Common Prayer. It included the Epistle and Gospel readings for each Sunday and holy day. I loved the poetry of the readings for Christmas, particularly the verses from Saint John Chapter 1 which end with Verse 14 which says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” I always liked those final words, “full of grace and truth.” Jesus was the truth and he taught his followers to always speak the truth. Jesus tells us that our “yes” should mean “yes” and our “no” should mean “no,” because anything else comes from the evil one.
Anyone who remembers the old Prayer Book may also remember words of the catechism which were to be learned: “To be true and just in all my dealings: To bear no malice nor hatred in my heart: To keep my hands from picking and stealing, and my tongue from evil speaking, lying, and slandering.” The Bible and the church taught us always to speak the truth and not just to speak the truth, but to be just in our dealings with others.
Those who have followed the news stories on the television or in the newspapers will know that Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where I am a canon, has been at the heart of a terrible child abuse scandal. To me, the Christian response, the one which would be true and just, would be for the cathedral to ask for an independent inquiry into how such horrible crimes were committed against boys in the cathedral choir; the board of the cathedral have set their faces against asking for a government inquiry. Why would they do such a thing? Are they afraid of what other stories might come to light?
I attended a meeting of the cathedral board, together with canons of the cathedral, on Tuesday, 20th December and left feeling very despondent. It all seemed very far from the teaching of Jesus in the Bible and the teaching of the church in the Prayer Book. I have not yet posted my letter resigning as a canon. Some people have said to stay on and to keep speaking, even if in a minority of one.
Jesus is born in Bethlehem and brings God’s grace and truth to us. May we know that grace and truth this Christmas, and never take our eyes off of his way of doing things.