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Going Backwards: Lichfield Diocese Rebuilds Shrine to House Relics of St Chad

Going Backwards

Lichfield Diocese Rebuilds Shrine to House Relics of St Chad

In open contradiction to the official theology of the Church of England, the Diocese of Lichfield has rebuilt and “consecrated and reinstated” the Shrine of St Chad at Lichfield Cathedral.

Canon A5 of the Church of England holds that the doctrine of the Church is contained in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion.  Article XXII of the XXXIX Articles of Religion states, 

“XXII. OF PURGATORY

THE Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping, and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.”

The Homily, Against the Peril of Idolatry, listed in Article XXXV is even more clear.

The original Shrine of St Chad was destroyed in 1538 at the beginning of the English Reformation.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Bernard Longley remarked at the service held on 7 November, “

“It is with a great sense of joy and historical purpose that we come together for this ecumenical celebration of Evening Prayer in Lichfield Cathedral today.  Under our shared patronage of St Chad, the bonds of faith and affection that exist between our two dioceses and their respective cathedrals are deepened and set on a new trajectory.”

He continued, 

“Well, you will be pleased to know that the relic of St Chad, which has been brought today on behalf of the Roman Catholic community and accompanied by the Canons of the Metropolitan Chapter of St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham, has returned to Lichfield not with hesitation, but with alacrity and gratitude.  We recognise the impact of his holiness of life and the affection that St Chad inspires within both our traditions, knowing that his relic will become a focus for prayer in this beautiful restored shrine, inspired by his witness and strengthened by his prayers interceding for our two diocesan families.

“You will know that the veneration of relics and their enclosure in the altars of Catholic churches comes from the earliest days of the Church, as Christians sought to recall and celebrate the example of faith of the early martyrs.  The tradition of venerating the relics of saints encourages us to reflect on their lives as signposts of faith, always leading us toward a deeper encounter with Our Lord through the experience of His love and mercy.  As St Chad bears witness, each saint offers a unique insight into a life lived in virtue and in faithfulness to God’s grace.  The saints testify to the opening words of today’s reading from Ecclesiasticus, urging us to perform our tasks with humility so that we will be loved by those whom God accepts.”

Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of the Diocese of Lichfield responded in part, as if the English Reformation had never happened when he said,

“Our remembering of Chad, and particularly our grateful reception of this precious relic of his mortal body, must also point us to the future. For us Christians, life is lived under the horizon of a hope which has been opened up to us in the raising of Jesus on the third day, and which will be fulfilled in us when God raises us in glory with Christ. Last Sunday, the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (which the Church of England also chooses to call the 3rd Sunday before Advent) the eucharistic readings in our Common Lectionary gave us that wonderful passage in Luke 20 where the Lord proclaims the reality of God’s new life against the cavilling of the Sadducees. In a striking phrase found only in Luke, Jesus declares that in the age to come we will be ‘children of the resurrection.’ It is that promise to which we cling in honouring the mortal remains of our brother Chad.

“Those mortal remains are not just bits of bone or flesh – not Chad’s, nor the remains of any whom we have loved. They are the relics and traces of the mortal bodies in and through which there once lived the sons and daughters of God, the brothers and sisters of Christ, and with Christ those bodies will be raised one day to fulness of life. Sown in mortality, corruptible, they will be raised in immortality, glorious. It is that sure and firm hope of resurrection which we proclaim today.

“So it is right that a part of Chad’s mortal remains should be brought back here to the place where they once were laid. It is good that today we join together not only as Anglicans and Roman Catholics but as brothers and sisters of other churches too.”

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