Canon of Lichfield Cathedral ‘disappointed’ by Chindits service

Canon Pete Wilcox

Canon Pete Wilcox

The Canon of Lichfield Cathedral has admitted he was “disappointed” after a service attended by royalty in the city failed to mention God or Jesus.

The service at the Cathedral remembered the Chindits – a group of specially-trained troops who operated behind enemy lines in Burma during the Second World War.

Prince Charles was among the guests at Friday’s service where Viscount Slim addressed the invited guests from the pulpit.

Canon Pete Wilcox, Canon Chancellor of Lichfield Cathedral, wrote on his blog:

“I have to admit to being a tiny bit disappointed by the address. I’m sure Viscount Slim is a good and sincere man. But he managed to get through an entire address from the pulpit in our Cathedral, without every refering to God or Jesus – and from the litte I know about the founder of the Chindits, my impression is that would have frustrated Orde Wingate every bit as much as it frustrated me.

“If we are going to hold these services in our Cathedrals, it is vital that we do so in a robustly Christian context. We must at least address the question, it seems to me, what is the God’s eye view of the events we are commemorating? How does the history we are celebrating relate to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?”

The ceremony saw Lichfield Cathedral closed to the public due to the visit of a member of the Royal family.

Security teams also swept the surrounding area as the huge security operation surrounding Prince Charles’ visit swung into action.

And while Canon Wilcox applauded the safety afforded to the royal family, he admitted the checks raised wider questions. He said:

“It’s good to know that our royal family are so effectively protected. Every drain cover was lifted, every bin emptied, every parked car inspected, every visitor challenged. But I’m sure I wasn’t the only person left asking how much the overwhelming police presence must cost, and I was startled to think of operations on this scale happening not just daily, but – assuming each member of the royal family receives something like the same service wherever they go – several times a day?”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

4 Comments

  1. Michael Fabricant

    22nd June, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I’m not sure I agree with Pete on all of this. While a mention of God would have been appropriate, I agree with a former Dean of the Cathedral who stated, correctly, that not every Christian believes in the literal word on the virgin birth and resurrection – particularly as that particular aspect of the New Testament was added later at the time of Caesar Constantine who with other Romans who followed pagan beliefs, also happened to believe in virgin births of gods and resurrections after death. Funny that! The point is: if the Cathedral becomes too orthodox, the congregation will get even smaller. More to the point, not every Chindit was Christian and the Burmese fighters certainly weren’t!! It is what Jesus taught as a moral code that is important, not bolt-ons that never appeared in the original Aramaic texts. As for the police presence, Charles is our future Head of State and if Pete checks the MI5 website, he’ll see we are still on ‘Severe’ threat alert. If it comes to Prince Charles visiting or not, I would prefer Prince Charles to visit. It helps put Lichfield ‘on the map’.

  2. Nick Rutter

    22nd June, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Virgin birth and resurrection are not the issue, Michael. If you can’t mention God in the Cathedral church of a Diocese where can you? Even the non-Christian Chindits would surely concede that – even Burmese (Theravadan) Buddhist have a deistic belief – though not a moral code that comes from one. As for the Cathedral congregation, it happens to have shown the most consistent growth of any in the West Midlands in the last 10 years.
    However, I do agree that the police security system was unsubtle!

  3. Michael Fabricant

    22nd June, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Nick – I think you misunderstood. I said “A mention of God WOULD have been appropriate”. I am glad to hear the congregation is getting larger. I had heard the contrary from someone very senior in The Close……..

  4. Sid Hopper

    22nd June, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Michael said – “Funny that! The point is: if the Cathedral becomes too orthodox, the congregation will get even smaller.” Never knew it was a popularity contest, if it was Jesus could have played to the crowd and avoided being crucified. Instead he took the correct but harder road. p.s Jesus did not teach a moral code that was the Pharisees,