The division within the Anglican Church here in the Algarve has hit the British newspapers with reports in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, on the internet version of the Church of England Newspaper along with the Amicus website, the union representing Rev Eric Britt. In each case, only one side of the story has been printed.
Indeed, The Resident has also published only one side, but not for lack of trying to elicit a response from Mr Eric Britt.
The Resident received an e-mail sent by Paul Luckman, part of the worship team of All Saints’ Church, dated July 13, stating that he felt sure Eric Britt would be pleased to speak to us. However, since the inception of the breakaway church, we have been unable to make telephone contact with Mr Britt. Following several attempts last week, The Resident’s telephone calls were eventually returned by Mr Luckman. He advised us that Mr Britt was unable to meet with us and that indeed it was Mr Britt’s view that such a meeting would not be useful as The Resident would not be sympathetic to the cause.
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t was the feeling of The Resident’s editorial team.
The diocese in Europe and the council of St Vincent’s (Church of England) Anglican Church are both saddened and disenchanted with press statements being printed in various publications. The manner in which Mr Britt claims he was removed from his position, and much more, have been clarified in statements released by the diocese in Europe and St Vincent’s council. Both statements set out the facts and there is much comment about the way in which Mr Britt was asked to move from the Algarve, his tax situation and more. Regrettably, we do not have sufficient room to print the statements this week, but should any reader require a copy they should e-mail [email protected]. As we mentioned above, Mr Britt has made no contact with us.
The Guardian quotes Mr Luckman as being one of Mr Britt’s supporters, and states that Mr Luckman asserted that some people had resented being asked to put their hands into their pockets to support a stewardship programme within the church. This statement is most strongly refuted by the council of St Vincent’s, the members of which claim that paying for such a programme was unnecessary, as stewardship programmes are available at no cost. In its simplest form, a stewardship programme is a vehicle by which parishioners are encouraged to become better Christians through understanding, worship and their financial commitment to the church.
We have received various missives from readers. Along with the sadness of the split within the church, there have been more vociferous comments. These include allegations that the Church of England had failed in its duty many months ago to deal with Mr Britt in an effective way, thus preventing much of the misery currently being inflicted on the true Christians here in the Algarve. With allegations concerning Mr Britt’s finances (both before he arrived in Portugal and since), his sexuality and his constant need to be the centre of attention, putting his requirement to be heard above listening to his parishioners, it is of little wonder that so many people have an opinion to offer. But still no comment from Mr Britt.
And what of the involvement of Bishop Cavalcanti, who had apparently supported the breakaway All Saints’ Church? Word was that Bishop Cavalcanti had done a U-turn and had withdrawn his support – could this be substantiated? As mentioned in last week’s The Resident, Bishop Cavalcanti has had more than his fair share of fame, or infamy. He is allegedly attempting to improve relationships with the Anglican Church and has, therefore, decided not to continue with his licencing of Mr Britt’s breakaway group. Such a situation would leave Mr Britt without a licence to officiate as an Anglican priest.
Amicus, the union representing Mr Britt, has a website on which it states,
“ … the Reverend Eric Britt’s departure from the parish followed the departure of several chaplains, following a pattern of bullying”. We were anxious to find out the truth of this matter. In a telephone conversation with Rachel Maskell, Amicus’ national officer for clergy, we were advised that this statement was printed following information from Mr Britt. Ms Maskell was unable to provide more in-depth information on who the previously bullied chaplains were. Our local enquiries have failed to produce any additional information.
By The Resident