Electing a new Old Catholic Bishop for the Czech Republic

Želiv Monastery © Ricky Yates

Želiv Monastery © Ricky Yates

As I have explained previously in this blog, the Prague Anglican congregation legally functions as the English-speaking parish of the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic or Farní obec Starokatolické církve pro vericí anglického jazyka v Praze. This came about as the result of a covenant signed in September 2000 by Bishop John Hind, the then Anglican Bishop of the Diocese in Europe, and Bishop Dušan Hejbal of the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic.

Under the covenant, we are treated both as a Chaplaincy in the Anglican Diocese in Europe, and as a constituent parish of the Czech Old Catholic Church. One consequence of this is that I am expected, along with one lay person from my congregation, to attend any meeting of the Synod of the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic when they take place. Fortunately, this is normally only once every three years as the meetings, which usually take place over a couple of days, are conducted entirely in Czech 🙁

Back in October 2010, Sybille I broke into our holiday to attend a Synod meeting held in Moravia, as mentioned in this post, whilst three years later in 2013, I attended the next Synod meeting, along with a lay representative, which was conveniently held in Prague. But last year, Bishop Dušan called an extra Synod meeting, in order to gain approval for his proposal to stay on as Bishop for a further three years beyond his sixty-fifth birthday in July 2016, exercising a provision within the Church’s constitution. Unfortunately, the date of that Synod meeting fell in the middle of our previously booked holiday in Poland, so I was unable to attend, nor could we find a lay representative to go either.

At that meeting in October 2015, the Synod decided not to accept Bishop Dušan’s proposal. Thus was set in motion, a procedure that had not happened for over twenty years – a further Synod meeting was called to take place in April 2016, to elect a new Old Catholic Bishop. As I have said numerous times, I do realise that ‘a new Old Catholic Bishop’, does sound like a contradiction in terms 🙂

This Synod meeting took place between the evening of Thursday 7th and the morning of Saturday 9th April at Želiv Monastery, located in the Vysocina/Highlands, about 100km south-east of Prague. I was accompanied by one of my Churchwardens, Stephen Weeks, who the Church Council had previously elected to be their lay representative. After an opening Eucharist, followed by our evening meal, the Synod meeting began.

Fortunately, whilst having supper, Stephen and I were overheard speaking to each other in English, by a lay member of the Synod called Vlad’ka. Like many of the Old Catholic laity, she had no idea of our existence as an English-speaking parish in the Czech Old Catholic Church and asked us in English, who we were and what we were doing there. Once we had explained, she kindly offered to interpret for us as she is a teacher of English to vocational students in Brno. She sat between us, interpreting all that was being said, enabling Stephen and I to follow the proceedings.

The evening session began with the two candidates to be the new Bishop, each making a presentation as to their understanding of the role and what they hoped to achieve if elected. There was then a short break, during which time written questions could be submitted to the moderator for the candidates to answer in the following session. Stephen and I compiled a couple of questions which we wanted to ask, which Vlad’ka kindly translated into Czech for us to submit.

The question and answer session went on until it was 22.00 which had previously been agreed as the finishing time for that evening. But it resumed again after breakfast, the following morning. Issues raised included the candidates attitude to same-sex blessings, what was the first things they would do upon becoming bishop and the question of the ordination of women as priests. Currently, the Czech Old Catholic Church only ordain women deacon, unlike their fellow Old Catholics in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland who do ordain women as priest.

We raised the specific question of their attitude to us being able to advertise for a successor to me, being open to ordained Anglican priests of either gender. My Church Council are unanimous that this should be the case, and fortunately we now have an Archdeacon and Bishop who are committed to supporting us in this. We did not get as clear an answer as we would like from the candidates, but we certainly did not get an outright rejection on the issue.

By the middle of Friday morning, there were no further questions. So we moved to a coffee break, to be followed by the election of the new Bishop. However, before the election could take place, a technical issue was raised. There were meant to be fifty-six Synod delegates but only fifty-five were present. The constitution provides that to be elected, a candidate needs a three fifths majority. Was to be three fifths of fifty-five or fifty-six? After some debate, we voted that it should be three fifths of fifty-six 🙂

It took three rounds of voting before a conclusive result was achieved. The Synod elected Pavel Stránský, currently the Old Catholic priest in Zlín, to be their new Bishop. He was given a standing ovation and presented with a chain and crucifix, showing him to be the Bishop-elect. He then made a formal declaration, signed various papers and both he and Bishop Dušan were presented with flowers.

After lunch, the Synod meeting elected a new Synodal Council, who with the new bishop, will run the Church for the next three years. Various other committees were also elected and then, with no further business to conduct, the meeting ended with the singing of the Te Deum.

Exactly when Bishop-elect Pavel will be consecrated has yet to be decided but I’ve been told informally that it will probably be sometime in September or October.

Yours Truly with the Bishop-elect, Pavel Stránský © Ricky Yates

Yours Truly with the Bishop-elect, Pavel Stránský © Ricky Yates

Walking Der Ökumenische Pilgerweg – Gröditz to Kamenz

On the morning of Friday 21st August 2015, Sybille and I set out from the Pilgerherberge at Gröditz, to walk 20km to the large town of Bautzen. As you can see from the photographs, we were blessed with fine sunny weather.

Our route took us along a series of tracks and minor roads across undulating countryside.

The Pilgerweg approaching Drehsa © Ricky Yates

Here is the way approaching the village of Drehsa.

Flying pigs in Drehsa © Ricky Yates

Within Drehsa, there was this fun mural of a flying pig and piglet 🙂

Pilgerweg with shade © Ricky Yates

In view of the sunny weather, we both appreciated the shade provided by trees along parts of the route.

As on many pilgrim routes that I’ve walked, the approach to larger towns and . . . → Read More: Walking Der Ökumenische Pilgerweg – Gröditz to Kamenz

Walking Der Ökumenische Pilgerweg – Görlitz to Gröditz

Peregrinus Herberge, Görlitz © Ricky Yates

 

 

 

As explained in the opening two paragraphs of my previous post, back on Tuesday 18th August 2015, Sybille and I drove from Prague to Görlitz, in order to spend the following week walking the first part of Der Ökumenische Pilgerweg. We stayed overnight in the Peregrinus Herberge, where we were also able to leave the ‘Carly’ securely parked, before setting out along the Pilgerweg the next morning.

 

 

With Görlitz being located in the valley of the Neiße river, it was inevitable that initially walking westwards to leave the town, involved walking uphill! However, we were soon out into open countryside and having covered 5km……

 

 

 

 

 

Ebersbach © Ricky Yates

……reached the attractive village of Ebersbach.

Path through the forests . . . → Read More: Walking Der Ökumenische Pilgerweg – Görlitz to Gröditz

Görlitz

The twin spires of St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Görlitz © Ricky Yates

 

The town of Görlitz is located in the far south-eastern corner of Germany and is about two-and-a-half hours drive directly north from Prague. Back on Tuesday 18th August 2015, Sybille and I drove to Görlitz, in order to spend the following week walking the first part of Der Ökumenische Pilgerweg. This is the first of three long-promised posts about that week mentioned in my summary post entitled ‘All those things in the second half of 2015 that got missed‘.

 

Having securely parked the ‘Carly’ in the gated backyard of the Peregrinus Herberge, we spent the rest of Tuesday 18th August, exploring Görlitz, before setting out walking along our pilgrimage route the following morning. On Monday 24th August, we returned to Görlitz by . . . → Read More: Görlitz

When I’m Sixty-Four

Yours Truly on 11th March 1956, aged 4

Tomorrow will be my sixty-fourth birthday. Yes – on 26th February 1952, in the upstairs bedroom of a semi-detached house in Allesley, Coventry, UK, Yours Truly made his entry into the world. Of course, if I had arrived three days later, then it would only be my sixteenth birthday as 1952 was a leap year 🙂 , just like 2016.

The reason I was born at home and not in hospital, was because my two older sisters had been born in hospital. My mother had had no problem with either delivery so was told that baby number three could be born at home. My mother was under the care of her district midwife, a situation which is now much more widely understood by the younger generation, because of the TV series ‘Call the Midwife’. However, I chose . . . → Read More: When I’m Sixty-Four