Action: Opportunity under Canon Law to challenge Wells Cathedral showing
Thank you to those who have expressed their dismay at the decision by the
Dean of Wells Cathedral to permit the screening of the Martin Scorsese film,
‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, this coming Saturday.
If you are an
Anglican member of the diocese of Bath and Wells please consider challenging
the decision by pointing out that Canon Law prohibits the House of God being
used to show profane material.
If, however, you are a concerned Christian
outside the Anglican church, please also make your views
The Cathedral plans to show the film on Saturday (7.30pm,
25 January) as part of the Bath Film Festival, so action is required
Please contact the Bishop’s office, the Chancellor of
the Diocese and Lambeth Palace (see contact details below) to say that the
decision to show the film is challengeable under Canon Law and quote the
following articles of the law:
Canon F15 (Of
Churches not to be profaned) 1. The churchwardens and their
assistants shall not suffer the church or chapel to be profaned by any meeting
therein for temporal objects inconsistent with the sanctity of the
Canon F 16 (Of plays, concerts, and
exhibitions of films and pictures in churches) 1. When any
church or chapel is to be used for a play, concert, or exhibition of films or
pictures, the minister shall take care that the words, music and pictures are
such as befit the House of God, are consonant with sound doctrine, and make for
the edifying of the people.
In addition you can also indicate to the
Bishop’s Office that a complaint may be made against the Dean of Wells
Cathedral, the Very Revd John Clarke, under the Clergy Discipline
Measure, for "conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders" because of
actions permitting profane material such as this film to be
The Bishop's Office: Please note that although the See is
vacant at present the diocesan website suggests making contact by either:
writing to the Bishops' Office, The Bishop's Palace, Wells, Somerset BA5
2PD, phoning 01749 672341 or emailing the Bishop of Taunton: firstname.lastname@example.org
A number of supporters have contacted us to say the response from the
Cathedral to their complaints about the film, has been wholly unsatisfactory.
Read the statement from the Dean’s office here:
“The Dean of Wells
thanks you for your message of concern. Please find below a statement from the
The cathedral considers bookings from a range of
organisations for the use of its space and late last year the Chapter agreed to
let the Bath Film Festival use the cathedral to screen the ‘Last Temptation of
Christ’ on Saturday 25th January 2014. The screening is being
arranged as a companion event to the Bath Film Festival’s recent showing of the
silent film THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC in another of the West Country’s most
magnificent places of worship: Bath Abbey.
The film is an
adaptation of the novel by the well-known Cretan author Nikos Kazantzakis. In
the past the film has caused some controversy. However, it raised important
theological questions about the nature of temptation and vocation, and in
particular the temptations that Jesus faced. The climax of the film is the
realisation by Jesus that the desire to escape the cross and have a 'normal'
married life is a temptation from Satan.
Much has changed in
public perceptions of faith over the last 25 years. In this more sceptical age
the church should not hide from controversy and part of the task of the
cathedral is to promote an intelligent faith that is capable of attracting men
and women to follow in the way of Jesus in the twenty first century.
With this in mind we are organising a discussion before the
screening which will look at the theology behind the book and film and which
will also consider what is not said by the film. On the evening, in my welcome
and introduction, I will also suggest that the film offers, inevitably, a
partial view of who Jesus was. It is not designed to be a biography. My hope
therefore is that an audience who do not normally think about Jesus will spend
time thinking about his significance for us today.
the day after the screening I will be giving a talk on ‘Jesus’ as part of a
series in the cathedral called ‘What can we believe today?’. This will provide
another chance to invite people to deepen their questioning about faith, both
for those who wish to think about faith and theology afresh, and for those who
are in the process of exploring their approach to God. This particular session
will run in the Education Room of Wells Cathedral on Sunday 26th
January from 4.30pm.”
From: Mandy Staple - Secretary to the Dean