Could you ever have imagined that the governance of the Church of England might be broken open on a headstone in the city of reconciliation?
That’s what’s at stake in the case of Margaret Keane whose family have taken on the Church of England in order to get a headstone placed on her grave in Coventry with an epitaph in Irish.
Caveat emptor: my daily musings may not be complete let alone correct.
This is my third and final post on the Message to Margaret Campaign. My earlier posts have links that will enable you continue to learn about this bizarre story. But first and foremost, pity the family that have been obliged to extend their grieving and delay closure on the loss of a wife, mother, sister, aunt and grandmother. And her friends and colleagues and acquaintances who have to endure the pain caused by this denial of decency.
2) Message to Margaret Campaign 14/02/2021
1) I Told You 27/11/2020
The risk to the governance of the Church was my take-away from the online discussion last evening. The meeting was organised by the Labour Party Irish Society. Among the 100 or so attendees that I could see were family members, friends, barristers, solicitors, GAA members and elected Parliamentarians not to forget those Church of England clergy who support the principles of free speech.
One of the recent reminders from American Senate impeachment hearings has been that ‘democratic change and progress depend on collective forces, collective feelings, movements of public opinion.’ – The Big Lie by Eli Zaretsky (London Review of Books).
Churches may not be democratic but equally, autocracy is anathema. The head of any church carries the accountability for the behaviour of the functionaries, no matter how grandiose their titles. That a disagreement between one family and one functionary could potentially end up in front of the Privy Council that advises the Queen, also the head of the Church, should stir the ecclesiastical court of the Church of England to grant the appeal. The risk to the Church is that of exposure of their ancient governance practices to critical review. They risk being labelled if not ridiculed as arcane and outmoded in the court of public opinion. Tabloid headlines might not be bombshells but they would be certainly be incendiary. That’s an irony given the Margaret Keane headstone case started in firebombed Coventry, the city of reconciliation and soon the city of culture.
David Goodhart made the point in The British Dream (2015) that social inclusion requires a progressive national story about openness and opportunity. He may have said unpalatable things about limiting immigration but I think he was saying that Britain needs people of different traditions to act together to realise the British dream. And I think the Margaret Keane case threatens to expose the foundations of a pillar in British society that may not want to dream.
The appeal is next week, the 24th of February. I didn’t foresee Brexit when I voted against it in 2016 so I don’t think I should predict the outcome of this appeal.
And since Irish is still being spoken in Coventry, and elsewhere in the UK, you might look at these maps for a moment: the decline of our native tongue.
Afterwards: Libran Writer posted a detailed account of the online meeting here.
Lia Mills says
I like your succinct take on this while also acknowledging the emotional impact on the Keane family. Great post.