Sinners! Let's pray along with the royal couple!

principe_charles_e_camila.jpgMaybe it’s just me, but I find it sort of amazing that The Daily Mail believes the following information is a hot news story. In fact, I would argue that it would have been a much more important story if the Prince and his Lady fair had elected not to recite a major-league prayer of repentance.

Then again, judgmental editors down in New Zealand seem to agree it is a big deal that Prince Charles and the other woman are willing to say they are sinners. Truth is, Christian orthodoxy teaches that sin is sin and it would be a good thing for everyone to read themselves the spiritual riot act regularly (and sexual sins are not worse than others, while we are at it).

Maybe they don’t have many sinners down under.

Back to the Mail story. If the point of the story is that Charles and Camilla made news by selecting a traditional prayer of repentance, then it would have been good for the editors to have reproduced one of the modernized, confession-lite prayers so that readers could compare the two texts.

Anyway, here is the top of the Mail story:

The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles will acknowledge their “sins and wickedness” when their wedding is blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Charles will pledge to be faithful to his new wife in the service of prayer and dedication. . . .

Charles and Camilla will say the prayer book confession which reads: “We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, by thought, word and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.”

And all the fallen creatures said, “Amen.”

The newspaper notes, for those who have been living on Venus for a decade or two, that Charles committed adultery with Camilla, while still married to Diana, Princess of Wales.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • ECJ

    The interesting aspect of this story to me is why the media outlets are taking this proclamation seriously. Wouldn’t it be just as easy to recognize it for what it is – a shallow, ritualistic method of apologizing for general guilt without having to publically mention specifics? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to see it for what it is – a pro forma figleaf included to assuage uneasy consciences in the CoE? And oh by the way. Is there really anyone out there who thinks they are truly sorry?

    Atonement on the cheap is offensive. You would think more people in the media would stand up and say so. Or perhaps they just don’t think adultery is all that big a deal anymore – that marriage is just a meaningless commitment whose violation requires nothing more severe than a meaningless ritual. Go to confession, Prince Charles. Slap the back of your hand three times, Prince Charles. All is forgiven, Prince Charles. You can go back to being ‘prince’ now.


  • Gillimer

    What makes it even more amazing that this is treated as “news” is that the prayer is clearly the General Confession which used to be a standard part of the communion service (no need to go back to “the 1662 Book”) before it was blue-pencilled by wimps, er, modernists. Fox News notes that the couple will “join the congregation” in reciting it. I doubk that the guest list is adulterers-only. And I think a blanket dismissal of nearly four centuries of Anglican services as “shallow and ritualistic” is itself shallow and offensive.

  • Stephen A.

    I don’t get it.

    Is this church that is requiring the prince to jump through penitential hoops (and probably justifiably) the same Anglican Church that ordained a homosexual bishop who had left his wife for a man, who lives with this single man in an active, extramarital relationship against his vows of marriage, and who refuses to repent of any of it?

    It’s amazing how ones political and social biases will lead to ignoring one sin but singling out others.

  • ECJ

    Shallow ritualism – like sin – attaches to men, and not to liturgies. To recite a common general confession as an act of contrition for a specific sin like adultery is the essense of shallow ritualism. When David was confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding Uriah’s wife, he didn’t say “Let the congregation all stand and recite with me the general confession of sin. Then we can all go on with our lives like nothing ever happened.” He said “I have sinned.”


  • dw

    Shallow ritualism – like sin – attaches to men, and not to liturgies. To recite a common general confession as an act of contrition for a specific sin like adultery is the essense of shallow ritualism.

    Absolutely. Stupid Jesus for telling us to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Lord’s Prayer? More like The Lord’s Empty Statement. DEATH TO LITURGY!


  • Bunnie

    ECJ wrote: “To recite a common general confession as an act of contrition for a specific sin like adultery is the essense of shallow ritualism.”

    Ah, the old works righteousness. See, they have to PROVE they’re sorry by coming up with their own words, rather than speaking blatantly and forthrightly about their depravity.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. What do you want? An interpretive dance that effectively conveys to YOU that they’re sorry?

    Why not take them at their words, be thankful they are repenting and put the best construction on things?

    Why must we all be such enthusiasts and place our faith in the power of a personal “experience” that puts the feeling in our hearts above the objective reality of Christ’s atoning sacrifice?

  • Susan Peterson

    This prayer is still in the Book of Common Prayer, in the Rite 1 liturgy. Many Anglican and Episcopalian parishes have at least one service every Sunday in which this prayer is said. I have said it many times myself. It is the Anglican equivalent of saying the Confiteor. Charles and Camilla’s saying it would not necessarily have had anything specifically to do with their particular sins, although perhaps the priest performing the service insisted on Rite 1 because he thought the stronger words would be good for them.

    Susan Peterson

  • ECJ

    The marriage between Charles and Camilla is the sin-spawn of adultery. It’s not an affair. It not a romance. It’s not a tragedy. It is the logical outworking of the deliberate choice made by both to violate their respective marriage covenants. Said adultery destroyed two marriages, and led directly to the premature death of Diana. A Princess of Wales would not have been chauferred by a drunken man at 100 mph through the middle of Paris, don’t you know.

    If Charles and Camilla were actually sorry about their illicit relationship, they wouldn’t have gotten married. As it stands, they have finally got what they always wanted. Forgive me for pointing out that their desires are not worth the permanent costs they have imposed on others. Or should I just ignore that injuction to produce fruit in keeping with repentence?

    Btw, when either Charles or Camilla actually have occasion to sin against me, then I will have standing to forgive them. Ask Diana’s brother instead. All I am doing is calling out to Herod Antipas that his first wife wouldn’t be dead if he had simply treated her as a wife instead of a Royal Heir Production Factory.


  • Stephen A.

    ECJ, I’m sure Charles’ great-grandfather and Camilla’s great-grandmother, who ironically also had an affair with one another about 95 years ago, would both be astonished that a prince’s mistress was allowed to marry him.

    I’m also certain that they would be astonished that it occurred in full light of day with only a smattering of discussion in the press about the role of religion in the matter, something which infused Victorian and Edwardian society, but is almost an afterthought today.

    While the public should have gotten an education about the evolving standards for remarriage and adultery in the State Church, instead the British public (not so much us Yanks, though) got gallons/litres of ink spilled in print ridiculing Camilla for not being a supermodel and Charles because he’s such a stuffed shirt and hates public appearances.

    An example of what could have been: one source I did find was the CofE’s standards on divorce, which were updated only in 2002 to allow remarriage in cases where the ex-spouse was still living:

    Frankly, while I don’t care whom he marries – and I think he should have been allowed to marry Camilla 30 or even 24 years ago – I was a bit embarrassed for them both, and for the Queen, as I watched them walk down the aisle. Something was odd about it, somehow. It was almost like a gay wedding – contrived is the word.

  • Cathy

    So Christ like are we all that we can condem another , none of us here on earth no what is in there hearts. God does and he knows what is in yours and mine, too.. Think before we throw stones.

  • Stephen A.

    I think it’s entirely appropriate and legitimate to discuss 1) church polity and 2) media coverage, or lack of it, concerning church polity regarding this wedding.

    It’s also appropriate from time to time to include an opinion about the religious scene, especially since the original postings are never devoid of opinion (and that’s fine with me.)

    But frankly, the sanctimonious chiming in during every post that we should never judge (as if to say, “Who’s to say what’s right and wrong?”) or never have a contrary opinion about something is a bit tiresome.

    While we should never condemn, if we abandon moral judgement in all things, we end up being susceptible to innovations, good old-fashioned sin, and perhaps even evil.

  • Cathy

    Being preached at on every post is getting boring… discusion is one thing preaching is another.
    go preach at a pulpit.