Parish priests’ role in real life – and as seen on TV | Letters

Cate Gunn on the integral role the clergy used to play in small communities, George Pattison on what it is to be a ‘real vicar’, and Danny Sullivan on the authentic portrayal of a priest in the TV series Broken

Re your editorial (26 November) on Justin Welby’s complaint about the way Anglican clergy are portrayed on television, maybe the problem with the perception of clergy is in part due to the church itself, which has become more centralised and managerial. The role of the parish priest has been diminished, even to the point of disappearance in some rural parishes.

When I was a child in the 1960s, my father was a priest in charge of a large parish in north Derbyshire. On a visit back a few years ago, I found that older members of the Mothers’ Union vividly remembered one story about his time there. When he was visiting a new mother, he found that she was in need of urgent medical attention. He knew all the women in the parish who had recently given birth and dashed round them until he found the midwife, who was out on her rounds. While she was tending to the mother and arranging her admission to hospital, I believe my mother looked after the baby.

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