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Last week Rowan Atkinson, him of Blackadder and Mr. Bean fame, gave an interview to the Times in which he slammed Church of England priests for being, among other things, smug.

Among other things, he said:

I used to think that the vicars that I played or the exaggerated sketches about clerics were unreasonable satires on well meaning individuals… But, actually, so many of the clerics that I’ve met, particularly the Church of England clerics, are people of such extraordinary smugness and arrogance and conceitedness who are extraordinarily presumptuous about the significance of their position in society… Increasingly, I believe that all the mud that Richard Curtis and I threw at them through endless sketches that we’ve done is more than deserved.

The Times asked the Rt Rev'd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, for a comment before publication:

We take the hit and I am sorry that this has been Rowan Atkinson’s experience. But it takes no account of the thousands of self-sacrificial clergy who don’t fit this stereotype. I would be happy to introduce him to some.

Well, Nick published a blog post about the whole business, expanding on his comment above. However, the last paragraph, to me, is the real killer.

And I still find Rowan Atkinson’s film clergy caricatures funny. After all, they are caricatures – based on a certain acknowledged reality, but hopelessly exaggerated and wildly hammed up.


Which, of course, is totally true.
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[ profile] trawnapanda drew my attention to an article in the Sunday Telegraph by Jonathan Wynne-Jones saying that Rowan Williams was planning to resign next year in order to take up an academic post.

My first reaction was "Oh, Queen Anne's dead." (what you say in the UK when someone relates old news to you). Last year Rowan publicly stated that he would not serve until 70, and the current trend is for most bishops, except for those who love the office more than life itself, to retire around the age of 65.

The line about stepping down nearly 10 years early makes the assumption that bishops serve, unless they die or get very ill, until the age of 70 without exception. This is wrong and Wynne-Jones is being needlessly detailed about it. Bp. Tom Butler and Bp. Richard Harries retired on their respective 70th birthdays (as bishops of Southwark and Oxford, respectively) but they are the exceptions rather than the rules.

The machinations behind this are probably all speculation or on deep background. In my opinion, Richard Chartres has been a pretty ineffectual bishop of London and is in his mid-60's, so he's not in the frame as any eventual successor. I could just barely believe that he's been urging Rowan to resign early. However, as Rowan's already said he wouldn't serve until 70, he's pushing on an open door. Besides, Rowan's natural place (and, it might be argued, the place in which he should have stayed) is in the groves of academe, and in order to make an impact in an academic institution, he'd have to get a post at least 8 years before he'd have to retire from that position, and that would be next year.

As for successors, Archbishop of York John Sentamu is a year older than Rowan, and has been a great lover of the publicity stunt, but his temperament is not what one would want in an Archbishop of Canterbury.

One thing that Wynne-Jones got right is that the tenure of an ABC revolves wholly around the Lambeth Conference. In recent times only Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher stayed around for two Lambeths (he had to be told by his secretary in 1961 that the time had come for him to make a graceful, if tardy, exit). Every Archbishop since has been appointed long enough before a Lambeth Conference to do effective planning, and resigned at a time before the next one that would allow his successor to do the same.

So Ramsey from 61-74, Coggan 74-80, Runcie 80-91, Carey 91-2002 all "surrounded" a Lambeth Conference, if you will.

Thus, if Williams resigns in 2012 after the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, his successor will be enthroned in 2013 and that will give him a 5-year run to the next Lambeth Conference in 2018.

My only comment on an eventual successor is that I believed that if Rowan stayed on until he was 65 (in 2015), Bp. Nick Baines, late of Croydon and now of Bradford, would be the natural successor. If Rowan does retire in 2012, the timing is wrong for that. My only hope would be that if Rowan resigned next year and Sentamu got it, Nick might just be able to squeeze into York and wait for Sentamu to resign in 2019.

The rest of the Bench of Bishops is a bunch of lesser men, and no one stands out as a natural successor except Baines, in my view. Sentamu would be the beneficiary of Buggin's Turn, but neither Runcie nor Carey nor Williams were Abp. of York before Canterbury, so the natural succession of Diocese/Abp of York/Abp of Canterbury has been broken for decades.
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In the US Episcopal Church, today is the commemoration of the Rt Rev'd Charles C. Grafton, II Bishop of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He was an Anglo-Catholic (as we would term him today) and was somewhat infamous for the vestments he and fellow bishops wore at the consecration of his coadjutor, Reginald Heber Weller in the year 1900. The picture is referred to as the Fond du Lac Circus and is reproduced below:

On the occasion of the Consecration of the Rt Rev'd R.H. Weller as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, 1900.

This is the first known photo of Episcopal bishops wearing copes and miters rather than the usual rochets and chimeres. The dioceses from which these bishops hailed are now referred to as being in the Biretta Belt.
Seated (l to r): The Rt Rev'd Isaac Lea Nicholson, Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee; the Rt Rev'd Charles Chapman Grafton, Episcopal Bishop of Fond du Lac; and the Rt Rev'd Charles P. Anderson, Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor of Chicago. Standing (l to r): the Rt Rev'd Anthony Kozlowski of the Polish National Catholic Church ; the Rt Rev'd G. M. Williams, Episcopal Bishop of Marquette (now Northern Michigan); the Rt Rev'd Reginald Heber Weller, the Rt Rev'd Joseph M. Francis, Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis, the Rt Rev'd William E. McLaren, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago; the Rt Rev'd Arthur L. Williams, Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor of Nebraska; St. John (Kochurov) of Chicago, protomartyr of the Bolshevik Revolution, Fr. Sebastian Dabitovich, chaplains to the Russian Bishop—St. Tikhon, then Orthodox Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

Why do you have all this to say about a long-dead bishop? you may ask.

Well, among his writings is the below-reproduced letter to a bishop (unnamed). You may find some of the sentiments Bishop Grafton expresses a bit, well, quaint in one way but, in reference to the Leper Colony—er—the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Anglican schismatics who have buggered off to Rome, timely as well. Any emphasis below is mine.




In addition to the two enclosed cases Bishop —— deposed the Rev. ——, educated at Sewanee, a College graduate, in middle life, married, and who verted to Rome. He married a woman of large means, and the consequent worldliness and luxury, together with disappointed ambition, led to the loss of his priestly vocation. This is one of the many cases I have known where marriage, for various causes, has led to a priest leaving our church for the Roman communion. The wife sometimes wants her husband to give up a life which involves such self-restraint and denial.

And now let me, my dear and younger brother, fraternally say that college education has nothing to do with a man's loyalty to God and the Episcopal Church. Some of the most pious, loyal, useful, and God-fearing priests in my diocese have never been to College. Marriage is found to be no security against sensual sins, and in a diocese like mine in many cases it just halves the priest's usefulness and doubles his cares. (emphasis mine)

The true reasons why so many men leave the ministry are: first, that they have never understood or felt the enormity of sin, or realized their own fatally lost condition, and have been most superficially converted. This I am forced to believe is the condition of many of the clergy, and that the sayings of some of the Fathers is true, that a number, it may be a large one, of the Bishops and priests will be eternally lost. Again, in our seminaries, the students are not taught what vocation signifies, how it is to be discerned and preserved. Their conversion is assumed. The sanctity of the priestly life is not aimed at; they are not properly trained in the art of meditation and prayer. Especially they are not taught that in Holy Orders the indelible stamp of priesthood is put on their souls, which shall shine forth forever in heaven, or burn on in intolerable torture in hell.

With my sincere and fraternal regards,
Yours in Christ,

I find this letter refreshing in its frankness. I do wonder, however, whether the Ordinariate's priests have swum the Tiber because they found marriage an irresistable state, or because they went to college.
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One of the obligations of being a bishop or Archbishop of the Church of England is speaking out in the public forum on matters of national importance from a faith-based point of view. The Archbishop of Canterbury did it today, speaking out on the changes the Government is making in social programs in such a way that he suggests was not in the manifestos of the parties forming the Government. He also suggests that people are unsure about the changes and afraid of the results. He makes the case that the Government needs to explain these changes more clearly in order to get the country to understand and, more important, agree with them.

One of the reactions of government when a bishop or Archbishop speaks out on political matters is to rubbish the Church. They always say that while anyone has the right and opportunity to speak out on political matters, the bishop is naïve, unfamiliar with the realities of political life (this of bishops who sit in the Upper House of Parliament and participate in its debates and votes), or a socialist (if the Government is a Conservative one).

I have no brief for the Archbishop. In many respects he is a poor communicator (he is especially opaque on theological subjects, which he knows best). He has recently (in the Slee papers) been shown to be a bully and a shouter-down of people who disagree with him. And on the subject of the Anglican Covenant, I think he is malicious and seriously misguided. However, when he speaks out on matters of political interest and the Government immediately rubbishes him, I suspect he's hit close to the mark and the Government doesn't like that. At all.

Oh, the picture is just my favourite pose of the Archbishop. No intimation that he's a hand-puppet.
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Bishop Yellow Belly is trying to get Miss Young Person to church for Pentecost. She isn't enamoured of the idea, and tells him so. (If you're not up on the latest hijinks in the appointment of Bishops in the Church of England, read my blog post on the subject.)
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There has been a lot of comment lately in the British press and media about secrecy. Injunctions against even reporting the fact that there is an injunction relating to the peccadillos of sporting or political (or even media) figures have been taken out, flouted, and rescinded in the face of the world's scrutiny in Facebook and Twitter. The press has been full of stories bemoaning the loss of freedom of the press (which only applies to those who own one, as the adage says). The morality of a media figure, who is paid to expose the faults, failings, and future plans of politicians and public figures, taking out a so-called superinjunction to prevent the media reporting his name and the fact that he had an affair and thought that he had fathered a child from this affair has been questioned and ridiculed. The media figure (Andrew Marr, a BBC journalist and reporter who took over the prime Sunday morning interview slot from Sir David Frost when the latter decided to hang up his fangs) rescinded the superinjunction due to the pressure.

Yesterday, Andrew Brown writing in The Guardian newspaper revealed that the Very Rev'd Colin Slee, late Dean of Southwark, had written a memorandum before he died recounting some of the machinations behind the appointment of a new Bishop of Southwark. A disclaimer: Southwark is my diocese, the Cathedral is in the Deanery of which I am Lay Chair, and I work together in Diocesan Synod and Bishop's Council with all the people from Southwark who were involved in this meeting.

The process for appointment to a vacant bishopric in the Church of England is open in parts, but the main event, the actual selection of two names to be forwarded to the Prime Minister, one of which will be passed to the Queen for announcement as the next bishop, is shrouded in secrecy. At the time of the meeting, when Stephen Bates reported on the leak of the Very Rev'd Jeffrey John's name from the selection meeting, I blogged about the whole thing, and said that I expected more revelations. Well, they have now come, in spades.

One of the members of the Crown Appointments Commission, until his death from pancreatic cancer in November, was Colin Slee, elected to represent the Deans of Cathedrals on that commission. After the selection meeting took place, he was so upset that he wrote a memo about it, reportedly after he was diagnosed and knew that his condition was terminal. His daughter and widow are convinced that the stress of this meeting contributed to his rapid decline, and thus they, in conjunction with The Guardian, released the memo.

It paints an interesting picture of the meeting, held at the Royal Foundation of St. Katherine at Limehouse (in fact, I went to a meeting there last Saturday and we met in the same room in which the selection committee met). The two names that were proposed by the representatives of Southwark Diocese were Jeffrey John, currently Dean of St. Albans, and the Rev'd Nicholas Holtam, then Vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square, now Bishop-Designate of Salisbury. Jeffrey John is openly gay, and partnered, but chaste, and Holtam is married to a woman who contracted a marriage when quite young, then divorced, and then met and married him. At the time, this debarred Holtam from selection as a Bishop, although the rules have since been clarified.

Jeffrey John had been appointed Bishop of Reading in Oxford Diocese in 2003, but resigned that appointment before he was consecrated because of opposition from Evangelicals in that Diocese and elsewhere. He had at the time been Canon Theologian of Southwark, and a good friend of both Archbishop Rowan Williams and Dean Colin Slee. There was a huge amount of angst around his resignation, and many people were upset, not least John, his partner, Colin Slee, and the Rt Rev'd Tom Butler, then Bishop of Southwark.

The selection committee met in July, 2010, on the evening of a Diocesan Synod. I recall some of the members of the committee coming into Diocesan Synod late, and noting the strained smiles on their faces. Now I know why.

If you read Brown's article, you will get all the sordid details of the bullying of the members of the selection committee by the Archbishops, including a visit by the Archbishop of York and several other members of the committee to the men's room, after which the voting patterns changed. I wonder what they were up to in there.

But all of this is background to my main thesis: the process for selection of Bishops of the Church of England should be changed, and soon. The current process (where representatives of General Synod, representatives selected by the Diocese in question, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, meet in secret, sworn to secrecy, and choose two names for the Prime Minister) only works if the secrecy part works. The machinations accompanying the appointment can thus be as pleasant as can be, or acrimonious and threatening, as no one who was not at the meeting will know about it. There is no requirement for give-and-take if pressure and lobbying from various factions is conducted in secrecy. I find it odd that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is so puzzled and troubled by the apparent secrecy of Freemasonry, takes advantage of secrecy to bully and threaten people to vote his way when a bishop is selected.

My proposal is to provide the oxygen of publicity to the process. Let bishops be openly elected by Diocesan Synods, with confirmation by the other Dioceses of the Church of England, then the name submitted to the Queen for the formalities to be preserved.

The process would start, after the declaration of a Bishop that s/he (I am ever hopeful…) is about to retire, with the Vacancy in See committee drawing up a job description with advice from members of the Diocese, and then appointing a Nominations Committee to solicit candidates. A number of candidates would be proposed to a special meeting of Diocesan Synod, and after a dog-and-pony show, Diocesan Synod would elect the new Bishop. Once the election was held, Dioceses would be asked to confirm (or not) the election, and Bishops with jurisdiction would also be asked for their consent. A majority of Dioceses and Bishops would have to consent before the Bishop-elect could be consecrated.

Now I have been told again and again that the mechanisms by which the Episcopal Church governs itself are not in any way applicable to the Church of England. Usually, this comes in a very condescending manner, "Oh, dear, that would never work here." Well, when I ask why it would never work here, I get no answer at all. The simple declaration that it would not work seems to be enough. There is a sneering tone that even Bishops take when commenting on how the Episcopal Church conducts its affairs, and I am starting to get quite annoyed about it. Bishop Tom was a great sneerer-in-chief when I would speak in meeting and at Diocesan Synod about items like stewardship in US Episcopal Churches. It's really stupid and short-sighted not to rationally and impartially consider different ways of doing things in the Church.

When people do stoop to commenting on the election of bishops, the main objection seems to be that making the process political lowers the quality of bishops, since only those with political skills get elected. Well, my reaction is: Bushwah! The process now used here is as intensely political as it is in the Episcopal Church; the only difference is that the politics is limited to around 15 people, rather than an entire Church or a Diocese. The quality of Bishops can be as good here with elections as it is now, with selection committees. Elections in the US have produced poor Bishops in several cases. However, selection committees here have produced poor bishops in several cases as well, and seems to militate against outstanding bishops in many ways. Jeffrey John would be an outstanding bishop, but will never be selected while the current system is in place. And while I would hesitate to name those I consider to be poor at bishoping, those familiar with the Church of England will have their own favourite names for that category.

So dear Colin, who was an outstanding personality and a charismatic Dean, and someone who was not afraid in the least of controversy, continues to be controversial from the grave. I do not expect any comment from either Archbishop on these revelations. They will be profoundly embarrassing to everyone who cares, even a little bit, about the future of the Church in England. I hope, but do not expect, that this sordid story will at last move the Church to examine the process of selecting bishops and make changes to bring the light of day and democratic procedures to what is, in a Catholic but Reformed church, a most important post.

One post scriptum: this story will also profoundly affect the Diocese of Southwark and Bishop Christopher. Were I the Bishop, I would be very embarrassed and unnerved by hearing the news that the selection committee from the Diocese, with which I needed to work closely, thought that I was the third- or fourth-rate candidate, and had been bullied into selecting me. The Diocese will also be very upset by this news, but both Bishop Christopher and the Diocese ought to grapple with these facts in order to ensure that the Diocese continues to grow (we are growing!) and thrive.
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I resisted the urge to put "I Told You So, Part 1" as the subject of this blog post.

Downing Street has just announced, and Bishop Nick has confirmed on his blog, that he has been nominated by the Queen to serve as Bishop of Bradford, in Yorkshire. The story is also on the Diocese of Bradford's website.

You may recall that a while back I predicted that Bishop Nick would be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, predicating that on his translation to a Diocese within the next few years. This is the first part of that prediction, which has now come true.

To repeat what I said about him, in summary, I believe that the deficiencies of one bishop/archbishop/incumbent of a parish are then compensated for in the appointment of his or her successor. One major deficiency of the current Archbishop of Canterbury is that he is a piss-poor communicator. ++Rowan was appointed as a compensation for the shortcomings of the previous Archbishop, who was thought to be somewhat deficient in the thought department. The next Archbishop of Canterbury will have to be someone who is not only intelligent and pastoral, but also a great communicator. Bishop Nick GETS Twitter and the blogosphere better than any other occupant of a seat on the Bench of Bishops in England. He is a good blogger, a good writer, a Tweeter of note, a broadcaster on the populist BBC Radio 2's God-slot, and (to my mind) a good bishop. He is also relatively broad-Church leaning toward Evangelical, which is where Buggins's Turn would place the next Archbishop.

As for the Diocese of Southwark, this will place our new Bishop, Christopher Chessun, in the position of appointing two Suffragan Bishops and the Dean of Southwark in the first few months of his tenure. I expect that the third suffragan, Bishop Richard Cheetham of Kingston, will be translated sometime in the new year, which will give Bishop Christopher a clean slate of new suffragans to work with. I also expect that some of the six Archdeacons will retire or take new posts or be en-mitred within the next two years or so.

So, watch this space, folks.
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Thanks to Bishop Nick Baines's blog, we have here the British Pathé take on a 1961 Southwark Clergy Conference, held at a Butlins Holiday Camp. It doesn't seem to embed well, so the link will have to do.

The part of the commentary where the announcer calls it a "big gay holiday camp" was certainly the case when Mervyn Stockwood was the Bishop of Southwark.
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There is an article in the Grauniad, er, Guardian today on this subject which was co-written by Stephen Bates, the Guardian's former religion correspondent, and which is well-written, well-sourced, makes sense, and is sensitive to the feelings of Dr. John and the Diocese.

The fact that the pastoral needs of the Diocese of Southwark took a back seat to church politics is something that we have all been annoyed about but no one else has highlighted it in any of the many thousands of words that have been written and spoken about this matter.

I suspect that there has now been a leak from someone who was actually at the selection meeting (how else would Bates know that 5 of the 6 Southwark representatives voted for John?). Whatever I think about the Archbishop of Canterbury, I think that it is right and proper that, given the normal secrecy about the process of selecting bishops for the Church of England, anyone who violates their oath of confidentiality about the process should be unmasked and deprived of their responsibilities in episcopal selection. Whether the secrecy and the process itself is good is another question. Both open election (as is practiced in the US, Canada, and some other provinces) and secret selection as practiced here can throw up exceptionally good bishops and exceptionally bad bishops, and proponents on each side can point to elected bishops and secretly-chosen bishops who turned out not to be very good bishops.

As a native-born American but an adopted Brit, I am on the whole in favour of open selection processes and elections. I do not believe that this is in the cards for the Church of England, either on a parochial level (the process for selecting an incumbent for a parish is broadly in line with the process for selecting a bishop) or on an episcopal level. Whenever I have brought the question up in appropriate fora (such as the Bishops' Council or at various Synod meetings) the very idea of an open process has been greeted with the same horror that maggots on that American Airlines plane produced in the passengers. "We can't do THAT here!" is the usual response, although some, who think of "our American cousins" and refer to "across the pond" with the same genial superiority that was once assumed for "our black brothers and sisters" and for "darkest Africa", just laugh and say, "Well, that might be appropriate for America, but it just wouldn't work here." These latter people will never say exactly why it wouldn't work here, though, and if pressed, will just chuckle a bit at my naïveté and say, "This is the Church of England, dear boy."

What the closed process has produced is a virtual "A" list, a virtual "S" list, and a real (I understand) "B" list. The "A" list is of stars who will almost automatically end up with a diocese. The "S" list is of lesser lights who may end up as suffragans (produced by a secret meeting between the Abp. of the province and the Diocesan Bishop, with no lay or lesser clergy involvement at all), and the "B" list is of persons who will never ever under any circumstances be considered for any preferment (or further preferment, if they already have the freehold of a living) in the Church. Mere incompetents are on this last list along with pedophiles, criminals of various sorts (clerical criminals? There's lots of embezzlement around…), and "difficult" cases who've pissed their own diocesan bishops off in some way. I believe that "B" is its real name and stands for "Banned" but I can't be certain of this.

Of course, in line with the personnel practices of the Church of England, one's own presence on any of these lists will never be confirmed or denied. I expect that Jeffrey's name will now be placed on the "B" list to spare the blushes of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the future.

I find it interesting that only two names of possible candidates were mentioned in Bates'/Butt's article. Stephen Cottrell (currently Bishop of Reading) and Nick Holtam, Vicar of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. I think this is telegraphing to those "in the know" (wink/wink/nudge/nudge/saynomore) the names on the actual shortlist of two without actually saying that they were on that list.

Now we wait. General Synod this weekend will be consumed with figuring out how to get to "woman bishops" without first detouring into "second-class-woman-bishops". The general gossip level will be high and I would expect a further flurry of articles next week by various religious correspondents discussing woman bishops as well as further "revelations" about the possible new Bishop of Southwark. Watch for them, and discount most of them unless Bates or Butt has their byline at the top.

Prayers are solicited for General Synod, the Diocese of Southwark, and all those involved in the sordid affair of the Curious Case of the Incurious Archbishop.

It occurred to me yesterday that the rejection of Jeffrey would have distressed Dr. Spooner, as it deprived the Prime Minister of the pleasure of presenting the name of the "queer old Dean" to our "dear old Queen".

I can't believe I just wrote that. Time for breakfast.
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(I originally posted this to the Integrity Lightspeed email list. However, I think I want others to read it too.)

I have been reflecting on the current situation in regard to lesbian and gay clergy and bishops and the Anglican Communion. Mostly for my own clarity of mind I wanted to talk about recent events in the light of the wider picture.

The confirmation of Canon Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles will have a massive effect on the Episcopal Church as regards the confirmations process for episcopal elections.

First, it's happened without any corporate arm-twisting or extensive public angst on the part of the bishops and Standing Committees. They just got on with their jobs. The circus that attended upon Gene Robinson's confirmation at General Convention in 2003 was not present, and the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church just got on with it according to normal procedures. (NB: I think that 2003 was played absolutely correctly by the Diocese of New Hampshire under the circumstances of the time.)

Second, I believe that the replacement of apostate bishops and Standing Committees from San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, and Fort Worth reduced the number of negative votes considerably, along with reducing negative comment by bishops around the task before them.

Third, I believe that anomalies like the South Carolina confirmation of a few years ago are likely to become few. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me! Iker's confirmation was "fool me once", now Lawrence's confirmation is "fool me twice". The confirmation process needs to be a tool to ensure that the Church is united in its episcopal leadership. It's much more traumatic to have to depose bishops and reconstitute dioceses than it is to refuse consent.

The effects of Canon Glasspool's confirmation internationally will be just as dramatic.

The wishy-washy response from the Archbishop of Canterbury is, of course, entirely within his personality and previous history. He realises now that, just as the Pope of Rome hath no authority within the dominions of the Monarch of the United Kingdom, the Archbishop hath no authority in former colonies of England. He will, of course, end up applying "sanctions" to the Episcopal Church, more in sorrow than in anger. These may include such items as keeping TEC out of the Primates meetings, the Standing Committee meetings, the Anglican Consultative Council meetings, and eventually the 2018 Lambeth Conference.

However, TEC should respond with sorrowful acceptance of all this. The good news is that a lot of people will now have clear dates in their diaries through not having to attend these bodies. The decision whether to continue TEC funding of international bodies in which it will have no voice is yet to come. I would counsel that funding that is directly connected with mission in the world should continue, while funding that is connected with propping up the institutions of the Anglican Communion ought to be, at the very least, re-evaluated. This would restore a proper balance and allow those funds to be applied at home to the mission of TEC in its provinces in the US and overseas.

The response from other countries will be interesting. I suspect that Canada, Scotland, or Australia may be the next provinces to elect lesbian or gay bishops, and the effect will be much less by that time. The poorer provinces may feel unsettled by all this but if the older provinces all have a stake in this the Anglican Communion will become a rump of the Church of England and the poorer provinces of Africa, Asia, and the Southern Cone.

And thus we come to the Windsor Report. It's dead, just like Jacob Marley. Its ghost will haunt the deliberations of Anglicanism for a while yet, but now that TEC has pretty much indicated by its actions that it will not go along with it (I would be surprised if it even came up for a vote at GC 2012) there is no point in proceeding. I suspect that General Synod here in England will be consumed with talking about woman bishops for a while yet, and there have been powerful voices in that body that have said that it is impossible for GS to be tied to such an agreement in any case. In addition, the old Synod will be dissolved in July with elections being held in September/October this year. So Rowan Williams is boxed in--even his own province is finding it difficult to endorse Windsor.

So, finally, what will emerge? I think that conservative provinces will have a difficult time staying in formal communion with TEC and other more "liberal" provinces. It is possible that they will secede and form their own communion. I think that should this happen informal bonds of communication and communion will begin to form. Companion diocese arrangements (such as that between the Diocese of Southwark and dioceses in Zimbabwe) will continue even while formal bonds within the Anglican Communion are torn asunder.

Rowan Williams is now a broken Archbishop. His international standing has now been compromised. His moral authority in England has been eroding away for years as the C of E stands on the more conservative side of many social issues such as the place of lesbian, gay, transgender people in society and euthanasia for those who are terminally ill and likely to be in intractable pain during their decline. The general public is gradually pulling away from the C of E on these issues and increasingly, I think, sees the C of E and especially its Primate as oddities and throwbacks to an earlier, less complicated society. The bishops and archbishops in the House of Lords have seen their places under increasing threat in the past few years. I suspect that the wider question of House of Lords reform will continue for a while yet.

Rowan's lack of easily-understood communication skills has made him a laughing stock in society. For all his faults, George Carey was easily understandable--a kind of a bluff old Colonel-Blimp type of archbishop whose writings (such as they are) and public statements are easily disgested and readily understood--even if one doesn't necessarily agree with them. Rowan speaks like a Professor of Metaphysics at some University of Cloud Nine--it is nearly impossible to understand what he says unless you too have a doctorate of theology.

I expect that when the question of woman bishops is finally settled in 3 or 4 years' time, an exhausted Rowan will then retire. This will give the new Archbishop an opportunity to settle in before the next Lambeth Conference. It will also give an energetic new Archbishop the task of keeping what's left of the C of E together while women begin to be consecrated to the episcopate.

And I repeat my prediction: the current Bishop of Croydon, Nick Baines, is well positioned to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury. A son of the Midlands (he served his title in the Diocese of Lancaster under our recently-retired bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who then brought him down here first as an Archdeacon and then Bishop of Croydon to replace +Wilfred Wood, the first black bishop in the C of E), he is the communications person for the House of Bishops. He blogs, he tweets, he is very thoughtful (even if I don't always agree with what he says). And, what is more, I understand that his diary has been cleared from June or July. This often precedes a move by a Bishop to another post. It would be unusual for a suffragan Bishop to be translated during an interregnum in the suffragan's diocesan bishopric, but not unprecedented. In addition. Southwark is well-served by retired assisting bishops such as Lord Richard Harries, once of Oxford, and David Atkinson, once suffragan Bishop of Thetford and previously Archdeacon of Lewisham here in this diocese. We have one, Mark Wood, who is quite elderly but, as +Tom Butler once observed, "Put him in a taxicab and direct him to a parish and he'll be able to do what needs to be done." Baines would be well placed for Rochester, as he's a broad-minded Evangelical. However, I suspect that he's for the North at the moment and we will have to wait and see. As ++Rowan is Catholic in outlook (if not in temperament, except that he mistakes himself for Pope), the rule of Buggins' Turn means that the next ABC is likely to be an Evangelical. Cue Bishop Nick, with 4 or 5 years of running a diocese under his belt. I'd be willing to bet some money on it.

At the end of all this long, long process, which began in the 1970's (I believe) with an advertisement by Louie Crew, looking for like-minded Episcopalians who sought justice and equality for lesbians and gay men in the Church, we will have at least some Provinces of the Anglican Communion that fully practice that justice which they preach. I hope that I'll be living in one of them.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I suppose that if Groucho Marx were around he could sing the subject line!

The Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has announced that Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool has received the necessary consents from Bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees. She will therefore be consecrated Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles on May 15th in Long Beach, CA. Coincidentally, the date is that of Long Beach Pride.

Canon Glasspool will be the first openly-Lesbian bishop in the Anglican Communion and the second openly-gay bishop after Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

There has been no announcement from Lambeth Palace, and no news items over here in England. I expect to hear something tomorrow on the Today program on Radio 4. If not, I'll be very annoyed, as they made a big fuss about her election. His Grace the Most Rev'd Rowan Douglas Williams, DD, PC, by the Grace of God Archbishop of Canterbury, made a very po'faced press release in December after her election. I wonder what will be on the Lambeth Palace website tomorrow. Their Twitter account is @lambethpress, and I've subscribed.

I toyed with the idea of travelling to Los Angeles for the consecration, as I did for Gene Robinson's consecration in 2003, but my feet and the fact that I'll be hosting my brother here in London the previous week means that I doubt I'll be able to swing it.

Cheers! Hooray! Just as with woman priests and bishops, soon the election and consecration of openly-gay and lesbian bishops will be seen as run-of-the-mill.
chrishansenhome: (Default) the Age's report on the consecration of Bishop Barbara Darling, the second Australian woman bishop in the Anglican Church.

I especially enjoyed these three paragraphs:

At the start of the service, Canon Darling — renowned for her calm poise and gentle tone — wore purple, but after the oaths she retired to don the same ecclesiastical garb as the other bishops.

She returned for the laying on of hands, an ancient ceremony symbolising the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Then came the presentation of her new tools of the trade: a Bible (though she already has several), a shepherd's crook, a bishop's ring and cross, and cope (robe), mitre (bishop's tall hat) and stole (long scarf).

These garments arrived from Wimple's, the famous London ecclesiastical outfitter, on Monday and were partly funded by a gift of $8500 from Melbourne parishioners.

First, I would think that Wimple's might be a chi-chi nun's habit outfitter, and suppose they meant Wippell's, where bishops-to-be from all the world over come to admire purple birettas in glass boxes in the foyer.

Second, I am enormously heartened by the news that Bishop Darling actually owns a couple of Bibles and is not encountering one for the first time at her episcopal consecration. One would assume that possessing Bibles is something that most clergy would be likely to do. However, when you become a bishop and get another one to put on the shelf, perhaps it's a good idea to crack it open occasionally.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
The Anglican Church of Australia has become the fourth province of the Anglican Communion to select a woman as bishop. The Venerable Kay Goldsworthy will be consecrated Assistant Bishop of Perth on May 22nd. Hooray! Four down, 34 provinces to go. The other three provinces which have women bishops are the Episcopal Church of the USA, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland are two other provinces which have approved women bishops, but they have not yet actually consecrated one. The Church in Wales last week narrowly defeated a bill to allow women bishops,
chrishansenhome: (Default)
...comes to us from the Southwest, where a bishop in Gallup, New Mexico is a bit confused, perhaps.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I assumed that +Tom Butler, my bishop, would be talking about 9/11. However, he talked about the Madeleine McCann case. I was a bit stumped.

So tonight, at the end of the Business Committee meeting, I asked him why Madeleine and not 9/11. He said, "Well, I wrote one on 9/11, but at 5 to midnight yesterday I got a call from the producer saying that they hadn't done a Thought on Madeleine and, as it's hot news at the moment, I had to talk about that." You can read it here, and I was very touched by it. But I think the producer made a bad call.

+Tom offered to send me the original 9/11 Thought, and I think I'll take him up on that.
chrishansenhome: (Default) Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada. She is the first woman to be elected or chosen a Primate of a church within the Anglican tradition.

Is this a surprise? Yes, in a way. But she is very good on lesbian and gay issues, has been an extremely good bishop in Nevada, and will make a splendid Presiding Bishop and Primate.

The House of Deputies is currently considering the motion to confirm. More as it happens.

Louie Crew's information page on Bishop Jefferts Schori is here. Bishop Jefferts Schori's reaction to her election is here. May God, who began the good work in her, bring it to completion.

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