Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the US church and the first woman ever to lead an Anglican province, preached at Southwark Cathedral last weekend despite muted hisses of disapproval by conservative evangelicals. But close observers would have seen there was something missing: no mitre on her head. Who could be responsible? Step forward, Rowan Williams, Archbish of Canterbury, birthday boy (60 yesterday), who couldn't stop her preaching but said she could not wear the symbol of her office, or carry a bishop's crosier. Something to do with women bishops not yet being allowed in the C of E. A bit petty, some say, as Jefferts Schori is indeed a bishop and head of her national church – but in any event, she carried the mitre. And the subject for her sermon: God welcomes everyone, regardless of dress or condition.

COMMENT: Oh, this is so crass and bloody rude. I cannot think of any other situation where a representative of a church, even a church with whom we are not in communion, would be asked not to wear their signs of office.

Is the Queen (God bless her majesty) going to demand that Benny turns up in Mufti for his recruitment drive in the Autumn? Of course not. The Queen has impeccable manners. It's a good job she's the head of the Church of England and not that uncouth oik from Wales.

And then there's this posted on the CONGER blog on 10th. June:

The Archbishop’s Pentecost letter is the public half of a campaign to rein in the Episcopal Church, The Church of England Newspaper has learned, and follows a private letter delivered to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asking her to consider withdrawing from active participation on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

A letter from the Archbishop is believed to have been given to Bishop Jefferts Schori at the April 17 consecration of the Bishop of Connecticut, Dr Ian Douglas. Neva Rae Fox, a spokesman for the Presiding Bishop said she could not comment as she was not present at the Connecticut consecration. Dr Williams’ office would neither confirm nor deny the story, citing its policy of not commenting on the Archbishop’s private correspondence.

COMMENT: I think it is time for somebody (maybe a saintly, African gentleman) to send the Reverend Williams a letter asking him to consider withdrawing from active participation in pretty much anything more high profile than a church bring and buy sale. Otherwise, it's going to be death by embarrassment for the poor old Church of England.



  1. Golly, it looks as though TEC has passed the second tier on its way to the basement….. The whole tragedy is that losing TEC will most likely hurt the Anglican Communion more than it will TEC. Yes, there are those who wring their hands at the horror of being out of communion with the Grand Tufti, but for the folks in the pews, it means little day to day. However, TEC has embarked on a new, if small, reformation: an attempt, however halting and slow, to bring the LGBT community into full communion with the church. I am blessed to be in a church that did that years ago, and the gay members of our parish are active at every level of church involvement. As the bride is fond of saying, if we got rid of the gays, we’d have a Quaker meeting house with bad vestments….. At times, Rowan is a very small man indeed.

  2. “Death by embarrassment”?

    Since he managed to survive the first sixty years he may be immune.

    He does seem, however, to be a carrier. Typhoid Mary ain’t got nothing on Rowan.

    wv = hysingus
    (a treble)

  3. “If we got rid of the gays, we’d have a Quaker meeting house with bad vestments.”

    Oh, thank you, Srangelove! A very serious morning, and I needed the laugh.

    At our parish, we would still have fabulous music at the organ (I know!), but the choir would be sub-par and I suspect that the vestments would not be handmade.

  4. MP,

    First, thanks for the new (to me) word – “Oik”… such a lovely sound rolling in the mouth!

    Second, Be sure to mention to the Queen that +I am available for the position. I can obviously trace my roots back to Clumber Park, or thereabouts. Hey, maybe we should rename the “Head Oik” Archbishop of Clumber”! First thing we’d do is bring +Maya in for an extended seminar and workshop on the proper napping procedures for proper bishops in the proper Church.

    The only flaw in your plan, as I see it, is that the saintly African gentleman is probably too polite to do such a thing, but if he in fact did, the H.O. is probably too dense to get it, even if he was hit on the head by a 2×4 to get his attention. This story adds to the appeal of the sermon she preached, which was quite good to start with!

  5. Well, as you can see from my picture, I have a big mouth. And I’m not above calling a turd a turd. I took an obedience class when I was a puppy, and did well with heeling and sit/stay. Not so good at long down. I don’t remember manners as being a part of the class though, so I suspect I failed it. Oh, and if truth be told, I had to wear a pinch collar because I was, um, shall we say “headstrong”.

  6. I do okay in that area, thank you very much! And yourself? oh, and I’m generally kind to people having birthdays, and like hand pulled ale.

  7. Fine, then. That’s better than the present incumbent of the office, who failed his good citizen test and was thrown out the club for attacking the bitches (which I believe he still has a habit of doing).

    Long live, Archbishop Clumber!

  8. If you will promote druids rather than burn them at the stake, what do you expect?

  9. This is nothing new, he has never let her vest in her office, or any of the other women bishops, not even when they were in town for the Lambeth Conference. They vested for the Conference’s official events and services, but when they left the compound, like on Sunday and preached as a guest elsewhere, it was vested as priest only.

    And it is the same for +Gene when he is in England. Plus, he can only preach, not preside.

  10. One quibble for the Guardian as to vesture: +Katherine does not carry a crosier, as she is not a diocesan bishop. When she is acting as Presiding Bishop, she would be accompanied by the primatial cross, but never outside of the jurisdiction of TEC (such as when she preached at the Canadian General Synod). So the only thing missing was the mitre.

  11. Oddly enough, her diocese is the American Episcopal churches in Europe. Pierre W. is only her assistant in that diocese.

  12. Bloody Celts? The sheep worrying choir members were the original English – unlike you German/Danish imports! We of course are really Irish!

  13. No, they weren’t the original English.
    There were people in England before the last ice age (who discovered America). And there were people in England before the so-called (in the 17th. Century) Celts arrived from Central Europe. So, in fact, my Anglo-Viking blood is more local than your Gallic blood as my ancestors came from just across the North Sea.

  14. Williams is becoming more and more like the execrable Jensen. When women bishops from other Australian or NZ dioceses are allowed to preach in some of the more inclusive churches in the Diocese of Sydney they can only be regarded as deacons. As Bishop Barbara Darling explained, it feels strange to board the plane in Melbourne as a bishop and alight in her home city of Sydney as a deacon. Of course +Gene Robinson was not given permission to preach and probably Jensen would have prevented him worshipping at St James, King Street if that were possible.

  15. Even worse….doesn’t Rowan wear his episcopal stuff when he meets with the Bishop of Rome, who certainly can’t think Rowan is anymore than a persistent laymen. So even the Pope has better manners…… rebecca

  16. Shoot me down in flames. Technically speaking the arrival of the Celts (800-600BC or thereabouts) well predated the main invasions of the Anglo-Saxons (500AD) and Vikings (600AD). The Celts arrived from France (pretty local) via the southern coast, the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings from Germany and Scandinavia (not quite so local) down via the east coast. Therefore Father Dougal has a more ancient and more local claim upon this country than Mad Priest. I know I’m going to piss you off with this, Mad Priest, but it is true.

    However, neither the Gallic Celts, the Anglo-Saxons nor the Vikings can claim to be the original English, as Mad Priest points out.

  17. I was going to suggest that perhaps the ABC is experiencing a progressive neurological or mental disorder, but then realized it would have to be more regressive in nature. Insidious, all the same.

  18. Oh dear. Now Erika is going to have to explain comprehensively how you explained comprehensively whatever it was that you comprehensively explained to her. This, like a lot of conversation involving the lady visitors to this blog, could go on all week.

  19. Thank you for your commendation of the comprehensive nature of my insults. So many of my readers arrogantly assume that I am restricting my insults to them alone. I am accused of being guilty of many “isms” but the truth is that the only thing I’m really guilty of is being an unrepentant wind-up merchant 🙂

  20. Cathy
    I just felt that your comprehensive and historic explanation of whatever it was you so comprehensively and historically explained shed as much light on the great Enid Blyton mystery of Rowan Williams and the Mitre as any other. Better than most, as it happens.
    I’m just waiting to see what Timmy the dog has to say about it before I search my fridge for heaps of tomatoes and lashings of ginger beer.
    The dog WAS called Timmy, wasn’t he?

  21. Erika – I would think Timmy the dog probably is the key to the whole whodunit. If he has slipped something into the ginger beer and RW has drunk it, well, what can I say?

  22. I thought that was Julian?? Was Timmy gay as well?

    George definitely had her eye on Anne, and I think Aunt Fanny may have swung that way as well.

    I blame the ginger beer.