Forgive me for not getting all excited that the new dean of York Minster is a woman. I will get excited when the "wrong type of woman" gets a top job in the Church of England, a woman called Jane Smith rather than Vivienne Faull and whose CV doesn't include private education at a posh school and one of the Oxbridge colleges.

Vivienne Frances Faull was educated at The Queen's School, Chester and St Hilda's College, Oxford.

Ordained deaconess in 1982 and priest in 1994, she served first at St Matthew and St James, Mossley Hill and then as Chaplain at Clare College, Cambridge. From 1990 to 2000, she was on the staff at Gloucester Cathedral before moving to Leicester. On 13 May 2000, she was installed as Provost of Leicester Cathedral. Since 2002, when her job title (but not the essential nature of the role) changed, she has been the Dean of Leicester. (WIKIPEDIA)



  1. Whilst I agree that a wide variety of type is neccessary within the church’s ministry, having a “pop” at someone because of their background doesn’t really help solve the issue you raise. Surely people, men and women, need to be appointed on their merits and their abilities rather than their background, and this applies to all occupations and positions. I find it very hard to go along with the proposal of positive discrimination that puts someone into office because they fit a preconceived idea of their “class” rather than how well they do the job.

  2. Our society is riddled with positive discrimination, SR. The vast majority being the rich and privileged giving jobs to the rich and privileged. I just find it incredibly boring that the first woman to get near the top is from exactly the same background as the men at the top.

    And people aren’t appointed on their merits. If they were then I would have a job, even if only a very menial one.

  3. “The only way she could be more like us would involve growing a penis”

    I feel like I should say something here, but it would be TMI. ;-X

    Rest assured, *I* am Your Kind of People, MP. My public (in UK-speak, “State”) school education guarantees that!

  4. Point of view is very interesting. Someone from the UK on an American-based blog I read actually said he could never figure out why American religion is so behind the times…we need to “catch up” to the UK. I politely informed him that we’ve had women priests, deacons, bishops, deans for years and they are mostly accepted (depends on region) and our presiding bishop is a woman. We have supported gay marriage, march in pride parades, but apparently the only religious faces y’all see from America are Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and those hate mongerers from Kansas.

  5. I think it may be to do with access to the media, LA. In England it is the liberal elite who control both the media and the Church of England, so the Church of England gets the most coverage. In the USA it is reactionary conservatives who control the media so it is their friends in the conservative churches who get the most coverage. Our media feeds off your media most of the time rather than doing their own legwork on American news stories. Therefore, as most of your media is about the Pat Robertsons of your country, so is ours. Also, your fundies and Roman Catholics are much better at self promotion than the Episcopal Church.

  6. Fundies make for better TV. Prior to Governor Gregoire signing our Washington State Marriage Equality law, religious leaders who opposed it were very much featured. Those supporting it, including our bishop, were not.

    Speaking of perceptions,Mad One, I’ve bumped into the “Rev” TV series. How accurate a portrayal of a CoE inner city rector are we seeing in the day to day travails of the piteous Fr. Smallbone?

  7. The portrayal of the bullying, arrogant hierarchy and the liberal no longer believing clergy is spot on – and not just for urban districts. And certainly, Rev’s own softness and misplaced enthusiasms are indicative of an awful lot of clergy in the C of E.

  8. Poor Viv.
    I don’t know her personally, but have met her a number of times and can say she is one of the nicest, most naturally friendly people you could meet. She deserves this promotion.

    I quite agree that there should be a whole range of people from different backgrounds and education systems, but lets not tar every public school-er with the same brush. I was forced into a grammar school as a teenager, and I’ve turned out as a die-hard Socialist!

  9. I’m not getting at her, Mike. I understand her predicament. It is the same as that of the bishop of Durham. It’s not that she isn’t equipped for the job, I’m sure she is. It’s the fact that there are people from the wrong side of the tracks who are just as well equipped and just as caring and nice. But she gets the job, not them, because she fits in with the culture of the ruling elite in the Church. Over 90% of diocesan bishops went to Oxbridge or Durham. Maybe scientists are better scientists if they go to those colleges because of the level of teaching. But it makes no difference at all to the quality of clergypersons. It’s just snobbery and the old school tie.

  10. Nice? Then she should be chucked out! Nice people are never any good, frankly. Compassionate, yes. Moral, yes. Frank, yes. But nice means you’re trying to get something.

    Look . . . she got it, too!