No mitre for Katherine?
The farcical level to which the whole business of women Bishops has descended was highlighted this week when Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, was forbidden by the Archbishop of Canterbury to wear her mitre in Southwark Cathedral.
It is hard to believe that this order can have come from an Archbishop who last year issued an invitation to Bishop Schori (and to several other female Bishops) to come to the Lambeth Conference as fully recognized Bishops of the Anglican Communion. And Rowan is also on record as pressing for the consecration of women as Bishops in his own Church of England.
So what is going on?
The most charitable thing one could say is that the Archbishop was badly advised. (That is what they always say when the Pope or the President or Prince Charles or any others who sometimes read the instructions wrong “enter foot into mouth”) He would, of course, be rightly advised by English canon lawyers that, since the C of E does not recognize women bishops, no woman bishop can receive a licence to operate as a bishop in England.
But this “Archbishop’s licence” is usually applied for only when a priest ordained outside the United Kingdom wants to take a parish in the C of E. No one in his right mind would bother the Archbishops for licences for visiting preachers, whether from the USA or Papua New Guinea.
So someone at Lambeth (and surely not the Archbishop!) got it wrong. And if there is someone on the staff there who has so little to do that he cares about Bishop Katherine’s head-gear, then I suspect he might also be keeping the little black book where the names of all priests who have been ordained by a woman bishop are entered. For be ye well assured that they, male or female or indeterminate, cannot receive an Archbishop’s licence to work in the C of E. Unlike Bishop Katharine, who, since she was ordained priest by a male bishop, is eligible to receive the Archbishop’s licence for any priestly job in the C of E, except for one as a bishop.
I wish she were Alice Jefferts Schori – for she must feel she has slipped into Blunderland!