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No mitre for Katherine?

2010 June 18
by Gordon Reid

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!

6 Responses leave one →
  1. June 18, 2010

    I agree.

    Whether she wears, carries or eats her mitre makes no difference to me but I defend all faiths’ rights to govern themselves.

    If you’re in a Protestant church and thus ordain women, why stop at the order of priest (deacons are a grey area where Anglo-Catholics have disagreed), and if you’re in communion with a church with women bishops, why stop them serving as such in your church in your country?

    It seemed a badly thought-out sop to English Anglo-Catholics to stop them leaving as if they’d be fooled by this illogical gesture.

  2. June 18, 2010

    Particularly as other women bishops in the Communion have been allowed to wear theirs in England…

    • June 18, 2010

      And the Archbishop of Sydney, to name but one, would rather stand up to his neck in Prayer Books than wear a mitre!

  3. June 21, 2010

    Well, I suspect that coming on the heels of the Pentecost letter, it’s something of a “who really wears the miter/mitre in this province” message, and perhaps also a slap at the American church principle of “rules are for us to apply to other people.” I’ve also seen a speculation that it was in fact an orchestrated effort at generating an outrage in time for the upcoming synod.

  4. David O'Rourke permalink
    July 16, 2010

    Perhaps the archbishop has seen her mitres.

  5. August 1, 2010

    I agree with you. Our PB showed a lot of grace. She was too kind by calling the incident “bizarre”.

    Just one nitpick though- it’s Katharine, not Katherine.

    God bless!

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