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Monday, 21 July 2014

Augustina of Canterbury

The Cathedra Augustini           From Wikipedia
Concluding his interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show (here) before the vote on women bishops was taken at York Synod, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, claimed that he would be "delighted to see a female successor on the Chair of St Augustine in his lifetime". 

Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

From Canterbury Cathedral history: "St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived on the coast of Kent as a missionary to England in 597 AD. He came from Rome, sent by Pope Gregory the Great. It is said that Gregory had been struck by the beauty of Angle slaves he saw for sale in the city market and despatched Augustine and some monks to convert them to Christianity. 

Augustine was given a church at Canterbury (St Martin’s, after St Martin of Tours, still standing today) by the local King, Ethelbert whose Queen, Bertha, a French Princess, was already a Christian. This building had been a place of worship during the Roman occupation of Britain and is the oldest church in England still in use. Augustine had been consecrated a bishop in France and was later made an archbishop by the Pope. He established his seat within the Roman city walls (the word cathedral is derived from the the Latin word for a chair ‘cathedra’, which is itself taken from the Greek ‘kathedra’ meaning seat.) and built the first cathedral there, becoming the first Archbishop of Canterbury".

Move on 1400 years. From 'yourcanterbury' 2014 (here). The italics are mine: "The Rev Kes Grant is school chaplain at St Augustine Academy in Maidstone. She admits when the Synod rejected the proposal 20 months ago, it shook her faith in the Church. Speaking to KoS this week, she said: “It’s bloody fantastic. It’s been a long time coming.” 

The Church ordained its first two women priests in 1994, She added: “When that vote didn’t go through in 2012 I was absolutely gutted - even though in hindsight it was right because the legislation wasn’t right. “That morning I didn’t even know if I wanted to be in the Church of England anymore when it couldn’t even come into the 20th century, let alone the 21st.

“When you visit your doctor, you don’t stop to ask if they are gay or married or a woman. You just see someone because they are qualified for the job. No one bats an eyelid about women in senior jobs in any other section of society. “The Church really needed to get a grip. Telling people they are not welcome is not what the love of God is all about. When they do things like that I don’t recognise the Jesus of the Bible.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been a supporter of the proposals and described the vote as “an adventure in faith and hope”."

An adventure for some; the secularation of the Church of England for others. As for faith, there have been numerous threats that women would leave the Church if they didn't get their own way while those of faith rather than fancy have had to battle against the odds on being told that they are not wanted in this Church.

One has to wonder what 'Augustina' of Canterbury will believe when she occupies the Chair of St Augustine but we already have a pretty good idea from existing trends and from the example of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States here. It beggars belief that bishops of the Church of England have done this.


  1. My bishop friend, freshly washed-out after a scintillating (his word) week in General Synod tells me that the woman responsible for senior appointments in the C of E has already emailed every bishop asking for the names of women candidates, who are ready for appointment, before 10th August. As my friend says, this is a recipe for disaster. They will bungle it big time because he thinks they will go for a photogenic personality rather than someone with brains, a sense of tradition and broad pastoral instincts. At least in Wales you can stand back and watch this car crash happening and may be learn from the C of E's mistakes.

    1. I hear that after waiting for so long for their pointy hats the womin of WATCH don’t expect to be fobbed off with minor suffragan appointments. They want a big splash with the first appointment as soon as possible. Rumour has it that ‘the woman responsible for senior appointments in the CofE’ has her sights on the vacant See of Hereford for the first lady enthronement. One of the front-runners was spotted last week sizing up Hereford Cathedral.

    2. James, ‘the woman responsible for the senior appointments in the C of E’ apparently told the Precentor of Exeter Cathedral (a well known Anglo-Catholic) that under the ‘New C of E’ “he and his like” stood no chance any further preferment. His response? He’s off to be Vicar of St Thomas’ in New York. The war of attrition continues. By retirement, rejecting traditionalist candidates for ordination, manipulating senior appointments and the slow, but systematic, purging from the liturgy of male orientated references, the “Welby’s New C of E” is becoming a very different animal. At least when the attendance numbers start rocketing upwards and the churches are packed again we’ll know that the experiment was the ‘right thing to do!’

    3. I'm baffled that Carl Turner was told that. He may be a catholic but he's not opposed to the ordination of women (he's married to a female priest). But I do know that 'The woman in the Wash House' as she is affectionately known in C of E circles did tell the Precentors' Conference a few years ago that none of them would be appointed deans on her watch because they were all "too churchy". One wonders why these priest, who have personally contributed to the 35% growth in the C of E's cathedrals over the past decade, by modelling excellence in liturgy, are deemed too "churchy"? Or is it just a smoke-screen for her pro-evangelical leanings?

    4. Dear Ritual - I object to her being described as 'pro-evangelical'! If you mean 'pro-liberal', then say so. If you mean 'evangelical' in a different way to how I understand it, you'll need to explain a little more!

    5. I DO mean evangelical, Ed. That's why I wrote it. You can't seriously call Welby, Sentamu, Dakin, Butler (Canterbury, York, Winchester and Durham) along with Innes (Europe) Henderson (Blackburn) both replacing traditional catholics, and Bayes (Liverpool) remotely liberal. Getting a catholic like Robert Atwell into Exeter was herculean task; and we have +Rowan to thank for Martin Warner in Chichester. Of course Caroline Boddington is pro-evangelical and, unless Welby includes her in his present cull at Lambeth Palace, the situation is not about to change.

    6. I see. In that case, it seems that you and I have different views on what is meant by the word 'evangelical'. Like I say about the Jehova's Witnesses (just because you say you are a Christian, that doesn't mean you are a Christian) - just because you say you are an evangelical, that doesn't mean you are an evangelical!

  2. It looks like Welby wants to have his cake and eat it ...

  3. Llandaff Pelican21 July 2014 at 18:48

    Sorry, Malcolm, but their wish didn't come true. They appointed a 65 year old man to be Bishop of Hereford (Richard Frith, currently of Hull). Experience triumphed over tokenism. But only for now. In the language of the Sun newspaper, it will be boobs before brains. James's bishop chum has got his thumb firmly on the pulse.

    1. Southwell is vacant. The acting bishop has a mandate until April 2015, so that would fit neatly with the legislation. Could be an interesting choice if they do choose this see: a clutch of Anglo-Catholic 'C' parishes and the acting bishop disciplined the Anglican priest who entered into a same-sex marriage.

      I believe +Oxford has announced his retirement also. The diocese includes the blogging bishop of Buckingham & his chaplain, Canon Rosie Harper.

  4. Three observations:

    Hereford has already been appointed, so they will have to find another venue.

    Surely it should be Augusta of Canterbury? That has a suitably late Hanoverian-early Victorian Lutheran ring to it that would fit nicely with the Erastian views of the current political and religious Establishment.

    And finally: "“The Church really needed to get a grip. Telling people they are not welcome is not what the love of God is all about. When they do things like that I don’t recognise the Jesus of the Bible.” [Rev Kes Grant quoted above].

    I could not agree more. My message to the Rev Kes Grant is therefore,"Go tell it on the mountain, over at WATCH and everywhere". It is time for the media-favourites tipped for pointy hats, and their supporters clerical, lay and especially journalistic, to all start showing us some of this "graciousness" that we have heard so much about. 'They talk the talk, but do they walk the walk?'

  5. +Edmonton now retiring in December .....