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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

When the circus came to York Minster

It is interesting that the BBC reports before and after the consecration of the Rev Libby Lane as the new Bishop of Stockport appear under the URL "" for that is what it is, politics. The pre-service clip in the first link is of a TV interview with 'Mrs Lane's friend and curate', the Reverend Georgina Watmore, on the BBC Breakfast show. It stops short of the point when she was asked how they would be celebrating her vicar becoming the first female bishop in the Church of England.

Here was a heaven sent opportunity to say that they would be celebrating the Holy Eucharist, the essential sacrament of the Church, injecting some Christian teaching at the culmination of their 'equality' campaign - a spurious claim if ever there was one. They were going to celebrate with a knees up - rather than knees down. Previously a commentator who had been speaking live from York Minster referred to the thousand or more 'spectators' including a hundred bishops from around the world who wanted to lay hands on the first female bishop to be consecrated in the Church of England. Surely she meant 'congregation' I thought but on reflection she was correct. 'Spectators' summed up the media event. - After all, it's all about equality, stupid!

When the Archbishop of York asked the spectators during the proceedings, "Is it now your will that she should be ordained?", there was one objection on the not unreasonable grounds that innovation was not in the Bible.  The objector was refused permission to speak. Instead Dr Sentamu read out a prepared statement assuring the spectators that the consecration was lawful under the Canon of the Church of England which is "part of the law of the land". Correct. It was legal, the Church of England having enacted it but it was not legitimate in the eyes of the wider Church, hence the objection.

A spokesman for the Church of England said the objector, the Rev Paul Williamson, a priest in charge of St George's Church, Hanworth, West London, had shown himself to be a "lone voice of protest in a sea of voices of affirmation". So he was but he gave an honest response, one which many others could have made had it not been for the agreement which enabled the consecration to take place. It is regrettable therefore that an objector voicing his response according to conscience was portrayed as a clown in the rite of feminist authentication in the same way that other objectors on grounds of conscience have been portrayed in the media.

Everyone who was anyone, or anyone who thought they were anyone in this charade was there. Around 100 bishops 'from around the world' pressed forward to be in front for the laying on of hands while exercising sufficient restraint to avoid the appearance of a Black Friday stampede. I say charade because in the view of the wider Church, Orthodox, Catholic and for most Anglicans the Church has no authority to ordain women. Hence it was a gross parody to answer "I do" to the questions:
  • Do you accept the Holy Scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?
  • Will you teach the doctrine of Christ as the Church of England has received it, will you refute error, and will you hand on entire the faith that is entrusted to you?
  • Will you be faithful in ordaining and commissioning ministers of the gospel?
  • Will you promote peace and reconciliation in the Church and in the world; and will you strive for the visible unity of Christ's Church?
  • Will you accept the discipline of this Church, exercising authority with justice, courtesy and love, and always holding before you the example of Christ?
Nobody thought to question how these questions could be answered in the affirmative with complete integrity having changed the rules, thus putting themselves at odds with the the rest of the Church and creating a serious impediment to Christian unity. But what is that to commentators who appear to know less about Christianity than their understanding of Islam.

Commentators were stressing that women in the Church of England had waited twenty years for this moment as if a prejudiced minority had impeded their legitimacy. They were of course applying secular principles of equality of opportunity in the workplace. Claims that the ordination of women are about equality are totally spurious but who cares these days let alone understands? Typical Sunday attendances in the Church of England have halved to just 800,000 in the last 40 years. That is around 1.5% of the population of England, just slightly better than attendance in Wales. Most of those remaining will simply have played follow-my-leader without regard for the consequences while others have left, their faith destroyed.

Friends of Libby Lane may celebrate with a knees-up but it is a hollow victory for the Church of England given the damage the liberal invasion has caused. Writing in the Telegraph their Religious Affairs Editor, John Bingham, poses the question "Female bishops are go: What on earth will the Church row about now?" One has to ask if it really matters any more given the damage to the Church the innovation has caused.

Writing about the consecration of Fr Philip North, a 'traditionalist Anglo-Catholic', next week Bingham commented: For reasons which might charitably be described as obscure at best, there is 'acrimony'  because "the plan is - ironically - to depart from tradition for the central part of Fr North's consecration service". A Religious Affairs Editor who can refer to the Apostolic Succession as 'obscure at best' must surely be in the wrong job unless his main purpose is to denigrate the Anglican Church. If the deliberations of the Church are "tortuous and, to many people, simply incomprehensible" Mr Bingham would have been better employed explaining the genuine held beliefs of traditionalists rather than making a cheap buck out the misery inflicted upon them.


  1. Llandaff Pelican27 January 2015 at 17:01

    We should not despair completely. There was no 'in your face' celebrations by the pro-women lobby (apparently they were under strict orders not to by ++York). The consecrand was not one of the conspicuous personalities who has been hogging the airwaves and dominating the betting at Joe Corral's for the past decade; but someone who has been quietly getting on with the job in a small and unremarkable parish without drawing attention to herself. And, most importantly, there was no sign of Byzantine Barry - anywhere! More to the point when the bishops reconvene at York next Monday, the Archbishop will be modelling gracious restraint by handing over to the Bishop of Chichester (and two other traditionalist bishops) and allowing Fr Philip North to be ordained and consecrated by bishops who share his theological conviction. Does that strike you as being in any way different to what might happen when the Circus comes to Llandaff Cathedral?

  2. There really is nothing to choose when it comes to reporting on religious and notably Anglican topics in the UK press. The current prequisite for being appointed as a regligious affairs correspondant appears to be theologically illiteracy coupled with illiberal-liberal bigotry. As you may have noticed the Bingham article on 'what will they argue about next?' was published in the Womens section of the DT, which is as telling a statement as the BBC reporting the consecration in Politics.

    Presumably the next step for the British press will be to publish any stories relating to women bishops and priests under a generic 'Gender Studies' section.

  3. Fancy consecrating 'clergy' who have been in a parish. that surely is the biggest innovation.

    The High Priestess of Stockport might at least be a good social worker/HR rep.

  4. Anybody got a list of the +/- 80 bishops who were hands on with Libby?

    Joseph G

  5. I think you can be fairly certain that Forward in Faith will have already compiled the list - just as the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda are compiling a register of those male priests who have not been ordained by a female bishop. This, it seems, is the only way that those concerned with catholic faith and order can maintain any degree sacramental assurance.

    1. The Archbishop of York's website has a gallery of photos. Many of the participants easily identifiable and/or will probably ppublish the informaton on their own websites:

  6. That's strange, it's not like His ++Darkness to miss a big photo opportunity but he doesn't seem to be in any of the photos.

    1. That’s because he wasn’t invited. His uncompromising approach to Traditionalist Anglicans in his own province, his dodgy discretionary funds, the failure to condemn the Charlie Hebdo killings and his fascination for same-sex marriages in church have all conspired to make His Darkness and his acolytes a thoroughly toxic brand. +Canterbury and +York have shown the way forward with their charitable attempts at reconciliation and respect. His Darkness’ failing regime in Wales is not compatible with modern, forward thinking, progressive, liberal, Anglicanism in the UK. What a shame for those spineless bishops on the Bench who supported His Darkness – there is no chance that they will be translated into the new tolerant Cof E. Poor old +St Asaph, you had your chance to rein in His Darkness over the Code of Practice, but you failed and now you’ll spend the rest of your ministry in the wilderness.

    2. WATCH have also distanced themselves from His Darkness. After two high profile appointments of lady clerics from England which went wrong (and their subsequent resignations because they couldn’t work with His Darkness) and then the failure to appoint a lady bishop after spending years championing the cause, WATCH have distanced themselves from His Darkness. He and his church are no longer regarded as progressive liberals but instead are seen as a toxic brand.

  7. My sympathies to my friends in the CofE. This is just the beginning.