|The assembled throng outside the West Door of St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire Source: Twitter @DavidGrundy|
As far West from the great West Door as they could manage without joining the rest of the tiddlers in River Alun, the Canon Residentiary at St Davids Cathedral appears to have been delegated to lead the applause in appreciation of Archbishop Barry Morgan's 'historic' announcement that the bishop elect of St Davids is the first woman to be made bishop in Wales, Canon Joanna Penberthy.
A video of this damp squib of an occasion can be seen on Twitter and on the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) website. While small in size the number of people gathered is the same size as many dwindling congregations in the Church in Wales but clearly a great embarrassment to the Archbishop as the video link in the Press Release has been edited so that only the applause is heard after the Dr Morgan gives the nod.
When interviewed a BBC Reporter put the question to Canon Penberthy, Ordaining women is still controversial to some people. How do you reach out to those who are not happy with the idea? Her reply was far more encouraging than the Archbishop's 'over my dead body' policy. She said:
"I was very encouraged to be on a conference recently organised by Credo Cymru, which is an organisation for people who don’t wish to receive the sacramental ministry of women. It was a very positive gathering of how we can learn to live together in a world where women are priests and at that point where women might take episcopal ministry. It was about how do we live together in honesty, kindness and out of the values of that one shared gospel."
Following the Living with Diversity conference it was refreshing to hear from the bishop elect that everyone should "feel free to be honest". Since Bishop David Thomas retired there has been no place in the Church in Wales for people who remain unable to recognise the sacramental ministry of women as bishops and priests on grounds of theological conviction and conscience although officially remaining "within the spectrum of teaching and tradition within the Anglican Communion". Credo Cymru's statement can be read here.
With such lavish praise heaped upon her by the Archbishop and the bishop of Swansea and Brecon one wonders why Canon Penberthy had not previously joined the ranks of senior clergy as Dean or Archdeacon. Is it merely a coincidence that the bishop elect happens to be the right age as specified by the former bishop, Wyn Evans, to complete the work he started as Dean? Some fishy business on the Alun!
Fishy or not, this episode has all the appearance of a jigsaw puzzle coming into place except for one piece which just does not fit but he will be retiring soon when all should be much clearer, hopefully putting an end to prejudice and discrimination in the Church in Wales.