Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Lambeth Palace explains the Southwark episode

Episcopal Café reports, in Lambeth Palace on “the issue of vesture” AKA #mitregate, on an email reply sent from Lambeth Palace to an American Episcopalian who wrote to complain about the treatment of the Presiding Bishop when she recently presided and preached at Southwark Cathedral.

Follow the link above to read the comments of the Café on this reply, but here is the text of it.

Sent: Monday, June 21, 2010 1:14 PM
Subject: RE: [ID: 81888] AB Comment from an American Episcopalian

Dear Mr _____,

Thank you for your e-mail to which I have been asked to respond as, I am sure you will understand, Archbishop Rowan is not able to reply personally to as much of the correspondence he receives as he would wish. It may help if I set out some of the background to the questions you raise.

The Dean of Southwark first issued an invitation to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori before the Lambeth Conference in 2008 – one in what I understand to be an ongoing programme of invitations to Primates of the Anglican Communion. She was not able to accept the invitation at that time and last Sunday’s date was subsequently agreed. Initially the invitation was to preach, however, earlier this month it became clear that the Presiding Bishop would be asked to preside at the Eucharist too. As the intention was for her to ‘officiate’ at a service the Archbishop’s permission was required under the provisions of the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. This is a matter of English law. The Archbishop’s permission under the Measure is the means of confirming a person’s eligibility to exercise their ministry in the Church of England and applies to any clergy ordained overseas. The application form (an example of which is at www.cofe.anglican.org/about/churchlawlegis/faq/appform.rtf) asks the necessary questions - although in the Presiding Bishop’s case it was explicit that the ‘letters of orders’ were not required. The Archbishop’s permission was sought and granted, although the legal and canonical framework of the Church of England prevents the Archbishops granting permission for a woman priest to exercise a sacramental ministry other than as a priest. The agreed approach of the English bishops [not all*] is that women bishops celebrating under these provisions should do so without the insignia of episcopal office so as to avoid possible misunderstandings.

As you might imagine, I am not in a position to answer the questions about what permissions or evidence of orders the Episcopal Church require of clergy from other parts of the Anglican Communion.

Please be assured that the Archbishop, and those of us who support his ministry, had no intention to slight the Presiding Bishop. Indeed, by ensuring that the legal formalities were observed it was hoped that she, and the Dean of Southwark, might be spared the embarrassment that might have flowed from any challenge to her presiding and preaching at the cathedral. The media interest provoked over the issue of vesture has, of course, undermined that hope - as your letter makes clear.

Yours in Christ,

Anthony Ball
Sent by Jack Target on behalf of:
The Revd Canon Anthony Ball
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain
Lambeth Palace, London

* these words not in original email (see comments below)

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Comments

We have a wonderful phrase for this drivel in the U.S., "what a bunch of bull!"

Posted by: Jeff Allison on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 1:16am BST

How ironic that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church would not have had to submit any papers if she had only preached! Preaching is a much more difficult and serious task than reading eucharistic prayers.

This letter betrays prejudice by speaking of priests and bishops who happen to be women as women priests and women bishops, thus othering them and making them appear strange. Male priests and male bishops are, according to Lambeth Palace, simply priests and bishops. There are the separate and unequal categories called "woman priest" and "woman bishop" (from provinces which choose candidates for the episcopate regardless of their legal sex).

This letter does little to fix the public relations disaster Lambeth Palace has created.


Gary Paul Gilbert


Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 4:36am BST

"The agreed approach of the English bishops [not all] is..."

A telling phrase, if ever there was one!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 7:00am BST

A couple of observations.

First, this letter states, "although in the Presiding Bishop’s case it was explicit that the ‘letters of orders’ were not required." By contrast, an Episcopal News Service press release says that, "In the week before her visit, the presiding bishop said, Lambeth pressured her office to provide evidence of her ordination to each order of ministry." So which was it? And whom does one believe? It's a credibility issue and, unfortunantly, Lambeth doesn't seem to have much credibility here.

Second, the letter notes, "by ensuring that the legal formalities were observed it was hoped that she, and the Dean of Southwark, might be spared the embarrassment that might have flowed from any challenge to her presiding and preaching at the cathedral."

This seems similar to the comments of the Bishop of Gloucester, previously reported, that, "However, with all the present tensions in the Communion and with some people prepared to use legal processes to challenge bishops and others who do not follow the letter of the law, the Archbishop’s office has thought it best to ensure that the rule is strictly adhered to."

As I have commented previously, this seems to indicate that Lambeth apparently caved to some sort of still hidden blackmail attempt from some quarters of the church. That's rather sad and pathetic isn't it?

Posted by: dr.primrose on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 7:39am BST

>"The media interest provoked over the issue of vesture has, of course, undermined that hope - as your letter makes clear."

Why is there always a little nasty swipe at the end of these letters from the office of the ABC? Why couldn't he have ended politely and thanked the writer for his interest instead of delivering a jab? When will the ABC and his delegates realize that the tone of their remarks undermines any other message they may have been trying to deliver? It just seems so...juvenile...to me. Or is it meant to be deliberately patronizing? Sigh.

Posted by: sheila stanley on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 7:39am BST

You Brits embarrass us. You embarrass yourselves.

We've really got better things to do.

Posted by: Josh Thomas on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 8:06am BST

"This letter does little to fix the public relations disaster Lambeth Palace has created."

Actually, Gary, I think it makes it worse.

I can just imagine what Trollope would have done with all of this stuff.

Posted by: Jay Vos on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 8:51am BST

"As I have commented previously, this seems to indicate that Lambeth apparently caved to some sort of still hidden blackmail attempt from some quarters of the church. That's rather sad and pathetic isn't it?

- Posted by: dr.primrose on Thursday

Sadly, this statement could apply to all of the oddly inhospitable treatment meted out by the Anglican Communion Office recently. The same sort of antipathy towards women's ordination seems to have occasioned the congratulatory 'billet doux' to the Archbishops (a'deux) from F.i.F. Synod 'Catholic Group' members recently. Let's see if it works with the rest of General Synod in July.

This is just the sort of pressure from groups like F.i.F., the Global South, ACI & FOCA - not to mention certain English Bishops, that have led Rowan (and now the ABY) to believe that simply accommodating their needs will somehow bring unity to our Communion - forgetting that the liberality
of Christ's Gospel will always win out in the end.
(see the next thread)

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 10:07am BST

A clarification: In "The agreed approach of the English bishops [not all] is that women bishops" the bracketed material is a hyperline that I inserted. It goes to
http://bishopalan.blogspot.com/2010/06/if-you-want-to-get-ahead-get-hat.html

Ed Note: text above amended accordingly.

Posted by: John B. Chilton on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 10:22am BST

It's obvious from this response from Lambeth that ++Rowan's gatekeepers keep a good deal from him. One has to wonder whether and how much he really knows about what is going on.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 11:16am BST

Just a passing thought regarding the niceities of protocol and all that: when the President of the US visits London, does he have to go through Passport Control? Same when the Queen visits the US? Well?

Trollope couldn't have made this up!

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 1:29pm BST

Is this sentence,

"The agreed approach of the English bishops is that women bishops celebrating under these provisions should do so without the insignia of episcopal office so as to avoid possible misunderstandings."

a flat-out lie?

What evidence is there that the "English bishops" ever "agreed" to any such "approach"?

Or is this another example of Canterbury pretending that there is agreement and uniformity when in fact there none -- none at all?

"Embarrassment" isn't the issue anymore. The issue increasingly is Canterbury's credibility.

Can we trust the Archbishop of Canterbury and his staff to be truthful? Or not?

Again, I'd appreciate learning whether there's evidence that this supposed "agree[ment]" ever existed before Canterbury -- shall we say -- detected and announced that it did.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 1:43pm BST

To offer a truthful explanation takes seconds. A carefully crafted lie can take weeks. Any guesses as to why it took so long for Lambeth to come up with this?

Posted by: James on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 4:44pm BST

"The media interest provoked over the issue of vesture has, of course, undermined that hope - as your letter makes clear."

Passive aggressive this is called...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 5:09pm BST

Gee, how wonderful that Lambeth has no fault, absolutely none, in this sorry affair - it is all blamed on strict following of law, careful British procedures as usual, and/or some flexible-variable mix? Oh, by the way, we were scrupulous and strict so that nobody would be offended or embarrassed ...

As if the No Women Go Zone Anglican rights could embarrass KJS at this point?

Lambeth wishes to have full credit for pure, good motives. Perhaps the naughty media are to blame for stirring up controversies? Lambeth takes no whit of responsibility for the contexts and timings of its own policing and punishing of TEC in the most recent weeks.

If we believe this, six impossible things before breakfast is a slam dunk sleight of hand trick, indeed. I'm less and less and less taken with any positive feel for remaining this sort of Anglican.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 6:21pm BST

Cynthia, The Queen doesn't need a passport because she issues passports or rather they are issued in her name. It would make no sense for her to issue herself a passport. American Presidents have passports. In any case, American Presidents are in office at most eight years, fortunately!

The C of E merely claims to represent England, but most people do not have much to do with it, so this disrespect from Canterbury should not affect relations between Washington and London. And the Episcopal Church itself has merely about two million members.


Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 7:22pm BST

" . . it is all blamed on strict following of law, careful British procedures as usual, and/or some flexible-variable mix? Oh, by the way, we were scrupulous and strict so that nobody would be offended or embarrassed ..."

"We were just following orders!"

I see why Rowan and Josef Ratzinger get along so swimmingly!

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 25 June 2010 at 5:26am BST

"American Presidents have passports." Yes, but do they need to show them when they step off of Air Force One in London? This was meant as a comment on the rather silly kerfuffle about having our PB present her credentials.

And of course, I should have thought through about the Queen.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 25 June 2010 at 12:38pm BST

Gary Paul Gilbert, British passports may be issued in the name of the current monarch, but that doesn't mean other countries have to recognize the monarch's authority. Theoretically, a functionary of the country the monarch was visiting could demand her or his passport.
Rather, I suspect that neither the reigning monarch of the UK nor the President of the United States nor any national ruler has to present his or her passport out of diplomatic courtesy. Reciprocal courtesies which have been worked out over the centuries. Just like I don't think I've ever seen a president or a monarch or a prime minister have to pass through customs and declare any goods. For example, during the Cold War, the leader of the USSR could visit the USA without fear that some airport functionary would order him out of the country because he was on the "bad persons" list.
Unless, of course, the country the ruler is visiting wishes to embarrass the ruler who is doing the visiting ...

Posted by: peterpi on Sunday, 25 July 2010 at 6:15pm BST
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