Comments: Bishop Sarah Mullally installed in London

105 years ago.

Posted by Mark Osborne at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 9:27am BST

That's a good sermon from Bp. Mullally. I couldn't help noticing, though, that her statement on abuse survivors doesn't ring with the passion of her paragraphs on knife crime. Contrast 'Our approach to safeguarding the vulnerable needs to be underpinned by a culture which challenges deference and the abuse of power and we need to create environments where victims of abuse are heard – where they not only survive but flourish' with 'We need to speak up for the whole of London, to work to challenge the violence and the crime that have led mothers to clean their own children’s blood from our pavements. Could there be a starker image or a more urgent wake-up call for all who love this city, who believe it can have an even better future?'

Bp. Mullally has been I/c safeguarding for two years now and has had no impact. She has many challenges to address in London, but let's keep reminding her that the Church's mishandling os sexual abuse is the issue that could destroy it - and within our lifetimes.

Posted by Janet Fife at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 9:53am BST

I understand about tradition and State Church and logistics and the rest of it - but how, on such an occasion, doesn't the new bishop celebrate the Eucharist with her new charge? To me it doesn't make theological sense.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 11:02am BST

Thank you Mark. The typo was (still is as I type) in the press release linked. Have changed my copy.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 1:35pm BST

Correction to my earlier post: Bp. Mullally is not I/c safeguarding in the C of E. Peter Hancock (Bath and Wells) is spokes bishop on safeguarding; I understand that Bp. Mullally was tasked with implementing the Elliott Review's recommendations which you can find here

Mullally's statement in response to the review can be found here: comment on Elliott Review

I cannot see that much, if any progress has been made on implementing Elliott's findings. Mullally's sentiments as expressed in her response to Elliott are laudable, but it's hard to see that they have resulted in much practical action. Perhaps if they had, she would not find herself in such a prominent position today.

If she really meant what she said, it seems to me that she would have invited more than just one token survivor to her enthronement in London.

Posted by Janet Fife at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 3:47pm BST

How great it is for a woman to be the Bishop of London, albeit 1400 years too late. How sad it is (if the Observer today is to be believed) that she is happy to peddle the homophobic line.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 3:50pm BST

"Order of Service for the Installation" whatever happened to "Enthronement"?

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 4:45pm BST

For my part, Fr. Andrew, "sad" would be a heroic understatement. At least those who've never experienced discrimination for who they are can be ignorant of the full extent of the harm it does. To have lived it for decades, only to knowingly do the same to others is, well, not language that'd be appropriate here.

I'd like to be celebrating this appointment. On principle, as an overturning of centuries of unjust discrimination, I do: but while equality in one sphere appears, far from helping to bring it to another, to be propping up injustice, it's a hollow celebration.

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 6:13pm BST

Whatever else might be said about Bishop Sarah, I warmed to the fact highlighted in today's Observer that not only is she a woman, with vast experience in the NHS, but was educated at a comprehensive school. There is still far too much of the 'old boy' public-school network around the House of Bishops and it's good that someone in such a prominent role can start to change that.

Posted by David Emmott at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 6:39pm BST

So she thinks that Lgbt people should be embraced and valued. (Guardian/observer today) Sorry Sarah, that might have done 20 years ago but it won’t do now. We are now in relationships, marriage and civil partnerships recognised by the law of the land. And we have been for more than a dozen years. It’s far too late to keep spouting the party line about being nice to us. But until and unless you and the church you help to lead recognises us as fully equal in all ways to straight people you words are as sounding brass.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 7:33pm BST

"Order of Service for the Installation" whatever happened to "Enthronement"?

This would make an arcane research project! I have a copy of Gerald Ellison's Enthronement service at St Paul's in 1973. Some things stand out: the term 'Right Reverend Father in God' as a form of address has gone, and the cover of yesterday's service book named only Sarah Mullalley - not even Bishop SM! Also, in 1973 there were no Scripture Readings! And what has happened to 'Lord' Bishops'?! No mention yesterday though I note that women episcopal members of the House of Lords are still given as such on the website.

These services are probably quite varied, but apart from the actual enthronement (oh alright, installation) into the throne / episcopal seat by the Archdeacon of Canterbury / Dean of York, depending on the Province, there is little that is required by statute as far as I know. And even there the wording has changed in my two service papers, though with no great significance.

Posted by peter kettle at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 8:18pm BST

'whatever happened to "Enthronement"?'

Perhaps we are finally starting to believe the gospels?

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 9:21pm BST

I had no idea that the eucharist was not offered and shared, if so, I would have found it deeply disappointing to have been there, and profoundly unfathomable.(Unless, it had something to do with the contested position of ordained women in the London Diocese-- ordinarily,this would be a moment for the bishop and priests to concelebrate together).

'Where the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church
Where the bishop is, there let the people gather.'

(St. Ignatius of Antioch)

I feel with Daniel Berry.

Btw I cannot get the order of service above to open.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 10:02pm BST

"How sad it is (if the Observer today is to be believed) that she is happy to peddle the homophobic line."

Please, tell me it ain't so...

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 10:23pm BST

Father David: Not every new diocesan bishop is happy with the concept of being 'enthroned'. It rather 'jars' with the idea of servant leadership, as exemplified by our Lord. That said, I note that the order of service includes the Dean saying (before the Bishop knocks on the great west door), "We gather to welcome our new Bishop, to place her in her episcopal throne." Also, the Order of Service includes a section headed "The Enthronement" (p.13). But the word then used is 'episcopal seat'. Perhaps we need to reconsider the terminology used for the various places in our cathedrals.

Posted by David Lamming at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 11:04pm BST

Cynthia ... whydya think she was chosen.... midwife experience?

Posted by scooper at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 11:23pm BST

"There is still far too much of the 'old boy' public-school network around the House of Bishops and it's good that someone in such a prominent role can start to change that."

They can, but she isn't: she's echoing the exact same platitudes as the good ol' boys. She's not fighting them: she's become them.

The plucky rebel getting into the clubhouse and shaking things up is, in the vast majority of cases, for the movies. Far likelier than outsiders changing insiders is insiders molding outsiders into their own image. Establishments assimilate more ruthlessly and reliably than the Borg.

Not only is giving too much weight to a person's background misplaced, it's unfair to them. This appointment's just for its own sake, and rightly celebrated for breaking through a glass ceiling. Structural change, by contrast, can't fall on one person's shoulders.

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 11:46pm BST

I dug out the Observer piece... And am right narked

"On LGBT equality and same-sex marriage, a controversial issue within the church, Mullally supports its official position that marriage is between a man and a woman, but that LGBT people should be embraced and valued."

That's an utter contradiction. You can't embrace and value us if you can't accept and welcome us and our relationships and transitions. I think the days of politely accepting people who say they value LGBTI people but won't embrace our relationships and transitions ought to stop.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 2:13am BST

It seems to me - an inhabitant of the 'other Global South' in ACANZP - that Installation/Enthronement of a Bishop in the Church should always be in the context of The Eucharist. Does this context for episcopal jurisdiction no longer obtain in the Mother Church of England? If the argument is that of a dodgy understanding of a woman's authority in the Diocese of London, it doesn't deserve her.

However, if the new Bishop of London does not want to declare the equality of LGBT+ People, then perhaps the implication of koinonia in the Eucharist might not have been a suitable occasion for her installation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 2:35am BST

Cynthia, sometimes a woman makes an excellent Company Man.

In my old diocese of Alabama, the first priest to resign in protest of Gene Robinson was a woman.

It apparently didn't occur to her that according to the literal hermeneutic she applied to Robinson, he might well be a wicked bishop, but he is a bishop nonetheless, while she is simply someone playing dress up.

Posted by JPM at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 3:00am BST

With regard to the Gospel and our Blessed Lord's ministry - I did so enjoy singing "Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour" at yesterday's Eucharist. If it's good enough for Jesus, then surely, it's good enough for His under-shepherds here on earth?
Remind me, what's that seat called that is in such a prominent position in Canterbury cathedral, something to do with St. Augustine, or so I believe?
If the Dean of St. Paul's desire was to excise any reference to grandeur in the service, he could quite easily have said "We gather to welcome our new Bishop, to place her in her episcopal cathedra." rather than "her episcopal throne"
Mind, speaking of grandeur, her cope and mitre was rather resplendent - such a pleasant change from all those Matisse-type flames said to represent the Holy Spirit and so favoured by Carey et al. When he wore his Enthronement mitre, it looked as though his head was on fire!

Posted by Father David at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 6:08am BST

My understanding is that enthronement/installations of bishops have never been eucharistic, even at Canterbury. Whilst this may have origins in a less sacramental era, it now reflects the extensive and vital inclusion of ecumenical and civic representatives, who may not be communicants.

Posted by Neil Patterson at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 7:12am BST

‘Please, tell me it ain't so...’

The Observer:
‘On LGBT equality and same-sex marriage, a controversial issue within the church, Mullally supports its official position that marriage is between a man and a woman, but that LGBT people should be embraced and valued’

‘Embraced and valued’ but not married, ordained, sexually active or blessed. Strange embrace. Curious value.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 7:38am BST

Frankly, I thought the sermon was very thin gruel indeed. Here was a superb opportunity for a new Bishop of London to restate the Church of England's commitment to the service of wider society, and to connect with the vast numbers of those who are alienated by the Church's self-referential culture. Leaving aside the rather perfunctory and unimaginative engagement with scripture, what was this sermon actually saying? It's all very well banging-on about relationships (as if that's the only focus of scripture); but if you can't speak to the societal values and political policies that create the conditions for isolation, stigmatisation and rejection - and to do so in the light of a rigorous engagement with scripture, reason and tradition - what are you left with? Inoffensive platitudes? Same old, same old...

Leaving aside the partisanship that underscored this appointment, and Lambeth's jitters about the other candidates in the room (because they might not be so easy to 'manage'), all I can glean from this sermon is a commitment to niceness and business as usual.

Posted by Simon R at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 8:38am BST

He will raise the ire of the usual suspects for saying so, but I am glad @Simon R has said what I was thinking. On reading Sarah Mullally's (if I'm honest) rather over-hyped sermon, I turned to the sermons preached by David Jenkins, John Habgood, Michael Ramsey, John V Taylor and Rowan Williams at their enthronements. Simply no comparison: both in terms of the carefully crafted content; and their clear engagement with the wider context. No risk of the 'church speaking to church' there.

Posted by Michael Mulhern at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 11:47am BST

"If it's good enough for Jesus, then surely, it's good enough for His under-shepherds here on earth?"

We have such different perspectives. Nativity plays are fantastic evangelism (and their decline in schools might be a significant factor behind the shrinking of the Church of England) but it is important that the boy playing Jesus does not forget he is playing a role. In High Church liturgy (eg installation) a bishop in his/her grandeur is playing a role, representing the majesty of God. Just so long as they don't forget that it is only theater and that they aren't in anyway more special than anyone else present.

It's why, for me, the Dean was right not to talk of 'enthronement' because that crosses the line from benign, indeed beneficial, liturgical theatre into suggesting that a bishop has a personal right to a cathedra rather than acknowledging they are simply an actor cast to play a particular liturgical part who uses that prop as part of their stage act.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 11:49am BST

From the text of the sermon: "One hundred and five years ago this week suffragettes placed a bomb under the seat in which I have just been enthroned ...I do not come carrying bombs – or perhaps not literal ones anyway! But I am aware that as the first woman Bishop of London I am necessarily subversive..."

I think this paragraph requires a bit of a hermeneutic of suspicion. It could be read as 'radical washing'. But then, I grew up looking at the 'subversive' ministries of The Florence Li-Tim Oi, The Berrigan Brothers, Fr.Malcolm Boyd, and Archbishop Ted Scott.

PB Michael Curry is preaching at the Royal Wedding. Now there is a necessarily subversive bishop. Be interesting to see to what degree that will play out in his proclamation.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 2:34pm BST

@Simon R: Why should that be any surprise. The Church's leadership has always been tamed. Few, if any, leaders in most churches have reached their position because they were bound to do anything radical or threatening. I notice that bishops often appoint deacons and archdeacons who are "company" people and no threat. Loyalty is the only qualification. We see much the same thing in the secular world. This is human nature, so we shouldn't expect much different in the third most significant spot in the C of E.

Posted by Richard Grand at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 2:46pm BST

Amen to Simon R and Michael Mulhern. This was a lost opportunity to make an impact - and not even the Diocesan spin machine can gloss this over. Subversive? Er, no. Just predictable, I'm afraid.

Interesting, too, I thought, that the first major item we read in the order of service is a reproduction of Welby's 'Charge' at the confirmation of Sarah Mullally's election. This has aroused my curiosity. Has this been done before - and anywhere else? I only ask because it strongly suggests that Sarah Mullally, as Bishop of London, is somehow accountable to the Archbishop of Canterbury for the strategy of the Diocese of London. Really? Which raises the question: what role does the Diocesan Synod and the Bishop's Council have in directing the future strategy and direction of the Diocese?

Some confused ecclesiology here that needs sorting out. Why am I not surprised?

Posted by Will Richards at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 5:20pm BST

@Fr. David: That mitre made a classic Private Eye cover, in fact:

Posted by Clive at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 5:22pm BST

"Now there is a necessarily subversive bishop."

Yes, let's be sure to anticipate a really "subversive TEC bishop" doing something subversive in the context of this wedding in the UK.

Why? And what?


Posted by crs at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 5:46pm BST

Fr Andrew's caution - ‘if the Observer is to be believed’ is a necessary one – and it is for reading any media coverage of the world of faith. The Observer is a newspaper that rarely shows much interest in things Christian or church at all. Whilst I think the article is quite well written the statement picked up and repeated on this discussion thread is not actually a quote from the Bishop is it. It claims to be a summary of her view. I read that section as Bishop Sarah expressing her part within the agreed process now underway – and that is exactly what I would I expect a new bishop to say. This is a long way from ‘Peddling a homophobic line’. The notion that she was appointed because she was easier to ‘manage’ is frankly sexist. In the midst of this relentlessly negative thread I celebrate this appointment. It is wonderful for the continued emerging partnership of women and men in the church. I am grateful to her for her ‘yes’ to enter this role in the midst of a deeply conflicted church. And I will hold her in my prayers.

Posted by David Runcorn at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 5:51pm BST

"This is human nature, so we shouldn't expect much different in the third most significant spot in the C of E. "

Jesus was crucified for subversion. If our bishops - our clerics - are chosen by discernment, isn't it odd that they are generally not subversive?

Or maybe, in the Church of England discernment works something like this..." God, we have chosen Sarah to be a bishop. Does that meet your will?"... (brief pause)... "OK, thank you. No lightning bolt or earthquake. She is your choice then."

Posted by Kate at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 6:02pm BST

I think, Peter Kettle, (but am open to correction) that Bishop Mullally is just that, not Lord Bishop - yet. I can find no reference to her having been "introduced into the House (of Lords)" and it is at that point that she becomes the Lord Bishop of London.

CofE diocesan bishops who do not have seats in the HoL are always described as "X by Divine Permission Bishop of Y" Only those who have taken up their seats are described as "A by Divine Permission Lord Bishop of B". It's just one more of those quaint quintessentially English customs.

Posted by RPNewark at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 6:42pm BST

Can I say that I trust the Observer’s reporting more than any other newspaper, and that, with just a bit of digging around, it’s clear that they got that line from a variety of previous verbatim reports. I don’t think there’s any doubt from anyone about the Bp London’s public position on equal marriage. But, if I’m wrong, I’d be delighted to be shown to be.

Whether you like the term ‘peddling’ or not, that position- the formal position of the Church of England on equal marriage is indisputably and unpleasantly homophobic. Given the blasphemous vileness of homophobia I think using the term ‘peddling’ was being restrained.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 6:54pm BST

Here are some synonyms for the word "subversive" -
troublemaker, dissident revolutionary, insurgent,
insurrectionist, renegade, rebel and mutineer.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 7:28pm BST

My name is Rod and I love debates. ( : However, I've been wrestling with comment participation for sometime. TA is one of the few places where I still comment as of late.

At least for awhile, I hope to limit my comments to one or two per thread. It has do with a convergence of several things; deepening retirement, what is life giving, it gets addictive, and perhaps something of a moral conversion as Lonerganians call it. I could use more contemplation. Plus I have to see if I have the self-discipline to keep my every opinion to myself.

I have made my one substantive comment ( above) on the this thread re: the Bp. of London installation. There is a rejoinder; but this is just an explanation why I will resist the temptation to go several rounds.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 7:49pm BST

'If it's good enough for Jesus, then surely, it's good enough for His under-shepherds here on earth?'

Except that he never told his under-shepherds to expect earthly thrones. Rather the opposite.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 7:58pm BST

"The notion that she was appointed because she was easier to ‘manage’ is frankly sexist."

If it's on the basis of her sex, then yes, and I have no time for such essentialism. In any case, as the lamentable spectacle of episcopal company men shows, in England, male bishops defer to no-one in toeing the corporate line.

However, there's a flip-side of this: a sex-based inversion of Interested Observer's racism of low expectations; the sexism of exaggerated feminine virtue. Echoing the ancient old Victorian prejudice that women were too pure for politics, far too many on the church's progressive wing have suggested that women, as a class, would be somehow better than men.

I, by contrast, being a cynical old egalitarian, always said that people, regardless of sex, are equally flawed. And so it's proved.

Posted by James Byron at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 8:26pm BST

Certainly I wouldn't give that sermon a high score for subversiveness. But surely we all know that you don't get into senior management of any institution if you look likely to rock the boat significantly. It's not surprising if, as the first woman to move into an important and sensitive position, Bishop Sarah chooses to move cautiously. She is chair of the Social and Biological Sciences Working Group which will be contributing to the forthcoming Episcopal Teaching Document on sexuality, and she is quoted as hoping that this process will not amount to kicking the issue into the long grass. We have to hope that this Document, when it appears, will be of higher quality than the shoddy pieces of work that have come from the bishops over the last few years. I'm disposed to withhold criticism for the time being. But it will be a huge failure if, after the group have done their work, they are still unable to offer equal rights to LGBT people.

Posted by Flora Alexander at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 9:35pm BST

"This is a long way from ‘Peddling a homophobic line’."

I disagree. If someone says that equality is a focus and *repeatedly* mentions equality for all sorts of other groups but never LGBTI people that is definitely homophobic. Different groups need different things: women need pay equality and protection from abuse; the homeless need better social policies from the Government;and lesbians and gays need her to fight for marriage equality. Not believing in marriage equality doesn't make someone an homophobe, but someone who claims an action focus on equality across the board but doesn't fight for marriage equality is an homophobe. Context matters.

Anyway, she is my diocesan bishop and I find her repeated mention of equality for every other group very disturbing. You might not know it, David, but same sex couples are already turned away from some London churches. If we have a bishop who is homophobic that is going to get worse.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 10:53pm BST

Bishop Mullally is scheduled to be introduced into the House of Lords on Thursday 24 May 2018 at 11.00 am.

Posted by Peter Owen at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 11:19pm BST

She is already a Privy Councillor

Posted by Bernard Silverman at Monday, 14 May 2018 at 11:30pm BST

Dear Tim, Assuming that bishops are the present day successors to the Twelve Apostles, how about Matthew 19:28 as a reference to the promises of Jesus -
"And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
That's quite some promise!

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 5:29am BST

Wise comment, James Bryon.

Posted by crs at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 7:42am BST

The phrase "by divine permission" in a bishop's style can be msunderstood, as if permission meant approval or endorsement or even appointment. In fact, God permits many bad things, in that He does not intervene to prevent them. He permitted the Black Death.

Archbishops are "by divine providence" which is more positive. It is not clear whether Mr Welby, for example, is said to hold his position due to General Providence, simply as a consequence of the playing out of the laws of nature and humanity, or Special Providence suggesting some divine influence specifically directed towards acieving his appointment.

The next level up is "by the grace of God, Queen etc" which seems to more clearly assert God played a role in Elizabeth's appointment, and to suggest that it is a good thing He did.

This is not a comment on +Sarah, ++Justin or ^Elizabeth, merely the curiosity of styles.

Posted by T Pott at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 8:18am BST

RP Newark: The minutes of the Privy Council supplied by Bernard describe her at her swearing in as LORD Bishop!

Posted by peter kettle at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 8:20am BST

I think Michael Mulhern is being a little unfair in comparing Bp.Sarah with such great forebears! Not everyone can be in that league - sadly. And one must have some appreciation of how difficult her position is - I am not surprised that there was no Eucharist as a substantial portion of her clergy including her own archdeacon would not have felt able to receive.

Posted by christopher at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 9:17am BST

To reassure James Byron, my point about being 'easy to manage' has nothing to do with Sarah Mullally's gender, and everything to do with the fact that she is part of the 'soft evangelical' mindset that reads from the same page as Welby. The other candidates were too experienced in episcopal orders to take too much direction from Lambeth; or, in the case of another, intellectually robust and confident in being able to think for himself.

Posted by Simon R at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 9:23am BST

Father David, you think 'the regeneration' (NRSV, NIV 'the renewal of all things', RSV 'in the new world') has already taken place, do you?

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 10:51am BST

Simon R The push back to you on 'easy to manage' was from me. I still struggle with it. And I am puzzled you think she would call herself an evangelical too. Given her impressive and demanding career, before ordination and my (admittedly limited) experience of her character and ministry in the church the notion of her being 'soft', let alone 'easier to manage', is still hard to imagine to my mind. But thank you for clarifying.

Posted by David Runcorn at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 10:56am BST

Of course, Robert Runcie's Enthronement sermon was superior to that which the new Bishop of London delivered at her "Installation"; most probably because Sarah Mullally's predecessor wrote it for him!

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 10:57am BST

Simon R - the proceedings of CNC are (meant to be) confidential so if you know who the other candidates were, something has leaked. I am not sure that this information has leaked very much as I for one have no clue who the others were and I am pretty attuned to gathering such gossip! (Knowledge is power...). Maybe we should move to candidate lists as some other provinces do....

Posted by Charles Read at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 11:25am BST

Her "embrace" is that of the CofE, in general - they embrace you to get one hand near your wallet and the other in position to stab you in the back. That is what Church has become.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 11:41am BST

Dear Tim "already and not yet". The Regeneration Game is not yet apparent in all its fulness but surely can be anticipated in the here and now - not least, we hope in those called and chosen to be bishops.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 12:23pm BST

A few clarifications:

1. Justin's charge is based on the CNC statement of needs, which distils (inter alia) the Vacancy in See Committee statement. So this is just charging the new diocesan with the task discerned by the Diocese and by wider society in London.

2. We talked about "enthronement" when thinking about the service. That term bespeaks something utterly alien to our doctrine of episcopacy. Installation is a bit prosaic (but legal). So it was an installation in which she was put into her stall/throne.

3. No, these events are not eucharistic. They are for the City as well as the Church, and it's always been the CofE approach not to ask people who have come from wider society to be a part of a service which is not one in which all of them feel that they can share. It also of course happens that, (although that's not the main reason)had it been eucharistic, there would have been some who would not have felt they could communicate - and this was a welcome based on unity.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 2:03pm BST

I'm struggling with the image of all our bishops as the successors of the apostles, crowding themselves onto just 12 thrones, judging the Jewish people...sometimes I wish I was a cartoonist!

Posted by Janet Fife at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 2:48pm BST

I'm not right good on Church events after Chalcedon, so pardon my ignorance, but there's just a bit in this thread which sounds wearily binary, and makes little connection with (say) Augustine.

We might long for perfection in our leaders (perfection frequently defined as 'agreeing with me'), but I'd have thought that the Christian tradition tended to a theology which acknowledged our compromised status as limited societal beings whose moral autonomy is not absolute (as did people like Sartre).

Despite what Pelagius (allegedly) taught, perfection will always elude us: it is rare that the choice is between simple 'good' and 'evil'. We choose between competing goods (or evils, for that matter) - why else do we have moral principles like 'double effect' which help us cope with inescapably having to embrace an evil in the pursuit of (what we hope is) a greater good? Bolz-Weber gives a brilliant exposition of such a dilemma in 'Accidental Saints.'

I long for the day when I can marry a couple of any mix of genders here: I also know that if I go rogue the worst that will happen is I get slung out of a job. The further up the ladder one gets, the greater the possibility of an action having unintended and catastrophic side-effects. It's a common-enough theme in literature and drama - think 'Oedipus Rex' for one.

Nor are we dealing with a 'courage' issue, because bravery consists in making a decision which carries a real risk of personal loss - Oscar Romero, for example. (No-one tagged Churchill as 'brave' for his disastrous Gallipoli campaign.) Better to pray for people like Bishop Sarah, they've been called to a job I'd not want for all the Pimms in Henley.

Anyhow, a Church composed of 'parfaits,' however defined, wouldn't have room for me. even if I were to do the defining.

Posted by David Rowett at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 3:50pm BST

Thanks for the clarification, Simon R. I wasn't accusing you of sexism (why I used conditional and general language in my reply to David), and apologize for not making that clearer.

In focusing on the bishop's actions, not her sex, and in treating her exactly as a male bishop holding those positions would be treated, this discussion appears commendably free of sexism.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 6:24pm BST

David Rowett, there's a chasm between demanding perfection, a thing impossible this side of the beyond, and expecting leaders to stay on the right side of certain moral imperatives, one of which is not intentionally discriminating on the basis of a person's sexuality. Even the most flawed of people can manage that.

Too often, I see imperfection used to excuse leaders from grave failings. "The church isn't a temple for saints, but a hospital for sinners," and so on. No. Making due allowance for human fallibility's not the same as giving leaders a free pass. I don't expect them to be perfect; but I do expect them to strive constantly to be the best people they can be, as must we all.

If conservatives have a tendency to demand too much of their leaders, then progressives' vice is demanding far, far too little.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 6:45pm BST

Bishop Broadbent says of "Enthronement" that it is "utterly alien to our doctrine of episcopacy" - since when? We still from time to time hear the term "Prince Bishop" and was it Mervyn Stockwood or Robert Mortimer who was/is oft referred to as the "last Prince Bishop"? Indeed to this day does not the Lord Bishop of Durham still retain a coronet around his mitre on his coat of arms and is he not enthroned on "the highest throne in Christendom"? Whenever I return to my home country of Durham (God's own county) I am greeted with signs which proudly welcome me to "The Land of the Prince Bishops". Recalling the affectionate name that she was given when she was Dean of Leicester, do we not now have our first "Princess" Bishop in the next Bishop of Bristol?
On the other hand, when the then Bishop of Southwark was writing about Michael Ramsey's "Enthronement on 27th June 1961 at Canterbury cathedral he wrote -
"I sometimes wonder what the Carpenter of Nazareth must think about His Church. And I wonder whether he would have been admitted to the Enthronement: probably not."
Now, if it is a fine example of an Enthronement sermon we are looking for, then how about the one Michael Ramsey delivered in Canterbury cathedral on the day the Dean placed him upon Saint Augustine's throne. His text was "There went with him a band of men whose hearts God had touched" (I Samuel 10: 26). Within the sermon he gives a fine description of "enthronement", one with which I am sure we could all agree? (Canterbury Essays and Addresses page 165)
Perhaps this sermon was topped only by the one he delivered when he was enthroned as Bishop of Durham on St. Luke's Day 1952 (Text II Corinthians 5: 14 "The love of Christ constraineth us") reprinted in "Durham Essays and Addresses" under the title "The Durham Tradition" (page 87) which concludes with these fine words -
"So, rejoicing we know that the Durham we love and the heavenly pattern are not strangers one to another; and near to us always is the constraining love of Christ, Enthroned as the Prince of Life and the Bishop of our Souls."

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 7:41am BST

James Byron. This is perhaps another discussion but I do not think women are addressed the same way as men at all in many of these discussions. The clearest recent example of this would be the arguments over the Bishop of Sheffield appointment including the unconscious bias noted in Philip Mawer's report. There is a still a long way to go.

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 9:34am BST
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.