Some more items in the “mitregate” saga.
Maggi Dawn (whose earlier post Mitregate: the latest church row was linked previously on TA has written two further articles: first, Mitregate (2): “should I go or should I stay, now?”
…My own mailbox this week has had a stream of comments from women who have just been, or are about to be, ordained as priests or deacons. They are disappointed and dismayed as everyone else who sees this whole charade as a massive PR blunder. But there is a personal element too. It swings straight back at them: with one hand the Church has welcomed their giving up of their time, their careers and their economic security in order to serve, while with the other hand, in the very month that they take their orders, it has smacked them down again. You can serve, the Church seems to say, but never dare to forget you are second class citizens.
At one level this whole affair has been a lot of nonsense – as the Presiding Bishop herself said, “It is bizarre; it is beyond bizarre“. But I don’t mind admitting that the onslaught of mockery from those outside the church and disappointment from inside has had me seriously considering hanging up my own cassock.
And also, Mitregate 3:
I feel sure that the Mitregate story will blow over sometime in the next 24 hours. It’s just a small incident, of course – it’s just a hat, it’s just one misunderstanding, it’s not what we are really all about, and it really deserves a good lampooning of the kind Spitting Image used to do so well. For the true picture, you could do no better than to hear or read the marvellous sermon KJS preached at Southwark last weekend. What I regret about this story, though, is that it’s one of a long series of events that make the Church appear out of touch and absorbed in petty details that don’t matter that much.
Many have asked, “What was Lambeth thinking?”. I may be wrong, but my guess is that it was the timing of her visit – so close to our imminent Synod debate on women bishops in England – that made those in Lambeth anxious not to be seen to be forcing the issue. Perhaps this isn’t surprising given that the history of England* has always inclined towards change by degree. We didn’t make the long journey from feudalism to democracy without a war or two, but once France had her revolution we followed with two centuries of political reform, one tiny step at a time. Whether the anxiety for less bloodshed left us with more frustration is hard to say, but it seems that culturally we carved a path we still follow: change comes slowly, with every miniscule step analysed and considered. The seventeenth century proverb (later adapted by Longfellow) could have been written for the Church of England: “God’s mill grinds slow, but sure.”
Kelvin Holdsworth has provided a Scottish perspective in his article Mitregate:
…The short version is that the Presiding Bishop of the US based Episcopal Church was inhibited from wearing a mitre or carrying a pastoral staff whilst visiting Southwark Cathedral last Sunday. I suspect this is because the Church of Englandshire does not recognise that women can become bishops yet and so inhibit women who have been made bishops from acting as bishop or appearing as bishops when in England. It is a kind of small-mindedness that we don’t indulge in up here. Either Bishop Katharine is a bishop or she isn’t. If she is, she gets treated with respect as a bishop or she isn’t and we don’t have to bother about her at all. (It was the same years ago for Bishop Penny from New Zealand who was able to act as a bishop in Scotland even before we had made any decision about women and the Episcopatate but she could not do so in England).
I remember that +Gene Robinson was banned from wearing Episcopal regalia when in England two years ago for similar reasons. However, I could not remember whether he had worn one a titfer liturgically when he came here. It made me look back at the video of that service and I found that he did indeed wear a mitre. Seems to me that making headgear the cause of controversy is displacement activity.
Presumably the no-mitre on +Katharine rule was instigated in order to appease a certain kind of Evangelical lobby group. (Which again, I don’t think we really have up here either, thank God). Oh how sweet the irony that they become the first bible-believing fundamentalists to insist that a woman not wear a hat in public worship…
And it appears that Kenneth Kearon made a comment about this last week in Maryland.
But this Canadian church website has a video which everyone should watch. (h/t SueM)