In the latest episode of Southwark, Lambeth Palace refers to #mitregate as “the issue of vesture”. At least LP didn’t choose the words “wardrobe malfunction.”
An American Episcopalian received the response below to his email concerning his “disappointment … in the manner in which our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, was treated during her recent visit to Southwark Cathedral.” (We have omitted the correspondent’s name.)
Paternalistic sums up the last paragraph. As to the rest, the PB had gone through the ecclesial vetting process before, and it is not uncommon for overseas clergy to preside at eucharist as a one off without the formalities required of those serving for an extended period in the C of E. As to the policy that “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” that has Dr. Strangelove written all over it. “Misunderstandings” would be avoided by announcing it. Which we just did. What is avoided by a hidden policy is appeasement of traditionalists — as long as the woman bishop is willing to play along.
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,
Sent by Jack Target on behalf of:
The Revd Canon Anthony Ball
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain
Lambeth Palace, London