Southwark Cathedral allows woman bishop to carry mitre but NOT to wear it
The Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church in America, Katherine Jefferts Schori, was allowed to carry her mitre when she presided at the Eucharist in Southwark Cathedral last Sunday – but not to wear it. Why? Not because The Episcopal Church (TEC, the current name of her denomination) recently ordained a lesbian priest. Indeed, the Dean of Southwark, Colin Slee, had to clarify that point at Evensong. The “practising lesbian” issue was irrelevant, he made clear, even though that’s the cause of a formal rift between Lambeth and TEC, and stops American Anglicans from sitting on various committees.
No: the mitre was had to stay folded because Ms Schori is not recognised as a bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury – yet. Wearing it on her head would break a rule imposed by +Rowan. But carrying it?
Fine. And note the bishop’s shirt underneath her alb. (A quick footnote: until a few decades ago, some evangelical bishops would have their mitres carried in front of them rather than wear them – not because they doubted their episcopal orders, but because mitres as hats as opposed to symbols were popish.) However, Dean Slee (an old mate of mine who wants to see Anglicanism follow the logic of liberal Protestantism properly and quickly) does personally recognise Jefferts Schori as a bishop, even if he’s not ready to pick a fight with Lambeth over headgear.
So, she’s a bishop in Southwark Cathedral, a simple priest in Lambeth Palace, and a lay person masquerading as a priest in Southwark’s Forward in Faith parishes.
There may even be one or two churches which, adhering to the position taken by some Anglo-Catholics in the 1980s, recognise her as a deacon but not a priest. No one has yet denied that she’s a woman. Anyway, Jefferts Schori is cross, though I can’t help wondering: couldn’t she (a) have left her mitre in her suitcase, thus avoiding embarrassment, or (b) quickly popped it on in Southwark, thus affirming her status? I doubt that anyone would have lunged forward and knocked it off her head. Though, with the C of E in its current skittish mood, who knows?