Page 8, 18th November 1977

18th November 1977
Page 8
Page 8, 18th November 1977 — Bishop spotting is just not playing the game

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People: Gilroy, Mass, Coggan, Sidney, Synod


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Bishop spotting is just not playing the game

WHILE. we are on the subject of Anglicans I sec that at their General Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that he hoped that in future people would not use'the media to influence the appointment of bishops. What on earth can he mean?

He was referring to the appointment of Bishop Montefiore to the diocese of Birmingham. Now the Bishop, when a chaplain at Cambridge, did make a speculation about Christ that even the most prurient Sunday paper would hesitate to do on its own, It was gratuitously offensive, though defensible in terms of the Higher Liberalism if not of scholarship or reverence.

The Bishop is a brilliant man and is, by the way, a Jewish convert from a magnificent Sephardic: family and his Christianity must have come with great grace and pain. But he did upset a lot of people, and what he said was not only new but News and the Press is not there to sweep bishops under the carpet.

The Anglican Church has now far more say in the choice of their prelates. Traditionally it was the Prime Minister advising the Queen that made a bishop. Now the Archbishop is chairman of a new Crown Appointments Committee. We must remember that Catholic sovereigns used to have a heavy say in the choice of bishops and some very odd choices they made. So we'll cast no stones in that direction!

But why should people not comment upon the appointinent of their pastors? We are not, in fact, sheep even if they are shepherds. And they were chosen, sometimes by popular acclaim, in the early Church, But it goes deeper than that. Professionals do not like the intrusion of the laity. It is poison

for a backbench MP to get too much Press publicity. It get the enmity of his colleagues.

Bishop spotting is now a popular Press pass time. But woe betide the priest who is spotted too early or too often. It raises a wordless distrust or envy in his colleagues. It is legitimate to talk shout our elders and betters in this country. It is not impious to murmur "phew!" at some strange appointment.

It is not disloyal to wonder how the new methods of "consultation" work in the Anglican or Catholic churches. I think I could tell who will he the next Archbishop of Canterbury when Dr Coggan retires. It would do him nothing.but harm to do so. I keep him in petto.

I would have thought that all the talk of the new Bishop of Birmingham was fair, necessary and therapeutic. The people, even Christian people, have the right to know.

Please pay at the door

CANTERBURY Cathedral is, for me. one of the most lovely places in Europe. At vast expense it has undergone •a tremendous restoration. Whole windows have had to he reset. Carving that was eroded into utter shapelessness has had to be replaced. , Stories that were being ground to powder by the atmosphere, have had to be drilled out and replaced with new ones imported from France. In doing this the Cathedral had virtually created its own school of craftsmen.

The most obvious thing about such restorations is their appalling expense. Buildings grow old but in their cases we strive officiously to keep them alive. And quite right too.

Canterbury now has a lay executive adviser to help with the continual search for money that accompanies the opus del, the work of regular prayer. The cathedral now has two large shops, five counters, all manner of collecting boxes and two fund raising exhibitions. 1 cannot say that I have ever found any of them the least offensive. Now there is a suggestion that people he charged for entering the place. I think it was Salisbury Cathedral that first tried this desperate measure. You were asked to pay at the door, not forced to pay. None. the less the practice of asking for 20p during non-service times created a storm of Pharisaical protest though did not the Pharisees boast of how much they gave to the Temple?

No matter. The predictable sort of people wanted their free

show. Winchester Cathedral

faced with the same incessant problem has done much the same. Prominent at the entrance is a large notice asking you to give your 20p. There is

usually a devoted lady or a robed clergyman there to convey just that small frisson of guilt that loosens the change in one's pocket. There is also a large book stall at the end of one of the

aisles to sell those colour tran sparencies that are today's substitute for the pilgrim's cockle

shell. They sell all manner of

guide hooks all done with that exemplary good taste that is a

special quality of the Anglican

church. Those cathedral stalls are invariably worth looking at. Westminster Cathedral itself has a bookshop built into its walls and used to have another in the side porch.

Now if' has been suggested that Canterbury too, charge for

entry, not it turnstile of course, but that sort Of Christian nudge ut the door. Many churches do charge for ehtry to special places. I seem to remember that you have to buy tickets to get into some parts of Westminster Abbey, but then it is so long since I have been able to get in there past all the tourists that I cannot he quite certain.

.1 do know that one of the Royal tombs behind the High Altar I think it is the first on the left as you stand with your back to the buck of the altar reredos has a hole in its side, quite small, under the slab.

If you drop a coin in it falls upon what is clearly a slithery hillock of pennies. Does the Dean slip down at night and prise open the lid with the help of 40 choristers and pocket the loot? 1 fear not. It is far more likely that he has had the hole blocked up in the cause of seemliness.

Personally I do not see why people who come to look at the cathedrals as works of art should not be help out with the problem of keeping them up. The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Rev Victor Waal, has had to face a meeting -of angry churchgoers.

According to The Church Times, one pious person said that the cathedral might become, a den of thieves and not a house of God. I have seen it written that the excellence and power of the style of the Authorised Version did the English language severe hurt, have never seen before that it has corrupted their style of thinking.

Personally I am quite ready to shell out 20p at Salisbury, Winchester or Canterbury to see that which is part of my property and birthright is properly maintained.

Mad hatters at work

CARDINAL Gilroy of Sidney died recently. He was master of a large and extremely Gothic cathedral. I cannot say that I ever met him, but I do remember attending a High Mass in his St Mary's Cathedral.

IL must have been in 1954, during the Queen's visit to that part of her kingdom. I am not quite sure if that is quite constitutionally correct. But, for the time being, she is as much Queen of Australia as she is of the United Kingdom.

Anyway, in those preecumenical days, she attended a service in the Anglican cathedral. The Roman Catholics held a separate service for Catholic diplomats and dignitaries. So it was a full fig affair, though without a sniidgeon of royalty. And the Cathedral was far from Full.

There was a sermon, clearly by some ecclesiastical star, some golden tongued Irishman whose devotion to the monarchy was somewhat muted. It is one of the sermons of all the sermons I have heard that I best remember.

The priest picked his way among the pinacles up into the pulpit. He began very properly, welcoming the presence of Her Majesty in Australia. He did not labour the point. Suddenly he changed gear and, pointing upwards said, almost angrily, ""But let me remind you that there is a far greater Queen in Heaven." And we were back on firm, familiar Irish ground.

Archbishop Gilroy sat on his throne and now is dead. Pius XII made him Cardinal and gave him that extraordinary object "the hat." Now this is something that comes second in prestige only to a closed crown (an open crown is a very inferior affair). It used to he received in Catholic countries with Royal honours, It was also in Tudor England a synonym n for an obscenity of obscure significance.

I am a Royalist and also a calculated traditionalist. The Irish exile passing his not inelegant insult, gave me a sort of wicked pleasure. It is so seldom in life that things come out precisely as they should traditionally. I was therefore the more distressed to hear further news from Sidney.

Cardinal Gilroy's hat is not to he hung up in his cathedral, This is a symptom of a nagging, trivial, anti-aesthetic and antijoy reformism that seems to go side by side with the richer vulgarities of the permissive society.

These vast and impractical hats (there is literally no way in which they could be worn) have been abolished along with red shoes, silver trumpets in St Peter's, the Noble Guard, silver buckles on shoes, scarlet capes, flabelli, moire silk, the Dies free, maniples, large amethistiue rings, gentiluomi, sub-deacons and prayers for the conversion of England.

I cannot see that Holy Mother is one obol the more holy or effective for the peripheral and irrelevant killings. Such things did not matter to a lot of holy men. They ;have irrelevant pleasure on the fringe to a lot of people like me who delighted in an almost snobbish appreciation of our history, its splendour and its by-products. 1 cannot see that the abolition has markedly changed the Church.

At present there are several hats hanging in Westminster Cathedral, some of them dark and bedraggled. They will be thrown away when they fall.

Cardinal Heenan's hat hangs bright and fresh over his grave. Cardinal Newman's is still in the Birmingham Oratory. Cardinal Fiume has not got one, Cardinal Gilroy's is going to be sprayed with a preservative and kept in a Perspex case in a museuni in the crypt of his cathedral.

Litany for a

Happy Death

WE GET lots of letters about the liturgy which tend on the whole to be both sad and angry. They are also sometimes very intolerant. But one this week, mourning some disusedprayers, asked if we were now afraid of saying the Litany for a Happy Death.

I have just looked it up and it certainly scared me, I think it was intended to. It includes such gaieties as:

".. ,When my feet, benumb with death, shall admonish me that my mortal course is drawing to an end , . . When my hands, cold and trembling, shall no longer be able to clasp the crucifix, and, against my will, shall let it fall on my bed of suffering . . . When my Face, pale and livid, shall inspire the beholders with pity and dismay And so it goes on. And you used to get a plenary indulgence as well as a fit of melancholia if you said it every day for a month. It almost made you want to hear that other severely practical remark that may still be said to the dying: "Go forth, 0 Christian soul, out of this world ..."

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