Thousands of enthusiastic well-wishers joined the worshippers streaming out of the Cathedral at the conclusion of the service of inauguration to welcome the Church of England’s first Inuit Archbishop. The Rt Revd Michael Kalago (58), who travelled to the Cathedral by kyak, had spent most of his early life north of the Arctic Circle and has pledged that he will bring ‘some Eskimo warmth’ to a Church which he has described as ‘colder than an igloo’ and ‘as sparsely populated as the Polar wastes’.
During the inauguration service the new Archbishop was symbolically re-baptized, re-confirmed and re-ordained successively as deacon, priest and bishop. In a controversial ceremony, and at his own special request, Dr Kalango renewed his wedding vows with his wife, Enid (with whom he is to job-share his archiepiscopate). A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury said that s/he was sure that the new Archbishop intended no offence to those who, through no fault of their own, were differently partnered.
Dr Kalago was sumptuously attired for the inauguration in a grey sealskin cope and a white fur mitre. The climax of the ceremony was a rendering of the traditional Inuit hymn ‘Seal of God, you take away’ by a choir of three hundred Eskimos in day glow kagools, accompanied by a small orchestra of hand carved whale-bone nose flutes. The two thousand strong congregation enthusiastically exchanged the peace by rubbing noses. The rite concluded with a picnic in the nave, at which the frozen desserts were generously provided by Iceland, who also contributed a tanker of the traditional Inuit celebration drink, Coca Cola.
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