Hot under the collar
The Fourth Estate took a break from its usual gay-bishop-schism-shock-horror mode early last month to report on the suggestion that clergy should stop wearing dog collars, as it would make their lives safer. The Sunday Telegraph rolled out Fr David Houlding to say how safe he felt wearing his - whereupon his words of common sense were soon to be found gracing Christianity Today The Cape Times of South Africa, The Times-Reporter of Canton, Ohio, The Canadian Press, The International Herald Tribune, to say nothing of BBC Radio 2. Two serious questions arise out of all this.
First, what on earth makes the author of the offending report - one Nick Tolson of something apparently called National Churchwatch - think that a priest looks any less like a priest when he's not wearing a dog collar? And, second, why on earth didn't the press approach our very own Fr Geoffrey Kirk for his take on the issue? After all, he has been known to swap his extensive collection of silk ties for a clerical collar on the odd occasion...
News reaches 30Days to the effect that the new Principal of the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield is to be a Dr Joseph Kennedy from Cambridge. Intrigued, we turn to Crockford to check out his CV. Following his ordination in 2002, Joe seems to have spent one year in his title parish, followed by a second curacy of two years, after which he has spent two years as a college chaplain. And, er, that's it.
Hopefully, though, his long and impressive list of qualifications (BSc, BD, PGCE, MSt and DPhil) will go some way towards supplementing his long and varied parochial experience in his challenging new work preparing candidates for the parish ministry. Still, give it two years, and he'll be ripe for election to an American bishopric (see 30Days passim).
Mindful perhaps of the Holy Father's admonition to revisit traditional liturgical rites, the Feminist Reading Group at Westcott House put the clock back
to the early 1970s for mass on the feast of St Teresa of Avilla. Students entering the chapel were surprised to find that the usual seating had been removed to make way for a large vulva picked out in tea lights.
30Days recently heard from the Parish Priest of S.Michael & All Angels, Inverness, Fr Len Black, who wondered if we had spotted the news release issued by the Vatican, denying it had bought a football team. Apparently, Holy See Press Office Director Fr Federico Lombardi SJ was forced to deny reports that the Vatican or the Italian Episcopal Conference had bought the Italian football team Ancona, which plays in the third division.
It seems that Ancona football club and the Centra Sportivo Italiano have recently signed an agreement involving the application of an ethical code in the administration of the team, alongside a new model of economic management, the promotion of a sporting culture among the fans, and support for social initiatives in the Third World. For its part, the Centra Sportivo Italiano has undertaken to seek sponsors for the club. 'The Vatican and the Italian Episcopal Conference have nothing to do with this project,' declared Fr. Lombardi. 'There are initiatives which have positive and commendable aims and, if the declared intentions can be effectively achieved, this is certainly a good thing,' he said adding, however, that this does not mean that this is an initiative of the Vatican or of the Italian Episcopal Conference. Members of the Ancona football club were due to participate in an upcoming general audience in St Peter's Square but this, Fr. Lombardi made clear, did not mean 'that the Pope has sponsored or taken responsibility for the working of the team.'
Fr Black told 30Days that this seemed a great shame, and wondered whether New Directions might not agree to trump the Holy See by agreeing to sponsor Inverness Caledonian Thistle, on the somewhat spurious grounds that many of the team drink with him in the Clachnaharry Inn.
Given that, at the time of writing, ICT are languishing near the foot of the Scottish Premier League, having lost three times as many matches as they have won, it seems clear that they do indeed need some new directions - perhaps they might start with 'out of the pub, lads, and back to the training ground'!
Sale of the Century
To make room on the shelves of the Philpott Library (nothing to do with the Vicar of S.Peter's, Plymouth, but a library of 2,000 books given by Bishop Phipott in the 19th century for use of the clergy), the Diocese of Truro recently sanctioned a sale of some of the books by the library's trustees. Not bothering to have the books valued by experts or auctioneers, the trustees invited various book dealers to make offers and in due course accepted an offer of £36,000 from a Mr. John Thornton, a bookseller from Chelsea.
One of the books then came up for auction in Gloucestershire last December and was sold for £47,000 - £11,000 more than Mr Thornton had paid for the entire collection! Various other books and manuscripts have appeared in sale rooms and have fetched a total of over £Vim. Mr Thornton has since closed his book shop and retired 'to the country'. The sale of the books at such a low price has astounded antiquarian book-sellers who have described it as 'one of the killings of the century'.
Balancing the books
Stipendiary clergy in the Diocese of Truro were of course delighted to hear from their bishop in September that the diocese would only be able to afford a 2.5% cost of living increase in stipends for 2008. Bishop Bill Ind explained this was due to the rising contributions the diocese had to make towards pensions, as well as the cessation of grants from the Church Commissioners. Still, it could have been much worse if it hadn't been for that marvelous windfall of £36,000!
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