30 Days

August 1999

 

Just Fancy That

The front page of The Church of England Newspaper majored on a recent article by the Bishop of St. Alban's, Christopher Herbert. Apparently he was attacking the “unbelievably inaccurate”? journalism of national papers enquiring into the mystery of the bishops' expenses (they have leapt from £4m to £8m in under a decade).

The bishop writes, “I earn £28,930 p.a. gross. There. Now you have it. It is, of course, public knowledge”. (It is indeed, you can read it in Whitakers, but that doesn't stop CEN printing the figure as £23,980). The bishop goes on to make comparisons with other bishops and other professionals.

Moving on to the real heart of the matter, the bishop explains his need for two secretaries and a chaplain (we are not told if there is a chauffeur or gardener) and his great concern for proper pay for the clergy.

All of this shows a very laudable desire for openness; but there is just one small omission - the figure for his expenses.

Loot

The resistible rise of episcopal expenses should not be the only financial matter to trouble the puritan element in the Church of England (not to mention Her Majesty’s Inspector of Taxes). Since our last issue several further lines of enquiry have emerged from enraged parishioners and fellow clergy alike. Some became aware, for the first time, that a few parish clergy, courtesy of trustees, were paid more than bishops. Some others rang in to query whether £2 - 3,000 p.a. was normal expenses when their vicar was racking up five figure annual entertainment bills.

Even a former bishop of a diocese could scarcely contain himself on the subject of his former cathedral’s clergy pay structure. He was, he told friends, far and away the worst paid man in the procession.

Up Close and Financial

Historic cathedrals are, or rather were, a law unto themselves. When the assembled dignitaries of one of our great national piles were apprised of the fact that their hugely inflated sinecures were about to be pruned there was much muttering and complaining at Chapter. Not for long though. The Dean was able to put their minds at rest by simply suggesting that their expenses rise accordingly.

Sorry to carp, lads, but this not strictly what the Revenue’s guidelines have in mind.

Up Close and Pastoral

Who could not have been moved to tears by the recent docu-soap on St. Paul’s Cathedral?

When the lovely canonette, Lucy Twinkle, was reduced to tears by all those beastly misogynists who would not receive Communion from her, there was scarcely a dry eye in the house.

It is true, of course, that Miss Twinkle knew that such things would happen when she took the job; but how timely were the tears and how right was the noble Dean Moses (who had put her in that position) to insist that no more traditionalists should be allowed to cause such a problem by being employed at the Cathedral.

Presumably, Cathedrals are an Act of Synod - free zone.

Top of the “Pops”

One of our more serious minded readers has taken 30 days to task for frivolity in labelling the champagne loving Bishop of Salisbury with the sobriquet, “Bubbles”.

“Dynamic Dave” Stancliffe, for it is he, leader of Affirming Catholicism and liturgy major has, we are sure, taken it all in good part. After all, what better way to celebrate our Lord's Resurrection in the New Rite? (Poorer parishes will be permitted to continue to use Asti Spumante until 2003)

Our pedantic correspondent suggests we should dub Dave, “Jeroboam”. Lest you think, as we did, that this is some reference either to his generosity or to his capacity, think again. It is apparently an obscure biblical reference to some Old Testament character who wanted to be King, went with the majority, ended up leading a group of people who believed something different, and disappeared into obscurity.

Keep those letters coming in.

Who He?

BISHOP GRAHAM JONES IS TO BE THE NEW BISHOP OF NORWICH. So proclaimed a front page splash on the front of The Church of England Newspaper. Puzzled by the rise of this obscure prelate, readers were somewhat reassured to see a photograph of the slightly better known Graham James (Runcie 1987), Bishop of St. Germans.

Bishop James, as readers of this column will know, was lined up for Exeter diocese. When we published this unremarkable fact, it unleashed a storm of complaints from bishops to the magazine, and an official complaint to the Blackburn Commission.

Sadly for Bishop James this meant a change of plans from on high. So it's off to sunny Norfolk instead. Never mind, he’ll be in good company with his old Cuddesdon friend Stephen Platten (Runcie 1990) who is Dean of Norwich.

Shameful Stereotyping

Fair-minded traditionalists were appalled at the contents of that latest circular from the vanguard of the Wimmin's Movement, WATCH (proprietor: Christina Rees).

Christians, as followers of the new movement are known, were invited to purchase, as signs of feminist solidarity, WATCH official aprons and tea towels! Presumably these symbols of patriarchal repression are for their significant others. You can’t beat a genuine Forward in Faith linen ephod.

Bad News

It is always sad to have to report the folding of a religious journal. “Celebrate”? - ‘the independent magazine’ - which began life ten months ago as a big budget glossy monthly dedicated to reporting the good news in the Church of England, has ceased publication due to inadequate sales. A remnant of it will now appear as a regular supplement to that other publication dedicated to reporting the good news in the C of E - The Church of England Newspaper.

Grow Your Own

The first popular publication of the Archbishops' Council plopped through vicarage letterboxes early last month. It was a poster of a charming young woman dressed as a catholic priest, and playing with a small child. The child is trying to put some white plastic object up its nose. The caption explains:

“Clerical collars make good moustaches”

This is for display in church porches to encourage vocations and generally “to cheer up the troops”, apparently. The sponsors of this campaign, who have committed £50,000 to it, are Ecclesiastical Insurance.

But whose idea was it?

Step forward George Carey who leant on the Insurers to cough up for this latest wheeze to make the church relevant...Of course if George had stuck to ordaining only people who could grow moustaches themselves, the cute blonde on the poster wouldn’t be experimenting with her plastic insert.

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