Belated congratulations to Canon Glyn Webster, after the announcement last week that heis to be the next Bishop of Beverley. After the late nomination of Dr Warner to Chichester (admittedly a not un-poisoned chalice) that makes two good appointments together. They must be putting something in the water at the Wash House; indeed simply to find two Anglo-Catholics in a row who are not actually insane speaks well for the diligence of their search.
In some ways the choice of Canon Webster is even better than that of Dr Warner. Unlike Dr Warner, Canon Webster went to the right college, and even – remarkably - seems to have survived the experience. Meanwhile his former profession (nursing) will not only provide plenty of Carry-On-style material for the House of Bishops’ annual revue (we hear the Bishop of Buckingham does a very good Kenneth Williams) but will also ensure that the new bishop is well used to clearing up the kind of discharges from the body ecclesiastical that he is likely to face.
However, amid this approval we must note one disappointment: that preferment has once again failed to come the way of Plumstead Rectory. Not only that, but we are reliably informed that in at least one other rectory on this side of the Pennines there was some expectation of this appointment. Sad to see, then, that the Diocese of York has again been favoured. Even the official announcement was ungracious enough to rub this point in, labouring unnecessarily the formerly Lancastrian situation of Canon Webster, who has in fact served all his ministry at York.
Is it too much to see in this profusion of patronage the hand of the Archbishop of the Northern Province? Is Dr Sentamu being prepared for Lambeth, and being allowed to draw his own diocesan men into higher places? If so, the precedents are not encouraging for us pseudo-anonymous commentators.
Or is the opposite signal being sent, and the senior men of the diocese being given the chance of fresh fields, since their own bishop is staying put? If so, could it be that someone on the western side of the Pennines is about to receive some high-level preferment?
Without any doubt this secrecy in episcopal appointments is very damaging. We need to know now what we are getting. After all, Messrs Watts and Co. must be given time to deliver the lawn sleeves. And I must know what answer to give to the Moonies.