Monday, 28 January 2013

Bad Bishops Drive Out Good

The news that the Bishop of Liverpool will be retiring later this year does not sadly surprise us here at Plumstead Rectory, but it does sadden surprisingly. Students of ecclesiastical politics will guess that Dr Jones is not, on paper, the bishop we would have chosen; but he has been a good shepherd of this diocese, has done no particular discredit to his office (this already puts him in the first rank of prelates) and has betrayed his fellow evangelicals just the right amount.

Indeed, we may say that the Bishop of Liverpool has done well. In the Church of England, however, we think more on succession than on success, and we have now to consider, once again, the task of the appointments system.

Readers will not need reminding that at the time the appointment of Dr Jones, following a senior position in the Diocese of York (of course), was regarded as a vile New Labour job. It turned out well, however, and it is in a spirit of helpfulness that we point out to the Prime Minister that there are still unpreferred Tory clergymen in the key electoral areas of the North West.

It is, we admit, more likely that the choice will fall on one of our so-called Anglicans to watch in 2013. It is perhaps too soon for Liverpool to be the stage for the return of the Master of Magdalene, but the Vicar of Newington might be tempted north by our excellent fast train services to the capital. Almost the only factor against Dr Fraser is the growing belief that he may be a fictional character: if this turns out to be true we will also advance the claims for the translation of Dr Henderson or the consecration of Fr Dominic.

If the Crown Nominations Commission is in more prosaic mood, we may be blessed by the ministry of the soon-to-be-redundant Bishop of Bradford. Since this would presumably be on an unpaid, welfare-into-work basis, the Church would see a double saving. There are too many shirkers on the bench of bishops as there is, spending all their time watching Jeremy Kyle: indeed we are reliably informed that there are entire episcopal households where no-one has ever worked.

Of course, in the longer term an even greater saving would be made if the Bishop of Bradford’s example were more widely followed. Here at Plumstead Rectory we are strict monetarists when it come to our bishops: the fewer in circulation, the more valuable. Gresham's Law of Episcopacy (above) also seems to have held true so far.

We encourage Dr Sentamu (immigrant labour, taking jobs too dirty for idle Britons) to by-pass the Wash House and throw Liverpool, like Whitby, into the maw of the Dioceses Commission. It is high time we were re-united with Chester again, despite the high episcopal expenses that might ensue. Or, better still, with Lichfield again. You heard it here first.

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