Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Ladies of Ill Repute and of Good Repute

When I was a child my father did a lot of travelling on business (yes, we defenders of privilege at Plumstead Rectory spring from the commercial classes). At that time hotels were very vigilant about guests entertaining visitors in their rooms, whether from moral or financial motives, or both. It was not uncommon for the manager to call round late at night, asking sternly “have you got a woman in your room, sir?”

My father maintained the theory that there were two classes of hotel for business travellers: the better sort, where if one answered “yes” to this question the lady would be asked to leave, and the seedier sort, where if one answered “no” a lady would be thrown in.

Something similar is now to be expected by those who are looking for episcopal preferment. If a nice man from your senior staff meeting asks you if you are looking for some companionship, be careful how you answer. The Wash House is not as fun as it sounds.
If you are content with your presbyteral status, of course, you will please yourself.

While on the subject of throwing women in, readers will remember proposals to allow senior women clergy to attend and speak at meetings of the House of Bishops, upon which we commented in detail here. The manner of their election has now been fixed, and we can say that although the bishops are not as forward-thinking as we were in our proposals, the franchise on which these women will be elected is at least delightfully fancy. Peter Snow will have a whale of a time explaining how it all works.
It is pleasing to see, too, that female electors from the Royal Peculiars are to take part. Not to include the canons of Westminster Abbey and St George’s Windsor in this new system would surely have caused a loss of confidence in the leadership of the Church of England. Rightly so: the sex of Her Majesty herself is, of course, the clinching argument both for and against the consecration of women, and this is just as it should be.


Meanwhile back at the cutting edge of ministry it is David Walker, Bishop of Dudley who is to be the next Bishop of Manchester. Here, too, the powers-that-be in the Church of England are ever-so-cautiously following our lead: Bishop Walker is a married man, but he has the beard of James I of blessed memory, and this is a criterion for selection certain to be encouraged.

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