15 March 2009

Equivocal Mitres

Congratulations, and heartiest ones, to two bishops; Richard Rutt (of Taejon, 1968-1974; of St Germans 1974-1979; of Leicester 1979-1990), and Conrad Meyer (of Dorchester [see below], 1979-1988), who have both just been given the dignity of Monsignore by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

Historically, some grades of Monsignori have had the jus pontificalium, the right to wear pontifical vestments. Could this be a way round the nervousness which Rome feels about allowing Anglican bishops who enter into full communion with the Holy See to continue in episcopal ministry? Make them monsignori and give them the jus pontificalium and faculties to administer Confirmation, and pretty well the only function they will lose will be that of administering Major Orders.

Back in the days of Bishop Kirk, when the Diocese of Oxford was under Catholic management, the Bishop of Dorchester (a suffragan see of Oxford) had the right to celebrate Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester Abbey with the full ceremonial of a Diocesan Bishop on just one day a year, the Feast (Double of the First Class) of S Birinus of Dorchester. (Serving was done by the seminarians of S Stephen's House, who, nowadays, are reduced to serving Masses for Cardinals in the Basilica of S Pius X in Lourdes.) At one such Dorchester fervorino the Pontiff gave the blessing at the end of Mass with such enthusiasm that his ring flew off his episcopal glove and could only with difficulty be found. Ah, happy days. Now Oxford is in the hands of a liberal evangelical and one of his suffragans is the Barmy Bishop of Bux. And the Vicar of Dorchester is a woman. (But Dorchester does have the admirable figure of Fr Osman down the road in his little jewel of a church, so the news is not all bad.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was once told that the only way to stop Bishop Westwood of Peterborough from making a quick getaway after services was for the National Anthem to be played. Could this be true?