And yesterday's London appointment, surely, lends massive support to the thesis in my yesterday's post. And how similar Sarah is to Justin!! I don't mean that Justin is effeminate or that Sarah is butch: rather, that each of them achieved eminence outside the Anglican Ministry; each served rather briefly in the presbyteral and parish ministries; did a fairly perfunctory stint bishopping; and bob's your uncle. Carey, likewise, rose from Bath'n'Wells to Canterbury without pettifogging delays. And for his successor, the Wise and the Good turned to ... somebody who was not a Church of England bishop at all! And Archbishop Eames was another name that had been mentioned!
Given the judgement thus effectually passed upon the Church of England's Bench of Bishops, you hardly needed me to make the unkind remarks about their quality which I offered you yesterday.
Time was, when some Sees (notably, Durham and Oxford) were reserved for academics of eminence. It was felt useful that they would be able to keep their heads above water as they navigated the Senior Common Rooms. But, with the increasing secularisation of the older Universities, that instinct has disappeared. It is rumoured that Rowan had been "in for" a number of Oxbridge headships of house before, by a narrow margin, he secured Magdalen. The Church of England is no longer a real part of the English Establisment, incredible though that may seem.
Justin's major success has been keeping the anti-woman-priests brigade happy by giving them an attractive little ecclesiola in ecclesia ... something that the liberals consistently vetoed during Rowan's pontificate. But I don't put that down to Justin's superior diplomatic skills as much as to the success of the Ordinariates and a nervous sense that a leakage needed to be blocked up. PF has helped too ... he is nothing like as attractively Anglican as dear Professor Ratzinger was. Indeed, PF has been a godsend to the C of E. One Anglican cleric said to me: "You know, I just don't feel nearly as papalist now as I thought I was"!
I imagine that the idea will have been in many minds that Sarah would make a good shoe-in for Canterbury when Justin cuts and runs. They must be rather worried about the current calls for his resignation ... "a bit too soon, old man" they will be murmurring. "Most people outside the Athenaeum have never even heard of Bell ... stick it out".