15 March 2020

Dominus ... er ... Episcopa ...

There was a letter in The Times the other week from a lady who described herself as "Lord Bishop of ..."

How diverting. Are the women who have been fast-tracked in droves onto the episcopal benches of the House of Lords to be deemed officially male? Or of fluid gender? Or has she self-identuified as male? If so, should she have availed herself of the fast-track-for-females provisions? That immensely readable Janice Turner, who writes so well in The Times on Saturdays, might have a view on the subject.

Will this ... person's ...  liturgical designation be as a "Right Reverend Father in God"? Will the legal ceremonies to put in place a female Archbishop (do you think they might have got the Mullarkey lined up to follow the Welby?) still refer to  ... er ... it ... as "the Most Reverend the Father in God"? With what pronouns will such liminal individuals be referred to in Lords' debates?

Women High Court Judges do not seem to crave this bizarre sexual indeterminacy. They are happy to be Ladies (Lady Hale, for example, retiring Chief Justice of the SCOTUK, seemed to have no problems about being a woman).

After 1559, the question arose of how the wives of Elizabeth Tudor's Protestant bishops should be addressed. Hitherto, the wife of a peer had, by age-old custom, borrowed noble staus from her husband. But Elizabeth Tudor didn't like the idea of these episcopussies being 'ladies'. Didn't like it at all! In our own time, might she have been transwomanphobic?

But ... come to think of it ... the speech Bloody Bess herself is alleged to have made at Tilbury might be evidence that the poor old thing thought that she had been "born into the wrong body".

That Ms Mantel should be able to tell us whether Thomas Cromwell was a transwoman ... or a transman ... or a cismurderer ...

17 comments:

Scribe said...

Dear Father, Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was the first woman to be created a Lord Justice of Appeal, and as such she was known for a while as Lord Justice Butler-Sloss. I rather liked this, as to call her Lady Justice seemed to suggest that she was in actual fact just somebody's wife. (One recalls that the Queen is Duke of Lancaster.) However, we've all settled down to using the title Lady Justice, so I suppose it's all right. Apropos of women's titles, have you noticed that the 'popular prints' persist in writing about someone called Kate Middleton. Could this possibly be Her Royal Highness the Princess Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Countess of Strathearn? Or don't these people know that she's actually married, and that Middleton is no longer her name? If we're to have Kate Middleton, why not Liz Windsor?

Clavus said...

Perhaps we should ask advice from the Channel Islanders, who still loyally toast 'The Queen, our Duke'!

Fr Edward said...

My College has a female Master
Peterhouse, Cambridge

armyarty said...

I think that, by American standards, you have transgressed the bounds of social convention with you reference to "episcopussies" But, I am not complaining.
I went to Lehman College, a spin-off from Hunter, a traditionally woman's college. We had a rule- probably long forgotten- carried over from Hunter, that a lady professor who was a department head was to be called Madame Chairman. Woe betide the transgressor who would make of them a "chair", or even worse, the "chairlady", similar the woman in charge of helping young ladies Girl Scout Cookies.

pab said...

Would the former Miss Middleton not now be "Princess William"?

Voice from the roof top said...

What do you say about actresses who call themselves actors?

Colin Spinks said...

First to answer the question as to how the Bishop of London is addressed in Ordinations, Installations etc. I can tell you that the formula is: "Bishop Sarah, I present x..." Personally I would prefer "Right Reverend Father in God", which does seem odd, but at least retains tradition and preserves the theology of Bishop as Type of God the Father. For me, one of the key arguments in favour of women's Ordination (which I realise you and most of your readership do not accept) was that any Priest is "neither male or female" as regards being a Priest, and that because it is Christ's humanity rather than his maleness which is significant, any human can act in eius persona at the Altar. Sadly in recent times the ordination of women has become more of an end in itself and fallen foul of the idolatry of "identity politics".

vetusta ecclesia said...

1. At the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy they sing “ God save our gracious Queen/ Long live our noble Duke” , referring to the Duchy of Lancaster.

2. The doughty Anne Widdecombe once said “ Don’t address me as “Chair”; nobody has ever sat on me!

GOR said...

Or, how about 'woman policeman'...?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Hmm... I wonder how people addressed the wife of St Peter (or the those of the other apostles)??

AvB

Ceile De said...

Isn't Her Majesty Lord of Mann?

PM said...

Long before the ordination of women, my generation would use episcopussy for some of the feline male bureaucrats who ended up with mitres on their heads.

Scribe said...

'Woman policeman' is still widely acceptable. I prefer the more refined 'Lady Bogie'. And how about 'male nurse'? Etymologically this is an impossibility.

√Čamonn said...

Scribe: Surely you mean Her Royal Highness the Princess Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus?

Adrian said...

Anent Scribe's remark about 'male nurse', the seventeenth century saw the emergence of the 'man-midwife', whose services were often preferred to those of his female counterpart as having greater medical training and skill.

Banshee said...

Historically, a lot of married women have been called by their maiden name throughout the pages of history.

I think "Kate Middleton" is meant in a friendly way, like she is from the neighborhood.

Scribe said...

Dear Mr Eamonn, You are quite right. Of course, I meant no disrespect to the good baroness by curtailing her styles and titles. It’s just that I wasn’t sure how to spell Carrickfergus, and took the coward’s way out.