It must have been a couple of decades ago that Anglican Catholics in England met in their thousands for a Mass in London town to greet the new Millennium, Christ our Future the celebration was called, with the Most Reverend and Right Honourable the Archbishop of York as the presiding Celebrant. It was a trifle glitzy, with Archbishop David raised up to a very High Place and brightly illumined with arc lamps, almost as if he were the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.
It was very moving ... but I remember leaving with a disquieted feeling that there was something or other awry about his accoutrements. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was.
David Hope was the first Primate of England to be a Staggers Man. He also had the distinction of belonging to the same Domestic Duties Group at the House to which I belonged. He was Head Boy and got the House Liturgy Prize a couple of years before I did.
Recently announced, there is another Staggers nominee to the See of York: Stephen Cottrell, for whom I have never dried dishes. (We are both Essex Men.) The pictures show him duly wearing a Staggers soutane, with its traditional 39 buttons. The photographs also suggest that he has not allowed the Homilies of S Leo on Fasting to interfere unduly with the steady pace of his conviviality. But then, neither, I fear, have I.
David never apostatised ('ratted' was +Christopher Luxmoore's term for it) on the question of the admission of women to sacerdotal ministries. Stephen, sensible fellow, long ago made the necessary accommodations and, Amen Amen lego humin, he hath his reward. Nevertheless, he still likes to imagine himself a 'Catholic'. Unlike David, he never wrote a doctoral thesis on the Veronensian ('Leonine') Sacramentary. But on the sole occasion when I heard him preaching, he named Pope Benedict a great deal, giving clergy in choir innumerable occasions to raise enthusiastic birettas. In other words, he likes to please.
It had been thought that the next occupant of the See of York would probably have been one of the Fast Ladies who, in contravention of this country's Sex Discrimination principles, have been fast-tracked at break-neck speed onto the Lords' Spiritual benches of our Upper House. My theory is that Stephen is being promoted from his natal Essex to Northern glories so as to make it decent for Dame Mullarkey to go straight to Canterbury when Wozname resumes his sadly interrupted career in British Petroleum.
Ah!! It has suddenly come to me what was so disappointing about David Hope's millennial garb.
He was not wearing a Pallium.