Many years ago, I was rightly taken to task by the then-Archdeacon of West Ham for suggesting that the scheme of Provincial Episcopal Visitors (aka ‘Flying Bishops’) had been set up especially for Anglo-Catholics.
That, he observed sharply, was not the case. On the contrary, the PEVs were there for everyone. And that is true, but it is also true that in the last twenty years every single one of them has actually been an Anglo-Catholic.
One reason given for this early on was that there was no demand from evangelicals. But of course one reason evangelicals regularly gave for not passing ‘Resolution C’ was that they’d have to accept the ministry of an Anglo-Catholic. Hence on both sides the ‘prophecy’ became self-fulfilling.
Nevertheless, in recent years at least some evangelicals have realized the error of their ecclesiastical ways and more than one request has been made for an evangelical appointment to the ranks of the PEVs.
The news that the Bishop of Ebbsfleet is to become the new Bishop of Fulham (one of the few alternative diocesan arrangements created under the 1993 Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod) presents a fresh, and rare, opportunity for the relevant authorities to appoint a traditionalist conservative evangelical bishop to replace Wallace Benn as the only one of this persuasion in the entire Church of England.
It is therefore slightly galling to see Bishop Baker assuming that his replacement will be of a similar persuasion to himself. “I am assured,” he says, “that the process of appointing a new Bishop of Ebbsfleet is already underway, and so in due course I am confident that my move will lead to a strengthening of the team of catholic bishops in the Church of England at this critical time.”
Perhaps — or perhaps not. Maybe someone in a position to influence the outcome just might dare to suggest the strengthening should go where is it most needed. After all, Conservative Evangelicals of this persuasion can hardly even boast a ‘team’.
In any case, ‘catholic’ PEVs minister to evangelicals, why not an evangelical for catholics? (Actually I can think of all sorts of reasons why this might be difficult on both sides, but we are all supposed to be in one Church of England.)
So, the opportunity is there. And I have to say that if it is not taken then I, for one, will continue to wonder whether the Church of England is serious about its ‘broadness’, or whether, as I havesuggested before, it is one rule for those whose ecclesiology (and dress-sense) suits, another for those where it doesn’t.Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted. Recommend: