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Vatican allows Anglican dress-up

How to really annoy Anglican clergy

You can offer whiskey instead of Gin – some Anglican clergy find that slightly irksome. You can deny the validity of Anglican sacraments – Anglican clergy without a sense of humour can find that irritating. But if you really want to annoy Anglican clergy …  get their titles wrong! Anglican clergy basically all earn the same – so titles are what distinguishes the men from the boys – or whatever the inclusive version of that is.

Right Revenerends, Most Reverends, Very Reverends, Canons, Venerables, Doctors, Archdeacons, Deacons, Rural Deans, Deans, Non-stipendiary acting priest assistants, Locally Licensed Ordained Non-stipendiary Assistant Ministers, Vicars, Vicar-General, Deputy Vicar General, Priests in Charge, Presiding Bishops, Senior Bishops, Archbishops, Deacon Assistants, Ministry Educators, Chaplains, … the list goes on …

Each with their title, abbreviation, appropriate address, order of titles … dress and insignia.

Anglican clergy may not know their Greek Aorist from their Dative, but years of training make certain that one doesn’t confuse The Ven. Canon Dr. with The Very Rev. Mr. Or get the order of those titles wrong! The minute a priest is collated (and never confuse ordination, induction, collation, installation, licensing,…!!), out go all the old letterheads and visiting cards to be replaced by flashier ones with new titles and the latest popular font.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain

And don’t you dare put on the wrong clothing! Priests may wear clergy shirts coloured pink or blue or polka-dot, but dare to put on one with even a purplish tinge and you won’t make it through the day without a comment. And dare to wear a pectoral cross – even out of devotion! Or a large bejeweld ring. Recently I saw an official photo of an NZ bishop with no less than three pectoral crosses on 🙂

At the recent ordination everyone had their appropriate attire to signal not only their status but where they fit in churchmanship (or whatever the inclusive version of that is). Light blue cassocks and matching preaching scarves for canons, copes for archdeacons or above, biretta or cassock and surplice for churchmanship, mitre and cope, mitre and chasuble, biretta with chasuble, no mitre with rochet and chimere,…  Not a cope above one’s station. Not a blue scarf out of place.

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus

In a stroke of genius one line in the Complementary Norms of the newly published Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus demonstrates that one of Benedict’s advisers (or possibly even Benedict himself!) knows the Anglican ethos only too well. You can almost hear echoes of the evening chuckling over the Barenjager or Jagermeister. The Anglican bishops are not recognised as being bishops, they are not even recognised as having been members of a church. Essentially they have been playing dress-up. Often excessively. But

A former Anglican Bishop who belongs to the Ordinariate and who has not been ordained as a bishop in the Catholic Church, may request permission from the Holy See to use the insignia of the episcopal office. (Article 11:4)

Those who have been previously ordained in the Catholic Church and subsequently have become Anglicans [anyone spring to mind?], may not exercise sacred ministry in the Ordinariate. Anglican clergy who are in irregular marriage situations [anyone spring to mind?] may not be accepted for Holy Orders in the Ordinariate. (Article 6:2)

Such a man can’t function as a priest (which means he can’t be an Ordinary), he may not even be able to receive communion, but… most significantly for Anglicans – Rome in its regulations allows for the possibility that if he previously functioned as a bishop he can continue to wear a purple cassock, a pectoral cross, and a bejewelled ring.


I am kidding.
There was no one wearing a biretta with a chasuble at the ordination.
But there could have been 🙂

Comments from people without a sense of humour (sorry, I mean: humor) – thankfully WordPress has a powerful filter. These comments are immediately automatically deleted and their email addresses are sent to the Inquisition (sorry, I mean the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). Because of the Recession – soft pillows will no longer be supplied.

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17 thoughts on “Vatican allows Anglican dress-up”

  1. I must admit your post has made me laugh, not that I recognise anyone described here.

    Having arrived in the CofE in the last two years, I have led a sheltered life, only one service of confirmation at a Cathedral, and no visits to High Church services to date.

    However, recalling my former younger life as a member of the RCC, I believe that I might remember one or two, who were attired in this way.

    My take on it is quite straight forward “If is isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

  2. Susan Mulledy-DeFrank

    I love your humour (or humor.) It is interesting how prayers of reconciliation work out. Much humour is needed.

    Christ’s Peace to a world full of laughter.

  3. Holiness Ven Rev Canon Grace Right Your Archdeacon Most Grace (please delete what does not apply so as not to be irritated) Bosco

    Do you think extension by analogy might apply?

    For example, if I went over to a PO, might I be able to attend meetings of Roman Ministry Educators as one having the status of Ministry Educator (retired)?

    Also, I was wondering about the pension payable when one is retired in this way?

  4. With all respect to our Roman Catholic family and thankful for our kindred relationship, when did Anglicans become subject to Vatican rule?

  5. Richard Catterall

    Bosco, I am delighted your sense of the sublime and the ridiculous is alive and well and visiting your webpage. As a (RC) friend once quipped when a collection of denominations were gathered to rehearse for an ecumenical Easter drama hosted by the local Anglican Church: “The Vatican is always ready to help out some of the newer franchises”. 🙂

  6. The sad thing is that you’re right. A few years ago I got a letter from one of my bishops which specified the terms of address for senior clergy, to make sure that we used the right titles. I didn’t know whether to laugh or set fire to it, until I realised he was deadly serious.

    Mind you, I find people 20 years older than me calling me ‘Father’ plain weird.

    1. Hmmmmm – have you ever considered the fact that most, if not all, these titles have been inherited from our (Anglican) continued usage of (Roman) Catholic polity? What do you call the various ranks in RC hierarchy (up to HH) – and dare you get it wrong? How would it be received if a humble priest donned a mitre or a deacon a chasuble?

  7. I don’t read blogs regularly, yet I find yours is the one I read often and it is great posts such as these that really put a smile on my face and makes me recognize your a good soul.

    I am very envious of something, yah even coveting it, and that is that I don’t know how you have time to do so much! You write great content (really great content) on your blog and you constantly have meaningful tweets that seem to appear around the clock. Do you have a small army doing all this work or are you getting a little divine support?

    Keep up the great work!

  8. Actually not all clergy are paid the same. In the Church of England a Diocesan Bishop is paid roughly twice what a parish clerge is paid and the Archbishop of Canterbury gets about 3.5 times a ‘standard’ stipend. The last review suggested this should rise to 3.75 times.

    However, I totally agree about there being so much nonsense with titles and regalia. I still keep a credit card with ‘Mr’ on it for holidays, even though the bank insisted I change my account to Rev, as they couldn’t cope with paying in cheques to a Rev into an account called Mr. Oh well.

    1. Joanna Trollope’s book The Rector’s Wife has a strong thread in relation to the CofE clergy varying income according to their role. I understand the differences are even greater in TEC. NZ still follows the concept of offering oneself to serve through the church and being provided a living allowance (stipend) that may vary 20% for say a bishop on the understanding that the costs of a bishop’s living varies about this much. The concept continues here until both you and your spouse die.

      You have credit cards with titles on them??!! [The idea is almost worth a blog-post all of its own!] I do hope, Mike, that your bank has it as The Rev. Mr. Peatman and never as merely Rev. Peatman!!! LOL

  9. At first I was merely amused with this article and then pondered a reply. Leaving particular nomenclature of the clergy aside, lest we forget that there is nothing more sacred to a person that our name, if we have earned a title, need we ignore or diregard such? I think not, and bear in mind the extreme value we Christians place on Jesus with his titlage ad infinitum, King, teacher, rabis, Master, friend, Lord, holy one, Son of David, man and God! Respect as well as a title is earned yet not required to be loved. While I find this topic due for levity, it need not fly in the face of those who want decency and order as opposed to anarchy and chaos. Just an opinion. Bless you all my beloved children. grin O:-)

  10. You stated: “Recently I saw an official photo of an NZ bishop with no less than three pectoral crosses on”

    If you still have the photograph, you may want to check if his is a member of an Eastern/Orthodox Church. It is not un-common for Eastern-Orthodox Bishops to wear more than one pectoral cross or more than one Panagia with a pectoral cross.

  11. I suppose his “All Holiness” the “Patriarch” of The West is very gracious in letting us “play dress-up”

  12. I’m sorry, but this is just outrageous. Since the Reformation Anglicans have held to the sherry as the one true social drink.

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