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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