Seeing this picture, recently, on a blog called ‘Ritual Notes’, I am reminded of the fact that the next Anglican Bishop of Christchurch is ‘wating in the wings’ for his Episcopal Ordination to take place in Christchurch early next year.
Not that my colleague, Anglican Archdeacon Peter Carrell, will be expected to be wearing anything like the sumptuous apparel depicted in this historic photograph of a Canadian Roman Catholic Bishop from the previous century – when such splendid garments were de rigeur for Roman Catholic Prelates at their Episcopal Ordination. In fact, (+ to be) Peter will probably be vested in the simplest of clerical gear – befitting the ordination of a Bishop in the more Evangelical style of the Church of England.
Will this new Bishop ever consent to wearing the cope and mitre of most bishops of the Anglican Church around the world? We have to wait and see. However, knowing something of Peter’s strong Evangelical roots and the faith and lack of pretension that goes with all of that, I won’t be holding my breath on this issue at least.
What I am sure of, though, is that he will make a good Bishop for us here in Christchurch at this important time in our history in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In our recent General Synod’s determination of the ACANZP General Synod to open up the Church to the possibility of welcoming and ‘Blessing’ legally married and committed Same-Sex Couples, Peter has been a careful moderator on the effect of such an arrangement upon the people and clergy members parishes in our diocese who have found this decision difficult.
In a visitation of such parishes (even before his confirmation as the next Bishop of the Diocese of Christchurch) he assured the parishioners who were still unhappy with what General Synod had decided – but who, also, were unhappy about leaving ACANZP with their departing clergy – that they would not be forced by the Church to accept Vicars who were indifferent to their view of Same-Sex Blessings. As the incoming Diocesan Bishop, Peter will have the necessary authority to be able to keep this promise – thus maintaining the essential unity of our Church, at least in this diocese.
Although he has said he will not himself perform such liturgical blessings; our Bishop-elect will not prevent consenting clergy and parishes from offering them to suitable couples in their congregations. This, I feel, is a Bishop of an integrity, the like of which our Church – and, indeed, Anglican Churches around the world will need, in order to ‘Maintain the Unity of The Spirit in the Bonds of Peace’ – the ethos commended in our Eucharistic formularies.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand