30 DAYS has had several phone calls from laity and clergy about a recent questionnaire, distributed in various parishes around them, about the reception of women priests.

The forms come from the very reliable “Christian Research UK” body whose other findings are the stuff of serious national newspaper reports.

However this particular set of questions seems to be as unbiased as the “When did you stop beating your wife?” line of enquiry. Most orthodox would never send one back, while genuine respondents would have to be wholeheartedly in favour of the priestess movement to get through the form without serious blood pressure.

As it turns out, our sleuths have discovered, “Christian Research UK” is not responsible for the questions. They have merely been hired to carry out this exercise by an organization hugely in favour of priestesses. The questions come from the organization that wants a result. So far, predictably, the forms are showing substantial acceptance for priestesses but little support for bishopessess.

Bad news for the feminist lobby but good news for “the Club”, the overwhelming majority of whom have no wish to end their comfortable clerical apartheid.


“THE FLAGSHIP DIOCESE” is in the papers again. “Nev the Rev” Chamberlain has suspended the Provost, Miriam Byrne, amid rumours of financial indiscipline, collapsing attendances and doctrinal irregularities. So bizarre are Ms Byrne’s baptismal liturgies that some clergy are questioning whether candidates did actually receive the sacrament.

Bishop Nev, who clearly lives in an irony free zone, has listed 69 complaints against the senior Scottish priestess. In an effort to “retire” the twice married former nun “Nev” has, apparently, offered a sweetener of c. £90,000! While the Provost is thought to be thinking more of £250,000 compensation.

In all this, the newspapers have started to report the story as if “Nev” is a traditionalist trying to get rid of a dangerous liberal. Have they forgotten that the Rt. Revd. Neville Chamberlain B.S.E. was the chump who, against all advice, appointed her?


THE ARCHDEACON OF SOUTHWARK, Douglas Bartles-Smith, 62, has come up with a whizzo solution to the collapsing attendances of the Church of England. Don’t appoint anymore daft evos like George to Canterbury – lets have another great liberal like Bob Runcie and return to the glory days.

Sixty two is a trifle young to suffer from faulty memory syndrome but you have to hand it to our Doug. He has spotted the real cause of our decline is George’s ruthless packing of the bench of bishops with doctrinal conservatives…………As if.


AS IT WENT almost entirely unreported, few people will know that the Archbishop of Canterbury prayed the New Millennium in, on behalf of New Labour, New C of E plc and New House of Windsor, in some discomfort. During the rehearsal he fell off the platform and required first aid for a badly cut ear.


THE REPRESENTATIVES of TESCO Supermarkets, who had given all the champagne for the Dome party, were amongst those severally delayed by the less than perfect ticket arrangements. When they finally arrived at Blair’s wigwam all the “fizz” had been guzzled by the early arrivals.


ONE OF OUR CORRESPONDENTS recently received an invitation to preach from a much respected senior priest in the orthodox constituency. The personal note invited him to give the word at a service described as “God-Waving”. Fearing some charismatic enormity, the invitee telephoned the reverend gentleman to research this novelty. “What”, he enquired nervously, “is God-Waving”.

“Benediction, Father, Benediction” came the smart reply.


OVERHEARD IN THE STREET behind the nerve centre of C of E plc.

Editor: (for it is she) “And what have you being doing today, Father?”

Friendly Bishop: “I’ve just been at a meeting of the Church’s Funeral Group”.

Editor: “Well we all knew the Church of England had died but I’d no idea someone had told the Bishops!”


IN A DESPERATE BID to justify soaring quotas and runaway budgets, many dioceses have been resorting to some very creative accounting.

One parish treasurer, on receiving a sheet costing his parish priest at £32,000 p.a. decided to make some direct enquiries.

With the priest’s stipend at £16k, Council Tax and N.I. totalling £2k, parsonage house upkeep coming in at £2.5k he was wondering where the rest came from. Imagine his astonishment at discovering that, apparently, £8,700p.a. went towards the priest’s pension!

Realising that this was not only an amazing but illegally high contribution, he telephoned the diocesan wallah. The figure £8,700 was the average clergy pension i.e. what the Commissioners are already paying from contributions and historic funds. The actual amount set aside for the present incumbent’s pension was £1,700p.a.

Oh, yes – and the cost of the priest, of course, took no account of glebe incomes, historic monies or fees! ! !

Real net cost of his priest = £16,000

Spot the difference?


SISTER LAVINIA BYRNE IBVM, senior member of the job share, house share, and spirituality tutorship with Angela Tilby at Westcott House has resigned. No, not from Westcott House, but from the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The self-effacing radio nun who has her own personal web-site and is noted for her snappy suits, managed to get serial superstar coverage in the broadsheets complaining of bullying by the Vatican because of her views on priestesses and sexual ethics. “Vinny”, who has never seen the inside of a wimple or lived in a community of sisters for many many years has insisted that she is remaining an R.C.

Still, Father Byrne has a certain ring about it.