Episcopal gravy train?

After the scrutiny of the expenses claims of Members of the House of Commons, it is only right that the House of Lords should not escape – particularly those bishops who belong to the best club in London. Their attendance is not great and the Bishop of Southwark easily gains the crown for the most industrious with 83 days, with Chester, Manchester and Southwell the runners up on an average of 45 days each.

Chester and Manchester with a similar distance to travel clearly have differing tastes and needs, Chester claiming £5,549 for overnight subsistence and a further £3,500 for day subsistence, whereas Manchester claimed only £1,315 and £1,870 respectively. Perhaps Manchester eats less and stays in a hostel. Add travel to that and it works out at £302 per days attendance for Chester and only £207 for Manchester. But Liverpool beats them both with an admirable £314 per day.

Office costs claimed by some bishops reach equally dizzy heights, with Chester again winning the prize with an extraordinary £6,215. The former Bishop of Truro with only 5 days attendance and nothing claimed for overnight subsistence is nevertheless recorded as claiming £5,620 for office costs.

Ripon and Leeds, always in the running for the Commissioners’ Wooden Crosier award for the least expensive bishop, follows the same pattern: on 22 days attendance, he claimed £699 for overnight subsistence and then clearly fasted during the day. But even Bishop Packer is put to shame by the two Archbishops, with Canterbury (7 attendances) and York (10) claiming absolutely nothing. Perhaps, when they’ve had enough of being Primates, they might like to seek election to the Commons, so that they show our glorious leaders just how it can be done!

See the prince of darkness quelled?

Talking of the unelected House of Lords, 30Days was just a little taken aback to read that the prince of darkness is now a Church Commissioner. Yes, not content with being Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, First Secretary of State and Lord President of the Council, Peter Mandelson is now – ex officio – in part responsible for clergy stipends and pensions! Or, as he put it when speaking to the Financial Times recently: It means that I can now bring down not just the wrath of the First Secretary but the wrath of God. The fact that he seems possibly to have misunderstood this new role may well be explained by the fact that he was brought up as an atheist. So that’s alright then.

Value for money

Perhaps Lord Mandelson might be able to bring a little business acumen to the CofE, though. Writing in The Times on the day that the Liturgical Commission published its new match ‘n’ hatch liturgy (get it all over in one go), Ruth Gledhill noted that

The Church’s fees for a wedding or baptism will remain the same — £254 costs for the marriage, £3.50 for a certificate, £36 for the banns and £12 for a baptism certificate — even if the two services are performed as one. For crying out loud! Have the perpetrators of this exciting and visionary initiative never been shopping? Whatever happened to buy one, get one free? With seven sacraments on offer, the scope is endless!


The news that the Revd Katherine Ragsdale has been appointed Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts was not greeted with unbridled enthusiasm across the pond. Too many people remembered a speech she gave in Birmingham, Alabama in 2007:

Let’s be very clear about this: when a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman finds that the foetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion – often a late-term abortion – to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one, because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.

And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion, there is not a tragedy in sight; only blessing.

The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing. These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

The Episcopal Church (proprietor: Mrs K J Schori) remains beyond parody – to say nothing of the pale.


Talking of KJS, 30Days was much taken with a recent Q & A session she did with The Oregonian (Health, religion, travel, family and lifestyle news from around Oregon). A helpful note appeared before the first of the questions: Her answers have been edited for clarity and brevity. But not, evidently, for veracity. Try this for size:

Q: Oregon seems far removed from the big Episcopal controversy over gay ordinations. A: That’s a good thing. The controversy isn’t that big; it’s just noisy in some places.

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