Church in England Mirror: Good afternoon, Bishop Philip Crumb Monarch Bootslick, and it is good to see you after all this time, with your elevation into the sticks and so on. How is it far from the madding crowd?
Bishop PCMB: It keeps me busy. I do get to come to London still.
CEM: Some people said your elevation was absolutely right, for someone of open evangelical persuasion, someone who had taken a keen interest in the Anglican Communion and for supporting the Archbishop, and they were in favour, and others said this would send you into the rural nowhere, and we'd hear less of you, and they were in favour of your elevation too.
Bishop PCMB: Yes I understand I was a very popular choice.
CEM: Now, on Wednesday 10 February, the General Synod will be debating Lisa Ashfire's private member's motion: "That this Synod wants the Church in England to be in communion with the Anglican Church of North America [ACNA]". What's the betting?
Bishop PCMB: The dog left the trap too early and is a bit of a non-runner.
CEM: What about the dog?
Bishop PCMB: Well it's less about the dog, and more about the track. Or two tracks.
CEM: What about the tracks?
Bishop PCMB: The debate comes with a background paper, the betting is based on that so to speak. But the debate should be about the tracks, the Covenant, and about being in communion with The Episcopal Church or not. The dog becomes the wrong dog for the tracks.
CEM: Tell us about the right tracks then.
Bishop PCMB: The Anglican Covenant is the official way forward for intensifying relationships in the wider Commode.
CEM: Who says?
Bishop PCMB: Well I do, for one. Lot's of bishops, the Windsor process, the papers, the different proposed Covenants, the primates, the Lambeth Walk...
CEM: Who says it is official?
Bishop PCMB: I've just said.
CEM: Wouldn't it be official after there is a Covenant, not before. What makes it official?
Bishop PCMB: It is all to do with authority and ultimately power. It is to do with what the Archbishop launched and everyone is in tow. No one dissents, and like the Pope said recently, people who dissent are not putting up a reasoned argument. There is no alternative. It is like a big glacier coming down the hill forming a U shaped valley.
CEM: But as it comes down, it gets warmer, and it melts, It doesn't reach civilisation. There is just the running water.
Bishop PCMB: But you would expect me to say that the glacier crushes everything under it. Anyway, there are too many neutrons flying around in the current moratoria, and we are in danger of splitting the Commode with an almighty bang, and the sewerage problem could be intense.
CEM: ACNA is a danger? It could burst the face of the Commode?
Bishop PCMB: ACNA could cause bursts across the face of the Commode, yes. The independent launching of ACNA, rather than interdependence, just 9 months ago, was entirely outside of the Covenant process and thus not official. It was based on the premise that TEC is a wholly apostate Church.
CEM: Is TEC apostate?
Bishop PCMB: It is for the Covenant to decide.
CEM: But there is no Covenant, not yet, and it depends on Churches joining it and not being able to join it.
Bishop PCMB: I repeat. This is the official process as we define it. No one should go outside of it. Dissent is not an option.
CEM: But ACNA might affirm the Covenant.
Bishop PCMB: A very important paper was written by a very important GAFF CON theologian recommending the Covenant, but others don't know. And don't know is not good enough. There is only one option, and that is to conform.
Bishop PCMB: Because I - we - say so. I have said this already. One reply on this should be good enough. To sign would commit ACNA working with the Instruments of Communion, but they were established on the basis of breaking one. Its DNA is foreign oversight into the territory of Churches not its own, and it is a strange Anglican species spanning other provinces like in Africa and the Ice Cream. So they are not official. Plus they question our Dear Leader, which is beneath contempt. And they question the other Instruments, but then so do my mates in Canada and the USA now but they're different. On the other hand, I believe ACNA is serious about desiring to be recognised as Anglican, but then that means recognising the Covenant because no one can be properly Anglican without recognising the Covenant.
CEM: Back to the dog track: what's the betting?
Bishop PCMB: The dogs cannot yet leave the traps. There are lots of greyhounds being consecrated, more a case of expediency than producing good runners, members of one house of bishops in Africa or the Ice Cream and then ACNA. A dog that doesn't know its owner isn't going to run very well. ACNA may not be trusted.
CEM: Don't you empathise with the four dioceses which split off from TEC to form ACNA?
Bishop PCMB: I do. It is not officially Anglican to consecrate gay and lesbian bishops or bless their partnerships.
CEM: Who says?
Bishop PCMB: I do. We do. the process does. Why should I repeat this?
CEM: What about all those gay and lesbian baptised Anglicans who want their relationships blessed and who want to be fully part of the ministry throughout. What about the ethical argument about people not institutions?
Bishop PCMB: The bureaucratic argument always comes first. All else is irrelevant. Anyway, the Archbishop declared that gay and lesbian people cannot exercise any ministry, and his word is Law. What matters is keeping the worldwide institution coming together, and we cannot let minorities get in the way of official positions, not until those official positions are changed by the officials, as defined by the Instruments at the new centre.
CEM: After the Covenant, however.
Bishop PCMB: No, authority centralises in order to sign the Covenant. But look, there are many faithful Anglican leaders in TEC who do not want to break the moratoria on foreign oversight, known as 'Commode Partner' dioceses, and this motion (which was the basis of this interview) does not address them, except for a background paper.
CEM: Mary Glasspool might still become suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Bishop PCMB: The trajectory suggests that autonomy will again trump interdependence, thus being unofficial. But bishops are leaders and you never know, they are very important and might put the needs of the new worldwide bureaucracy first. And even if they decide to accept her, we can then put undue pressure on Presiding Bishop Kate Jefferson Airplane not to do the dirty deed or we can say you can't be a member of the worldwide club. I would find that sort of exclusion intolerable. I bet she hasn't thought of that one! Even if she knocked on the door she wouldn't be let in: that's a dog that wouldn't run for sure.
CEM: What do you make of Mountaineer Anus resigning from that Standing Committee?
Bishop PCMB: Well, the Instruments of the Communion as they stand won't deliver the result we want. So we have to oppose them.
CEM: Just a minute. They were official a minute ago.
Bishop PCMB: You weren't listening. In any case, we decide what is official according to what we want. I understand his move, and it is brilliantly tactical. He is being ignored, he says, though I pay attention and we all do. The balance on the Standing Committee is such that the Covenant if passed would be a useless and pointless piece of paper. It needs to be icy, and it needs to crush. There are just too many warm people standing up at the moment. We need cold people to sit down, bureaucrats who can exclude as it suits. I believe that Mountaineer is working closely with the Anglican Commode Itch [ACI] to try and manipulate the institutions ahead of the Covenant being forced.
CEM: To return to the motion this Wednesday, the Bishop of Bubb-Down Hill, Dr. Bank Walk, on behalf of the House of Bishops, has introduced a wrecking amendment.
Bishop PCMB: Yes, it is eminently sensible. It is a wonderful piece of bureacratic action. By doing this we can vote for something utterly meaningless instead of voting against something too early. I am so pleased to have joined the House of Bishops.
CEM: Thanks for talking.
Bishop PCMB: It's my job, being an official bishop: it's what we do.