Monday 14 September 2009

Extraordinary Resignation

Groans and whoops of delight were mixed in an extraordinary service held yesterday at Barchester Cathedral, writes Johnny Lost-Davies, Ecclesiastical Correspondent.

Bishop Michael Ali-England in his farewell service caused gasps when he said, "Don't get the idea that I'm leaving. I'm going nowhere far. I am only leaving my diocese in order to spend more time doing religion."

The service built itself up an extraordinary finale when an elephant joined the final procession to take the bishop back into the 'real world'.

During the service, in a charming ceremony from some mediaeval time past, the bishop laid down his shepherds' crook saying, "O Lord, thanks for this, somebody else can have it."

The sermon was given by Lord Careless, understood to be a wandering bishop, and thus a model of impropriety for Bishop Ali-England from today onwards. He said, "I want to deliberately ignore my successor, the Archbishop of All England, who I regard as ruining all the work I have done. So I shall deliberately praise you, Michael, and that publicity seeking guy up in Ebor, like I seek publicity, supported by that son of mine. Is he here?"

"Yes dad. Thanks dad. Thanks for my career, dad."

"Let me just say," said Lord Careless (as he does so often on any subject), "how fully fantastic your Bishop Michael's rabble rousing has been, as he has talked about no go areas up north. I too have suffered no go areas, in fact we share the same one called Lambeth Palace. They won't let me in either! But what a leader Michael has been, without actually being a leader, unlike me."

The retiring bishop in an impromptu but formerly well scripted reply said, "We have as a Church succumbed too much to culture, but England is stupid ignoring its culture which should be Christian - except for too many babies being born to Muslims up north now that we don't have to have immigration to bump up the working population and pay the pensions. This is our new campaign to add to that against secularity and gays, so that we keep making a noise. I came here to warn you about all these, and now I am retiring to warn you about all these. And let me warn you now - if they don't get you when you're being put together by your actual mother and father (whatever happens to the father afterwards) they will get you when you get old (whatever happens to the children). It is time we looked in the Bible and then reject most of it for creating our idealised family, so that we can be all Victorian about our values, thanks to what once was exported from this country and its culture and that I have returned to you. And now, with your thanks, Lord Careless, I return the crook to you. Or is it that other fella and not you any more?."

For the final procession, taking the bishop ceremonially back into the outside world, an elephant emerged from the choir stalls into the room to lead everyone out. It was draped in a prepared large sheet with the GAFCON logo on each side.

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