Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Advantages of Having an "Offshore" Bishop AND a "Liberal" Bishop

Have you wondered about why some priests are so enthusiastic to become part of Province in another part of the world, yet hesitant to leave TEC? Doesn't dual residency in two Provinces simultaneously seem too complicated to be worth the effort?

Father Christian explains the advantages:

...Indeed, upon seeing my faithfulness to the church’s historic via media amazed and admiring clergy can only ask “But Father Christian – how do you cope with having two Bishops? Isn’t one bad enough?”

This question only betrays their sorry ignorance of Scripture, for clearly ”no man can serve two masters”(Matthew 6:24). Neither would I even attempt such a folly. At St. Onuphrius’s we diligently only recognise the authority of one Bishop at a time.

Since our worldly, liberal local Bishop is a stressed and easily intimidated man it makes perfect sense to keep him available for those occasions when he can be useful. When it comes to adding color to community events, or making a really big impression at society weddings, nothing adds a sense of gravitas like a well-trained Bishop telling everyone what a wonderful Priest you are. What’s more, because your original bishop isn't a foreigner there's no risk of him embarrasing you by speaking with an accent.

On the other hand, an alternate Bishop living thousands of miles away lets one dispense with so many annoying little nuisances of parish administration, since it removes the need to seek the Bishop’s permission before developing or selling church property, or rewarding oneself with a much-needed Sabbatical. Someone on the other side of the world is far too busy to care about such trifling matters. Besides, until all this excitement came about it’s unlikely his See consisted of more then twenty goat-herd families and a large garden full of chickens. Thanks to you he’s now enjoying more prestige and attention than he’d previously ever dreamed possible, so there isn’t the slightest risk of him upsetting the source of his new-found importance by questioning you about anything. He may be a Bishop, but he’s not so foolish he can’t realise that since you’ve jumped ship once there’s no reason you won’t jump again. And then who’s going to pay for all those first-class flights?

Finally, having two Bishops lets you simply answer “the Bishop requested it” to any thing your annoying parish busy-body asks (every parish has one – even St. Onuphrius’), and then leave them to work out for themselves which Bishop you’re talking about. Since neither is talking to the other there’s no risk of them comparing notes, so if they take the trouble to check with both you can simply accuse whichever Bishop the busy-body dislikes more of lying and be confident they'll believe you, since they'll be delighted to have "proof" of the "other side" acting dishonestly. Which will leave you free to continue ruling as master of your own domain...

Thank you, Father. Things are much clearer now.

There are indeed some obvious advantages to such a setup. I wonder if there's a Bishop in Tanzania, or some equally distant place, seeking to establish a missionary outpost in North America? If so, send me a note and we'll talk.

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