Bishopess Mangles Church History for Paulists


Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who I have designated Defender of the Faith, has a not to be missed post on the farce that ensued when the Paulists had the presiding bishopess of the Episcopalian church in this country deliver a lecture to some Paulist seminarians:

Each year, St. Paul’s College, a Roman Catholic institution for Paulist seminarians in Washington, DC, hosts what it calls the Hecker Lecture.  This year’s speaker was the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Organization, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.  And I cannot remember the last time I read any sort of message about anything at all that fell completely apart in the very first sentence:

We are the respective heirs of different strands of western Christianity.

No “we’re” not.  “We” were all one big happy family until the 1500?s when “we” Anglicans decided to go it alone.

I will not begin with the Reformation, but with a much earlier, indigenous Christianity in the British Isles.

And herrrrrrrrre we go.

Roman soldiers appear to have taken the Christian tradition with them when they were posted to the frontiers of the Roman Empire – at least by the second century.

An alternative theory suggests that British Christianity was kept alive in Middle Earth by hobbits and that Frodo is Elvish for Jesus.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it; if the Presiding Bishop can live in a fantasy world, so can I, consarnit.

That tradition remained when the Roman Empire receded, but the faith continued to grow and develop in its new context.

Sort of makes one wonder why the western Church sent all those missionaries to the British Isles.  Why did Columba leave Ireland and set up Iona?  And just what was he telling the Picts anyway?

If we would look for a modern parallel, we might point to the development of the Three Self Movement in China, with roots in the various colonial plantings of Christianity in the 16th to 19th centuries.

Awkward analogy, that, insofar as, whatever its origins, Three Self was at one time shot through with Communists who didn’t believe all this supernatural crap, becoming, in effect, a sort of Episcopal Organization backed by fiercely-atheist state coercion.

Gregory sent Augustine to 6th century Britain, and challenged him at least in part to bless the best of local tradition in recognition that God had already been at work there.

I believe that would be Pope Gregory and does the fact that Pope Gregory sent Augustine to Britain suggest anything to you, Kate?

Go here to Midwest Conservative Journal to read the hilarious rest.  You know, I think I would rather have Christopher Johnson defending the Church any day of the week, than the Paulists who thought their seminarians had anything positive to learn from Kate the Confused.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. She also says, “Vatican II was able to say that there is salvation beyond the church.” which isn’t actually true. It should read “Vatican II was able to say that there is the possibility of salvation beyond the Church.” Huge difference there.

    Great post!

  2. Well, the Bishopess is not completely incorrect. The Roman Empire did bring Christianity to Great Britain during the last century or so of its existence (Though more in the 3rd and especially 4th century than in the 2nd). Its a matter for debate about whether Christianity was the dominant faith in Britain when the empire pulled out in the late 4th and early 5th century, but it was certainly reasonably prominent.

    The real fact of the matter is that in the 5th and 6th centuries, Roman Britain was invaded by Germanic Tribes (most commonly the Angles, the Saxons and the Juttes), and that these vibrant pagan groups appear to have replaced the native Roman-Celtic culture (Including the Christian faith) in the parts of Britain now known as England.

    Where there Christians still in England following the Anglo-Saxon conquests? Probably, but they certainly had little to know influence in the broader society. Hence the need for St. Augustine.

  3. Maryland Bill, Christopher Johnson was not disputing that there were Christians in England following the invasion of the Germanic tribes in the Fifth Century. He was jabbing at Kate the Confused’s obvious intent to depict them as separate from Catholicism on the Continent. As to Christianity in the British isles following the invasion of Hengist and Horsa and their successors, we know as little about that as we do about the historical “King Arthur”. That is one period of history that is largely a blank page due to an almost total lack of contemporary accounts.

  4. The following is more valid than anything that priestess (to what goddess doth she sacrifice?) spouted:

    Ziggy zoggy
    Ziggy zoggy
    Oy Oy Oy!!!

    Mac, as one notorious politico of disputed parentage oft spake, “You cain’t put lipstick on a pig.”

    Lo, Hygelac and I had a good laugh.

    Though, it was a valiant effort on your part.

  5. She forgot to mention how Jesus spent his youth in Britain and St. Thomas spent some time there before being posted to India (part of the good old colonial administration, what?) not to mention the grail and the lance and all that.

    In other news, the expanding universe theory finally proved what all good true born British men and women had always suspected — Britain is at the center of the universe. (And anyone who has not had the good fortune to be British true born, or a man or a woman, can just listen up as a matter of simple decent respect!)

  6. Donald, that might be his intent, but that is not what he wrote. He not only mocked (justifiably) the notion that those tradition remained strong in Anglo-Saxon England, but also that Christianity was brought to Britain in the first place by the Romans.

    Some of the original Roman Christianity did remain; in Ireland and Wales. And Irish monks actually were responsible for converting the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria independently of St. Augustine’s mission. The mistake the Bishopess makes is that this “Celtic” Christianity was part of the Catholic Church with their own particular traditions… while most of those traditions (tonsure and dating of Easter) were abandoned when contact was reestablished with Rome, at least one (Irish Penance practices) were ultimately adopted by Europe as a whole.

  7. Well, apart from the legimitate and scholarly disputes about the status of Christian belief in the British Isles prior to Augustine of Canterbury, it is clear that her intent is to lessen or, indeed, deny the fact that the Henrician reformation was a major rupture with the existing practice of Christianity in England. Her fantastical view–found, actually, also in much of the propaganda in the early modern period–is that the Henrician reformation was merely a reassertion or development of a native strand of Christianity that had preceded the presence of the Roman Church on the isle. This (fantastic) account of history–believed by nobody working on the English Reformation today–is what justifies her opening line.

    She’s describing Anglicanism as though it had always been a local rite of Catholicism, instead of an invention of 18th and 19th century divines, flailing to find a way of describing the ad hoc negotiations between Puritan hard-liners, the monarchy, and the masses that eventually gave rise to that curious thing: the “Anglican” Church.

  8. What a hoot! This lady is confused to the max! She mixes liberal theology, the myth of an independant Celtic British Church, and ecumenicalism into one heady brew1 Why didn’t she throw in British-Israelism, too?! LOL!

  9. Critiquing the Episcopal bishop’s lecture is one thing, being so utterly rude and disrespectful of her as a person and fellow Christian is quite another. We Roman Catholics may not recognize Episcopal orders, but Episcopalians some Lutherans and other Christians, with whom we share a common, valid baptism, do. This post–and the posts that hoot encouragement– embarrass Christ, who says to all who are baptized, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Even if you think of Bishop Jefferts-Shori as your enemy, Christ says “Love your enemies,” and if somehow you are offended by her, “Do good to those who do you harm.” Do you think you prove the truth of Catholicism by this kind of writing? Do you think you persuade others to come to Christ with this tone? If this is “defending the faith,” which faith? Surely not Roman Catholicism, the supreme law of which is the law of charity.

  10. Forgive my guffaw David. Considering her support for homosexual clergy, abortion on demand, and watered down Anglicanism, the Bishopess is getting off lightly in this post. Reread some passages in the Gospels and the Epistles and ponder what Our Lord and Saint Paul had to say about those who would lead others away from the Truth. A true Protestant man or woman of God, following the teachings of Christ the best they know, will always have my respect. I do not place the Bishopess in that category.

  11. Love the sinner. Hate the sin. Admonish the sinner. Instruct the ignorant. Counsel the doubtful.

    I could be wrong: Christ used a knotted cord to beat the money changers in the Temple.

    Correct me if I’m wrong. One of the last things Christ said (updated): “Let him who has no gun sell his robe and buy one.” Therewith the Second Amendment is sound theologically. Case closed.

  12. Sure sign that someone, while having the theologically correct position of ordination reserved for men, also is particularly animated not just by orthodoxy but by misogyny — they can accept the common and papal courtsey of referring to Episcopalians by their self-named titles of “priest”, “bishop” or “clergy” even though the Church as ruled Anglican Orders invalid, but feel compelled never to extend the same courtsey to Anglican women (or even the non-commital term “clergyperson). To them the pagan term “priestess*” or the belitting term “bishopess” must be used.

    * In a quick “google” search, I find not a single use of the term except in reference to non-Christians or as a slur toward female Protestant clergy. I find not a single example of Christian using the term to describe herself.

    Sadly, my life’s experience is that those who find the need to write or speak extentisively on this issue, allowed to ramble on long enough, almost always move from a simple statement of orthodoxy to a revelation of underlying hatred of women.

  13. “To them the pagan term “priestess*” or the belitting term “bishopess” must be used.”

    Priestess is a pagan term Katherine? No more than priest is a pagan term. As for bishopess, are you arguing that only the male form of the term is proper? How sexist of you! I find it amusing that you are more exercised by the term to be applied to the bishopess rather than the rot she was speaking. As to hatred of women, my wife of 28 years, my 15 year old daughter, and my secretary of 26 years I think would give me a good character on that score. However, I can understand why you would wish to cast aspersions of misogyny rather than dwell on the hilarity of having a pro-abort bishopess attempting to instruct Paulist seminarians on Church history.

    As for the term clergyperson, it does have a certain classic pc-uber-alles feel to it. I might in future sometimes refer to the bishopess as the bishopperson, although that might be sexist as it does end in that dreadful “son” suffix.

  14. Priestess is a pagan term Katherine?

    Can you show me a Christian who uses the term for herself or a Christian denomination that names their clergy such? Papal and common courtsey accepts whatever titles a separated Christian community uses for itself. Yo find a need to invent titles to belittle others — correction — you don’t seem to find a need to belittle Protestant pro-abortion clergymen, it’s just women that win your ire.

    If you think bishopess is a perfectly non-pejorative word for an Anglican woman in episcopal orders, I would refer you to the church’s teaching on both Anglican Orders and the admission of women to the priesthood.

    If you are simply following common courtsey and applying self-chosen titles, then I would suggest you better investigate what term she and the Episcopal Chuch use.

    If you want to give a commentary on her remarks, do that rather than engage in childish name calling.

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