There has been a hat controversy brewing down south over the border during the last week or so.

The short version is that the Presiding Bishop of the US based Episcopal Church was inhibited from wearing a mitre or carrying a pastoral staff whilst visiting Southwark Cathedral last Sunday. I suspect this is because the Church of Englandshire does not recognise that women can become bishops yet and so inhibit women who have been made bishops from acting as bishop or appearing as bishops when in England. It is a kind of small-mindedness that we don’t indulge in up here. Either Bishop Katharine is a bishop or she isn’t. If she is, she gets treated with respect as a bishop or she isn’t and we don’t have to bother about her at all. (It was the same years ago for Bishop Penny from New Zealand who was able to act as a bishop in Scotland even before we had made any decision about women and the Episcopatate but she could not do so in England).

I remember that +Gene Robinson was banned from wearing Episcopal regalia when in England two years ago for similar reasons. However, I could not remember whether he had worn a titfer liturgically when he came here. It made me look back at the video of that service and I found that he did indeed wear a mitre. Seems to me that making headgear the cause of controversy is displacement activity.

Presumably the no-mitre on +Katharine rule was instigated in order to appease a certain kind of Evangelical lobby group. (Which again, I don’t think we really have up here either, thank God). Oh how sweet the irony that they become the first bible-believing fundamentalists to insist that a woman not wear a hat in public worship.

Anyway, you can see the +Gene mitre-moment on the video that I posted at the time. I was rather smug at getting better at making videos at that time, I see. I’ve got rather better at it since.

More on mitregate from Maggie Dawn, Thinking Anglicans (69 comments and counting) and Fr Madpriest.


  1. David | Dah•veed says

    They also insisted on “proof” of her ordination to each office as well, before issuing the license for her to your counterpart at Southwark Cathedral.

    But she has been licensed in England and has worn a miter in England in the past. When this same person was ABC.

    As she related the story to the General Council earlier this week, it is beyond bizarre. (Perhaps a protocol officer overstuffed about themself.)

  2. David | Dah•veed says

    WOW! A preview button. Is that new?

  3. Revd Ross Kennedy says

    All this bother about a silly hat! It’s only since the 19th century that some Anglican bishops began wearing mitres.
    As to the PB having to provide evidence of her ordination – I remember having to do that each time I moved to a new parish even though it was within the same diocese. Yes church protocol can be quite daft at times.

    PS My preview button doesn’t work!

  4. fr dougal says

    The mad bit is a Canadian woman bishop mitred in Engerland years ago – Rowan’s a diddy!

  5. I can not understand what is going on in the head of ++Rowan. As for asking for evidence of ordination. No doubt Colin (Dean of Southwark) and +Nick (Bp of Croydon; Senior Suffragen of Southwark) will have covered all the bases prior to ++Rowan getting involved.

    To someone in the pews this just appears to be getting very silly, admirably shown pictorially by MP.

    It is unlikely that ++Rowan’s actions will have pleased those he was trying to appease, and will have equally upset those at Southwark last Sunday who were expecting to see ++Katharine with all the regalia appropriate to her office.

    Incidentally Kelvin, did you extend an invitation for her to preach at St Mary’s next time she is this side of the Atlantic?

  6. Get attitude on mitregate from the colonies here,

    end shameless plug

  7. Lapinbizarre says

    “Oh how sweet the irony …….” Thank you for putting words to one of my first reactions to this silliness.

  8. Rosemary Hannah says

    I think the ABC should start getting PR advice form Tony Hayward….

  9. Kurt Hill says

    “All this bother about a silly hat! It’s only since the 19th century that some Anglican bishops began wearing mitres.”–Rev. Ross Kennedy

    Actually, Fr. Kennedy, American Anglican/Episcopal bishops have been wearing mitres since the 18th century. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Samuel Seabury wore a mitre as part of his Episcopal regalia beginning in 1785 at the first ordination of an Episcopal priest in the USA. He was the first American bishop–of any denomination–to wear one. Bishop Thomas Claggett of Maryland also wore a mitre from his consecration in 1792 to his death in 1816. In fact, the usage here is even older than that. Two non-cannonical Anglican bishops (consecrated by an English non-juror) also wore mitres (and copes) here in America in the 1720s, but were forced to stop functioning in episcopal roles by civil and church authorities.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

  10. mitregate 3D – the movie!
    Hopefully with Peter Jackson directing, and Naomi Watts as the Presiding Bishop.

  11. gvahey says

    In a few years’ time we will perhaps look back and see how silly the C of E is about all this. Two points worth considering are that (1) there is no such thing as a woman bishop anyway. We only have the Offices of Bishop, Priest and Deacon. The fact that a bishop happens to be a woman is neither here nor there. (2) I recall that when the C of E were against the ordination of women that they had to be warned by an MP that if they did not so ordain women, that the House of Commons would legislate it; after all the C of E is governed by the Government in England as the State Church. Even its bishops are chosen and agreed by the Prime Minister.

  12. Clare Lockhart says

    According to Adrian Fortescue and O’Connell the only bishop to wear a mitre and carry a pastoral staff in the liturgy is the Ordinary of the Diocese, no matter how many other bishops are in the sanctuary.


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