Michael Gove - vicar
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Michael Gove chosen to be next Bishop of Sheffield

Following hard upon the unlikely appointment of ex-chancellor George Osborne as editor of the Evening Standard, and the slightly less unlikely appointment of arch-republican Pete Broadbent as Bishop of London, the Crown Nominations Commission has nominated the almost unlikeliest name of Michael Gove as the next Bishop of Sheffield.

“I am simply a Christian seeking to serve the world in a spirit of humility,” he said, on receiving the news. “Jesus Christ teaches that the first step in becoming a mature human being is to refuse to be a little god. I have now definitely stopped trying to be one,” he added. “Jesus came in the form of a servant, and so should we, and so henceforth shall I.”

Michael Gove is a devout Anglican and a committed Christian. This makes his nomination rather more promising than many of those currently in the House of Bishops. You may quibble that he isn’t ordained, but the above picture suggests that he may be so – certainly as much (if not more) as members of The Society believe that women may be so. In any case, ordination is simply not a requirement for priests and bishops in the Church of England: the Five Guiding Principles reiterate beyond doubt that Michael Gove may truly and lawfully hold the office of Bishop of Sheffield, while not actually being ordained a priest (or, indeed, being consecrated a bishop). Ever since the Henrican Reformation (aka Brexit I), Royal laymen (and, of course, women) have been able to be Head (or Supreme Governor) of the Church of England without being in holy orders: the next logical step was to widen access (“radical inclusion“) and share out the spiritual authority.

And unlike many of the current psalter of bishops, Michael Gove wears his faith on his sleeve and proclaims it in Parliament: “It’s because I am a Conservative I believe in the rule of law as the foundation stone of our civilisation. It’s because I’m a Conservative I believe that evil must be punished. But it’s also because I’m a Conservative and a Christian I believe in redemption,” he told MPs last year.

Importantly, he understands the nature of Anglican catholicity, which is by far the best type of Catholicism. He observed in the Times recently how Theresa May gave up crisps for Lent, making her “Britain’s first Catholic prime minister”. He continued:

An Anglo-Catholic rather than a Roman Catholic, but no less a Catholic for that. One of the many wonders of the Anglican Church is that it comprehends both those who think of themselves as definitively Protestant in the tradition of Thomas Cranmer and those who believe they are continuity Catholics practising a spirituality and believing in a theology that has passed down from St Augustine to Pusey and Keble. Theresa May’s father, Hubert Brasier, was a priest who very much subscribed to the latter tradition.

And he goes on to talk knowledgeably and intelligently about Roman Catholic social thought and the dangers of excessive individualism and oppressive statism. “It has its roots in the philosophy of Aquinas, borrows from the work of Aristotle and was revived for the industrial age by Pope Leo XIII with his encyclical De Rerum Novarum (Of Revolutionary Things) in 1891.” He is passionate about Christian virtue, the common good, the Reformation and Brexit II. He explains:

We pursued a global, maritime, buccaneering, individualistic, liberal destiny, the spirit of our capitalism was infused with a very Protestant ethic. Now that we are once more freeing ourselves from a conformist Continent to make our own way in the world the question of whether we need to be more radical to maximise opportunities or more cautious to reassure and protect is central to our politics. I can see the case for both. Which may not be very crusading. But I suspect it makes me genuinely Anglican.

The Crown Nominations Commission, which deliberates in secret, reached their decision to nominate Michael Gove late last night, just in time for Gogglebox. The Rev’d Kate Bottley is naturally disappointed not to have been selected, but she is holding out for London, where, as of midnight last night, it is a case of Sede vacante. But that is certainly no longer the case in Sheffield, where the Sede is now very much occupied by a Bible-believing Christian of impeccable integrity, intelligence, discernment and wit. God bless Michael Gove (and guard him from the illiberal-liberal, anti-conservtive, orthophobic mob).

  • ChaucerChronicle

    Your Grace

    What the blazes is going on?

    • Sarky

      April fool!!!!

      • ChaucerChronicle

        But Sarky! I want to believe!

      • Little Black Censored

        You got it! I knew you would.

  • Peasant Farmer

    If only….

  • I hope he gets to wear that cardigan at his induction.

    • magnolia

      St Paul clearly forbids men wearing cardigans in those verses which forbid cross-dressing.

      • I think as long as it is pure wool it will be acceptable; otherwise it might fall foul of Leviticus 19:19.

        • magnolia

          Nice one; needed a laugh; thanks.

  • bluedog

    An important development, Your Grace. Gove’s appointment is an example of out-sourcing that takes Mutual Flourishing to a new level of consciousness, and sets a precedent that will enable much of the episcopate to resign their Holy Orders while retaining their stipends.

  • Mike Stallard

    Nice one!
    The dear old CoE is permanent, has always been there, the same, unquestioned, part of our glorious British heritage. It is not every country that can boast a parish church in almost every village which dates back well over half a millennium. Our village Church has a Norman door and our market town sports a row of Norman arches complete with dog-tooth patterns!
    The problem comes when one part (the Bishops) falls away leaving a huge gap. Very witty article, your Grace, but I am afraid that your namesake would not have understood it at all.

  • Royinsouthwest

    Dawkins would have a better chance than Gove if he were younger. He missed his chance when Rowan Williams retired as archbishop.

  • betteroffoutofit

    Oh, Your Grace – I thought about it, and I thought – and then I thought ….

    🙂

  • What else does one expect on 1st April?

    • Little Black Censored

      Gosh, thanks for pointing that out.

      • I had to give it a lot of thought, after all Welby was a top businessman before somehow he became Archbishop, so nothing the CofE does these days would really surprise me.

  • 1649again

    If only… Don’t tease us with false hope Your Grace.

  • len

    Whatever next Blair as Pope?.

    • Redrose82

      No way. He’s not yet given up hope of being President of the EU. Having said that he would probably offer to do both jobs. Depends how well they pay.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Given that the Pope of Rome claims jurisdiction over the entire world there has to be the possibility of more dosh in that job.

      • Royinsouthwest

        The subject of Blair came up a few weeks ago and someone, I forget who, suggested that he is ideally qualified for the post of Holy Roman Emperor.

        • magnolia

          dressed in the Emperor’s New Clothes no doubt…

          • Pubcrawler

            And there goes my appetite…

  • David

    Being April 1st, I look forward to our newly enthroned bishop publishing his Manifesto – woops – I mean Mission Statement.
    In fact Michael Gove could do a very good job as a reforming bishop.

  • Holger

    You know this means that Sarah Vine will be the bishop’s wife.

    I predict reticules at dawn with that other Anglican termagant, Olivia Proudie.

    Picture the scene: a gaunt and haggard arch-conservative facing off against a plump and sallow one, crinolines bristling, weepers atremble. Each determined to rule the roost. Each imbued with that peculiar sense of entitlement that only the spouses of influential people ever seem to feel (never the influential people themselves). Riding on their husbands’ coat-tails makes them feel like their opinions count for something in this world. Consequence by proxy. Pride at its most gratuitous. Why should we listen to two women whose only perceptible talent was to overcome their plain looks and marry well? Why indeed!

    It’ll be a fight to the death. Personally I back the Vine woman. The tenacity of character needed to share one’s life with someone like Michael Gove must surely give her the edge in any conflict requiring longevity and staying power. Lady Macgove will take Mrs Proudie down in flames, and then probably write all about it the Daily Wail. Fame at last, Mme Orgueilleuse. Or infamy, perhaps.

  • David

    Given that the qualities of Michael Gove, sorry I forget Bishop Michael, are under discussion, perhaps I will be permitted to stretch the narrative to mention this below. It does go to his character.,
    There’s an interesting piece on “The Conservative Woman”, contrasting how Gove, unlike the present Minister for Education, who has just wimped out under pressure from The Blob, set up a principled reform of public exams.
    If Greening can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, then bring back a man with courage and conviction. Our exams desperately need improving upwards to allow us to compete globally. The young ought not to be misled by “soft” marking standards, as we need rigour. Honesty with young people is, in the longer term, far more honest and humane. Let’s cultivate the habit of calling a spade a spade, shall we, even if it does offend the PC junkies.

  • Dominic Stockford
    • William Lewis

      Had me until the postscript.

  • Merchantman

    Without a shadow of doubt the right couple for the office.

  • Eaglet2

    But will he ordain women?

    • ChaucerChronicle

      If sex is irrelevant to the priesthood; then why should the practising homosexual and the transgendered be barred?

      • Eaglet2

        You do know this is a light-hearted thread, don’t you?

        • ChaucerChronicle

          Conceded.

  • Dominic Stockford

    And is this another April Fool, or are the Telegraph really up the creek these days?

    “Simnel cake

    A rich fruit cake, simnel cake dates back to at least Tudor times, and was for a long time credited with giving Easter its alternative name – Simnel Sunday. It was also often brought by servant girls to their mothers on Mothering Sunday. Layered with marzipan and stuffed with candied fruit, it is topped with 11 marzipan balls to represent each of the apostles (minus Judas, for obvious reasons). INSERT LINK TO TESCO FINEST SIMNEL CAKE IF AND WHEN IT’S LIVE (IT NORMALLY DOES ONE)”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/finest-easter/easter-food-around-world/?WT.mc_id=tmgspk_listfour_1683_AnkjN7GmHmJQ&utm_source=tmgspk&utm_medium=listfour&utm_content=1683&utm_campaign=tmgspk_listfour_1683_AnkjN7GmHmJQ

  • Orthophobic – great term. Sums up so much that is wrong with current Christianity.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      How?

      • Aversion and animus towards the orthodox.

  • chefofsinners

    Thank you, Cranmer for a seasonal reminder of that great doctrine, the resurrection of the politically dead. Even as it was prophesied: ‘O death, where is thy sting? O Gove, here is thy victory.’
    I welcome the prospect of him as bishop almost as much as I wanted him to be Prime Minister. It is entirely consistent with his idea that experts shouldn’t run things.

    Pardon, if you will, a few misgivings:
    First, is it wise that we send Gove to Sheffield, the home of knife-making? Might we not all need to watch our backs very carefully?
    Second, are we prepared for the five guiding principles to be replaced by just three: Me, I and myself?
    Third, everything he’s ever said and everything he’s ever done.

    And, lest you think me bitter, please note that I have stopped making fun of Michael Gove’s appearance. Because what really matters is how ugly you are on the inside.

    http://www.gove2016.co.uk/

    • dannybhoy

      “First, is it wise that we send Gove to Sheffield, the home of knife-making? Might we not all need to watch our backs very carefully?”
      He needs a new batch of Sheffield’s finest..
      Obviously you suspect your name is on his (amended) list?

    • Anton

      Someone here called Chief Of Sinners didn’t like Michael Gove either. What a coincidence!

  • loveday

    I’m not convinced that that is not Dougal no doubt proposed by Father Ted.

  • Anton

    Here are the scenes, featuring Michael Gove as chaplain, from the public-school comedy film A Feast at Midnight from which His Grace took the still above:

  • Coniston

    Michael Gove also had an article in The Times (25 March) in which he described Islam (as opposed to Islamists) as “a faith which sustains billions and inspires countless acts of charity and kindness every day.” He contrasts Islamism with “the beauty of a subtle and powerful Abrahamic faith.”
    So obviously Islamists don’t follow Mohammad or read the Koran?