The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, today responded to efforts by the American members of the Anglican Communion to elect an openly gay bishop by declaring the Episcopal Church of the United States of America to be in schism with the Church of England and ordering its members to be arrested and burnt.
“The old sweetie’s really got a bee in his mitre over this one,” said Canon Douglas F.X. Ramsbottom, a Lambeth Palace spokesperson. “It’s not so much the gay thing, I mean we are British clergy, after all; it’s the power thing. Rowie doesn’t like the Americans thumbing their noses at him. Deep down, he really wants to be like the pope, you know, infallible and everybody kissing his ring, so every now and then he’s got to flex a little muscle.”
Whether based on scripture or the worst case of papal envy since Archbishop Thomas Cramner went one-on-one against Clement VIII and wound up being burned at the stake for his trouble, the directive to begin burning Episcopalians as heretics has the full force of canon law and is expected to result in somewhat of a strain in the relations between England and the United States. Indeed, two American tourists have already been arrested while touring the Tower, imprisoned in one of its unused cells, tried, and condemned.
A quick-witted Beefeater spotted Mr. and Mrs. Peter Fairworthy as likely Episcopalians when they appeared to be the only middle-aged Americans tourists in London who were not dressed in tee-shirts, shorts, and shower clogs. Under questioning from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Inquisitors, Mr. Fairworthy seemed somewhat vague as to whether he in fact belonged to any church, until his wife reminded him that the answer to their enquiries might well call for the place he intended to attend every Christmas, when they were not visiting St. Barts, and every Easter, when the weather was not suitable for golf.
Mrs. Fairworthy, however, was quite pleased to admit to being an active member of her Upper East Side Manhattan parish, at least insofar as being in charge of its altar guild and social activities constituted religious activity. Both of the Fairworthys thus fit the classic profile of the American Episcopalian and the Inquisitors had no difficulty in signing their death warrants.
All things considered, the Fairworthys seem to have accepted their imprisonment and likely immolation in good stride, although Mr. Fairworthy appears somewhat unhappy that his English holiday has included less golf and salmon fishing than he had planned and has been heard to complain more than once that the Tower does not serve a dry martini that meets his standards. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fairworthy’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Upstairs Downstairs has made her a great favourite with the warders. She keeps herself busy organizing tea dances and is delighted that she will likely be the first condemned person since Mary Queen of Scots to be presented to an English monarch.