And why not? Everything seems to go in Canterbury Communion Anglicanism these days:
Dr Rowan Williams named the Rev Jonathan Baker as the next Bishop of Ebbsfleet despite knowing he was an active and senior mason.
The appointment, announced earlier this month, marked a significant U-turn by Dr Williams who had previously said that Freemasonry was “incompatible” with Christianity and had refused to promote Masons to senior posts.
Last week, as news of Fr Baker’s membership of the Masons began to circulate through the Church, it provoked growing concern and criticism from clergy and members of the General Synod.
When contacted by The Sunday Telegraph on Friday, Fr Baker defended his continued membership of the Masons and insisted it was compatible with his new role as a bishop.
Yet yesterday he said he had changed his mind was leaving the masons so he could concentrate on being a bishop, adding: “I wish nothing to distract from the inauguration of that ministry.”
Freemasonry, a secretive male-only organisation dating back 300 years, requires its members to declare a belief in a “supreme being” and to undergo elaborate rituals.
Fr Baker joined the Apollo University masonic lodge in Oxford while he was a student, in an initiation ceremony that involves promising to keep the “secrets of Freemasonry”.
This ritual is said to involve members being blindfolded, wearing a hangman’s noose, and being warned that those who break the oaths of allegiance will have their throat slit and their tongue torn out before being buried in the sand.
He remained a member of the lodge for more than 20 years until his resignation yesterday, rising in the organisation to serve a term as an assistant Grand Chaplain.
Fr Baker, who is currently principal at Pusey House in Oxford, said he had told Archbishop Williams he was a mason when they discussed his appointment to be the next Bishop of Ebbsfleet…
One can but wonder what’s next in that theological malaise.