So what is it about the historic figure of Thomas Cranmer that makes him "the greatest Archbishop of Canterbury" in the eyes of the Peter Broadbent the Bishop of Willesden for the time being?
Well it plainly wasn't his human perfection.
Cranmer lived in interesting times and found himself bobbing like a cork though the maelstrom of Reformation politics and being overwhelmed by the wills of monarchs un-constrained by the Human Rights Act.
It took him eight years to complete his first degree. He served a monarch and church predecessor who were as vain as they were educated. He broke his vow of chastity by a secret marriage and his vow of obedience to the Pope and the Roman Church by consorting with heretics.
He allowed himself to become the tool of Thomas Boleyn in his quest to put his daughter on the throne, using her undoubted sexual allure with which she drew the King and herself into adultery.
When she was unable to provide the male heir, Cranmer was enough of a conservative to never consider the possibility that the princess Elizabeth, whom he had baptised, should become the Monarch, though happily she did, becoming arguably England's greatest ruler.
He took her mother's confession before her execution but continued to serve a King who was becoming increasingly monstrous in his person and his pride.
He was complicit in the destruction of the Public Services (aka the Monasteries) to which his master brought destructive zeal. Had Arthur Scargill and Peter Broadbent been living at the time they would have considered Cranmer the Lord Tebbitt to Henry's Margaret Thatcher. Both would probably have perished as leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace – and Cranmer would still have stayed loyal to the increasingly powerful king.
With the accession of Edward VI he accepted a theological lurch towards the radical which he had previously struggled to moderate, and when the sickly king gave way to Mary, he attempted to reach accommodation with her, by recanting certain views. When he failed to avoid the martyr's fate, he redeemed his vacillations with a bravery that secures his reputation.
Despite this all, his writings offered an expression of theology that manages to draw those of different traditions into a degree of accord which epitomises English inclusiveness focused upon tradition.
The mantle of Cranmer's use of language and shaping of ideas passed to William Shakespeare. Through his historical plays, this writer also rose from modest beginnings and attempted to give form to complex ideas and to offer a commentary on contemporary politics, while saying something about our essential selves. He recognised that fallible rulers often have a "Project" – in the case of the Tudors, to bring peace to the realm whose dynasty, for all its faults, put an end to the Wars of the Roses which had devastated the country for decades, to the detriment of the ordinary subject.
In the exercise of his dramatic art, Shakespeare gave voice to deeper truths by putting his words into the mouths of an array of historical characters supplemented by fictional ones. When we contemplate the characters of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Henry IV or Richard II, we are more likely than not to allow ourselves to be influenced by the imagination of a theatrical chancer who was part poet, part Arthur Daley.
Brother Ivo wonders if Bishop Pete boycotts Shakespeare?
The Bard puts his own thoughts, words, philosophies and analyses into the mouths of sundry characters for his own purposes. All of us "know" that the characters are expressing the author's views but we place ourselves into his hands so that through the temporary suspension of our belief, we may be drawn to a better understanding of contemporary issues.
Bishop Pete has now opened his twitter account to His Grace. That is a welcome olive branch. Brother Ivo hopes that His Grace will accept it.
The writing of this blog has been a huge labour of love, sacrifice and Christian witness. We know from time to time His Grace's ashes have cooled, and it has been in recognition of this that Brother Ivo has offered his own modest efforts to ease the load.
His Grace may need his time of reflection, and his communicants must pray for him whilst he does so.
There may be good and proper reasons why His Grace needs to reduce his labours. The opinions of him who may or may not be the greatest Bishop of Willesden cannot be one of them.
(Posted by Brother Ivo)