Presiding Bishop receives honorary degree from Oxford University

Posted Jun 26, 2014
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford University on June 25.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford University on June 25.

[Adapted from an Oxford University press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was among five prominent figures from the worlds of science, the arts and religion to receive honorary degrees from the University of Oxford on June 25.

Jefferts Schori, who received the Degree of Doctor of Divinity, said: “[Oxford] is a place where the life of the mind is honored, where creative thought and connection-making is the primary task of the human being: critical thinking, creative and artistic and beautiful thinking is a way of searching for truth.”

The degrees were awarded at Encaenia, the University’s annual honorary degree ceremony. Lord Christopher Patten, chancellor of the University of Oxford, handed the honorands their degrees in the Sheldonian Theatre before lunch was held in The Codrington Library at All Souls College.

Sir Anish Kapoor, one of Britain’s foremost sculptors, and Robert Silvers, founding editor of the New York Review of Books, received Degrees of Doctor of Letters.

Professor Jean-Marie Lehn, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1987 for his pioneering studies on the chemical basis of molecular recognition, received the Degree of Doctor of Science.

Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a leading British composer, received the Degree of Doctor of Music.

Kapoor said: ‘It’s a wonderful thing. I’m thrilled. Oxford is one of the great universities, and I’m thrilled to be part of it. My daughter’s at university here, so that makes it a doubly wonderful thing. [She couldn’t attend the ceremony because] she has exams, alas!

‘‘[Oxford] is a wonder. It somehow remains properly alive, because it has such a big student body. Education in great spaces – what more could one ask for?’

Lehn said: ‘When you’re an academic, university is the place in which knowledge and education is being gained and transferred. Among those places, there are some very special ones. Oxford is among those very special ones. So it’s a great pleasure and an honor to be here today.’



Comments (7)

  1. Erna Lund says:

    This Oxford honor bestowed on our Presiding Bishop is quite a surprise to many of us Episcopalians–that may be irrelevant–Presiding Bishop Schori has played it safe and in many venues that is the politiclly smart thing to do, regardless of the critical demands of our world, on the church, on moral justice for all peoples. Thus it must be said we in the Episcopal Church, which has been progressive in the past, is now looking forward to a new Primate/Presiding Bishop to be the Exemplar to act with strong spriritual moral leaders and be the Strong Voice for all the voiceless and vulnerable in our world today.

  2. Michael Patterson says:

    With respect to Ms. Lund, nonsense. Bishop Jefferts Schori has lent the Presiding Episcopate dignity, courage, wisdom and grace during difficult times for our church and world. She makes me very grateful.

  3. Margo Fletcher says:

    Privilege saluting privilege! What is new here!
    I suppose the honorary theology degree for feeding the hungry, housing the homeless
    challenging the ‘mighty’ 1% on their economic thrones for justice for the rest of us
    might exist in Podunks Community College but constraints of time could not allow
    to be included on a PB’s agenda.

  4. John B Hills says:

    What did Oxford University officially say of the Presiding Bishop and to the Presiding Bishop when the degree was awarded to her in the Sheldonian Theatre that day? That is important.

    I continue to be impressed by what she is like as a person, by her broad and deep concerns, by the depth and breadth of her mind, by what of Jesus I see and hear in her, and by her spirited service to the Church as bishop and chief pastor.

    1. BRADLEY HUTT says:

      I would say this. we should not judge a persons character , but you may judge their Acts. Bishop Schori’s track record is overwhelming and requires close examination. I do not see her deep concerns, what I see and hear are the 84 Secular Lawsuits, 700 deposed clergy and $40 million in legal fees.

      1. Richard Harris says:

        Then I respectfully say Mr. Hutt, you are not looking very closely.

  5. Peggy Kay says:

    It is my hope that elsewhere, in a place and way in which I am as of yet unaware, that Bishop Katharine has received overwhelming congratulations and appreciation of having received this honor. She is a PhD academic as well as our Presiding Bishop, and is being formally acknowledged with the highest honors in the academic world, from arguably the best school in the world. The fact that the honor is in Divinity acknowledges her ministry, prophetic witness, and is considered in the oldest, finest tradition of the Church, an academic Divine. This does not happen lightly or often, and certainly not without the utmost consideration. It is among the highest of honors, and deserves the highest of respect.
    She took over from the former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, and I for one wondered how anyone would follow in Brother Frank’s footsteps, or what alternative path his successor would take. She has traveled the world fostering relationships within the Episcopal Church and between the Episcopal Church and countless other churches, religions, and countless other institutions and individuals. She has lifted up all of the non-US people and aspects of the Episcopal Church, trimmed overall operating budgets, and led initiatives to discover new ways forward for the Episcopal Church. She has led us at the forefront of social justice issues, and even when we disagree issue to issue, as I know I do on some issues with her, we have been led by spiritual leadership and powerful prophetic witness and been a stalwart and unflinching presence at the forefront. Lawsuits against the Episcopal Church she did not initiate, and she has had to protect and defend the property entrusted to the Church by past generations on behalf of future generations. Clergy are deposed by polity, not her whim. If anyone does not see or hear her deep concerns they are neither looking nor listening.
    She has at all times and in all circumstances as our PB conducted herself with grace, dignity, intellectual acuity, and according to Biblical spiritual principles, in what she has done and in the way she has done it. The fact that I may disagree with her on an issue here or there, or have divergent ideas about the church now and in the future, reflects differences all people have from time to time because we are unique individuals. It does not in any way negate her overall performance, and she should not vary her collective leadership for one divergent opinion as she is responsible for leading us in our entirety for the collective good of all.
    It is also, I believe, extremely significant that she leads the Episcopal Church, which, although is part of the Anglican Communion, has not always been on the same page as the Church of England, and, keep in mind that the history of Oxford is not Anglican, but Catholic. We must also realize that Oxford University would have considered anyone in the world who would have qualified according to their criteria, and she was their selection. This is one of the, if not the highest Divinity honor in the world, and she has been selected, based on her accomplishments and conduct and demeanor, among all of the possibilities in the world. It is an irrefutable honor for her, and speaks with full integrity to her and her performance. This reflects well on the Episcopal Church, and we should all be appreciative and grateful not only for this award, but for her world class leadership in Divinity. It is an almost unspeakably valuable honor and recognition, and a great milestone for the Episcopal Church. It is our privilege to stand behind her, metaphorically, and support her as she accepts this award, irrefutably well deserved. We were blessed to have had Brother Frank, are blessed with Bishop Katharine, and based on the spirituality, discernment, and faithfulness of our laity, clergy, and bishops, we will be blessed to have the next Presiding Bishop. In addition to love and gratitude and utmost respect to her, I am also deeply grateful and appreciative for her husband Dr. Richard Shori’s supportiveness of her and participation with all of us in her tenure as PB.

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