When did you stop ****ing your wife?

I don’t know how to put this politely, so I’ll follow The Times and use a lot of asterisks.

My attention has been caught by a recent news item (£) in which a vicar was taken to task for describing the Archbishop of Canterbury as a w****r.

Fair enough. Taking the vicar to task, I mean, not the original use of the epithet. But the Rev Arun Arora, director of communications at the Church’s headquarters in Westminster, justified his criticism by saying: “I think any right minded person would find a priest calling his archbishop an onanist to be utterly outrageous.”

Now it’s true that “onanism” is an acceptably polite term which embraces the sexual act of a w****r. But isn’t the Church’s communications director rather missing the point here? We object to certain terms because they have a vulgarity to them, not because of the activity they describe. Or is he suggesting that it would have been OK if the vicar had, instead, called his archbishop a ******? The Archbishop is, after all, married (with children).

One thing is clear from all this. The Church allows respectful dissent, but it draws the line at vicars bashing the bishop.