Thinking Anglicans

The Bishop of London writes

Sent: 18 June 2008 12:02
Subject: Communication from the Bishop of London re St Bartholomew the Great

To:
Clergy in the Diocese of London
Diocesan Readers
Churchwardens
PCC Secretaries
PCC Treasurers
Deanery Lay Chairs
Members of the Diocesan Synod
Members of the Bishop’s Council

Please find attached two letters which the Bishop of London has asked me to circulate.

With best wishes
Robert Hargrave
Diocesan Communications
———-
PDF original
18th June 2008

Dear Friends,

Many of you will have seen the publicity over the weekend around the service which was held at St Bartholomew the Great on May 31st. I attach a letter I have written to the Rector which sets out the situation as I understand it.

So much good work is being done both nationally and internationally by the Church as it seeks in the spirit of Jesus Christ to address some of the global issues of peace, justice and poverty that confront the peoples of the world. It would be a tragedy if this episode were to distract us from the big agenda.

With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD FSA
———
PDF original
18th June 2008

The Reverend Dr Martin Dudley,
St Bartholomew the Great Parish Office,
6 Kinghorn Street,
London,
EC1A 7HW.

Dear Martin,

You have sought to justify your actions to the BBC and in various newspapers but have failed more than two weeks after the service to communicate with me.

I read in the press that you had been planning this event since November. I find it astonishing that you did not take the opportunity to consult your Bishop.

You describe the result as “familiar words reordered and reconfigured carrying new meanings.” I note that the order of service, which I have now received, includes the phrase “With this ring I thee bind, with my body I thee worship”.

At first sight this seems to break the House of Bishops Guidelines which as I explained in my letter of December 6th 2005 apply the traditional teaching of the Church of England to the new circumstances created by the enactment of Civil Partnerships.

The point at issue is not Civil Partnerships themselves or the relation of biblical teaching to homosexual practice. There is of course a range of opinion on these matters in the Church and, as you know, homophobia is not tolerated in the Diocese of London. The real issue is whether you wilfully defied the discipline of the Church and broke your oath of canonical obedience to your Bishop.

The Archbishops have already issued a statement in which they say that “those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

St Bartholomew’s is not a personal fiefdom. You serve there as an ordained minister of the Church of England, under the authority of the Canons and as someone who enjoys my licence. I have already asked the Archdeacon of London to commence the investigation and I shall be referring the matter to the Chancellor of the Diocese. Before I do this, I am giving you an opportunity to make representations to me direct.

Yours faithfully.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD FSA

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Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

“I read in the press that you had been planning this event since November.” Last November is quite some time ago. Curious to know whether Bishop Chartres himself heard any whisper of the intended event during that seven month period. One would hate to think that this might be nothing more than an exercise in butt-covering.

dodgyvicar
Guest
dodgyvicar

Aha well, I see a formal charge of canonical disobedience for breaking his promise to use only those forms of service as are authorised by canon in the offing.

How nice and fair of the Bishop to ask for his representations on the matter. I wonder if Dr Dudley is in a union…

Paul Rowlandson
Guest
Paul Rowlandson

Chartres says “So much good work is being done both nationally and internationally by the Church as it seeks in the spirit of Jesus Christ to address some of the global issues of peace, justice and poverty that confront the peoples of the world. It would be a tragedy if this episode were to distract us from the big agenda.” In other words, ‘discrimination in the Church against homosexuals is an unimportant distraction from other things’. One can easily imagine Chartres saying much the same about the abolition of slavery – ‘a distraction from other things’. It would be nice… Read more »

poppy tupper
Guest
poppy tupper

Speaking entirely without metaphor or hyperbole, this letter made me want to throw up. Am I alone in feeling that the weight of pressure the Bishop can bring to bear, as compared to the resources of the Rector, is so great as to be, in any other world than the church, a simple example of bullying?

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

@dodgyvicar: If indeed Dr. Dudley is talking to the press but hasn’t bothered to consult his own bishop at any time on this matter since November, not even after it broke to the press, then by all means respect for our homosexual brothers and sisters, but he really is *way* out of line. The last thing we need is loose cannons in the run-up to Lambeth. Especially when a priest not only openly disregards and disobeys his bishop, but revels in it publicly. I should add that us of the more liberal hue are frequently accused of not taking Scripture… Read more »

Graham Kings
Guest

Another lucid and robust response.

pete hobson
Guest
pete hobson

So if reminding a cleric of the significance of their oath of canonical obedience constitutes bullying, then presumably clergy can all do whatever they want and get away with it. Because anything by way of episcopal response is bullying. Nice one, paul and poppy…

Peter Owen
Admin

The code of practice to the Clergy Discipline Measure contains this paragraph. 10. There may be occasions when no formal complaint under the Measure has yet been made but the bishop receives information about a priest or deacon which, if true, would amount to serious misconduct. The bishop will obviously wish to find out more about it. However, the bishop should be cautious about the extent of any direct involvement. The bishop should not do anything that could prejudice, or appear to prejudice, the fair handling of any formal complaint under the Measure that could be made subsequently. Instead, the… Read more »

Peter Waddell
Guest
Peter Waddell

One person’s bullying is another person’s simple stating of facts. This letter seems to me the least the Bishop of London could have said. And let’s not have too much sympathy for Revd. Dudley: he did this knowing the state of affairs in the CoE and wider Communion at the moment – it would be more than naive of him not to expect some consequences. If I did this, I’d expect to be disciplined – in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was (partly) the object of the exercise: to provoke discipline and become a sort of liberal martyr.… Read more »

Wilf
Guest
Wilf

Do you think he means ‘directly’ at the end?

poppy tupper
Guest
poppy tupper

Dear Martin, You won’t be surprised to get this letter from me. I’m sure you agree that we need to talk this over between ourselves. Please will you make an appointment to see me as soon as possible? With all best wishes, Richard. Now, how about that between one Christian and another? Not copied to anyone else, not put in the public domain, and with room for a more formal letter, after the meeting has taken place. There is a sword in these dealings, but the Bishop of London does not need to unsheath it so early, nor so publicly.… Read more »

poppy tupper
Guest
poppy tupper

Oh, and PS. I know you must be feeling battered by events and by publicity. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. R

Joe Episcopalian
Guest
Joe Episcopalian

Surely the rector didn’t do this without anticipating the possible consequences. I’m an unqualified supporter of same-sex marriage in the church, but I also understand that we have to either obey the canons or accept the consequences. Before same-sex blessings were permissible in our diocese, our rector and parish wavered between simply marrying everybody (defying the bishop and the canons) and marrying nobody (completely legal). We chose the latter course, but if we had chosen the former, it would have been with the expectation that our rector would be disciplined, maybe even deposed.

George Parr
Guest
George Parr

When will the Church of England stop obsessing over sexuality, masturbation, menstruation et al, and recognise the clear humanity in how some of its incumbents respond to reality. Its diverse attitudes to homosexuality, far from defined by generally accepted genetics, is a mish-mash of prejudice and dogmatic self-righteousness.

Judgmental rules and regulations, wrapped up within a monumental waste of effort, signifies what the church has become, and demonstrates its increasing irrelevance. Isn’t the Bishop of London paid to stay ahead of the game? What is this some sort of Trollopean reverie?

James
Guest
James

I wonder if a comment in support of Chartres is allowed on this blog?
The actions of Martin Dudley have been deliberate and irresponsible and will weaken and split the Church of England and Anglican Communion further.
It is interesting that one of the priests has already resigned. If so proud, why?
We cannot make God bless something which He is against in His word. To do that is to reform God in our own image. There is a four letter word for that: IDOL.

Malcolm+
Guest

I’m certainly sympathetic to Fr. Dudley’s actions. That said, he acted in a manner he knew would be controversial, and did so (deliberately it seems) without consulting his ordinary. Civil disobedience (which is what this amounts to) can be a powerful witness. But what makes such disobedience a powerful witness is the willingness to face the consequences of the disobedience. Neither Ghandi nor Kig ever argued that their imprisonment was illegal, but rather that it was a perfectly legal enforcement of an unjust law. They accepted the punishment as the inevitable consequence of their actions. People who approach principled disobedience… Read more »

Justin (3MinuteTheologian)
Guest

Ever so slightly concerned that the Bishop of London seems to have made his mind up about the circumstances and motivations of the StBtG service *before* the results of the Archdetective’s investigation have come in.

I’m sure that’s just me misinterpreting the Bishop’s meaning, though.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

It does seem as if public letters – relating to very private matters – are par for the course these days, I find it very disturbing. Every bishop I have ever challenged says their policy is “don’t ask me, I shall be bound to refuse” and this does not just relate to the blessing of gay relationships. I would say this attitude from bishops is part of the warp and weft of life in all episcopally led churches. It certainly forms a significant part of the wallpaper that constitutes the structural integrity of the Church of England – without it,… Read more »

Peter Waddell
Guest
Peter Waddell

My first reaction to Poppy’s suggested Bishop’s note was, ‘well yes, that would have been quite good.’ My second is to say, ‘come on’. Revd. Dudley is a senior and experienced priest, who knew full well what he was doing. What his failure to talk to the Bishop before or afterwards says is that he doesn’t consider episcopal authority worth consulting. He is his own ‘Bishop’: not so much the victim of power as a pretender to it. I agree Richard’s letter is terse – in the circumstances I think I would have been even terser. Perhaps there could be… Read more »

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

brilliant, poppy, brilliant !

robroy
Guest
robroy

Poppy Tupper, what Mr Dudley did was public defiance: “I double dare you to do anything!” A public response is both required and utterly foreseeable. Any surprise on Mr Dudley’s part would be very contrived.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Section 7 of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 provides: (1) The following provisions of this Measure shall have effect for the purpose of regulating proceedings against a Clerk in holy orders who is alleged to have committed an act or omission other than one relating to matters involving doctrine, ritual or ceremonial, and references to misconduct shall be construed accordingly. (2) Proceedings in relation to matters involving doctrine, ritual or ceremonial shall continue to be conducted in accordance with the 1963 Measure. I am no lawyer, but it would seem that this case, if a complaint were to be made,… Read more »

pete hobson
Guest
pete hobson

I think, poppy, as per peter owen’s comment on the CDM code of practice, that to invite an informal conversation would indeed amount to the sort of direct involvement that is advised against. Having read Richard Chartres’ letter carefully again, I think it responds to what has already been put firmly into the public domain, and although it is ‘robust’ it doesn’t presume guilt or innocence of anything (“at first sight this seems to…” clearly offers the possibility that there are other ways of viewing it), but it does initiate an investigative procedure, and invites an initial written response. I… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Every bishop I have ever challenged says their policy is “don’t ask me, I shall be bound to refuse” and this does not just relate to the blessing of gay relationships.”

How about simply: Sorry, I was wrong, my bad. And congratulations!

(Gaffecon and the troubles in the Communion seem to me a matter of bad to non existent leadership, from the Jeffrey John affair onwards).

JCF
Guest
JCF

Maybe others won’t care, but I am STILL waiting to hear how this (common as daisies, and just as lovely) ceremony FIRST became public knowledge?

Was it done w/ a “push the envelope” positive intention, or a “expose the gay agenda!” negative one?

*****

My: Bishop Chartres certainly has the milk-of-human-kindness flowing through his veins. (Not! >:-/)

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Well, I know plenty of Con Evo clergy who break canon law on a weekly basis by leading public worship in lay dress, and yet not one of them ever gets a letter from his (and they are all men) bishop. Legalism only applies in one direction in the C of E at the moment.

dodgyvicar
Guest
dodgyvicar

Mark : I agree – this isn’t a CDM matter, Incumbents Vacation of Benefices Measure is likely to be invoked as I alluded earlier.

BillyD
Guest
BillyD

George Parr wrote: “When will the Church of England stop obsessing over sexuality, masturbation, menstruation et al…”

Are masturbation and menstruation really current issues of interest in the CofE?

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

If the London Evening Standard is to believed Dr Dudley is far from being a poor misunderstood priest. He is portrayed there as an arrogant self publicist.
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23495803-details/The+Anglican+'gay+wedding'+and+a+distinctly+turbulent+priest/article.do

cany
Guest
cany

Ouch.

I find it ironic that, to my knowledge, Bishop Peter Akinola never received a “pastoral letter” when he advocated jailing (read death) for glbt persons in his country. Nor for his words-like-swords directed at glbt persons.

Apparently, “pastoral guidance” is only given when love is involved. Pity.

poppy tupper
Guest
poppy tupper

Pete Hobson, you say that my suggested letter would amount to the sort of direct involvement that Chartres is advised against. You’re right, of course. But so does the letter he sent. Given that he has decided on direct involvement I was simply suggesting a better way that he could have done it, both in the content of the letter and in the timing of making any further correspondence public. However difficult Chartres may find his relationship with Dudley he should never forget the disparity in power between them and should strive to be gracious. I’m afraid the church seems… Read more »

George Parr
Guest
George Parr

Well, Billy D, my device to gain attention worked then! The current endless discussion – concerning homosexuality and all the surrounding liturgical issues it attracts – seems to be one chosen aspect beloved by Christians who consider themselves to be above human nature. It has eclipsed many other humanitarian concerns, leaving them in the shadows. That the Anglican Church should be riven over it paints the institution as an archaic nonsense. There is no alternative formula for human nature. Those who, through internalised notions of religious guilt, are trying to live a life of rigidity outside of their own feelings… Read more »

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

Very helpful analysis George Parr. I feel better for reading it.

(I should copy it, and keep to hand as an antidote).

dodgyvicar
Guest
dodgyvicar

Do you have to know that an action is disobedient in order to be disobedient? (Ignorance is no defence under Law) But what if the Bishop had failed to convey his opinion that such a service would be contrary to canon in his Nov letter? Or even conveyed the impression that although he didn’t like them, he didn’t order him not to proceed? The state of the bishops mind then, and in any subsequent enquiries to him on this issue could form a useful defence. So too could the presence of any member of the house of bishops at such… Read more »

MJ
Guest
MJ

You mean, after all this, +Chartres hadn’t even heard a single whisper of what took place!!! “The final words of the Sunday Telegraph’s coverage of the gay Anglican “wedding” caught my eye. “A champagne reception was held in the Great Hall of St Bartholomew’s Hospital . . .” it said, and afterwards the couple “left in an open landau and headed for the Ivy restaurant with close friends and family”. The order of service that was helpfully printed above made clear that these events happened on 31 May, and I was reading it on 15 June. Let us get this… Read more »

Ken
Guest
Ken

Wilf,
In British usage, “directly” means “immediately”, not “in person” or “without intermediary” as in North American English. Presumably Chartres used “direct” in the way North Americans use “directly”.

Chris
Guest
Chris

“Super Christians, arguably, are making what is generally accepted as genetic normality wholly worse for these people and in doing so are denying them their own feelings, their sexuality, their identity and their religion.” I recently read a statement from the American Psychological Association which challenges the definitive nature of this quoted statement. Especially if the phrase ‘genetic normality’ is understood in a deterministic sense (i.e., your genes determine sexual orientation) rather than in an ‘obviously there are different sexual orientations and this difference is normal’ sense. The paragraph is question is as follows: “There is no consensus among scientists… Read more »

pete hobson
Guest
pete hobson

thank you chris. Yes, I am often made more angry than i should by the sort of ‘super Christian’ language that obscures genuine debate.

and poppy – I agree it might be argued Richard Chartres actual letter inviting a written response was prejudicial to his role if CDM is invoked (though I’ve said why he might also argue it isn’t), but your suggested alternative inviting a face to face meeting would, if it happened, be far more prejudicial than an exchange of letters. be

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“…most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation”

THIS is the crux of the matter. If it is not a choice, how can it be a sin?

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

The words ‘pompous prat’ come to mind

keep the faith, Dud!

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

… oh, and unless he accepts equality, then Chartres not only tolerates but promotes homophobia. Chartres and all others who actively discriminate and maintain the church position are exercising homophobia.

George Parr
Guest
George Parr

I am unconcerned over those who wish to prescribe how others write. The ‘issue’ that is ‘complex difficult (and painful) for all sides’ needs to be wholly less so, with posturing authoritarianism much reduced. The ‘nature and nurture’ debate has no more legs than the endless and tedious discussion surrounding homosexuals being possessed by evil spirits, pursuing an unduly hedonistic agenda or wilfully making an unholy choice, which forms the core of the unreasonable squad’s ‘argument’. Recent research suggests that sexuality is defined in the womb, producing evidence that there are physiological similarities between those experiencing inverted sexuality and their… Read more »

George Parr
Guest
George Parr

Dealing successfully with related ‘pastoral issues’, could of course rely to some extent on what one is prepared to accept and believe in the science one chooses to quote. Since this is likely to be informed by possibly unrelated notions of faith, possessing an open mind also might help. Since not all traits and facets of human personality are as a result of, or formed by the ‘complex role’ of nature and nurture, perhaps this might also be taken into account by those attempting to perform the impossible trick of solving sexually-related issues of guilt biblically.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Pat “…most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation” THIS is the crux of the matter. If it is not a choice, how can it be a sin?” That implies that homosexuality would be sinful if it were chosen. Bisexual people do have a choice. Because it’s ultimately about love, not about chosing someone for sex, there is nothing sinful in a bisexual person opting for a same sex relationship. If only we could get away from thinking about everything in terms of sinful sex. Sex, like everything else, is morally neutral. What makes it… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“If it is not a choice, how can it be a sin?” Not a very good argument, Pat. I am not arguing for the other side, but you need to differentiate between not choosing to be gay, with which I agree, having personal experience thereto, and other non-chosen obviously sinful states. Take, for instance, fetal alcohol syndrome. It causes poor impulse control and violent behaviour, among other things, in those afflicted by it, yet is certainly not chosen. Pedophilia likewise. Not that I am equating homosexuality with pedophilia, there are huge differences. But they also experience what they are as… Read more »

Paul Eddy
Guest
Paul Eddy

The Clergy Discipline Measure, unfortunately, is not relevant here as th General Synod, in 2004, refused to include Doctrine. Liturgy and Ritual in it. Members of Synod will now be petition9ing for this to be changed.
Paul Eddy
Member of General Synod

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Ford:

I take your point, but…if pedophilia is recognized as a mental disease (and I think it is so recognized), can it be a sin? It is something for society to recognize and prevent and treat, but is it a sin? Yes, we should keep those who suffer from it away from their possible victims, preferably through appropriate care, not incarceration (IMO), but are those afflicted with it, by definition, sinners?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“It would be nice if, “in the spirit of Jesus Christ”, Chartres would engage in some honest reflection…”

Like actually issuing “guidelines” instead of simply pretending Reality will go away.

(God is a dynamic Creator, remember. In a Biblical perspective he operates dynamically in and with his Creation. The one constant is Change…

It is to the Indo Greek Philosophers of Alexandria that The Higest Being is un-changing, immovable, and so on.)

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

The Clergy Discipline Measure, unfortunately, is not relevant here as th General Synod, in 2004, refused to include Doctrine. Liturgy and Ritual in it. Members of Synod will now be petition9ing for this to be changed.
Paul Eddy
Member of General Synod

Posted by: Paul Eddy on Friday, 20 June 2008 at 10:28pm BST

‘Members’ –perhaps—but not many, you can be sure.

Why invite trouble ?

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

‘We’d call call their actions sinful, though.’
No, Ford. Speak for yourself. You would, apparently.

I wouldnt. And as for a ‘we’ ….