Thinking Anglicans

Reactions to yesterday's revelations about CofE bishops

Updated Saturday evening

Here’s some of the responses to yesterday’s Guardian news story.

First, from the journalist who had the original scoop last July, Jonathan Wynne-Jones. He writes at the Telegraph that The Church of England cannot hide from a fight over gay bishops.

Savi Hensman has written at Ekklesia about Equality, prejudice, power and the Church of England.

From Scotland, Kelvin Holdsworth has written Colin Slee’s J’accuse.

Colin Coward at Changing Attitude has written Collusion, dishonesty, ignorance and stupidity are the marks of the House of Bishops.

Lesley Fellows has written How do you stop a brilliant gay man from being a bishop?

Benny Hazlehurst has written Archbishops haunted by a voice from the grave….

Peter Ould has written Leaks and Truth.

Adrian Worsfold has written The Rotten Stink at the Very Top.

Saturday evening updates

The Church Mouse has Gay Bishops, angry Archbishops and Deans speaking from beyond the grave.

Colin Coward has written again, see Campaigning for a healthy human Christian culture.

Peter Ould has written again, see Everybody Out!

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Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

This desperately sad affair shows not only that the C of E should be disestablished asap, and put on the same footing as every other church, but also that its bishops were ill-advised to block a section of (what is now) the Equality Act 2010 that would have defined for what posts, and to what extent, religious organisations are allowed to discriminate in ways that would otherwise be illegal. If the C of E were not established, its hiring practices would come under the general law, to everybody’s benefit. If the “ministerial exemption” were statutory, then everyone would know how… Read more »

John B. Chilton
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John B. Chilton

I found Benny’s post thoughtful and informative. I do wonder about the conclusion that the ABY is not a homophobic bully given detail’s in Slee’s memo. The ABY comes off very very badly in Slee’s account.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Yesterday evening I watched a very powerful documentary film, “How To Die in Oregon” — about the “death with dignity” law in that state. I cannot help but think that the Church of England is suffering with a self-inflicted illness and is on the verge of downing a potion brewed by those who should be offering a healthier option. The cloud of duplicity and dysfunction is at best unedifying. A clear reminder is in order that the motto of the Anglican Communion is “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” Duplicity and counterproductive efforts at preserving unity by sacrificial offerings are… Read more »

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

If Dean John became Archbishop of Canterbury, as suggested on the next thread down, might I respectfully suggest Savi Hensman for York?

karen macqueen+
Guest

From one priest’s perspective in TEC, Diocese of Los Angeles: 1. The +Rowan Williams described by Colin Slee is the +Rowan Williams we know. Having been on the receiving end of +Rowan’s attempts to manipulate us, we are, sadly, not surprised by his behavior in the CNC. Rowan’s recent attempts to bypass the designated representatives of General Synod in order to foist his plan on General Synod to accommodate the anti-female bishop contingent are of the same cloth. As is his acquiescence in the Dar Es Salaam statement. This is the same man who described TEC’s elected bishops, who may… Read more »

karen macqueen+
Guest

I would like to contrast the election of Mary Glasspool, as Suffragan in Los Angeles, to this disgraceful Southwark nomination process. On the second day of our Diocesan Convention, two groups of voters emerged: those who wished to have a Latino bishop in the person of a fine priest from Los Angeles and those who were convinced that the best candidate in all respects was Mary Glasspool. After several ballots demonstrated that neither candidate had a majority, you could sense some tension among the hundreds of delegates. Bishop Bruno asked for a pause in the voting. He called upon the… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Perhaps one may ask just how bishops are supposed to be a focus of unity. The Bishop of Chichester and both suffragans are opposed to the ordination of women and their consecration as bishops and at least one, the Bishop of Lewes, has trenchant views about homosexuality. How can they be a focus of unity for me or many others? Again the ideas seems to be about constructing a magisterium in the Anglican Church which it just cannot bear. Of course the whole thing stinks. The disgraceful actions of the ABC regarding Jeffrey John have well and truly come home… Read more »

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

Thanks, Edward Prebble, but fortunately for me, my calling has always been as a layperson! In the wider voluntary sector, in which I work, and in the public sector, where I have occasionally helped with recruitment, selection processes may not be always perfect, but I have never come across anything quite like the Southwark situation.

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

How wonderful that Colin Slee still speaks to us from (beyond) the grave. A gift indeed.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you Karen. The notion that a bishop is a focus of unity is blasphemous. God is the focus of unity, and bishops at their best point the people to God, not to themselves.

The inclusion of this notion in the proposed Covenant 3.1.4I is perhaps not its death-knell, but it is among the clauses requiring immediate amendment, if only for the sake of rationality in the light of so much evidence!

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

I don’t agree with Hazlehurst that the two archbishops aren’t homophobes – in my book you are what you do. Eichmann claimed he wasn’t an anti-semite. It all depends on definition.

JCF
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JCF

“Eight years ago the appointment of JJ would have been a nine day wonder. Now the failure to do so is poisoning the church at the highest levels. God help us all.”

Indeed (and well-said, RA). Can anyone imagine that the AC/CofE would be in any WORSE shape today, had John’s appt been carried through? The *traditional* provincial autonomy of AC member churches would have been underscored, and each member church would be perfectly free to develop in its own way (I think the attendance at Lambeth ’08 probably would have been LARGER, not smaller, too!)

Andrew
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Andrew

ABC believes his highest calling is preservation of the Anglican Communion as a worldwide body. The reason that he behaves in the way now revealed is that his office does not bring the powers needed to achieve this goal. So he has become a politician and has embraced the methods of politicians, not those of pious priests. The Pope on the other hand is a reigning absolute monarch. His office brings strong central power. No bishop can threaten to break away; indeed no bishop can threaten him as the Africans and other have threatened the Anglican Communion. There can be… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thank you, Karen, for your insightful reflection on the possibility of a bishop becoming a focus of unity in a diocese. With Mary Glasspool’s selection and eventual election as a Bishop in Los Angeles, there was evidence of the invocation and working of the Holy Spirit. One cannot but wonder whether the process was called upon at Southwark recently – at least, on the part of the two provincial Archbishops. TEC still has much to teach us all – about openness to God’s Spirit. May Colin Slee’s memorandum become part of the strategic learning process for would-be electors in the… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

I believe Andrew is correct. That, and his burning hope for a greater unity on a wider front seems to be motivating him now, combined with his philosophical approach (well explained by the Anglican Curmudgeon reporting Giles Fraser here: http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2008/11/understanding-rowan-williams-for-first.html ) helps account for most of all this. Mind you, I think his own character flaws don’t help! On a personal level, I found this deeply moving. One point of interest was to read Colin’s attempt to get Rowan’s approval for his actions – some years ago Colin told me a similar story of Rowan’s steadfast refusal to either give… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

“There can be no schism in the Roman Church today”

Um, Society of St. Pius X?

Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

At the risk of proof texting, I point towards 1 Timothy 5:19: “Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses” and ask again — has anybody else who was a party to the events described in the memo come forward to corroborate them? I’m not making a stand on principle here so much as pointing out that there are problems with taking one source as proof of a certain type of behavior. It seems rash.

abbeymouse
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abbeymouse

Bill,

Why let a little sanity cloud our preferences (prejudices?) for believing what suits us?

There are people who were present at the CNC who have a very different take on proceedings from that recorded by Colin.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Isn’t it now time to start a frieze of 21st century martyrs in addition to the ten 20th century martyrs on the west front of Westminster Abbey?
I would suggest that the first to occupy such a niche should be Dr. Jeffrey John – for what the church has put him through is little short of persecution. His dignity in the face of it all is a great example of Christian fortitude and perseverance.
For God’s sake – give him a bishopric!

commentator
Guest
commentator

Dear Abbeymouse, May I ask how you know that there are people who have a very different take on the Southwark CNC? Were you there? Would you care to ‘put the record straight’? But may I ask whether or not in the light of Jonathan W-J’s contribution, Baroness Fritchie will review her report to the Archbishops of Canterbury & York? Colin Slee has had his name cleared. Another has had the finger pointed at him. If it was necessary to investigate in the first place, does not new material call for a re-opening? But I fear that their (Dis)Graces will… Read more »

Philip Hobday
Guest
Philip Hobday

Mr Dilworth and abbeymouse raise good points; but I seem to remember that the members of the Commission, including the Archbishops, agree to keep its proceedings confidential. This is partly for the very good reason that it protects the identities of those who are considered but not chosen. The other Commission members are thus unable to say anything, even though their account of events might lead to a more rounded picture. It is hardly fair on them for people to criticise them when we do not know – and are not able to hear – what the other sides of… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Peter Ould’s second piece slips from analysis into rhetoric. I am sure the “advice” does not deal at all with a confident gay man who has never found Mr Right and who is keeping himself for the day …. can he be a bishop under these new “Nuremberg Laws”? I think this case from the UK Supreme Court gives an interesting perspective to these discussions – I am surprised that a legal opinion sought by the Church in 2011 would not reference it: http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2009_0057_Judgment.pdf As far as how people saw what happened at the Southwark CNC, Lambeth, I understood, has… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Since that judgment is 55 pages long, Martin, would you like to elaborate a little on why you think it is relevant?

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Well, I think that might take some time. But in the first place I would say that this judgment reverses a previously held understanding that gay people had an obligation to live “discreetly” to avoid persecution. I would say that this discretion included living a lie and living without any sexual contact if it meant you would be safe. This discretion even related to where one might live so that if there were safer places one might reasonably be expected to move to the safer places. I understand that this judgment puts these firmly aside and establishes that gay people… Read more »

commentator
Guest
commentator

The piece by Church Mouse casts Dr Williams constantly in a favourable light. Whilst I may choose to applaud CM’s christian charity, I would also ask him to look at Dr Williams’ record in relation to the issue of Dr John’s vocation to the episcopate. We have it from a variety of sources, not simply the late Colin Slee, that Dr Williams has actively sought to block this vocation. Given this the Slee account is extremely believable. It remains true that the real issue is the invention of regulations, other than those already in place, that will block candidates in… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Talk about history repeating itself! George Carey blocked Rowan Williams appointment to Southwark because he wouldn’t sign up to the “Issues in Human Sexuality” report at their Lambeth fireside chat. Now Rowan blocks Jeffrey John’s appointment to the same diocese. Perhaps Rowan has forgotten the hurt he must have felt when he was denied oversight of the diocese of Southwark and had to go to Monmouth instead. But that’s nothing compared to the hurt Jeffrey John so stoically must contend with having been denied both Reading and Southwark. Surely the pastoral and scholarly Dean of St. Albans is the ideal… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Years ago, when visiting a museum of the history of Black America in one of the Southern states, I remember seeing a jar of dried beans amongst the exhibits. When I asked the guide what they were there for, he explained to me that, during the period of segregation, if a black person presented him/herself at the polling station and asked to vote, then the election staff would ask the black voter (and only a black voter) how many beans were in the jar. When the black person said they didn’t know, then the election officer stamped “innumerate: disqualified” on… Read more »

david rowett
Guest

Why are we just going for the jugulars of the ++ types? There are surely a lot of pointy hats who fall foul of the new categories of episcopal acceptability (being either pro-gay – whatever that means, I apologise for the shorthand – or gay themselves) – they all seem to be remarkably quiet, don’t they?

I’ve never really liked Peter Tatchell’s ‘Outing’ tactic, but a bit of me is wondering whether he’s got a point….

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“For a homosexual candidate entering into a Civil Partnership is the best that s/he can do to found their relationship upon the principles of being permanent, faithful, and stable. It is this desire for the best and most christian witness in their relationships with their partners that the hierarchy of the Church of England seems to find so offensive. Casual relationships that nobody has to know about are apparently no bar to preferment.” – Commentator, on this thread – This is the real nub of the problem many people have with the official hypocritical stance of the Church on who… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Fr Ron “It would seem that a gay person who seeks to order their life in a monogamous, committed same-sex relationship is ‘persona non grata’ in ministry; but if that person ‘appears’ to practise the state of celibacy (while yet enjoying promiscuous sex) – if he/she does not admit to this, she/he can still be ordained/offered preferment in the Church.” Quite: I know this to be the case from experience. There are current bishops of the C of E who are professedly celibate, trapped in denial about their orientation (because if the obloquy which would otherwise rain down upon them… Read more »