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Problems with the Crown Nominations Commission

Colin Coward has posted at Changing Attitude about The problem with (gay) bishops and the CNC.

I want to revisit Colin Slee’s posthumously published memorandum about the Southwark CNC process in the light of the subsequently published paper Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act 2010 issued by the Legal Office at Church House and the conversations I had at General Synod in York.

These documents were both originally leaked to the Guardian in May and reported there by Andrew Brown in this article: Church of England tied in knots over allowing gay men to become bishops. (Earlier TA article is here.)

Andrew reported then:

…The document reveals shouting matches and arm-twisting by the archbishops to keep out the diocese’s preferred choices as bishop: Jeffrey John, the gay dean of St Albans, and Nicholas Holtam, rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, whose wife was divorced many years ago. Eventually Christopher Chessun, then an assistant bishop, was chosen.

John, an able theologian and gifted preacher and pastor, highly regarded in the diocese and a friend of Williams, is celibate but in a longstanding civil partnership with another clergyman. He was forced by the archbishop to stand down after being appointed suffragan bishop of Reading eight years ago, following an orchestrated protest campaign by evangelicals. Holtam’s promotion had been blocked because of his wife’s divorce but he has since become bishop of Salisbury.

At the same time, the Church Times also reported this story, focusing more on the Legal Opinion, in this report: House of Bishops divided on keeping out homosexuals.

Colin Coward goes on to say:

…Colin [Slee]’s memorandum revealed information about the culture of the CNC process and the attitude towards two outstanding candidates for the episcopate, one of whom, Nick Holtam, has now been appointed to Salisbury, thanks be to God. The other, Jeffrey John is now the subject of an attempt to permanently block his preferment by the position outlined and the relevant factors listed in the Equality Act document. It is designed specifically to block any further attempt to nominate and appoint Jeffrey.

Colin Slee’s memorandum provides an inside perspective on the effect of the secrecy of the CNC process. Colin complied with the rules but was as open as possible with the candidates he nominated and with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He wrote to both Jeffery John and Nick Holtam telling them he had nominated them as mandatory candidates for Southwark in March 2010. The Archbishop replied but did not say, please don’t nominate either of them. Other people had nominated both candidates.

I have subsequently learnt that both Jeffrey and Nick have been deliberately blocked, one for Southwark and the other for Chelmsford. Who does the blocking? Lambeth staff at the Archbishop’s request?

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A J BarfordRPNewarkSimon DawsonMark BennetJohn C Recent comment authors
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Richard Watson
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Richard Watson

So is it +Stephen Cottrell’s lot to fill the posts that have been denied to others?

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Of course Parliament can discriminate against the Catholic Church as regards the crown,royal marriage, gay adoption etc…but it can then reserve a segnment of its legislature which discrimates against gays and women!

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

I am a priest and although I have never been married I had two children. One of my children died as a young adult. This life, these choices and circumstances are inevitably part of who I am and what I bring to all aspects of my ministry, including the pastoral care I give and receive. If I were not transparent with myself, my colleagues, my bishops and my flock, the care I give and receive would surely be more defective and less relevant than it is. If there are 14 bishops in the C-of-E who will not live out who… Read more »

A J Barford
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A J Barford

The line of enquiry that doesn’t seem to have been explored is the Salisbury appointment. Why the remarkable volte-face after Holtam’s rejection at Southwark? Did his nomination eventally succeed because he satisfied the legal advice concerning his canditature given alongside the one for John? Or did the archbishops simply back down?

Lettie James
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Lettie James

Thank you Sara! I can not help but think of Genesis 18: Not really an accurate analogy but cause for thought and prayer. I don’t think that God wants to destroy the Anglican communion as a whole, but wonder if there are 10 righteous gay bishops, (and the two adjectives are not mutually exclusive) who would have the courage to be who they really are, would that save the C. of E.?
Maybe our prayer should be that the Holy Spirit will advocate for them, that they will be honest. As Sara says, their pastoral care will reflect this. LettieJ.

A J Barford
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A J Barford

“In 2003 when the JJ question came up, I thought that as we had a young archbishop who wouldn’t be replaced very soon, it was the moment for gay clergy in certain positions (Deans, Archdeacons, etc) to stand up and say ‘Wait a minute, we are too.'” – Sara MacVane

All in good time, Sara. Ultimately, it’s up to those individuals to show leadership and courage as it would utterly transform the debate. Even when they are ‘out’ locally, I am nevertheless opposed to media outing campaigns except where there has been hypocrisy.

John C
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‘So is it +Stephen Cottrell’s lot to fill the posts that have been denied to others?’ Richard Watson Those of us who were present at the St Alban’s Pilgrimage a couple of years ago when + Stephen preached an outstanding sermon at Festival Evensong will remember the warmth and graciousnes with which he was welcomed by Jeffrey John. Noting that some of his friends had wondered why he had invited + Stephen to preach – he said a)he is an outstanding preacher b) he is a very old friend c) it wasn’t his fault! Such is the mark of Jeffrey… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

I think that the assumption that Nick Holtam was the only, or main, name in the frame for Chelmsford (my home diocese for a few more days) based on the limited information misrepresents the situation. As a member of the Diocese, the most frequent name mentioned to me was +Stephen Cottrell, who was regarded by many as inevitable. The caveat expressed by some – to my mind well connected and informed within the Diocese – was that +Stephen had not already had charge of a diocese, and Chelmsford is rather large. (+John Gladwin had come from Guildford). Of course such… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

In response to A.J. Barfords “The line of enquiry that doesn’t seem to have been explored is the Salisbury appointment. Why the remarkable volte-face after Holtam’s rejection at Southwark? Did his nomination eventually succeed because he satisfied the legal advice concerning his candidature given alongside the one for John? Or did the archbishops simply back down?” I know nothing about the Salisbury process apart from having met most of the diocesan representatives on the committee. A very impressive and independently minded group of people. It would be a brave or foolhardy Archbishop who tried to bully them (not that I… Read more »

RPNewark
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RPNewark

Mark Bennet wrote, “The caveat expressed by some … within the Diocese – was that +Stephen had not already had charge of a diocese, and Chelmsford is rather large. (+John Gladwin had come from Guildford).”

but +John Gladwin’s predecessor, +John Perry, was not translated from a diocesan see; he, like my present diocesan, was translated from the suffragan see of Southampton.

also, “+Stephen has strong connections in the diocese.”

Indeed he does and the diocese, the second largest by population in the CofE, will benefit from his past experience.

A J Barford
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A J Barford

Simon Dawson,

Thank you for throwing some light on Salisbury. I could have guessed as much, but I wondered if the Fritchie leak inquiry and Slee’s critique of the process had any bearing on this CNC.

Were they party to any of Baroness Fritchie’s findings or were they exclusively for the archbishops, national CNC members and/or the Southwark CNC members? I wrote to Baroness Fritchie a while ago to ask for details, but she wrote back saying that it was not for her to disseminate the results of her inquiry. Whether an FOI request could be made, I don’t know.