Thinking Anglicans

Question on CNC and human sexuality

Three questions were asked about the workings of the Crown Nominations Commission, two of which were answered by the Archbishop of York. The Archbishop of Canterbury answered only this one (copied from the booklet):

Mr John Ward (London) to ask the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:

Q44. In the light of the answer the Archbishop of Canterbury gave to question 15 at the February group of sessions, and in particular his statement that when candidates are being considered for a particular See their teaching on a range of issues, including (by implication) human sexuality, is among the many considerations that may properly be taken into account when considering their relative merits for that appointment, can it be confirmed whether any guidance to that effect has been provided to the CNC and, if it has, will that guidance be published?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:

A The current version of the guidance material provided to CNC members is something which accurately reflects what I said to the Synod in February. Like previous versions of the guidance it has been shared with the Crown Nominations Commission and Bishops who are making appointments to suffragan sees. I shall want to consult the House of Bishops on whether it should be made more widely available.

Two supplementary questions were put, and the following has been transcribed from the audio recording.

Mr John Ward:

I think what the chairman is saying is, that simply saying that the church’s teaching on human sexuality is wrong, is enough to prevent you from being appointed as a bishop. Given this is rather shocking doctrinal discrimination, and given that bishops who won’t ordain women cannot always be a focus for unity for everyone, but are very properly given a special place in the church, will you give a special place in the church for a bishop who thinks that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is double speak?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

I don’t accept your presupposition.

Mrs April Alexander:

If the effective requirement to be heterosexual is not in the person spec., what is the mechanism by which it can fairly emerge later in the process?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

I’m sorry, could you… I don’t understand the question.
[Question repeated with addition of three words “for the post” after “spec.”]
Yes Mrs Alexander, I heard the words, I don’t understand the question.

The following day, during another debate, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this (also transcribed from the audio recording, and not fully included in the version of his intervention published on his website):

…Let me just say, given a couple of the questions that came up last night, which I handled badly, for which I apologise to the questioners and also to the synod, that we are committed to nurturing the vocation across the whole of God’s people, regardless of sexuality, and regardless of lay or ordained…

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Michael JamesonLaurence CunningtonJames ByronJohn WardLorenzo Fernandez-Vicente Recent comment authors
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Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

Justin Welby’s reply to April Alexander seems disingenuous, given that she is a central member of the CNC, and has presumably seen the guidance to which Justin refers in the written answer to Q44.

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

But not apparently regardless of marital status.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Excellent questions.

If General Synod want to stop this, clergy and laity can pass a measure to ban discrimination in episcopal appointments on grounds of theology, then dare the bishops to veto it. This should be done anyway, to safeguard theological diversity in the church.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Even a day later, Cantuar still mishandles the question.

“[C]ommitted to nurturing the vocation across the whole of God’s people, regardless of sexuality, and regardless of lay or ordained….”

This is the most obfuscatory doubletalk.

Candidates for bishop are not nominated “regardless of lay or ordained.” Quite the opposite!

DBD
Guest

Some good work keeping the pressure constantly on. We must keep reminding the Powers that none of this is acceptable practice.

John
Guest
John

Well done, well done. And the attack quite rightly continues and the disingenuousness of our archbishops is laid bare to public scrutiny. Perhaps Bishop Pete would care to explain why we’ve all got it wrong.

Susannah Clark
Guest

“The current version of the guidance material provided to CNC members… I shall want to consult the House of Bishops on whether it should be made more widely available.” I think we should just walk in the light of truth and be open with one another. Transparency of process is really important. In the age of FOI requests it seems strange if criteria for important church positions remains hidden. Complete openness is particularly apposite when it comes to contested issues like human sexuality. It should all be above board and open for anyone to read. It would also seem strange… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Going back to Q15 from the February sessions I see that this is the second Synod in a row at which questions have been asked about the CNC and nominees’ views on human sexuality.

More power to the questioners. The Archbishop cannot dodge this question much longer.

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

April Alexander’s question does not seem to be a difficult one, on the face of it. I suspect that why the ABC does not understand it is that he simply cannot allow himself to believe that the de facto requirement exists, and, on having it exposed in front of him, cannot reply, because to do so would end the game that he and others have been playing for too long.

All strength to AA and JW – this needs pursuing relentlessly.

James A
Guest
James A

One of the central findings of the Pilling Report is that the current policies towards gay clergy encourage a culture of dishonesty – and a tacit acceptance of that culture by the hierarchy. The Archbishop of Canterbury has clearly demonstrated that this propensity for dishonesty goes right to the very top. It is absolutely unacceptable and Welby’s credibility cannot be sustained on this basis – except among his supporters from the Global South and the hard-line Evangelicals.

Tom Marshall
Guest
Tom Marshall

I do hope we are going to get a new thread on the questions as a whole – although this one gets us off to a very good start. @Will Richards has already commented on Tim Thornton’s abysmal performance on the Green Report and its associated projects on last Friday’s thread about the questions. Yes, I agree, the pressure does need to be kept up on the CNCs shenanigans; but we mustn’t lose sight of the car crash in slow motion which is happening at heart of the Reform and Renewal programme, either.

Joseph Golightly
Guest
Joseph Golightly

John Ward’s comment ‘given that bishops who won’t ordain women cannot always be a focus for unity for everyone” is what the Synod legislated and works both ways. It’s just not good ecclesiology and it is difficult to see how it can possibly work. Those opposed to women as priests and bishops actually don’t think they are so how does that create one church?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Tom Marshall, we will have more threads on Reform and Renewal soon.

Paul Edelin
Guest
Paul Edelin

The culture of dishonesty is endemic in the Church of England and starts in my opinion in the ongoing expectation that church attenders should forever pronounce the Nicene Creed ceremoniously, warts and all.

As a disbeliever in a physical resurrection and as a renouncer of the Virgin Birth because the biological form of generational genetic reassembly is so much more interesting and amazing, I find that the only way to express honesty in the current Church of England is by silence, which presumably precedes banishment and cumulative steps towards the inferno.

Jean Mayland (Revd)
Guest
Jean Mayland (Revd)

Well then,when will we have a lesbian or gay bishop? The Dean of St Alban’s would be much better than anyone recently appointed.We really do need some bishops with theological knowledge and more catholic outlook.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Martin Seeley?

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

… as in catholic with theological knowledge.

But of course we were told at GS that all bishops are theologians.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Mr John Ward: “simply saying that the church’s teaching on human sexuality is wrong, is enough to prevent you from being appointed as a bishop. Given this is rather shocking doctrinal discrimination”

ABC Welby: “I don’t accept your presupposition.”

OK then. So HOW is Ward’s presupposition mistaken?

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

What Jean Mayland says.

As for all bishops being theologians, let the record show that this passes no judgement on the quality of their theologising.

Michael Mulhern
Guest
Michael Mulhern

I have to say @Charles Read, that I found that claim about theologians by the Bishop of Truro during the questions about the Green Report quite extraordinary – and highly unsatisfactory. At first I thought it was a joke (an extremely unfunny one in the current climate) and then realised it was brazen arrogance. Meanwhile the theological imbalance among the C of E’s bishops continues. I find any attempt (especially by Pete Broadbent) to suggest this is merely coincidence quite unconvincing. We now know, courtesy of Jo Spreadbury’s courage at last February’s Synod, that St Edmundsbury got Martin Seeley because… Read more »

Iain McLean
Guest
Iain McLean

I hope that somebody, e.g., Susannah, will put in an FOI request to see the guidance mentioned in the answer to Q44.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Iain, the Church of England is exempt from FOI’s.

We should just be able to see it, because there should be nothing to hide.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The fact that the ABC does not accept a proposition put to him by a questioner at General Synod does not necessarily mean that the proposition is invalid. It may just mean that the proposition is too embarrassing for the ABC to address adequately for the satisfaction of the Synod. It would seem that the ABC is reluctant to address some real questions of concern about the treatment of Gay candidates for episcopal ministry; e.g., what about the obvious contender in the field – the Dean of St. Albans?

David Beadle
Guest
David Beadle

“…Let me just say, given a couple of the questions that came up last night, which I handled badly, for which I apologise to the questioners and also to the synod, that we are committed to nurturing the vocation across the whole of God’s people, regardless of sexuality, and regardless of lay or ordained…” In context, the Archbishop appears to be talking about the vocation of “leadership.” This is manifest nonsense. Leadership abilities are assessed as part of the discernment for ordination process. Those of us who are/have been candidates for ordination are, in many dioceses, standardly asked questions that… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

With at least one eye on the Global South, Justin Welby remains bound and determined to forestall the ordination of an LGBT person as a bishop in the Church of England.

The question is whether Synod and the CNC will be complicit in this discrimination.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

David Beadle, that was just my point about “regardless of lay or ordained,” but you have expressed it better, and of course with real evidence.

In both cases–sexuality and ordination status–it’s quite clear that for the Archbishop, “regardless” actually means “having very careful regard to.”

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

I may have got this wrong, but the current guidance (which we are not allowed to see until ++Cantuar has consulted the HoB) must be based on the legal advice received and which is contained in GS Misc 1044 Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act 2010 (revised). This was issed in June 2013. Not much has changed since in this particular area. The reality is that the CNC (re nominations to diocesan sees) and diocesan bishops (re nominations to suffragan sees) have considerable freedom as to how they consider candidates who may identify as LGBT, or indeed any candidate with… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Anthony Archer says, “The net result is that they can in effect discriminate and not be challenged.” That is not necessarily true even per GS Misc 1044 Choosing Bishops. That guidance also states: “A person’s sexual orientation is, in itself, irrelevant to their suitability for episcopal office or indeed ordained ministry more generally. It would, therefore, be wrong if, during the consideration of a nomination to a diocesan see by the CNC or the selection process for a suffragan see, account were taken of the fact that a candidate had identified himself as of homosexual orientation.” So even “permissible” discrimination… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I am grateful to Anthony for these interesting insights into process, and the ambiguities/leeway it allows for discreet decision-making. What I do feel, though, is that it is appropriate for process to be transparent and accessible to all church members, and I should be interested in the exact and specific wording of all advisories sent to CNC (and indeed to bishops), both in the past and in the present. If we are ‘walking in the light’ there should be no place for obfuscation or any kind of implicit deception of contending groups within the Anglican Communion on the subject of… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

What will change if the Church of England appoints an (openly) gay bishop? They’ll be a conformist, committed to the church’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin, and to lifelong celibacy. They won’t be an agent for change, and certainly won’t be called Jeffrey John. If anything, they’ll be, to coin a phrase, more English than the English. Even if, by some miracle, a CNC appointed an outspoken gay candidate, as shown by John’s coerced resignation, their position would be untenable. No one should be asked to endure that. All focus should instead be on repealing the Higton motion, then… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente
Guest
Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente

I don’t wish it to sound like a mutual appreciation society but: yes, what James Byron says. Not that I even remotely want it to become true.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente
Guest
Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente

And, James, he (or she?) will not only merely be a conformist but an advocate for the cause, the talent pool for this is brimming over.

John Ward
Guest
John Ward

Remember Higton is now irrelevant. The Gilbert motion from February 2007 (where lesbian and gay people were at last unreservedly accepted as full members of the Church) and the Perkins motion from later that day (when GS refused to endorse the HoB illogical, so called ‘pastoral guidance’ on CPs) were the last policy debates in GS on human sexuality. Those debates were miles apart from Higton. And we did change the CP survivor pension rules to achieve parity with married people in 2010. Someone else will have to take up the GS fight from November as I am not standing… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

John, the Gilbert motion, a vaguely-worded affirmation, doesn’t repeal Higton’s ban on “homosexual genital acts,” as shown by compulsory celibacy still being demanded of English clergy.

What’s needed is a short, unambiguous motion explicitly repealing Higton, disregarding ‘Issues…,’ and banning any discrimination in the ordination or consecration processes on grounds of sexuality, taken to include sexual relationships (with means of enforcement, say by appeal to an ombudsman).

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“And we did change the CP survivor pension rules to achieve parity with married people in 2010.” John Ward

Interesting that there was no delay in the implementation of equal pension rights after the introduction of equal marriage. I received a letter of congratulation from the CofE Pensions Board shortly after my marriage, which went on to outline my surviving spouse’s pension benefits.

Michael Jameson
Guest

As a NHS GP principal for 37 years I had many patients in permanent, faithful relationships in which race, age and gender were irrelevant to their wellbeing. There therefore seems to be no theological objection to such unions being enjoyed by any couple whether they include clergy or not. RC celibacy is also seen more in the breach than the observance among clergy and even religious and needs review if not repeal as part of Canon Law.