Thinking Anglicans

Llandaff: letter from Dean of St Albans

Updated again Monday afternoon

A letter has been made public today (Sunday) by the Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John. It has already appeared in numerous places on social media, and has been reported on by Christian Today:

Harry Farley Gay cleric Jeffrey John speaks out: My homosexuality was the only reason I was blocked as Bishop of Llandaff

And also on the BBC Callum May ‘Homophobia’ row over Bishop of Llandaff selection

Harriet Sherwood at the Guardian has Anglican clergyman accuses Church in Wales of homophobia.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

Readers may care to refer to this earlier article: Church in Wales publishes pastoral letter, authorises prayers for same sex couples.

Updates

Readers may also care to refer to the Llandaff diocesan profile, available here. And the provincial perspective, over here.

The Church Times has published a very detailed report by Madeleine Davies Jeffrey John replies to exclusion from Llandaff: ‘This is how discrimination works’. This includes a statement from the Church in Wales which says:

“The Bishops strongly deny allegations of homophobia.”

Wales Online has The furious letter a gay cleric sent to Welsh bishops after they refused him a top post.

The Guardian has a second article: Church in Wales urged to rethink rejection of gay candidate for bishop

The BBC has Bishop of Llandaff sexuality row ‘wholly wrong’.

And Harry Farley at Christian Today has a further article: Jeffrey John: Pressure mounts on Church in Wales after allegations of homophobia.

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Laurie Roberts
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Laurie Roberts

Good for Dr. John !

‘Let right be done.’

Stanley Shaw
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Stanley Shaw

It is to be hoped that the Llandaff Electors make known their objections to this charade. It must be particularly galling to them to find that the consultation in which they were asked to take part and has proved not only a sham but a smokescreen to enable the bench of bushops to avoid appointing Dr John and to hide their pusillanimity in avoiding the preferred candidate of the diocese who was a mere 2 votes short of the 2/3 majority required. It would also be of interest to know how many letters of support for Dr John were received… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

I strongly support Dr John in what he has done. He is quite right to say that confidentiality is used as a cloak for homophobic and other abuse. He is right to challenge the Church in Wales whose spokesperson’s denials of homophobia are totally unconvincing. Dr John has been consistently poorly treated by the Cof E and the CinW and it needs to stop. He is brave and right to go public.

Simon Sarmiento
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Harry Farley of Christian Today has published the letter to which the Dean of St Albans is responding, via Twitter.

https://twitter.com/HarryFarls/status/843523559934906369

Jeremy
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Jeremy

There is a poison at work amongst the bishops of the Church of England and the Church of Wales–the poison of homophobia.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I cannot help but think that the influence of the GAFCON Provinces has too large a place in the affairs of other, more liberated, provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Despite the hierarchy of the Church in Wales protesting its freedom from homophobia; in this particular matter, the inference is only too obvious. After all, Dean Jeffrey John’s partnership status is as acceptable, surely, as that of another bishop in the Church of England whose own same-sex partnership has been declared and found acceptable.

What will the world outside of the Church think of this obvious duplicity?

RD
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RD

I would have been very happy to see Jeffrey John elected in Llandaff, but I do not understand the outcry in this case. Nobody is entitled to an elected post; the whole notion of an election is that each elector is allowed to choose for him- or herself. And nobody can reasonably be angry with honorable people for maintaining an oath of silence they have taken. (I’ve been a bit shocked, frankly, by how cavalier people seem to be about the violation of the oath of secrecy in this case, and how willing they’ve been to accept as true the… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Oh dear, the Church in Wales seems to be falling apart since the retirement of Archbishop Barry Morgan. Surely, the prime reason for the existence of bishops is not to be a focus of unity but to be a Guardian and Teacher of the Faith. Having heard Dr. John lecture on a number of occasions I know that he is supremely qualified to fulfil the premier episcopal role of Guardian and Teacher and would have made an impressive Bishop of Reading, Southwark, Bangor or Llandaff. Goodness knows, the plea for more/some “Scholar Bishops” has been loud and clear over the… Read more »

Rev. Iain Baxter
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Rev. Iain Baxter

Nobody has yet sought to draw a parallel between the situation of Dean Jeffrey John and Bishop Philip North yet that may soon happen. However, I think the difference is clear. Bishop Philip’s appointment was opposed by at least a third of his prospective clergy. (Although a few women may have been happy with his appointment in support of “mutual flourishing”, I expect a larger number of male clergy would also have been unhappy.) Dr John, on the other hand, had unanimous support from the representatives of his prospective diocese, but his appointment was blocked by representatives of the bishops… Read more »

Fr William
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Seems to me that bishops simply don’t grasp the power of social media to disseminate and to reveal. Neither do they seem to grasp that none of us is willing to kiss their rings any more. Social media as exposers of cant and hypocrisy are surely to be welcomed. Christlike. As a cradle Wesleyan I have never quite seen the point of bishops. I

Fr John Emlyn Harris-White
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Fr John Emlyn Harris-White

Another example of ungenerous love by Bishops to their brother clergy. Only Bishops frightened of their own skin could behave in such an ungenerous way to someone who has served the church well through his years of ministry. Here the laity of the diocese have made their wishes known, but clearly ignored by the college of Bishops. Yet another diocese without a Bishop, and the diocese becoming a poison chalice to who ever is brave enough to accept the appointment. Surely it is time to accept the fact that gay clergy are as much called by God to Episcopal orders,… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Three interesting quotations:- the first from the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon ‘…significant turbulence and anxiety for the bishops’ And then from Dean John’s response ‘…namely that my appointment would bring unwelcome and unsettling publicity to the diocese, and that it might create difficulties for the future Archbishop in relation to the Anglican Communion’. ‘…the bishops were ‘just too exhausted’ to deal with the problems they believed my appointment would cause’. Jeffrey John has been quite right to bring this correspondence to a wider audience. It not only exposes the institutional homophobia of the Bishops and the church in a… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

So it is too exhausting to the bishops to deal with the complications of LGBTIQ people and same sex relationships. How do they think it is for those of us who live it daily? Bishops recognise the weariness but don’t have the Christian compassion to lighten our burden by extending a proper welcome. It is the good Samaritan but, instead of being cast in the role of hero, the Church in Wales has chosen to take on the role of those who passed by and offered no aid. In any other organisation resignations would be expected. It is hard to… Read more »

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

Several years ago, I was an ordination where one of the ordinands was a married gay man. An objection was raised, and after the bishop conferred with the objectors, he announced that there was no canonical impediment and that the ordination would proceed. The cathedral erupted in a spontaneous standing ovation, which lasted for several minutes.

What would happen if, at the consecration of whoever the bishops choose for Llandaff, the people of the diocese answered the question “Is it your will that N. be ordained a bishop?” with a resounding “NO!”?

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

This is an appalling abuse of process by a bench of spineless bishops who are running scared. I had thought the Church in Wales was showing some signs of being in the vanguard on this issue, but clearly not. For homophobic remarks to go unreprimanded at interview demonstrates a conspicuous and complete failure to discharge the obligations placed upon the appointment panel. At best, the chairman was ineffectually indifferent to the nastiness; at worst his apparent failure to intervene made him wholly complicit in it. This bears the hallmarks of cowardly bishops. The Dean of St Albans failed to secure… Read more »

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

“…the affairs of other, more liberated, provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion” Fr Ron Smith. I presume, Ron, that you include the Province you and I belong to, Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia, as one of those liberated ones. Yet we also seem to be in something of an impasse in our handling of these issues. I wonder if a solution to Dean Jeffrey’s predicament – and our own – might be in our hands here on the other side of the world. Perhaps you and/or I should talk to mutual friends in the Electoral Synod for the Diocese of… Read more »

Jane Brewer
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Jane Brewer

There is a simple solution to this impasse. BBC Wales, this evening, said that the Bench of Bishops would meet with the candidates they had selected for interview. Those invited for interview should refuse to attend – and should certainly refuse to accept nomination to the See. That way justice will be done. If it means that dissembling and hypocritical bishops will have to fall on their swords, so be it. Justice and truth matter more than institutional survival.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Jane Brewer has it right.

There is a point when a process becomes so illegitimate and unfair that nearly everyone should boycott it.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear Edward, your remarks, above, about the possibility of Dean Jeffrey John being considered for our upcoming vacancy-in-see at Dunedin (N.Z.) may not be too far-fetched. However, our earth-quake prone territory may be little different from the fragility of the Church in Wales at this time.
He might just be better off at Saint Albans, where there is no lack of Gospel love for their Dean.

Stanley Shaw
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Stanley Shaw

In reply to RD. The electors make a declaration of confidentiality in relation to all things LEGAL and HONEST. It is difficult to characterise much of what happened in the Electoral College and subsequently as either of these and thus the declarations cannot be binding. The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon chooses to be bound by it as the only way that protects him from having to acknowledge his wrong doing and have it exposed to wider scrutiny. As Dr John has so eloquently said, such confidentiality is too often used to mask wrong doing and abuse. RD asks what… Read more »

Gareth P
Guest
Gareth P

The ‘abuse of confidentiality as a cloak for deception and injustice’ is not unique to the unfolding Llandaff debacle. It has been a feature of electoral colleges in the Church in Wales for the past decade – and specifically regarding Jeffrey John. Bangor 2008 will remain, for many of us in Wales, a moral and ecclesiastical nadir. In that sense, I am not at all surprised by anything that Jeffrey John has highlighted. It has been hard-wired into the DNA of the electoral college over many years.

Father David
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Father David

I always look forward to reading Anthony Archer’s erudite contributions to this blog. However, with regard to my suggestion that the ABC should express an opinion on the Sheffieldgate disaster he saw no need for any intervention in this matter from Lambeth Palace; yet he seems to want a different response on what is happening on the other side of Offa’s Dyke as he wrote the following observation on Llandaffgate – “Can the hand of Lambeth be detected? We need to know.” I detect a lack of consistency here. How can it be right for the ABC not to express… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

“I always look forward to reading Anthony Archer’s erudite contributions to this blog.”

Father David never fails to flatter. The short answer is that Sheffieldgate is an intra-provincial matter, whereas Llandaffgate has the potential to tear the Anglican Communion apart, not that I have any desire to see the CofE or CiW run from Uganda. There will be more to Sheffieldgate in due course, with lessons learned. Whether the Welsh bishops have any clue what to do next is rather less clear. .

RD
Guest
RD

An election is an election; voters are entitled to vote for whomever they choose. The fact that we are not happy with the choices that voters have made doesn’t alter that fact! Again, if you want to argue that the Welsh system is a bad one, go ahead and argue that. But given the system which is in place now, I have not heard any evidence that the actions of the electoral college were anything other than ‘legal and honest’. According to the reports, Jeffrey John was duly nominated and received a great many votes — just not enough for… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Father David, I think you are missing the point.

I suspect that Anthony Archer was, by raising his question, suggesting that the hand of Lambeth, if detected, would be inappropriate.

Certainly that is my view.

My suspicion is that the bishops of the Church in Wales did the similar bidding of the previous Archbishop of Canterbury. It wasn’t right then, and it isn’t now.

Father David
Guest
Father David

“Llandaffgate has the potential to tear the Anglican Communion apart”. Precisely so, that is why the silence from Lambeth is so deafening. The ABC’s Official Website has had no comment placed upon it since as long ago as the 9th March – since then Sheffieldgate rumbles on and we now have Llandaffgate but comment from Justin Welby comes there none. Personally, Jeremy, I’m not into conspiracy theories but I’m sure that both of our Archbishops have conspired to prevent Jeffrey John being appointed to an English diocese (Southwark, Exeter, Durham, St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich). Whether or not Cantuar’s influence extends… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Father David, I have to think that the previous Archbishop of Canterbury was very influential in Wales.