Monday, 29 December 2003

Tom Wright: the Monday interview

Paul Vallely, associate editor of the Independent, has a major interview in today’s paper with Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham.
Tom Wright: It’s not a question of left and right, says the combative priest who opposes the war in Iraq and gay bishops is there until it disappears into the paid archive.
There is also a front page (broadsheet edition at least) news story to lead readers to the interview Bishop attacks Blair as ‘white vigilante’ which concentrates on one aspect of the interview only.
There is also an editorial about the bishop and his views, which is unfortunately available only to paid subscribers. This also deals mainly with the UK political aspects, but not entirely. Here are some extracts.

A turbulent but reasoned voice that demands honest answers
29 December 2003

If it is a function of the Church to force people to reconsider their moral bearings, then the new bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, fits the bill admirably. In his interview with The Independent today, not only does he speak the truth to power by criticising George Bush and Tony Blair for the invasion of Iraq, but he confounds the easy assumption that he must also support such liberal causes as the right of homosexuals to become bishops.
…[Dr Wright’s] …analysis of the Iraq war should be taken more seriously than that from the usual left-wing suspects. And he surely cannot be contradicted when he says that, by the political uses of their religion, Mr Bush and Mr Blair have added to the perception of the Iraq war as a war on Islam. Nor can it be disputed that “America’s notorious support for Israel only exacerbates that”. For good measure, he describes the Christianity of Mr Bush’s circle as a “strange distortion”.

…This newspaper does not agree with Dr Wright on gay bishops; we cannot agree that gay and lesbian people should enjoy equal rights in some things but not others. But his thoughtful arguments deserve a considered response and demand some humility from those with whom he disagrees. There is, for example, an element of truth in Dr Wright’s observation that the refusal of the diocese of New Hampshire to compromise with the rest of the Anglican communion reflects a certain American cultural arrogance.
It is an unusual parallel to draw, but there are some echoes in the attitudes of the occupying forces in Iraq. No one will agree with Dr Wright about everything, but Mr Blair, Mr Bush and the rest of us could gain by responding to his arguments with due humility. By that, he has re-asserted the Church’s claim to relevance.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 29 December 2003 at 9:28am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Other papers picked up this interview on Tuesday:
*Guardian* has a "news story":,2763,1113819,00.html and a comment piece "Bishop Tom is not radical, he's just a classic conservative":,2763,1113885,00.html.
The *Telegraph* also "noticed it":

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 December 2003 at 10:18am GMT

Unsurprisingly, both the "Arab press": and the Israeli press have picked up Tom Wright's remarks about the Palestinians. But "this report": and "this report have a picture": which is not the current Bishop of Durham!

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 31 December 2003 at 1:00pm GMT

"There is, for example, an element of truth in Dr Wright’s observation that the refusal of the diocese of New Hampshire to compromise with the rest of the Anglican communion reflects a certain American cultural arrogance."

Yes, N.H. Episcopalians, for a year or more you prayed, and searched, and prayed some more, then made your democratic decision on the second ballot (of a man who had served you more than a quarter century), then submitted your prayerful choice to the national church as per its canons, and had your choice put to unprecedented public examination (by both church and American media), then, despite scurrilous last-minute allegations, had that choice ratified by bishops, and clergy and lay representatives (again in open democratic process), then set the date for your bishop's consecration, in due respect of Anglican tradition and apostolic succession, then suffered through unprecedented and non-canonical attempts at interference by those outside the Episcopal Church, but finally, (and despite scurrilous denunciations permitted in the ceremony itself) joyfully celebrated that consecration, and welcomed your new bishop to serve the people of God in New Hampshire.

How bloody arrogant of you.

Posted by: J. Collins Fisher on Monday, 5 January 2004 at 6:14am GMT