Monday, 5 July 2010

Fraser and Sugden talk about Southwark election

Updated Monday lunchtime

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme carried an item earlier this morning, which you can listen to here.

‘No chance’ gay bishop will split CofE

Canon Chris Sugden and Dr Giles Fraser discuss if the appointment of Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Southwark would reopen the wounds of the debate over gay bishops in the Anglican Church.

The interview is 7 minutes long.


The BBC now has a news report, based on the interview linked above, at Appointing gay bishop ‘risks splitting Church’.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 7:54am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Very heartening to hear about the specific support to the GLTB community in the job spec. The paucity of Mr Sugden's reasons for not apointing JJ to the bishopric is laughable. Ending with the implied threat that Morden and likeminded places would opt for episcipal oversite from elsewhere (Africa?) is sabre rattling. Let them go.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 9:00am BST

The news, I think, in that interview is Sugden parking his tanks on the lawn unequivocally: the schism is coming home. He said that the Reform parishes would demand (?African) oversight if JJ gets the job.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 9:23am BST

What a fascinating interview.
I think Giles is right in that there is sufficient broad support in Southwark that the CoE would not split..... if it wasn't for people like Chris who are desperately waiting for even the smallest reason to continue their take-over bid started in America.

What Christians in this country think is one thing. But the years since the Windsor Report was written have shown that it's not about what most people think and believe, but what situations determined politicians can create on the ground.

Even if the CoE is still as liberal as Giles believes it to be, it has also shown itself to be so weak that it won’t put up a fight until it’s too late.

I wonder how many liberal priests and bishops will listen to this interview, notice that Chris has drawn the battle lines, but close their eyes because “Southwark has called for an lgbt friendly bishop and therefore all’s well”.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 9:31am BST

I woke up this morning depressed but after finding this article my state of mind improved.

Posted by: Linda on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 9:52am BST

With regard to the interview, can a parish church in the Church of England choose it own bishop? I thought that as an established church, congregationalism was very limited.

Our Episcopal Church has won every settled case where they tried to break away. Would local English churches have recourse to the courts they way they do here? How could an African bishop invade England they way they did in USA?

Posted by: Andrew on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 10:22am BST

As a Quaker outsider, I am astonished that a Christian can equate same-sex living with fiddling one's expenses, as Canon Sugden did this morning. His other beef seems to be that the Coalition government seems to have had a Pauline conversion re: the Alli Amendment on civil partnerships on religious premises, which the Conservative spokeswoman opposed in the Lords.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 10:51am BST

I was *very* heartened to hear Giles Fraser pull no punches today.

I also apologize to all those here who may have been discomfited by my comments in the past around this subject, where my desire to be fair has had me question the heat directed at the likes of Canon Sugden, and perhaps appear to be overly sympathetic to that cause.

All I can say, after having listened to a spokesperson of those opposed to homosexuality in the church: I realise now that it is unfortunately mostly spite and speciousness that fuels them. Comparing homosexual persons to those who have committed a crime, somehow akin to 'fiddling their expenses', is incredible. Truly, mind-bogglingly incredible.

Posted by: Achilles on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 11:03am BST

Really, Chris Sugden seems to have spent the whole of the last nearly ten years doing nothing at all but come with ever flimsier reasons why anybody gay is always invalid for any role as a Christian. What a terrible witness to a religion based on love!

If a gay person keeping to the C of E's current ridiculous requirements cannot be given a post in the normal way, then what on earth is the point of having the requirements, even from the conservative point of view?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 11:14am BST

I thought that asserting the authority of a foreign prelate was a crime under the Act of Supremacy 1558, so where does this leave Chris Sugden?

Posted by: lapsang on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 11:15am BST

Church Mouse explains the convoluted way of choosing bishops here:

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 11:24am BST

If "the schism" came how many likely parishes are we talking about in Southwark..can anyone tell me? I doubt if there are more than a dozen Reform or reform minded parishes in Southwark and surely not all would dance to a clerically led tune... but more interesting, given we are an Established Church, what legal room for manoevre so to speak do parishes have? I would judge very little, apart from "pulling up the drawbridge" as some spikey Anglo-Catholic parishes did between the wars when parishes were said to be "under the ban"or refusing to pay the common fund..Any diocesan legal folk on the site to tell us these things?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 12:05pm BST

Although I find remarks from Canon Sugden ridiculous and infuriating in comparing loving relationships to committing financial fraud (what is it about two activities, one completely legal and one a crime via your statutes that he doesn't understand), I cannot understand Canon Fraser's claim that the C of E won't split. It already has, thanks to the likes of FIF,and Sudgen's outright threats.

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 4:53pm BST

"Mr" Sugden. Ouch!!

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 5:05pm BST

Sugden suggests that some clergy in Southwark would be "unable" (read, "unwilling") to take the oath of canonical obedience to Dr John if he is made bishop. Last time I looked at Canon C14, s. 3, the oath of obedience read:

"I, AB, do swear by Almightly God that I will pay true and canonical obedience to the Lord Bishop of C and his successors in all things lawful and honest: So help me God."

Two points:

1) the key words are "and his successors". In other words, they have already taken an oath of canonical obedience to whoever is to be made Bishop of Southwark, whether Dr John or another candidate. I suppose they could revoke their oaths, but that would mean resigning.

2) I really don't see the problem, even for someone who vehemently disagrees with having any specific individual bishop, of being obedient to that bishop "in all things lawful and honest." As decided definitively in Long v the Bishop of Cape Town, that key phrase means that the cleric is not required to be obedient in all things that the bishop demands, but in those things which the bishop is by law empowered to demand. In other words, it is not a license for the bishop to act capriciously and demand all manner of bizarre or perverse actions under pain of sanction, but the oath is an undertaking that the cleric obey when the bishop demands that he (and I say "he" deliberately here) either obey the law or stop disobeying the law. If they can't fulfil their obligations under the oaths they have taken, then they have a very selective understanding of what an oath is, really couldn't care a toss about complying with either the law or their duties, and should resign regardless of who is made bishop.

I am filled with sadness that someone who presents himself as a senior cleric would be making pre-emptive threats on national radio. And I am left with the impression that those threats are based on a particularly capricious and self-serving reading of the duties of a cleric.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 5:34pm BST

Does "Mr." Sudgen attend the same evensongs at St. Paul's as Giles Fraser? That should be interesting in the sacristy/treasury before and afterwards.

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Monday, 5 July 2010 at 9:30pm BST

Canon Sudgen is acting like a bully who must have his way at the playground or he will throw a hissy fit. Sadly, he reminds me of someone like the protestant fundamentalist, Jerry Fallwell. I am grateful that Giles Frasier challenged him at every turn. Black mail is such a dirty little trick that the fundamentalists play when they don't get their way. This time the trick has been played just once too often.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at 3:58am BST

How odd that church people are affronted by the title Mr in front of the name of a clergyman (in this case, but of course the same would hold for a clergywoman). I don't have Crockford's to hand, but remember when my training incumbent receievd a letter from the Prince Charles' social secretary in which he was addressed as Dear Revd XYZ instead of Dear Mr XYZ which I believe is the correct form, or at least so my training incumbent claimed. Even those who should know better .......think Revd is a title instead of an adjective.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at 7:08am BST

The "Mr" business relates to the known fondness of a certain individual to be described and referred to as "Canon Dr" Sugden, Sarah.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at 10:50am BST

Chris Sugden is Canon Dr Chris Sugden - he holds a honorary canonry from the Diocese of Jos in Nigeria, and a PhD from Westminster College Oxford, on inculturation of the gospel, with a particular emphasis on protestantism in Java, with its strongly Hindu culture in a Muslim nation.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at 11:22am BST

Quite right, Sara. "Mr Bloggs" is quite correct when writing to the Revd Joe Bloggs. (And do note the definite article!) I think the issue here is that Mr Sugden rather pretentiously insists on being referred to as "Canon Dr", so "Mr" would be taken by him as a slight.

Call me Nom, call me Mr de Plume, just don't call me late for dinner.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at 1:17pm BST

The Rev'd MR Joe Bloggs, Mr de Plume.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at 2:29pm BST

I am sure that "Mr. Sugden" is still gritting his teeth over that one.

Posted by: JPM on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at 3:47pm BST

Nawt wrong with The Reverend Mr., or in speech, "Mister".

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Tuesday, 6 July 2010 at 5:16pm BST

Maybe it's because I'm an old lady with old-fashioned ideas, but, to me, the very worst of Chris Sugden's - oh, pardon me - Canon Dr Chris Sugden's words was his venture into the discussion of Jeffrey John's intimate life in a public forum, no less. Very bad manners, or so I was taught.

Posted by: Grandmère Mimi on Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at 1:47am BST
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