Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Southwark election news: Jeffrey John rejected

Updated Thursday morning

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports on his blog for the Telegraph Dean Jeffrey John, leading gay cleric, rejected as next Bishop of Southwark.

I can reveal that Dr Jeffrey John, the openly gay but celibate Dean of St Albans, has been blocked from becoming a bishop once again. He has not been chosen as the next Bishop of Southwark. Liberals will be dismayed that the Church has lost its nerve – but there is no reason for evangelicals to celebrate, either…

…It is also bad news for Rowan Williams. Although he is only one of 14 members of the Commission, liberals will be perplexed as to why he allowed John’s name to be included on the shortlist if it was only to be rejected at the last minute. To be fair, he didn’t know that this fact would be leaked to me, and he is said to have been livid with the Commission that it was. But, given what happened in 2003 and his apparent distress at forcing his old friend to stand down from becoming Bishop of Reading, it will surprise many that he didn’t use his influence to try and sway the few undecided members who could have secured his selection.

The Archbishop has appeared increasingly resolute and self-assured over recent months, but liberals will be left wondering why he loses his backbone when it comes to fighting their corner. Even conservative evangelicals made clear that there was no reason to object to the dean’s appointment this time round, pointing to the fact that he has stressed that his homosexual relationship is celibate…

And the Telegraph newspaper report is now here: Gay cleric blocked from becoming Church of England bishop by Jonathan Wynne-Jones and Martin Beckford

…It is understood that discussions at the two-day meeting, held at a secret location in Stepney, were heated with members of the Commission arguing over whether they should select Dr John.

Dr Williams is said to have been furious at the pressure placed on him and the other members by a leak to The Sunday Telegraph, which revealed the dean was on the shortlist. He asked the rest of the Commission to swear an oath of secrecy about the talks.

Church insiders considered that his name would not have been included unless there were plans to make him a bishop, as Dr John was forced to stand down from becoming the Bishop of Reading in 2003 after it emerged he was in a homosexual, but celibate, relationship.

His supporters fear the development represents further embarrassment for the controversial dean and is another sign that the Archbishop is unwilling to advance the liberal cause…

Colin Coward at Changing Attitude reports also, see Jeffrey John will not be the next Bishop of Southwark

Jonathan Wynne-Jones has ‘revealed’ in the Telegraph that Jeffrey John is not to be nominated as the next Bishop of Southwark. Neither, so I am told, will Nick Holtham, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, be nominated.

This is painfully disappointing news for Jeffrey, who has lived through a week in which his identity and reputation have been pored over, analysed and attacked once again by conservative forces in the church in a way which I can only describe as poisonous. Those who claim the moral and ethical high ground in the church behave in ways which are scandalous and unchristian.

Anglican Mainstream deliberately left a link to the lecture that Dr Jeffrey John gave to the Post Lambeth 1998 Affirming Catholicism Conference entitled “The Church and Homosexuality : Post-Lambeth Reflections” at the top of their home page until this evening, when it suddenly disappeared, its work done.

How was Jonathan able to leak the news? Because someone on the Crown Nomination Commission for the Southwark appointment ignored the absolute confidentiality of the group and deliberately leaked information about yesterday’s meeting to a conservative hostile to Jeffrey and LGBT people in the church. That person, for a second time, passed the information to Jonathan Wynne-Jones - one of the non-voting members, perhaps?

Conservative Evangelicals are ruthless in their determination to win total control of the church, even if in the process, they destroy the Church of England’s ability to communicate the gospel to the nation, and destroy the unity of the Anglican Communion, by whatever unprincipled, destructive means possible.

Archbishop Rowan was apparently so furious about the first leak that he unilaterally vetoed Jeffrey’s name, betraying his friend for a second time and handing an apparent victory to the conservatives who seem to be successfully controlling him. Archbishop Rowan would have directed his anger in a more healthy direction if he had targetted the people inside and outside the Commission who have deliberately sabotaged its work…

The Press Association has Gay cleric ‘not selected for post’

Updates

AFP C of E ‘blocks’ gay cleric from becoming bishop

Guardian Riazat Butt Gay clergyman blocked from becoming bishop

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at 10:37pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Will you lot (Coward et al) just get over it! Whatever Dr John's sexual proclivities, and that ought to be his business and not a political football in the Church, he's simply not been considered the right person for the position. Saint Albans will continue to benefit from his ministry, which will no doubt be a cause of great celebration for his supporters there. And anyway, ordained ministry should surely not be about career aspiration, power or meritocratic ascendency.

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at 11:12pm BST

"Conservative Evangelicals are ruthless in their determination to win total control of the church, even if in the process, they destroy the Church of England’s ability to communicate the gospel to the nation, and destroy the unity of the Anglican Communion, by whatever unprincipled, destructive means possible.

Preach it, Colin!

"Archbishop Rowan was apparently so furious about the first leak that he unilaterally vetoed Jeffrey’s name, betraying his friend for a second time and handing an apparent victory to the conservatives who seem to be successfully controlling him."

Sadly, not surprised in the least ("friend" really should be in quotation marks). Can he please RESIGN NOW???

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at 11:32pm BST

"Archbishop Rowan was apparently so furious about the first leak that he unilaterally vetoed Jeffrey’s name, betraying his friend for a second time and handing an apparent victory to the conservatives who seem to be successfully controlling him."

+Rowan Williams is certainly not Jeffrey John's friend. Nor is the friend of any other LGBT person. Let's all stop pretending that RW is anything other than a straight man who acts like a homophobe.

How is it that a nominating commission is subject to a veto by one bishop? Veto power, really?!

Now +RW can ride triumphantly into General Synod where he expects to ram through his amendments to visciate catholic order in the Church of England and institutionalize two classes of bishop. I hope that if he is "successful" the women will gather together and take a stand against any of them being appointed to the role of second class bishop.

Then, RW can move on to plead with Orombi to return to the Standing Committee on Unity, Faith, and Order, without a word to say from either of them about the continuing tide of anti-LGBT violence.

Who cares what +RW says about anything? Let the conservatives have him. He is a throughly untrustworthy person and they deserve him.

And who, in their right mind, cares any longer about communion with the CofE as long as they allow these things to happen and allow themselves to be "led" by this person?

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:00am BST

From Twitter:
@RuthieGledhill: Rowan lost rag at meeting of CNC and Jeffrey John has not been chosen for Southwark. What a crazy, crazy Church.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:04am BST

Right, well; yet another epic fail on the evangelising front:

'The Church of England's two most senior bishops have called on fellow Anglicans to embrace the Christian mission and not "fight shy" of converting people from other faiths. In an uncharacteristically evangelical statement from a church that has tended to avoid overt proselytising in recent decades, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu said Christians should not feel "embarrassed or awkward" about bringing others towards Christianity..

Quite how we are supposed to do this in the 21st century, when people actually notice that what is preached against gay people and women priests appear to bear no resemblance to the commands of Christ, is less than clear...

Posted by: chenier1 on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:28am BST

Even the Holy Spirit, evidently, cannot always control what goes on in the courts of the Church.
That may be a sign of the Church's inability to "Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church".
Deafness to the Holy Spirit has so often caused division in the Church. One can only pray for a new climate of Holy Listening.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:36am BST

Ironic if the man who was vetoed for Southwark by George Carey for declining to repudiate his writings on homosexuality should now have vetoed Jeffrey John's nomination to the same diocese. As Göran Koch-Swahne posted earlier today at another blog, "Judas only betrayed his chum once".

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:47am BST

Rowan Williams, Archbishop or Sadist? How's that for a headline.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:50am BST

Although I largely agree with every comment from the poster in this thread named Karen MacQueen, I just can't fathom that other Church of England bishops and lay people who are good and honorable human beings will allow Rowan Williams to get away with this sad and un-Christian development regarding the nomination for consecration as bishop of this honorable and humble man, Jeffrey John. To say that Rowan Williams and his ilk should be ashamed of themselves is a giant understatement. This is an act of violence against Jeffrey John and GLBT human beings. I can't understand why there are no provisions within The Church of England's College of Bishops to remove an Archbishop of Canterbury. None of this makes sense and I pray the Holy Spirit will focus on correcting this truly unjust behavior by Rowan Williams and the right wingers he seems so afraid of. A bright spotlight needs to be focused on these actions. This is a deplorable development and I pray that people of good will may step up and do the right thing. This is also a very sad day in the history of those who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ. The institutional Church at its' worst. So sad.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:25am BST

You know, even Judas only betrayed his friend once.

Posted by: JPM on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:35am BST

I see no reason to remain in communion with Canterbury anymore. Let Rowan and the CANA crowd have each other.

Posted by: Dennis on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:43am BST

"Rowan lost rag at meeting of CNC"

Translation?

"What a crazy, crazy Church."

Agreed. God bless TEC!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:25am BST

Another day, another disappointment from ++Rowan and the Church of England. If what Colin Coward reports is true, that the Archbishop had a hissy fit and thus deep-sixed his "friend" again, then ++Rowan really is never to be trusted, and has again shown himself to be totally irrelevant.

Posted by: SCG on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:31am BST

"Anglican Mainstream deliberately left a link to the lecture that Dr Jeffrey John gave to the Post Lambeth 1998 Affirming Catholicism Conference entitled “The Church and Homosexuality : Post-Lambeth Reflections” at the top of their home page until this evening, when it suddenly disappeared, its work done."

Oh, the humanity! Has such perfidy ever been experienced in the history of man? That Anglican Mainstream should deliberately and with malice aforethought post a link to lecture by Jeffrey John that he may be heard in his own words! It shocks the civilized conscience. I would not be surprised if the authorities were even now investigating that organization for criminal conspiracy.

carl jacobs

Posted by: carl on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:33am BST

Another nail in the religion's coffin - which is good - and another wound on Christ's Body - which is not. Rowan will answer.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 5:19am BST

"Archbishop Rowan was apparently so furious about the first leak that he unilaterally vetoed Jeffrey’s name, betraying his friend for a second time and handing an apparent victory to the conservatives who seem to be successfully controlling him."

Surely, in a healthy religion and ecclesial structure, a person with such poor emotional control and lacking in humility as the furiously unilateral Williams would never have been allowed to become a priest - let alone primate.

Still, he does point up how much better women and gays are at the job than any conservative-leaning straight man.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 5:32am BST

We're told that when Tony Blair received the names for the Diocese of Liverpool he sent them back and asked for another list with the name of James Jones on it. David Cameron should return the Southwark nominations and keep returning them until Jeffrey John's name is there.

Posted by: junius on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:13am BST

Rowan withdrew his name from Southwark after George invited him to a meeting at Lambeth - he found there his writings all laid out on a table .......

I think we can all pretty accurately guess at the sort of conversation that followed......

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:36am BST

I am at a loss to understand why a leak by a conservative member of the CNC should result in Rowan losing his rag and vetoing the nomination of JJ. Lose your rag at the leaker for sure, but then you settle down and do what is right. Do Abps have a unilateral right of veto?

The Church of England looks reactionary and incredible in the eyes of the whole country this morning - this bit of theatre does immense damage.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:47am BST

Doesn't the revelation that it won't be Fr Nick or Fr Jeffrey just indicate that the CNC are looking for an existing bishop for a high profile diocese, rather than consecrating a priest to the role? And is that in any way surprising?

Sorry, I probably shoudn't be trying to spin the story in a way that isn't particularly controversial!!

Posted by: Tom McLean on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:56am BST

I think those running the C of E must have a death wish...the Church "outsiders" read about appears more and more an institution no intelligent humane person would wish to be a part of. Meanwhile the footsloggers in the parishes utter a deep sigh and trudge despondently on.......

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 8:04am BST

Just to balance things out a little, can I point to Bishop Nick Baines' blog please:

http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 8:20am BST

All this culture of speculation, leaking and throwing QFs at meetings could easily be avoided if the C of E adopted an open democratic appointments procedure, surely?

Why not just have open elections of bishops? It seems to work perfectly well elsewhere. The culture of rule by club committee is far too strong in the C of E, and it leads to all these underhand methods of wielding influence.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 8:56am BST

"Conservative Evangelicals are ruthless in their determination to win total control of the church, even if in the process, they destroy the Church of England’s ability to communicate the gospel to the nation, and destroy the unity of the Anglican Communion, by whatever unprincipled, destructive means possible."

I think the Evangelical (and Anglo-Catholic) establishment could arguably say the same thing of the Liberals?

Posted by: Bob on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 9:02am BST

Might it be worth standing back from this and asking what we actually *know* here?

A journalist on a paper which is not unknown for printing as facts things which later turn out to be untrue, firstly states that he exclusively knows that Jeffrey John is going to Southwark, then states that he exclusively knows that he's not.

The blogosphere goes wild, some say it's all a liberal plot, others say it's all a conservative plot. Various people claim to have certain knowledge of what has happened in a private meeting, and even of what various people, including Rowan, are thinking.

Could it be that we actually don't know the situation, and should refrain from sitting in judgement when we don't know the facts?

Southwark is often seen as a diocese which requires previous experience of running a diocese - I was told by a bishop earlier this year that it would have to go to an existing diocesan. Whether or not that proves to be the case, even if Jeffrey John has been considered by the CAC, him not being appointed does not automatically mean the forces of darkness are at work.

Posted by: Stuart on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 9:43am BST

I'm not sure at the moment whether I'm more annoyed with the - THE presumed conservative evangelical - member of the CNC who leaked this (and who is, no doubt, feeling very proud of him/herself this morning), with Rowan for (allegedly) losing his rag and giving the conservatives eaxactly what they would have wanted, with the media for making this a huge story (highly capable Dean of major Cathedral rumoured to front-runner to be Bishop of the last Diocese he worked in...), or with myself and others for believing media rumours and getting over-excited that this would actually happen. Of course, I feel desperately sorry for Fr Jeffrey that he has had to go through this all over again. So, as someone who has returned to St Albans Abbey in the last couple of years, and found a welcoming, inclusive community, with a wonderful children's ministry, excellent preaching (not just from the Dean), and inspirational worship each and every week - especially around the major festivals and Albantide, I will selfishly reflect that we in St Albans will continue to benefit from the ministry of Jeffrey and the team he has around him. As with the Diocese of Oxford before, Southwark's loss is our gain.

Posted by: Graham Ward on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 10:27am BST

+Nick Baines has blogged on the role of the media in this affair - http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/media-literacy-lesson-1/ . Lots of common sense.

Posted by: Graham Ward on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 10:40am BST

It would be good to put some of this in perspective. The fact that that there have been some conversations between one or more CNC members and the press is a scandal, but that is a matter for the CNC to deal with. They might not have technically breached confidentiality, but silences, no comment inferences etc. all go to make up a story. The key issue for people to grasp is how the CNC works. They will have considered many names for Southwark, including presumably the Dean of St Albans. During the last part of the second meeting (the two day session earlier this week) they will have got down to a shortlist of perhaps five and will have become further detailed discussion and reflection, including prayer. When they are satisfied they have weighed the merits of these candidates, against the needs of the diocese and the national church, they will start voting. There is no question of anyone ‘blocking’ anyone, whether an Archbishop, a central member of the commission (which currently includes the Dean of Southwark) or one of the six diocesan representatives. All 14 members have a vote (the two secretaries present do not) and no-one’s vote is more important that anyone else’s. They start eliminating the candidate with the least number of votes at each stage. The requirement is to produce two names; however (and here is the important part) each of those two names must command the support of two-thirds of the commission, or 10 members; otherwise the names cannot go forward to Downing Street. This is all contained in the standing orders which regulate the workings of the CNC. What then happens is that the commission votes (by a simple majority) to express its preference as between the two names. Now, without wishing to add to this ridiculous speculation, it is often the case that there is animated discussion between commission members, who may not naturally agree on a name. If there is a deadlock trying to get a two-thirds majority on any one name, the commission (working as one body) has no option but to ‘drop’ that name, which is what might have happened. But for the press and other commentators to impugn the integrity of commission members, especially +Rowan, is a travesty and belies ignorance of the process which, save for the absence of interviews – which are coming - actually works. However, breach of confidentiality is something else.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 10:54am BST

If I were a sleuth, I would suspect that whoever leaked the first news of J.J.'s candidature was a member of the electing Commission - an anti-gay person - who knew that the breaking news would set the conservative element alight. The resultant withdrawal of Dr. John's name was probably a direct consequence of the ABC's righteous indignation at being presented with the dissidents' fury.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 11:09am BST

The CNC meetings are supposed to top secret - even members' families are not supposed to know when and where they are happening. Rowan should have perhaps called for the process to start again with a new set of members!

However, Southwark is a diosese that was always likely to get someone who is already a diocesan - or at least a suffragen. Jeffrey John would be a good bishop but maybe somwehere smaller - Durham perhaps?

Posted by: frozenchristian on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 11:14am BST

"Archbishop Rowan was apparently so furious about the first leak that he unilaterally vetoed Jeffrey’s name, betraying his friend for a second time and handing an apparent victory to the conservatives who seem to be successfully controlling him."

Passive Aggressive seems awfully easy to control...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 11:29am BST

Almost speechless at this apparent turn of events. I think junius has exactly the right idea - can we not bombard Cameron's office with this proposition?!

I don't really ever have trouble stating that I am a Christian: people may not get what I get, but all except the most dogmatic atheists will at least leave me alone: but on this issue, it is *ordinary* people who don't normally consider the faith or the church (and it is all the same to them) who are unable to comprehend that we cannot collectively 'get over' this question. They also intimate that many ordained are gay, so the hypocrisy they see is enormous.

But this is not simply a question of spin or PR, of 'going with the societal flow': it's a fundamental one: is Christianity, as formally understood, a reasonable religion to follow if it insists on and contains this anti-gay element?

Posted by: Achilles on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:13pm BST

Junius is right. This apparent outcome almost invites a prime ministerial response. The Archbishop has put Government in a difficult position.

The Archbishop has also just destroyed whatever liberal goodwill he was hoping to mobilize during Synod.

The question is whether, as a result of Southwark, the Archbishop's amendment has gained some conservative votes. If not, it will be an interesting weekend.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:22pm BST

God Bless Jeffrey and his partner. May they know Gods cuddle, and His peace at this time.
Enough is enough. May our Prime minister do the right thing, and exert his influence. But who ever gets Southwark it has become a poison chalice of ABC's making, together with the sly member of the commission, who too should be named and shamed.

A closet gay, bitter at his own lack of advancement maybe, who hadnt the chance to write a preface to Crockford. Whoever they be, they should be named and shamed, and apologise to those fellow Christians they have hurt by their actions.

Fr John

Posted by: Fr John on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:40pm BST

This is all rather confusing, and I assume that further details will emerge in time. Are we to conclude that the Archbishop nixed both candidates for the role because their names were released to the media, rather than because either of them was judged unsuitable for the job? Or were they, in fact, never shortlisted at all? In which case, why were their names leaked, and who has an interest in prejudicing the outcome of this proceding?

At times one cannot help but envy our brethren in the Episcopal Church, where such appointments are handled with admirable transparency. It is deplorable that the Church of England seems to have acquired the culture of leaks which has disfigured our politics for the last decade or more. Nevertheless, it would be nice to hear the Archbishop's side of the story, and not just the clanging cymbal and sounding gong of the Telegraph's religion correspondents.

Posted by: rjb on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 12:40pm BST

What a surprise - even a tame, celibate gay man is unacceptable in the CofE. What a messed up institution.

Honestly, and Rowan tries to manage ECUSA's affairs as well as the CofE's?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:04pm BST

Honest question: do we know for a fact that the ABC vetoed the appointment? As an Episcopalian, I have my own reasons for wishing Dean John had been elected, but isn't it possible that he just didn't get the votes? I am willing to be enlightened on this.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:11pm BST

"This is an act of violence against Jeffrey John and GLBT human beings."

With respect, no. No, it isn't. And saying it is is a disservice to all the GLBT people who are the targets of actual violence. You know - the ones whose decapitated heads are discovered in African latrines, or who are beaten senseless by thugs. What happened to Dean John is shameful and wicked, an insult to gay people, but it's not violence.

Calling every anti-gay act "violence" may be good for consciousness-raising and rallying the troops, but it cheapens the language.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:18pm BST

Why does the church keep on making such a hash of this. The world looks on an laughs, the church has lost its integrity and credibility. The State seems to be doing much better in applying the Christian principles of justice and mercy

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/07/gay-refugees-asylum-seekers

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:25pm BST

frozenchristian

The CNC meetings used to be top secret in the way you describe, but that is no longer the case. The dates are published (eg in the adverts in the Church Times that invite comments) and here on the CofE website:

http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/asa/senappt/dbnom/cnc/

I don't think the locations are secret any more either. I have been told that the one-day meetings are regularly held at Lambeth Palace.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:29pm BST

"Honest question: do we know for a fact that the ABC vetoed the appointment?"

Here's what I think, informed by someone actually in the Diocese of Southwark: Jeffrey John was NEVER a finalist, althogh he may have been on a long list. The "journalist" who stirred this all up is not known for ruthless honesty. He viciously hurt Jeffrey and his partner, the people of Southwark, and many concerned Christians on both sides of the pond by stirring all this up. Now he is 'reporting' an equally fantasmagoric 'conclusion' to the story.

Shame on all of us who swallowed whole the notion that the 'no-mitres-for-woman-bishops on MY patch,' writer of scolding letters, remover of TEC people from organizations etc etc would in a thousand years accede to a bishopric in his own back yard for Jeffrey John.

Once I have finished my own mea culpa, I would be glad to initiate a tarring and feathering and running out of town on a rail for the 'journalist' who cooked up this crock of you-know-what.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 1:40pm BST

Just to balance things out a little, can I point to Bishop Nick Baines' blog please:

http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 8:20am

Many thanks for this --it worked !

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:01pm BST

Conservative Evangelicals are ruthless in their determination to win total control of the church, even if in the process, they destroy the Church of England’s ability to communicate the gospel to the nation, and destroy the unity of the Anglican Communion, by whatever unprincipled, destructive means possible."

I think the Evangelical (and Anglo-Catholic) establishment could arguably say the same thing of the Liberals?

Posted by: Bob on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 9:02am BST

I am getting the impression that 'Christianity' - if that's what it is, really isn't working.

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:02pm BST

Rowan's strategy for a long time now has been to isolate TEC as a way to take heat off the CofE, elements of which have a long and rich history of blessing same sex unions, elevating all-but-publicly-gay clerics to higher office, and the like. So, he's played on people's stereotype of Americans as brash imperialists, even making overtures to the Canadian church to keep them off the hot seat. Making Dean John a bishop would have made that strategy impossible, and I don't doubt that he played whatever cards he needed to (would he have threatened to resign, do you think?) to get it killed.

Posted by: MarkP on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:29pm BST

Jim, no we don't know this for a fact, and there isn't any formal mechanism by which the ABC could do that. I think we have all been played.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:54pm BST

Our friends at STAND FIRM have helpfully posted a video of Bishop John Chane participating in Washington's Gay Pride March. Perhaps ++Rowan should show his face at the next London Pride and see what reaction he gets.
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/26334

Posted by: Rev Sidney Jensen on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 4:02pm BST

I would fascinated to know what a "celibate homosexual relationship" is. Does anyone in the UK really believe that such an oxymoron, something like "a fasting meal," is possible?

Years ago, a Protestant scholar demonstrated that in Christian antiquity the consensus opinion was that homosexuals should not be ordained. How much grief would have been avoided if that patristic opinion had been heeded!

Posted by: Craig Abernethy on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 4:14pm BST

Beneath/within all the swampy fog and polarized dynamics of this most recent JJ situation - complicated, maybe, by leaks enhanced via spin doctoring? - we again begin to discern the dim, clear, terrible outlines of RWs real MO when it comes to queer folks and Anglicanism. RW loudly proclaims, protesting - that he is an obviously sound and decent human being who regards queer folks as humans, equals, and all that.

Rws actions in the face of assault campaign dynamics (usually from the right wings of far extreme Anglicanism) again seem to clearly reveal that RW is quite willing to partner with ignorance, prejudice, and violence, especially when it is aimed at queer folks. RW is doing directly - or assisting others to do directly - a sort of violence to JJ's public image and reputation in ministry (as meaty-soiled symbol of all that is traditionally preached to be so wrong with being a queer fellow) - exactly - again, exactly? - the sorts of dirty-smarmy attack stuff he implies he never would wish to physicalize in the slightest -at least not in public with the spotlights shining and the media cameras running?

In a common sense analysis of Spirit and fruits of life/leadership, this one smells to high heaven. Toxic is as toxic does, no? Given the past with JJ withdrawn, nominating him yet a second time cannot read as anything but another horrid round of Eric Berne's game: Let's You And Him Fight.

Yet again: RW is clearly most, most, most comfortable with setting up queer folks with talents and leadership and callings - as scapegoats and as targets for the far extreme right wings of Anglicanism. RW obviously still believes that anybody who comes out of the Anglican closets deserves to be attacked in the most vicious-typical Anglican fashion. From this point onwards, no disclaimers from RW get any credit from me; I'm waiting to see what old-fashioned types probably used to call, 'reformed' behavior and 'amendment' of life.

Repent, RW. You are making an utter fool of yourself, going out of your way in fact. Makes one unseemly glad to be a TECer, led by an honestly intelligent and caring Presiding Bishop who just happens to be God's woman at the moment. Maybe JJ could retire at his earliest possible moments, and take his ministry freely to those of us who discern it aright and welcome God in that ministry? Just a passing whimsy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 4:25pm BST

Clearly we will never know for sure what went on at the meeting in Stepney but I am grateful to Anthony Archer for putting us straight about the way the Commission operates...unfortunately most people will form their opinion from the newspapers alas. Whatever way you look at it, and we pray for a decent result, harm has been done.I do not envy the chap who does get the job..what a start! Ultimately there will have to be less secrecy and greater transparency.I just cant see how a National Church can carry on in such an arcane way..not least as the whole political culture in England has changed so.One does wonder what the Government thinks of the C of E these days...the C of E can hardly look to them for support anymore...I suspect in many quarters the C of E simply isnt regarded as a serious institution but merely as an increasing anacronism moving more and more to the fringes of English life.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 4:27pm BST

I wonder if John wanted it ? Might be time for fewer challanges and vexacious persons ? No ?

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 4:49pm BST

I'm afraid I expected this outcome. Only I thought it would be a hush job, 'behind the scenes', a more subtle way of ensuring that the nomination 'looked' fair. In one way I am glad some of the 'betrayal' has come out into the open. But I am ashamed too, for a church I have loved, and served, for over 60 years.

We who are women stand - in more ways than one -with our brothers and sisters who are homosexual and transgendered. Nothing can stand against Love who urges us to go on loving, notwithstanding oppression. Una
Una

Posted by: UnaKroll on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 4:51pm BST

The Nick Baines blog brings some sanity and wisdom to this thread. It won't make any difference of course. The Press supports some of us in our liberal illeberalism: why should we let facts (or lack of them) interfere with our unquestionable wisdom?

The press is interested in creating a story especially where none exists. The 'reporting' of the present fuss has shown the press to be no friend of Jeffrey John by dragging his name and private life into the public arena again.

I am sorry to question the inerrancy of the the Printed Word but no doubt some will make hay with such heresy.

That said, let's have a transparent procedure. We are clearly heading that way now that the PM has all but bowed out of the process. Once the bishops are out of the Lords there will be no reason why the PM shouldn't present to the Crown one name agreed by an electoral college in place of one name agreed by the CNC mandarins.

It is worth noting how so much power in the process has now passed to Lambeth since there ceased to be a figure in Downing Street interviewing and knowing the field of 'talent'. Now it is the Archbishops' Appointments Secretary who does the interviewing and keeps the records of who is out there. The fact that she is the wife of a serving diocesan bishop and that she now does a job which has changed redically since she was appointed is a concern to many but is never voiced where it might be questioned.

Perhaps someone should raise the whole matter in General Synod. It might get the transparecy agenda moving forward.

Posted by: Lister Tonge on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 5:02pm BST

Junius and Jeremy Pemberton have an excellent idea. I hope David Cameron will take a firm hand here. It is within his remit as Prime Minister to do so.

Seen from within the hothouse world of Anglican political maneuvering, the candidacy of a gay man for a vacant bishopric looks dicey indeed, but seen from without, from the vantage point of the 98% of English men and women who no longer want anything to do with the Church of England, it looks, to borrow an expression, "beyond bizarre."

I don't think many in the Evangelical party realize the extent of the damage their antics have done to the Church of England in the last few years, and I am not sure how many would care if they knew. They have no particular stake in the Church as an institution and no real concern or care for it; it has never been anything to them but "a convenient boat to fish from."

I would be surprised, however, if a Tory Prime Minister of Cameron's background would be willing to stand by while a small group of noisily eccentric ecclesiastics destroys the Established Church. I do expect he will step in, in the interests of its preservation. ++Rowan Williams has never been equal to the job, and his behavior grows more erratic each day,

Meanwhile, Synod should indeed be interesting.

Posted by: Charlotte on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 5:04pm BST

According to the Telegraph, the PM supported John's nomination, but senior bishops were anxious to avoid controversy. Right wing evangelicals in the Southwark diocese threatened to split if John became bishop. ++Canterbury lost his temper and scuttled the nomination when John's name was leaked to the press.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/7877839/Gay-cleric-blocked-from-becoming-Church-of-England-bishop.html

Apparently, all of this was to be kept secret. Perhaps a more transparent method of selecting bishops might be in order.

I'm so grateful to be a Piskie in the USA these days.
I extend my sympathies to, and solidarity with, all my fellow LGBT Christians in England, especially John+.

Posted by: Counterlight on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 5:35pm BST

There is a lot to be said for the episcopal electoral process in Canada and the U.S.A. where all three houses are allowed to vote. The laity obviously know their Gospel much better than the C.of E. heirarchy.
I wonder, is Rowan+++ going to preach on 'Love Thy Neighbour" on Sunday?
Indeed! Lord have mercy!
LettieJ

Posted by: The Rev'd Canon Dr. Lettie James on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 5:58pm BST

I agree with Stuart. This is journalism at its worst - there has only been one source for this information and no one knows who that source is or how they came by the "information". How exactly is this information trustworthy? Before we take up arms against the Archbishop, perhaps we ought to discover the truth...

Posted by: Fr James on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 5:58pm BST

Anthony Archer

'The fact that that there have been some conversations between one or more CNC members and the press is a scandal, but that is a matter for the CNC to deal with.'

No; it is not. Clearly the CNC is incapable of dealing with it since otherwise there would have been no leaks in the first place.

This directly impinges on all of us within the Church of England, and within the wider Anglican community; the realisation that the in-fighting has become so rabid that we can no longer even rely on the CNC to behave in a fair and equitable manner is hardly something which could, or should, be swept under the carpet.

As for the media 'impugn[ing] the integrity of commission members' this whole matter has arisen because at least one member of the commission has no integrity.

Thanks to that person or persons the integrity of every member of the commission is in doubt, which renders the suggestion that they should be left to investigate themselves all the more farcical.

The Prime Minister is entitled to fair and impartial advice on the matter, just as the Queen is entitled to fair and impartial advice from her Prime Minister; she is not only our Head of State, but also Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

To imagine that they will just rubber stamp the outcome of a process shown to be deeply flawed is naive in the extreme, however much members of the CNC would like to believe otherwise...

Posted by: chenier1 on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 6:42pm BST

It seems to me that the person to be blamed for this unseemliness is the journalist and his rag.

Plus the member of commission who broke confidentiality.

Not the Archbishop who lost it, nor the unfortunate Dr John who was again dragged through the mud.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:10pm BST

Just listened to the Church Society 2010 Conference talks..one was given by a vicar from Eastborurne. He gave an excellent defence of the traditional stance on homosexuality and the flawed revisionist exegesis of the liberals. However he still belives Rowan is still a liberal and has never really repented or repudiated his pro gay stance.

Posted by: Robert Ian Wiolliams on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 8:07pm BST

From blog, Leave It Lay Where Jesus Flang IT:

A reading...Take this little bit from Paul's letter to the Romans (part of morning prayer today) (Romans 9:19-33, Peterson's version, The Message):

...Hosea put it well:

I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
I'll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, "You're nobody!"
they're calling you "God's living children."

...How can we sum this up? All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
a stone you can't get around.
But the stone is me! If you're looking for me,
you'll find me on the way, not in the way ...

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 8:27pm BST

For those who have not read Bishop Nick Baines' Blog on 'Wordpress' it might be enlightening to do so (links provided in above comments).

I must confess that most of us who have any sort of agenda are likely to jump in where angels fear to tread (at least, I have been known to do this on this site) when perhaps we need to let the air clear a little and let things settle down - before we jump in on the defensive. It's so easy to form an opinion on press articles. As Nick Baines so rightly reminds us; newspapers are sold on spicy detail - which sometimes have little relation to the truth.

We are reminded, too, that there may be other people, besides our own favourite candidates, who are equally or even better suited for a particular position, and I think Jeffrey John himself might readily admit to this. Let's stop Rowan-bashing for the time being. I'm sorry for my emotional reaction to this confrontational scoop.

May Canon Jeffrey John rest easy where he is for the moment. If God wants him to become a Bishop, it may yet be a possibility - even in the C.of E. or in Wales, where the air is seemingly clearer.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 8:32pm BST

The verdict is in, women and queers need not apply when it comes to an episcopal office in the CofE. After all it would fly in the face of the faith delivered by the saints and two thousand years of heterosexism and misogyny.

Posted by: Richard on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 10:04pm BST

In response to Jim Naughton's question, it would seem to me that hardly anyone *knows* anything about what actually happened or who did what, but rather too many people are using this as another excuse to indulge in one of the favourite sports of commenters here, called "beating up on Rowan"

I have no idea what happened, nor, I dare opine, do most of the people who are confidently assigning blame.

I'd suggest, if this continues, Simon gives serious thought to removing the word "Thinking" from the site's title.

Posted by: Doug Chaplin on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 11:05pm BST

"I am getting the impression that 'Christianity' - if that's what it is, really isn't working.

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:02pm BST "

Hopefully, others will catch on to this.

The "Church" isn't the Body of Christ, anymore, but the tomb that needs breaking open.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 5:28am BST

The people contributing comments here may be "Thinking Anglicans". Not many "Thinking Christians", though.

Don't you have anything better to do than contemplate homosexuality and bash the Archbishop?

Posted by: Peter Hirsch on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 7:23am BST

It's true that none of us knows exactly what went on.

It's possible or even likely that we have been 'played' by some journo.

But-

is it untrue that conservatives in the Church don't want gay (or women) bishops?

Is it untrue that JJ has already been rejected on the basis of his sexuality?

Is it untrue that conservatives have threatened to seek jurisdiction from beyond these shores if they are not satisfied?

No - none of these things is untrue

The seed may not be wholesome but the ground it has fallen into has long been prepared.

I almost think that we should instead be thanking this reporter, since it really is about time things came to a head and were tackled head-on. Procedures may not be a secretive as supposed, but the morals, ethics and practice of the CofE are and have been compromised for years - and it's this that people are reacting to. The cloak-and-dagger stuff is merely symptomatic. But people know what the underlying disease is, and even the ignorant can recognise the pox.

Posted by: Achilles on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 7:45am BST

"Not many "Thinking Christians", though. "

As you employ "Christian," the two concepts and the words expressing them are mutually exclusive.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 9:07am BST

Don't you have anything better to do than contemplate homosexuality and bash the Archbishop?

Posted by: Peter Hirsch on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 7:23am BST

Didn't you mean 'bash the bishop' ?

That Would be telling. You leave your bishop alone then ?

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 10:00am BST

I'm generally on the side of leakers of unnecessarily secretive committee and commission meeting information. The CofE and the WWAC seem to be rife with this sort of closed-door meeting, where powerful men (I use the word advisedly) decide what's going to happen in the Church. It's probably part of the rotten heritage of having a State Church, envisioned not so much as the Body of Christ as another office in the bureaucracy - leading to the conception of only those who serve that Church professionally *being* the Church. I favor taking a motto from dissident RC's: We are Church.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 12:43pm BST

Seems to me the only inaccuracy in the DT story *may have been* how far along the process was, and where Dean John was on the supposed list.

No one has denied that Dean John was considered for Bishop of Southwark.

No one has denied that the ABC knocked him off the list in a fury.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 1:05pm BST

Thanks to Anglican Mainstream, I took the opportunity to re-read Jeffrey's post Lambeth notes from 1998. What wonderful, enlightening common sense. How sad that this would be seen to negate any suggestion that he is made of "bishop material" when clearly it demonstrates the opposite. Even worse that in England at least we do not seem to have moved as much as one step forward in the intervening 11 years. Nor, given this weeks events, do I have much hope that we'll move too far in the next 11.

Posted by: Graham Ward on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 2:10pm BST

Kudos to Achilles for attempting to provide some balance in this revisionist comments!
The bottom line is that the ABC has consistently acted in a way contrary to his own beliefs (OK -- not rising to the level of Cranmer burning people that he agreed with, but still ...)

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 2:44pm BST

For Peter Hirsch, who questions the Christianity of many posters to this site, and concludes with his question: "Don't you have anything better to do than contemplate homosexuality and bash the Archbishop?"

There is an enormous difference between reacting to bigotry, and its truth-denying fundamentalism source, versus promoting something that you obviously dislike, and calling to account -- without cause -- the actions and failures to act courageously of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I do not contemplate homosexuality, much less promote it, as it is a nonentity in the essence of Christian life. If Mr. Hirsch instead wishes to discuss immoral behavior by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike -- in other words, outside of committed relationships -- I will be happy to support his corrected focus.

I also do not trash Rowan Williams, even though I believe him to be a cowardly ABofC who gives in to every threat from fundamentalist Anglicans, and continually overlooks the mote in their eyes while focusing upon the speck in the eyes of Anglicans in the US and Canada.

While I might address some of these issues with less vitriol than many of the posters to this site, they largely have legitimate concerns and do not diminish their Thinking Christian status by their posts.

Style, OK, that may be a problem.

Substance, well, they are actually focusing upon the essence of Christianity, and where the CofE is falling short.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 3:59pm BST

I met Dr John whilst he was vicar at Holy Trinity Eltham. I suspected that his sexuality was ambigous but did not care. He provided comfort to my sister and my mother during a lengthy period of time. He showed my Mum a way of looking forward at a time of great despair. I am not sure that I have any faith in a god, but my mother was comforted and blessed by the support of Dr John.His intellectual approach to belief (or a lack of it ) was both rigourous and gentle. What more could be asked of a bishop? The Church fails itself in turning its back on those who do not comply with the social mores of the time or (heaven forbid) are of the wrong sex or sexuality

Posted by: Gillian Lindqvist on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 6:50pm BST

It's great news. We all have sexual desires but not all of them should be promoted. I'm married - if I have desire and opportunity for someone else should I take it?

Christians are suffering terrible persecution around the world, we are called to carry our cross and help one another in our struggles.

Posted by: G Williams on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 10:20pm BST

Ironic, isn't it, coming on the heels of the UK Supreme Court decision about asylum for gay people.

No asylum in the CoE, which is clearly in thrall to the vocal conservatives.

I think it's past time for the closeted gay Bishops to come out.

Posted by: IT on Friday, 9 July 2010 at 11:21pm BST

You can't say better than this. Al the rest is nothing next to testimony such as this.

'I met Dr John whilst he was vicar at Holy Trinity Eltham. I suspected that his sexuality was ambigous but did not care. He provided comfort to my sister and my mother during a lengthy period of time. He showed my Mum a way of looking forward at a time of great despair. I am not sure that I have any faith in a god, but my mother was comforted and blessed by the support of Dr John.His intellectual approach to belief (or a lack of it ) was both rigourous and gentle. What more could be asked of a bishop? The Church fails itself in turning its back on those who do not comply with the social mores of the time or (heaven forbid) are of the wrong sex or sexuality

Posted by: Gillian Lindqvist on Friday, 9 July

i am glad Gillian felt able to share this here.

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 12:06pm BST

IT --

Were the closeted C of E clergy (especially the bishops) to come out, the institutional homophobia would collapse (but who can tell another that the other person should take all the risks?)

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 3:09pm BST

Er, nobody has a right to be a bishop. Jeffrey John would be excellent, but if he was ordained he would become a part of the establishment and would have to be circumspect in what he says.

As it is he can continue to speak out.

I have realised I was gay for the past thirty years and found Anglican churches a place where I was practically accepted. For most of that time, I have shared my life with my partner, as has been accepted by all our parishes and at least one bishop.

Please can we get away from this silly divide between "liberal" and "traditionalists"?

There's a long trandition of gay Anglican priests.

I don't like the word "liberal" one little bit, other than meaning tolerant and imaginative.

Posted by: Jon B on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 12:22pm BST
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