Monday, 23 July 2012

Dean of St Albans reiterates his support for equal civil marriage

The Dean of St Albans, The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, has made a video for the Out4Marriage website.

You can view it via this link.

He was a signatory to a letter to the editor of The Times on this topic, published in April, which is reproduced here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 July 2012 at 6:35pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

Dr. Jeffrey John is a truly honorable man. He would make a great candidate for Archbishop of Canterbury. His courage under pressure and discriminatory treatment by the leadership of the Cof E have shown us he would be a strong leader.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Monday, 23 July 2012 at 7:58pm BST

They could have used his 'advocacy' in TEC. Instead of "marriage equality" TEC produced a provisional rite which rules that out.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 1:56am BST

I still think that JJ should be made a Bishop in the Church. If the Church of England won't have him, perhaps another Province could grab him.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 2:18am BST

Jeffrey John - like Rowan, another great gift from the Church in Wales to the Church of England.
With regard to the comment made by Chris that "He would make a great candidate for Archbishop of Canterbury" - I can't yet imagine that the Dean of St. Albans' name will appear on the short list for the archiepiscopal vacancy! If he had to withdraw his name from the Suffragan See of Reading and wasn't nominated for the diocese of Southwark - what chance has he got for Canterbury?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 5:22am BST

Jeffrey John:
'The official church does not speak with integrity on this issue'

So, if he believes that, he should just relinquish his official position, rather than participate in thinly-veiled 'fifth column' sabotage. Of course, he won't because his current role maintains his officially bestowed visibility and influence.

Resigning would demonstrate more integrity than just speaking out. Talk is cheap and the denial of his preferment is not as great an act of martyrdom as some might think.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 6:32am BST

@David - oh rubbish. Of course we all work for and with organisations we think lack integrity on some positions. I might agree if he thought it lacked integrity on the Eucharist, but ...

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 7:49am BST

I for one am grateful for Jeffrey saying what so many of us believe. Saying it also in his gentle firm way, without rancour.
His words, spoken from the heart should be listened to by all, and pondered upon.
A witness to the faith in action today.

Posted by: Fr John E. Harris-White on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 8:24am BST

Thank you David. I shall resign straight away, as will thousand of GLTB people and everyone who support the ordination of women and their consecration as bishops. We all believe that the 'The official church does not speak with integrity...'

FYI talk is NOT cheap, that's why many gay and lessbian priests keep silent, it's why the Bishop of Lewes is persecuting the Rector of Winchelsea and the retired priest who has been denied a PTO.

Perhaps you have forgotten that Jeffery John was sacrificed on the altar of expediency by his friend the Archbishop, that he has been denied his well deserved preferment to a diocese at least once that we know of and that the Deanery at St Albans has been a consolation prize, where he has performed outstandingly.

Moreover his enforced sacrifice has been to no avail whatsoever. The church is in no better or worse postion than it would have been if he had been consecrated Bishop. Indeed it could be argued that the Church would be better placed now since his consecration would have been a nine day wonder in England. It might have precipitated a more visible schism earlier in Anglicanism but that is coming anyway and the apeasement of the conservatives has only postponed the inevitable. Gafcon, border crossing et all would have happened any way and we just might have been spared the nonsense of the Covenant which has been seen rightly as anti gay and an attempt to control the Communion in a most un-Anglican way.

I for one am very glad Dean John now feels able to use his senior position in the Church to speak out about the manifold and manifest injustices that the Church inflicts upon its many thousand of gltb members and their friends and supporters. He is one of the few who has nothing to lose, he can say what he likes and nothing can be done about it. But the world wil hear him and will ask what sort of Church is it that denied such a man his well-deserved place in the leadership of the Church?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 9:09am BST

It is so easy to propose martyrdom for another.

Posted by: american piskie on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 9:16am BST

David:

So why aren't you advising those opposed to the church's position on women's ordination to do the same?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 11:27am BST

'I might agree if he thought it lacked integrity on the Eucharist'

Yet, commenters have viewed this issue as being on par with undermining equally fundamental Christian dogma regarding the nture of Christ:

'I believe we are (in the realm of dogma): insisting on the kind of inherent moral status of gender required to support your view has deeply problematic implications for our Chalcedonian christology. Br Tobias' work is illuminating in this regard.' (parenthesis mine)

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/005138.html

You were on that thread, so it's a pity you didn't call that assertion rubbish too!

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 11:41am BST

"Resigning would demonstrate more integrity than just speaking out. Talk is cheap and the denial of his preferment is not as great an act of martyrdom as some might think." - David Shepherd -

Perhaps then, David, if the C. of E. ever goes along with Same-Sex Marriage, you, too, will resign your place of privilege in the Church?

I find a lot of your talk on this site to be exceptionally critical of the Church of England. One wonders how you can possibly live within it.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 11:53am BST

If religious leaders everywhere had any integrity, they would ALL resign. As the Pakistani proverb says, one mullah can stir up more trouble than a hundred hooligans.

Be that as it may, John is right. Why should any gay person anywhere pay the slightest attention to any official pronouncement by the Church? Like all institutions these days (governments, corporations, academia, etc), the Church is self-serving to the point of forgetting why it exists and why people suffer its existence.

Posted by: Counterlight on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 12:28pm BST

Thanks, Rosemary - I was trying to think of a rational rebuttal to David - but it is just rubbish,we all work with what is possible, not what is perfect.

And David, if you think talk is cheap then you need to walk in other people's shoes first and then decide if that comment is true. Lots of people have found their life's direction changed, halted, abused or worse because they are prepared to speak honestly.

Posted by: Stephen De Silva on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 12:29pm BST

David, We may work for an organisation which we disapprove of - but resignation never solved anything. Ask Giles Fraser. The way to change things is to work for integrity from within. This is not a 5th column. It is an honourable stance.

Posted by: Rev'd Peter Lear on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 2:10pm BST

@Stephen:

I had assumed that any deficiency in the insight that could be gained from scripture, tradition and reason on this issue were the honest human limitations on spiritual vision, on my part and others, curtailing our best intentions. I did not attribute the opposing stance on gay civil marriage to a lack of integrity.

I'll continue to resist the assumption that an opposing view, ipso facto, lacks integrity. Nevertheless, for those who want to make this and other slurs stick to the motives of the 'official' church, I'll now assume it will culminate in an all-out attempt at character assassination from within.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 5:09pm BST

“Be that as it may, John is right. Why should any gay person anywhere pay the slightest attention to any official pronouncement by the Church? Like all institutions these days (governments, corporations, academia, etc), the Church is self-serving to the point of forgetting why it exists and why people suffer its existence.”

A very good point. Yet I – may I say “we”? – continue, because within the tradition and the liturgy we find the Eucharist and a home, in our congregations we find community, and among good priests we find solace and comfort.

David would have us leave home because we sometimes (often?) disagree with others in the family. That is defeatism and it is childish and arrogant – “Play the game my way, or I’ll take my toys and go home.”

Thank God for the Episcopal Church. It is moving slowly, but it is moving.

Posted by: Nat on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 5:41pm BST

"So, if [Dr. Jeffrey john] believes that, he should just relinquish his official position, rather than participate in thinly-veiled 'fifth column' sabotage." - David Shepherd

Fifth Column? Sabotage?! Are you serious?
You'd love it if Dr. John, and all others like him, resigned. Then you could ignore them, cast them into utter darkness, never to be bothered by them again, secure in your knowledge that all is, once again, right in God's Church. The fact that he stays, as a constant reminder of the Church treating good men badly in the name of Christian unity, rankles you.
Too bad.
I bet a lot of GLBT people feel rankled regularly that they are expected to cough up money every week as they sit in the pews while routinely being condemned to a state of alleged ungrace by their "betters", are expected to not tell while they may be asked at any time, and are held to a standard no heterosexual officer of the Church would consent to, etc.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 6:16pm BST

The time to resign is when the institution has arrived at an absolute position or one so unlikely to change. The Church of Ireland is an example. The Church of England had this bureaucratic response that had an immediate 'no' from within and, on the basis the issue remains vaguely open, the right thing to do is stay. Still, each statement is the point at which some go, and the statement 'from the top' against gay marriage in the C of E caused a number of people to say they were leaving, and once they say so they ought to do it.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 6:48pm BST

@Peter Gross:
You look at any TA thread that I've commented on and you'll see that I love an honest open 'no-holds-barred' debate with anyone on any issue, this one included. I've had and have no desire to silence anyone.

Regarding claims that opponents lack integrity, here's a biblical comparison. Paul may have abhorred the Jewish attempts to impose circumcision on Gentile converts to Christianity. He still knew that his opponents' position regarding the Law of Moses lacked insight, rather than integrity. It was, at least, internally consistent with the degree of understanding they possessed:

'Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.' (Rom. 10:2) Perhaps, you can admit that much of those who oppose gay civil marriage.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 7:43pm BST

There lies the issue - I don't think everyone sees the institutional church as "internally consistent with the degree of understanding they possess". Too often inconsistency and less-than-honest dealings are played out. Colin Slee knew this and was prepared to say it.

Posted by: Stephen De Silva on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 at 12:25pm BST

I think that John has shown a lot more integrity than (as well as being a good juxtaposition to) the sickening comments from the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Scotland today which plumb new depths (in a crowded field it must be said).

Jeffrey John provides a helpful counterpoint to clerics who from the outside appear to be acting like atheists working to bring Christianity down from the inside.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 at 6:03pm BST

Craig, I so agree with you. Living in Scotland the Archbishop elect makes my blood run cold. His words in Oxford, and his weak apology are a disgrace to the name of Christ. The person in question served our country well as an MP, respected by all, and a decent Roman Catholic in a loving relationship. His partner has shown by his grace how true Christian love and witness to the faith. Let us rejoice in their witness together with our own Dean John

Posted by: fFr. John Harris-White on Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 3:27pm BST
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