Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wallace Benn to retire

The Diocese of Chichester has announced today that Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes, will retire on 31 October 2012. The announcement takes the form of this exchange of letters between the Bishops of Chichester and Lewes.

In response to the announcement the Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation - update.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 18 October 2012 at 12:57pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Does this mean that the complaint against him and the reported disciplinary investigation ends? is abandoned? is left hanging?

Posted by: Iain McLean on Thursday, 18 October 2012 at 2:25pm BST

Not before time. Perhaps now the diocese can begin to move on, get started on some serious reorganisation and renewal and acknowledge that we are in the 21st century. Hopefully too Bp Martin will fullfil his pledge and apppoint a bishop who will ordain women.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 18 October 2012 at 2:32pm BST

Lambeth Palace: 'Those in senior leadership in the Diocese, including Bishop Wallace Benn, whose retirement is announced today, have already acknowledged a shared responsibility and made unreserved apologies to those who have suffered because of past errors, and no one member of the senior team carries sole responsibility.'

So, does the entire senior leadership share a bishop's ultimate responsibility for oversight? Are we episcopal or presbyterian?

Does an unreserved apology and retirement close a public complaint to Lambeth Palace about an individual's neglect of oversight in this case?

Posted by: David Shepherd on Thursday, 18 October 2012 at 5:42pm BST

Iain - The Clergy Discipline Measure "applies to all who are admitted to Holy Orders of the Church of England, whether archbishop, bishop, priest or deacon. This includes those who are actively involved in ministry as well as those who are not" (to quote the Code of Practice). Bishop Benn's retirement will not stop the consideration of the complaint against him.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Thursday, 18 October 2012 at 7:18pm BST

I can only agree with Richard Ashby, Bp Benn's retirement provides an opportunity for Chichester to move forward at least in support for women's ministry. However the Diocese has to take on board the comments in the interim visitation report concerning the dire state of senior leadership and comms in general, if it is to have any chance of offering an effective Christian presence in the 21st Century

Posted by: confused sussex on Thursday, 18 October 2012 at 10:38pm BST

My first reaction was one of astonishment that Bp Benn is still in post. After all the fuss earlier in the year, I thought that he had slipped quietly into retirement during the summer. After the damning findings of the Abp's visitation as to what had occurred in his episcopal area, he should have resigned or, failing that, been suspended.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Thursday, 18 October 2012 at 11:12pm BST

Has +Martin pledged to appoint a bishop who will ordain women. I thought he'd said he wouldn't rule it out. (But I may well have misremembered.)

Posted by: Richard Doney on Friday, 19 October 2012 at 10:11am BST

Richard, I can't remember what his actual words were, and while it might not have been a pledge, it was certainly more than not ruling it out. If he doesn't there will be one hell of a fuss here.

And I agree with Malcolm that the findings of the Abp's visitation have to be implemented and the dysfunction of the diocese dealt with. I imagine that we will see the end of the 'Area Bishops' strategy which has been a major cause of the disaster, allowing Lewes to act independently and the marginalisation of the Diocesan on activities in that area. Of course the Abp's report was only an interim report. Unfortunately there will be more to come out before the Diocesan Augean stables can be cleared completely and we have the result of the CDM against Bp Benn to be resolved too.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 19 October 2012 at 12:40pm BST

At the meeting I attended +Martin has said he is willing to appoint a suffragan who would ordain women, but did so in such terms that he is not absolutely committed to do so at the first opportunity. He would have a lot of explaining to do if the new bishop would not ordain women, given that it is the only vacancy he can anticipate filling in the near future. It is, of course, possible that +Mark will leave Horsham for a Diocesan appointment at some point, but until that happens there will not be another vacancy for +Martin to fill.

Posted by: Peter on Friday, 19 October 2012 at 12:55pm BST

This BBC report on safeguarding in Chichester diocese from last month is worth watching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wCpdIhxulo

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Friday, 19 October 2012 at 3:06pm BST

Of course, I (qua both liberal and liberal pluralist) would be delighted if/when +Martin appoints a suffragan who would ordain women: shining example of Anglican compromise. Hope Father David would approve.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 20 October 2012 at 8:16pm BST
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