Comments: sacked for insulting the Bishop of Rochester

I wonder what happened - the wrong copy of a document get xeroxed and distributed, perhaps?

Posted by BillyD at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 8:43pm GMT

However much you dislike a bishop, it is a mistake to put it in writing, unless you are prepared to live with the possible consequences, or have a very good legal team onboard. Unite the Union have a good clergy section membership of which after 6 months gives free legal cover.

Posted by dodgey_vicar at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 9:39pm GMT

But the rest of us are still free to execrate the Bishop of Rochester, right?

Posted by MRG at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 9:55pm GMT

"A former Catholic, Bishop Nazir-Ali is known for his traditional views" - BBC picture-heading -

What ought to worry us most over this is that the Bishop of Rochester is labelled as a 'former Catholic' under his picture on the BBC news item.

Is that meant to be a 'former Roman Catholic' I wonder? He certainly was never a 'former English Catholic'. Perhaps this accounts for his anti-gay, anti-women, stance?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 10:08pm GMT

What anti-women stance? I was under the impression that he ordained women to the diaconate and priesthood... or has something changed? What a Christmas present that would be!

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 11:09pm GMT

Perhaps it would have been better for the staff person to have used Minister Hacker's code phrase, "Brown objects." Then others could have asked, as did Sir Humphrey, "Who is Brown, and what does he object to?"

Posted by Tobias Haller at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 11:16pm GMT

Gregory of Langres,

My comment (above) was meant to imply that if he had been a truly English Catholic, he might have understood the reality of a woman's (the BVM's) priestly action in bringing Christ into being in the tabernacle of her womb. - Good Catholic theology, surely, of whatever particular brand? This might have made him a more serious advocate of the validity of women's ministry.

Happy Christ-e-mass!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 11:58pm GMT

Surely, this was a v e r b a l attack?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 5:32am GMT

While the unnamed staffer's comment was certainly impolitic, I cannot, in all charity, characterize it as inaccurate.

So much for truth?

Posted by Oriscus at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 5:34am GMT

Yes Ron, he's a former Roman Catholic who became an Evangelical Anglican. however he is totally on the ball when it concerns Islam..as he is from Pakistan. He also spoke out on the contraceptive mentality which is destroying our nation.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 6:41am GMT

The Independent's version of the story is accurate. It actually happened several months ago. The document in question was the Clergy Appointments Adviser's list, which sends round details of clergy looking for a move. The offending words were inserted into a reference written by the Bishop. John Lee, who is the Clergy Appointments Adviser, was completely unaware of what had gone out in the list, and apologised in a subsequent edition.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 7:47am GMT

Does anyone else think that summary dismissal was rather a strong response?

Posted by Wilf at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 8:40am GMT

What puzzles me is that someone at Lambeth thought that Nazir Ali was deserving of this epithet, yet the other bishops weren't. It seems rather harsh to have left out at least twelve other Diocesan Bishops I can think of. Was the member of staff dismissed for being unfairly selective?

Posted by madeline at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 8:54am GMT

Fr Ron

"This might have made him a more serious advocate of the validity of women's ministry."

You must be mistaking him for someone else. Whatever one can say about the Bishop of Rochester, he is a staunch advocate for women's ministry. Rochester had the first female Archdeacon in England and he has always supported women Bishops.


Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 9:14am GMT

'however he is totally on the ball when it concerns Islam..as he is from Pakistan. '

Is the implication is that just because he is from Pakistan anything he says about Islam is correct...If that is the point being made, then I don't agree!

Also, how could 'being from Pakistan' make him an authority on whether or not parts of the UK are now no-go areas for non-Muslims?

Posted by Sam R at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 9:40am GMT

Definitely an OTT response. An apology and a quiet word perhaps would have been better but do we know the whole story?

I'm reminded of the sign in Talbot House (TOC H) in which Tubby Clayton advised that there should be:

No swearing aloud!

Many of us may think it - but should not say it out aloud - and certainly not write it down.

Posted by andrew holden at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 10:00am GMT

"how could 'being from Pakistan' make him an authority on whether or not parts of the UK are now no-go areas for non-Muslims?"

I would think growing up around conservative militant Muslims would give a person some understanding of a conservative militant Muslim approach to life. It might offend people's sensibilities to have to face the practicalities of how human beings behave once they believe they have been given Divine Guidance, but too bad. Muslims are people too, after all, and just as free to be evil and nasty as every other human being. In fact, I'd argue that if you deny Muslims the freedom to behave in evil ways, you deny them their humanity, since we all have that potential in us. We have no problem admitting the ways that Christians twist God's words to justify evil, why scruple when someone with direct experience points out that Muslims are just as susceptible to that, just as fallible, and, just as some Christians fall prey to that, so do some Muslims?

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 11:27am GMT

"While the unnamed staffer's comment was certainly impolitic, I cannot, in all charity, characterize it as inaccurate."

I'm afraid this story is no fun for me at all, as I live too innocent a life to have heard what the comment was. Is there a reference to it somewhere? Do I need to have smelling salts to hand before reading it?

Posted by Ferdinand von Prondzynski at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 12:02pm GMT

Ferdinand -- read the Independent's news article about this story -- linked above. There you can see what the eight-letter word was in all its naked glory.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 12:05pm GMT

"might have provoked such hateful abuse from a Lambeth Palace official."

This is a bit much. Nasty, yes, uncalled for, perhaps, unbecoming in a Christian, yes, and even more so in someone "official", poor witness to the Gospel, definitely, but "hateful abuse"? Conservatives say far worse things about me and mine, and call it evangelism.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 2:01pm GMT

Conservatives say far worse things about me and mine, and call it evangelism.¨ Ford Elms

Exactly, for example, +Akinola's grossly tainted opinion on the ¨HOOLIGAN CHILDREN¨ of LGBT people or perhaps, Henri Orombi and his IMPORTED, to Uganda, Homosexuality...+Orombi thinks its a foreign sickness/plague and therefore requires a ¨witch hunt¨ currently at all levels of Ugandan everydaylife...these not-so-thinking Anglicans actually generate fear and hate and HARM and persecute others at Church...perhaps someone from Lambeth Palace might offer an apology for the illwill these Primates, and other likeminded GAFCON types, spew within The Anglican Communion as they attempt to DESTROY the Anglican Communion?

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 3:18pm GMT

'however he is totally on the ball when it concerns Islam..as he is from Pakistan. '

I am from Cambridge - presumably that makes me an authority on nuclear physics. The most charitable thing that can be said about the Bishop of Rochester's views on Islam is that they are not inconsistent with a certain kind of evangelical exclusivism. Which can also, usefully, be applied to gays, women, immigrants, and any other group that happens to be convenient.

Posted by rjb at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 3:21pm GMT

I know the person involved and suffice to say that even though they apologised immediately and admitted their wrongdoing they were sacked by a senior church official who called them malicious...


So much for forgiveness.

Posted by intheknow at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 5:17pm GMT

"presumably that makes me an authority on nuclear physics."

If the vast majority of your neighbours are nuclear physicists, if they set the laws under which you must live, then you are an authority on what it is like to live in a society dominated by nuclear physicists. Nuclear physics itself, not so much.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 5:52pm GMT

Of course, Nazir-Ali could have been a gentleman and a Christian about this, but he did not, which surprises no one.

Posted by JPM at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 6:04pm GMT

JPM writes:

"Of course, Nazir-Ali could have been a gentleman and a Christian about this, but he did not, which surprises no one."

Sorry, but what is "this"? Nazir-Ali, so far as I can discern from the reports, had no input into the decision to sack the employee. There's no indication in the story so far that he even knew about it.

He seems to rattle some TA cages to the extent that people lose contact with reality - for example in the comments about his alleged attitude to women, He ordains them (mistakenly in the view of this "spike".) I've only encountered him once, when he was quite eirenic in "high/low" terms when speaking to the ESBVM.

As regards the sacking, I have certainly called bosses ruder things than "arsehole", but even with the union behind me, i would be wary about doing so as publicly as this guy did.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 7:29pm GMT

"I'm afraid this story is no fun for me at all, as I live too innocent a life to have heard what the comment was. Is there a reference to it somewhere? Do I need to have smelling salts to hand before reading it?" - Ferdinand -

Ferdinand, please tell me you're joking here!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 8:39pm GMT

>>>Sorry, but what is "this"? Nazir-Ali, so far as I can discern from the reports, had no input into the decision to sack the employee.

Well, he could publicly forgive this person and ask that he or she be rehired.

It's not like he's ever been shy about expressing himself in public, you know.

Posted by JPM at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 5:17am GMT

There is a lesson in this for all of us. I am very sorry the individual in question has been sacked. What he or she did was to give in to an impulse of the moment to insert an uncalled-for comment into a document that was about to be distributed. Maybe there was an intent to remove the comment before passing the document along to the next level, or maybe the equivalent of the "send" key was pressed too soon. There are few of us who have never said things that, on sober second thought, we wish we had not.

The lesson is that when we give in to such impulses, in documents, in e-mails, and on blogs, people can be hurt. And as a result, people can lose their jobs or worse.

Perhaps it is not too soon to establish a new year's resolution to resist those impulses of the moment. Yes, I admit as one who is guilty, that it can be fun to come up with a creative insult. But sober first thought is better than sober second thought. Surely we can disagree without being disagreeable.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 1:48pm GMT

Nom de Plume: "The lesson is that when we give in to such impulses, in documents, in e-mails, and on blogs, people can be hurt. And as a result, people can lose their jobs or worse."

True story - when I ran the virtual diocese of Bolsover (which some may dimly recall), one web-page featured imagined, ludicrous and corrupt discussions in the bishop's office.

We were telephoned by someone we knew who worked in such a place and asked to desist. They were being accused of leaking confidential information....

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 4:33pm GMT

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams:
"He also spoke out on the contraceptive mentality which is destroying our nation."

What is that? Is that like when my GP asks me what I use for contraception and I reply, "Memories of my ex"?

Posted by Joan of Quark at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 7:48pm GMT

" I know the person involved and suffice to say that even though they apologised immediately and admitted their wrongdoing they were sacked by a senior church official who called them malicious...
So much for forgiveness. "

________________________________


Why yes ... Forgiveness in the institutional church? You've got to be kidding!

Posted by Rob at Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 1:31am GMT

"when my GP asks me what I use for contraception and I reply, "Memories of my ex"?"

Wonderful! How can I work that into a sermon???

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 4:55pm GMT

Of course the one person not mentioned in all of this is the person who dismissed the unfortunate aide in the first place. Caroline Boddington, who is the Archbishops' Secretary for Appointments, sacked them saying that they were malicious and hurtful.

Of course Boddington is her working name, her married name is Caroline Redfern, aka the wife of the Bishop of Derby. So truly unbiased in her opinions of the ramblings of those dressed in purple then...

Posted by intheknow at Friday, 26 December 2008 at 5:35pm GMT
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