Comments: Bishop of Durham to leave diocese

I wish Bishop Tom well.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 11:39am BST

Perhaps now the good people of Durham can have a bishop again.

Posted by JPM at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 12:19pm BST

By chance (but obviously it wasn't), TW held a 'meet the men of the diocese' do at St Nick's, Durham, yesterday evening, which I attended. Good crowd, mostly middle-aged or more. First half consisted of 'Desert Island Disks' format, compered by Area Dean. Amiable enough, obviously encomiastic in format and execution. Not toe-curling. Then refreshments (Bishop's Finger, Stinking Bishop cheese, and Durham brewery special, Tom's Tipple [pretty good]) and question and answer session (questions written on little forms and handed in). As ever, TW was quick and fluent. My question was: 'Do you believe that the phenomenon of homosexuality is a consequence of the Fall?', which he answered evasively and poorly.

In fairness, I think I was probably about the only person in the room (correction: church!) who disapproves of what he stands for, though I think that is partly because many people just don't follow 'church politics' with much attention.

His resignation must be a plus for 'progressive forces'.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 12:20pm BST

Let's hope the next +Durham will spend a bit more time in the Bishop's Castle, and upon the work of caring for the clergy of the Diocese. I think the transfer from Church to Academe will benefit both arenas.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 1:23pm BST

"His resignation must be a plus for 'progressive forces'. "

But it will leave him all the more free to poke his nose into TEC and other places. Not that his episcopal duties kept him from earning frequent flyer points by flying to the USA to meddle.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 2:32pm BST

I have been very disturbed in recent years by Bishop Wright's stance on a number of issues (yes, especially That One -- I find his exegesis of Romans 1 singularly unconvincing), and what I perceive as hostility toward the American Episcopal Church (from whom he's made a lot of book sales money). Nevertheless he has been an outstanding and challenging New Testament scholar, and I think the Church will be very well served by his return to academia. I am particularly looking forward to the publication of the next volume of Christian Origins and the Question of God -- a series which is and will be of major importance.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 4:19pm BST

This seems like a short tenure for a bishop. Is it?

Posted by Rev. Kurt Huber at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 4:26pm BST

Blimey. That will leave a serious hole in the College of Bishops. I can't think of any obvious candidates to succeed him.

Posted by Wilf at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 5:20pm BST

No connection, of course:

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/04/bishop-goes-further-north.html

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 6:22pm BST

Any chance of Cantuar following this good example?

Posted by toby forward at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 7:49pm BST

What a wonderful man and a hard act to follow.

Will we see his like again ?

Posted by Rev Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 9:53pm BST

I'm glad to hear this because I want him to finish Christian Origins and the Question of God before either of us dies.

Posted by Joe Rawls at Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 11:15pm BST

"Bishop of Durham to leave diocese"

Wouldn't have been, um, NEWS, if it were "Bishop (Wright) of Durham to stay IN diocese"?

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 2:42am BST

> Any chance of Cantuar following this good example?

Oh, don't wish another one of them on us in Scotland.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 9:56am BST

I think Pluralist is right and TW has realised that he's not going any higher within the C of E. Surely, then, his influence/capacity for harm will diminish?

Posted by john at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 10:35am BST

One question in my mind. Is he a trojan horse set in the midst of the Episcopal Church in Scotland to cause trouble. It is to be remembered the filial links between the Scottish Episcopal Church, and its offspring the American Episcopal Church. The support the Scottish Episcopal Church has given its American brothers in their move to be a truly inclusive church. The Bishop's track record in the USA, apart from selling his books, does not bode well.

What position, and/or influence will he have when he ventures north of the border to the Scottish Episcopal Church?

Fr John (Scotland)

Posted by Fr John at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 11:20am BST

""Bishop of Durham to leave diocese"

Wouldn't have been, um, NEWS, if it were "Bishop (Wright) of Durham to stay IN diocese"?"

... unlike, say, the Primate of TEC who doesn't even have a diocese so messes around with all of them?

"Perhaps now the good people of Durham can have a bishop again."

Sorry - think this is unworthy. The only time I can recall when there wasn't a bona fide +Dunelm was c. 1984-94, when a self-confessed non-believer occupied the palace at Bishop Auckland. He, like Rowan Williams, is a theologian and a good one, in general; unlike some of his predecessors (cf 1984-94), he also has the integrity to know when to leave.

It does mean that there are fewer conciliatory voices on the Bench of Bishops, which leaves RW more exposed - or more needing to make up his mind anyway.

Who to take over? Tricky one. I suspect any of the Nazgul would be - ah - divisive. Are there any of sufficient pastoral & theological stature to stand alongside the other principal sees (London, Winchester)?

Cornelius

Posted by Cornelius at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 1:46pm BST

It will be good to have a change of churchpersonship in the diocese too.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 2:30pm BST

A sad end to (what many thought) a promising begining (back when NT was just plain Tom ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 3:04pm BST

"Wouldn't have been, um, NEWS, if it were "Bishop (Wright) of Durham to stay IN diocese"?"

... unlike, say, the Primate of TEC who doesn't even have a diocese so messes around with all of them?"

I believe the last Presiding Bishop who remained as Diocesan while serving ended his PBship in 1948.

TEC is geographically far too large for a sitting diocesan to also serve as PB. She doesn't 'mess around' with the dioceses, but fulfills her duties as PB. I'm sure if you go to TEC's web site, you can find the relevant Canons.

Unlike Bp Wright, she does not accumulate frequent flyer points by zooming across the pond to meddle in C of E matters.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 4:17pm BST

Cornelius: I think that describing David Jenkins as "a self-confessed non-believer" is more of a slur than stating the obvious fact that Tom W has been, by all accounts, a notably poor diocesan bishop. And to then accuse the Primate of TEC (who, unlike any English bishop, has at least been elected to her role) of messing around in other people's dioceses is a bit rich, in the light of current border-incursions.

I wonder whether the broader question of the current model of the episcopate in the C of E needs to be addressed here, though. Appointing divisive figures with no parish track record to dioceses merely because they represent particular factions - whether Evangelical or A/C - is perhaps a model that has had its day.

Why not 1) elect the bishops; 2) make sure some of them are women; 3) make them all retire much earlier; and 4) choose them on the radical basis of whether they, as individuals, rather than card-carrying party-members, are best able to be effective pastors and leaders for the whole church in that particular diocese?

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 4:34pm BST

Well he has been a Dean, a Canon of Westminster and a diocesan bishop and before that an academic in Oxford, Cambridge and Canada,,,one feels he must be the sort of person who gets itchy feet if he stays anywhere too long..Cant see him getting on well with Professor David Brown who also moved from Durham to St Andrews, a quintessential liberal catholic, a prodigious scholar and one blessed with far more imagination than NT Wright... and Anne Loades another ex-durham professor and feminist theologian, now also living in St Andrews..

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 5:44pm BST

'The only time I can recall when there wasn't a bona fide +Dunelm was c. 1984-94, when a self-confessed non-believer occupied the palace at Bishop Auckland.'

Talk about unworthy !

'Self-confessed non-believer' - please don't be quite so economical with the truth.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 8:49pm BST

I wonder how Bishop Wright is going to do in a university setting, given the open debate and give-and-take that characterizes such places.

He won't be laying down the law from the episcopal palace any longer. This could be difficult for him.

I find it hard to imagine he won't be challenged by students in the St. Andrews LGBT organization, for example. He may have to forge working relationships with his openly gay or lesbian colleagues, and he'll have to do so on terms of equality and respect. He certainly won't be able to shut them down or have them fired.

Perhaps he'll be able to hide away in the research library, having little contact with the others, just writing his many books.

Posted by Charlotte at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 9:53pm BST

Prayers ascending for +David, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and ordinary of Saint Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, into shose back yard +Wright is moving.

"...unlike, say, the Primate of TEC who doesn't even have a diocese so messes around with all of them?"
A canonical obligation as chief pastor of TEC, and like unto her brother primate to the north, +Canada.

Posted by David | Dah•veed | at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 9:58pm BST

" Dr Wright, 61, one of the most senior figures in the Church of England, told The Tablet today that diocesan bishops in the Church of England were weighed down by bureaucracy. “It’s something the Church shares with other professions, the feeling of being hamstrung by petty legislation and regulation,” he said." - 'The Tablet' -

It's interesting that Bishop Tom chose to reveal this little snippet to the Roman Catholic press
(see 'The Tablet' 28 April) If this is the real reason for the Bishop of Durham's departure, then he must realise that he has been part of the problem. His frequent absences from his diocese, on 'other business' has left diocesan officials with a lot more to do than might have been really necessary on his behalf. Sadly, his own efforts to support the ongoing resistance to change in the Church (in the situation of homophobia, for instance) has set the Anglican Communion back in it's task of becoming more relevant to the world in which it operates.

In the meantime, the Roman Catholic Church has to come to terms with it's own resistance to the aggiornamento promised by Pope John XXIII in the deliberations of Vatican II. Pope Benedict is being soundly criticised by Dr. Hans Kung, his fellow academic present at the Council, who counsels the Bishops of that Church to carry out the agenda of reformation begun in that meeting.

Perhaps, in these days of crisis, we can begin to believe that 'The Holy Spirit is speaking to the Church' in different ways, to both us Anglicans and the R.C.Church - about necessary reformation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 28 April 2010 at 11:06pm BST

"..... sufficient pastoral & theological stature to stand alongside ....... Winchester"? Say what, now?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Thursday, 29 April 2010 at 1:32am BST

'I wonder how Bishop Wright is going to do in a university setting, given the open debate and give-and-take that characterizes such places.'

It's hardly the first time he's worked in a university setting, Charlotte!

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 29 April 2010 at 2:14am BST

"I find it hard to imagine he won't be challenged by students in the St. Andrews LGBT organization, for example. He may have to forge working relationships with his openly gay or lesbian colleagues, and he'll have to do so on terms of equality and respect. He certainly won't be able to shut them down or have them fired."

Perhaps he will come to know his LGBT students and colleagues and thereby let his heart and mind be changed. It's been known to happen!

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 29 April 2010 at 12:47pm BST

Cynthia G: Tom W had a lot of gay/lesbian colleagues and students around him when he was at Oxford (I was one of them), and they were mostly very unhappily surprised at his lurch into bcoming the episcopal mouthpiece for homophobia in the C of E after his appointment to Durham.

He is extremely uncomfortable and evasive when challenged 1:1 on the topic by any of us (I've tried it).

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 29 April 2010 at 4:48pm BST

I do not care what Tom Wright opines. At least back at college he will have less scope for mischief-making.

And as an employee of a university he WILL be bound by the laws that regulate all public bodies and their workers.

Posted by Rev Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 29 April 2010 at 10:05pm BST

"And as an employee of a university he WILL be bound by the laws that regulate all public bodies and their workers. - Rev Laurence Roberts -

Wot? No discrimination allowed?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 30 April 2010 at 12:04am BST

'He is extremely uncomfortable and evasive when challenged 1:1 on the topic by any of us (I've tried it).'

Thus Fr Mark. 'Evasive' happened to be the word I used about his response to my question on Tuesday. There is a deep falsity here. So too with his book 'The Justice of God' (or whatever the title is). No consideration whatsoever of cosmology, physics, chemistry, evolution (either biological or physical). How on earth (or in heaven) can one nowadays write a serious theodicy without considering these things? Is he stupid or dishonest? Those are the alternatives. Since he's not stupid, he's dishonest. OK, we're all dishonest, defective, we should forgive 70 times 7, etc. etc. But for that to happen, there has to be pliability, reciprocity, acknowledgement. TW doesn't do these things and he's very public in castigating others. Some of his actions towards gay people, including priests, have been disgusting. The proximity of his recent high-profile episcopal activity and his resignation has caused dismay among his natural admirers here in Durham. They feel they've been taken for a ride. They have.

Posted by john at Friday, 30 April 2010 at 9:32pm BST

Universities are regulated by the Law of the land.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Wednesday, 5 May 2010 at 9:31pm BST
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