Comments: Bishop of Gloucester and the Anglican Communion

Bishop Perham is particularly illuminating on "the status in England of clergy ordained abroad by a woman bishop." It seems any such clergy cannot be licensed to serve in the Church of England unless they are re-ordained!

Posted by Charlotte at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 1:22pm BST

Michael Perham's talk reads like a piece of traditional Anglican bishopspeak - mild, inoffensive, wet, hand-wringing: "I feel your pain but couldn't possibly stir up any trouble in order to alleviate it."

I suppose one should be grateful that it is not the hate-speech that some church leaders come out with, but still, is it intellectually or ethically good enough nowadays to say "I agree that our current position is untenable, yet I will do nothing to change it so that it actually becomes tenable?"

We understand from this that the Bishop of Gloucester went so far as to exert a light pressure of the wrist behind the scenes to discourage the Bishop of El Camino Real from attending Bishop Glasspool's consecration. This is why the Church should not be run as a bishops' club.

Posted by Fr Mark at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 2:02pm BST

A second comment, if you will forgive, on what was to me the most interesting part of Bishop Perham's address. He says:

"the Episcopal Church is so thoroughly Anglican that to describe it as something less than Anglican seems to be sheer foolishness and immensely hurtful." (There's more there worth reading.)

Yes, he's right: it has been "immensely hurtful." I don't think for a moment, however, that "sheer foolishness" was to blame. Slanders and outright lies regarding TEC have been circulated by evangelicals for years in the Church of England. There were "economies of the truth" (as they say) that justified them, and devious political reasons. They went uncontradicted because so many in Britain were happy to hear yet another scandalous story about "those awful Americans."

So it's nice that Bishop Perham has now discovered these often-told stories are false, but I am afraid they have already done their work, on both sides of the Atlantic.

I for my part find it very difficult even to want to be in Communion with a Church so willing for so many years to slander, punish, and sideline us. What's the point?

Posted by Charlotte at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 3:33pm BST

How appalling that +Michael Perham would take it upon himself to ask +Mary Gray-Reeves not to attend the Bruce/Glasspool consecration -- and how much more appalling, and deeply disappointing, if, as Bishop Michael states is the case, Bishop Mary complied.

Does Bishop Mary (Gray-Reeves) simply not appreciate the irony that her very own consecration is not recognized in the very corners of the Communion that cry out over now-Bishop Mary (Glasspool)??? That as a heterosexual she may be less "tainted" in their eyes than +Glasspool, but she is not even a bishop in many/most of those same eyes?

Posted by David da Silva Cornell at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 4:57pm BST

It is interesting to note that observers to our General Conventions from the C of E (including bishops) have remarked on how "thoroughly Anglican" TEC is.

Posted by Old Father William at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 4:59pm BST

Yes, I believe the hierarchies of the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches are too full of themselves with power and the unwillingness to grow and change their thinking on a number of issues, including women's ordination to the priesthood and episcopate and homosexuality. Although it appears that the Bishop of Gloucester is trying to understand more fully these two issues, I am afraid he is just not showing the courage and backbone that is needed to bring movement to this important discussion. We can all be pleased that he is taking the first of many baby steps to open up communication but like his Roman and Orthodox counterparts, it is much too little and really requires so much more in the area of generosity in listening to women and gay people in the Church. The pain and hurt that have been placed on women and gay persons within each of these three branches of Christianity is so great and has gone on for so long, that much greater action and love must be present in order to move this discussion forward. In Rome, it seems to be only going backwards in time, primarily because of Benedict (Joe Ratzinger) and the elements in the Vatican that do not want this discussion to take place. Bishop Perham is at least trying, however small the steps.

Posted by Chris Smith at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 5:34pm BST

He seems to have no awareness that the indispensable doctrines (as he seems to see it), exist in a cultural context of meaning(s) and language. Does he not understand that the question for most parishoners /citizens in England say, is

What on earth does it all mean ?

What difference does it / can it make to my life, to society and to the pursuit of meaning and living a good (enough) life ?

The Ascension is so vital that I searched in vain in the Hollywell and Ysceifiog areas last
Wednesday for a service the following day (also anniversary of mother's death), and had to settle for a kind of
Quaker-style-HA Williams- informed reflection on that sunny morning, what life and death mean to me a son, of both Church and Mother.

The Church piles these expectations and duties upon us but then leaves with-out the means to meet them.

I've solved this kind of dilemma in the past by attending an RC outlet, but somehow that possibility did not see right for me that day - but they may well have transferredit to the following Sunday and I was fed-up after visitng half a dozen churches / villages.

So the good bishop says the Doctrine is indispensable in way that gay love / sex isn't, but it's just words again-- the former was impossible to come by.

Posted by RevL Roberts at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 8:26pm BST

I find Michael Perham's words vacuous and pathetic. I've listened to spineless nonesense like this for decades. If he has nothing better to say and DO -- better to shut up.

As for interfering in the attendance at the Glasspool ordination -- who does he think he is ?

Come back John Yates ! Has Perham even read the Yates report ? We shoul have moved on by now.

Posted by RevL Roberts at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 8:30pm BST

Fr. Mark said: Michael Perham's talk reads like a piece of traditional Anglican bishopspeak - mild, inoffensive, wet, hand-wringing: "I feel your pain but couldn't possibly stir up any trouble in order to alleviate it."

In fairness, there is a difference, I think, between "I feel your pain but couldn't possibly stir up any trouble in order to alleviate it" on the one hand and "For the sake of unity, I intend to move in concert with the rest of my province while wishing we could move faster." Seems to me that the bishop's comments are more the latter.

In dealing with these issues - even though we may be agreed on the substantive - there are certain to be disagreements about each tactical choice. Although I believe that my Church should be prepared to solemnize marriages between two men or two women (since they are legal here), I have stated that I do not intend to do so until I am authorized to do so by the Church. I know that many of my colleagues intend to choose otherwise when the prospect presents itself.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 10:00pm BST

"Although I believe that my Church should be prepared to solemnize marriages between two men or two women (since they are legal here), I have stated that I do not intend to do so until I am authorized to do so by the Church. I know that many of my colleagues intend to choose otherwise when the prospect presents itself."
- Malcolm+ on Monday -

Malcolm+ is right when he declares his need to comply with the rules within his own Church community (C.of E.). However, Malcolm is being honest about his dis-ease with the C.of E's current officially observed stance on same-sex Blessings. This is quite a good and catholic position - that seeks change from within, but balks at disobedience to the official policy.

The Bishop of Gloucester, on the other hand, talks about his changing views - while yet disinclined to take any action, as a Bishop of the C.of E., to actually encourage change from his position as a bishop. He still tries (and has obviously been successful in this) to dissuade a Bishop in TEC from attending the legal process of episcopal ordination of a Bishop in that Church! It is not his business to interfere!

The premise of this interference? - that he feels TEC should not ordain a woman he feels to be unworthy of the office and dignity of the Anglican Episcopate! - Despite the fact that he has 'some sympathy' with gays, he feels that TEC - a Church with its own ethos and culture and independence from the C.of E. - should have to exemplify his own reluctance to go ahead with what TEC sees as a legitimate Gospel imperative!

I'm glad +Gloucester has the grace to admit his own mistakes on the issue of same-sex Blessings, but does he not realize that other parts of the Church - like TEC - are less willing to tolerate the status quo - on gays and women bishops - than he is. Someone has to declare their loyalty to the Call of the Gospel and the fact that he is unable to use his own position in the Church of england to do this should not prevent TEC, or any other Province in the Anglican Communion, from making the leap of faith that is required to dispel the ethos of misogyny and homophobia that is still a problem for certain bishops and clergy of the Church of England. After all, TEC is not breaking its own canonical rule of obedience.

Merely 'going-along' with the status quo, when acknowledging the injustice of doing so, does not excuse a Bishop in the Church from doing all he/she can to alter the endemic culture.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 17 May 2010 at 11:50pm BST

"For you cannot, in a worldwide Communion, move at the speed of the fastest."

Justice-loving people (among them, many Christians---among them, the FIRST Christians!) have EVER had this preached AT them.

The alternative, is to move "at the speed of" NEVER.

The great folksinger Malvina Reynolds was thinking of someone like +Gloucester when she wrote:

"'It's not nice' to block the doorway.
'It's not nice' to go to jail.
Well, we've tried all the nice ways,
But the nice ways always fail!

'It's not nice'
'It's not nice':
You've told us once,
You've told us twice.
But if that's freedom's price
I don't mind!"

TBTG for TEC's newest bishop, +Mary Glasspool!

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 12:31am BST

Oh dear - another tortured hand wringing liberal without the courage of his convictions. No institution will move at the speed of the fastest, but without the fastest forging ahead there is no incentive or encouragement for the rest to move at all. So +Michael effectively wants gay people to remain dispendable until the slowest decide that such a situation is no reflection of the Gospel even if others (himself included) have already come to such a realisation. It is never the wrong time to the right thing, and it can never be the right time to do the wrong thing.

Posted by Jonathan+ at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 12:46am BST

Michael Perham, like many other bishops in the Anglican, Roman and Orthodox Communions, thinks of himself as almost "imperial" because of his position of rank in the Church. Many bishops are this way. Hell, in Roman Catholic diocese the big complaint from lay people is that they think their own bishops live like "kings or princes" and this does not reflect the shepherd model of a bishop that Christ would desire. It's a huge problem for many bishops once they put on that cope and jeweled mitre. The mitre becomes a sort of "crown" to many of them. Are they all little imperial princes? Thank God, they are not all this way. A few truly humble servants squeak through (especially in the Anglican Communion), but the Latin Rite ones will never earn a "red hat" from Rome because they do not fit the imperial model. It's a shame that Michael Perham does not see the pain and the hateful language that has been used by bishops and archbishops from his own Anglican Communion against women and glbt people. All of this he seems to accept because he values UNITY so much more than the women and glbt members of his own Church. Sad.

Posted by Chris Smith at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 3:07am BST

Whilst we might have wished +Michael to go further, I think we need to recognise that the publication of this statement, just prior to the English House of Bishops meeting, is a clear signal from a Diocesan that there are significant differences of opinion within our own house about this matter. And so publication is a brave move and one that we need to say thank you for.

Posted by Canon Andrew Godsall at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 9:58am BST

I can see no difference, and nor do I see 'fairness' to lgbt people.

'In fairness, there is a difference, I think, between "I feel your pain but couldn't possibly stir up any trouble in order to alleviate it" on the one hand and "For the sake of unity, I intend to move in concert with the rest of my province while wishing we could move faster" -- 'unity' with whom ? 'Unity' means what ? With whom should you / we be in solidarity ? What might Jesus (so ignored by The Church) have done ?

'I do not intend to do so until I am authorized to do so by the Church.' - But who is / are the Church ? Take your own authority in both hands man for Christ's sake.

Jesus didn't hang around to be 'authorized' by the 'Church' of his day !

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 10:39am BST

Sometimes I think the time has come to abolish bishops as we have them at present. I'm sure some other kind of over-sight could be set-up - possibly one that actually works on the ground.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 10:42am BST

"However the Anglican Communion has not resolved to give that freedom to the Episcopal Church."

Er, no.

For over 200 years, the Episcopal Church has exercised its freedom to ordain bishops. That freedom is neither the Anglican Communion's to give, nor the Anglican Communion's to take away.

The Bishop's patronizing attitude is breathtaking. As is his ignorance of history.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 11:56am BST

I too would like to observe my grand-mother's (and mother's) inclination to say "thank you" to Bishop Perham, but my deepest friend's (who has been with his partner for close to thirty years) exhortation would be "no guts, no glory".

How unfortunate it may appear, this is how change comes at the higher echelons of organizations.

Posted by evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 12:47pm BST

The answer, Rev. Roberts, has already been suggested:

http://gensyn.blogspot.com/2009/07/early-morning-radio-and-how-many.html

Just go back to the model of the early Church.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 1:45pm BST

"Behold, NOW is the accepted time."

Posted by Counterlight at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 2:24pm BST

" No institution will move at the speed of the fastest, but without the fastest forging ahead there is no incentive or encouragement for the rest to move at all."

Precisely.

If we in the states had followed the good bishop's lead in the 1950s there would have been no Brown v. Board and we would likely all still have separate schools and drinking fountains, among other things far more sinful.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 4:33pm BST

No I do not need to thank him, nor do I see it as appropriate. But then I'm gay and been waiting for nigh on 60 years.

And what is said in England is not unrelated to breath-taking cruelty and injustice in Malawi.

Britain must take its share of responsibility and the the Church of England.

So, not thanks, but get up off your complacent seat, and DO something for justice and do it NOW.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 5:30pm BST

"For you cannot, in a worldwide Communion, move at the speed of the fastest."

But you can have the grace to understand that different societies and different provinces may move at different speeds.

It is the desire to insist and dominate church life in distant provinces, instead of putting the emphasis on our own ministry and service where we are, that in my view risks more.

If this was slavery at stake: would we say "Let's take our time and let others catch up or block our action on the subject"?

When it comes to issues of justice, delay and prevarication (or plain hostility to change) bring with them consequences - the diminution of people's lives, the continuing marginalising of people who are different, the message (through inaction) that the Church seeks to perpetuate some kind of marginalising of minorities.

I give thanks for TEC that they have said, "No, we won't be party to this, we believe it is unjust."

If it had been slavery at stake, or racism, would anyone dare (these days) to say: "Let's delay"?

So, at the very least, let there be grace for those who wish to speak out, to speak out, and let's stop trying to dominate each other, or institute new church authoritarianism.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 3:55pm BST

Moderation and restraint are marvelous qualities when practiced by thoughtful and compassionate parties in a contentious situation. In the present circumstances, they more frequently resemble the appeasement of tyrants. This has only delayed the inevitable confrontation while giving aid and comfort to those who demand uncompromising obedience to a flawed hermaneutic.

Posted by Mike at Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 9:17pm BST

Surely the most important thing about Bishop Perham's address is that he made it. Coming after the Bishop of Liverpool, it is now clear that some bishops are prepared to voice their anxieties about the status quo re gay and women's ordination issues and so make more public the real divisions within the House of Bishops. We have had a number of new bishops lately and more to come..Ely, Rochester, Southwark. Durham, Bradford ..with Salisbury and Lincoln soon and within a year or two Winchester, Newcastle, Chichester, Bath and Wells and no doubt others...As we have seen in the political sphere recently, generational shifts inevitably bring change and fresh possibilities.....we can only hope so!

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 21 May 2010 at 12:23pm BST

Perry Butler: "it is now clear that some bishops are prepared to voice their anxieties about the status quo re gay and women's ordination issues"

Yes, this true, and represents an advance, certainly. But should it always be the case that there has to be a generation's time-lag before bishops can dare to state the blindingly obvious? No-one's ethical argument is compelling if its basis is merely the confluence of gerontocracy and expediency, surely?

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 21 May 2010 at 10:23pm BST

Sadly it isn't "blindingly obvious" Fr Mark. I recognise the hurt delay can cause but in a situation where these things are contested, polarisation occurs and deepset polarisation usually creates an impasse and so ultimately slows things down. Given what seemed to me a disorientating shift to the right in the Church of England from the 1980's, I'm relieved things have moved as far as they have. After all few really expected the ordination of women to go through in 1993. In fact the lack of a Plan B by the House of Bishops was the reason for the Act of Synod which opened the way to a "choose your own bishop mentality" in some quarters that has done considerable harm. I simply suspect a generational shift will be a significant factor in change. Disappointing perhaps...

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 22 May 2010 at 1:50pm BST

My prayer on this Feast of Pentecost is that the will of God in Christ Jesus be done in our Church - in our time, and by us - not waiting for some future generation to put an end to manifest injustice.

Come, Holy Spirit, re-kindle within us the FIRE of your LOVE; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, so that we may become your instruments of joyous freedom for all we who are imprisoned by others' view of our gender or sexual differences - so that we may learn to respect, love, and rejoice in one another; through Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 23 May 2010 at 12:31pm BST

I do not know +Gloucester.

But I do remember my schoolmaster, Michael Perham.

"Spineless" is possibly the least appropriate word in the English Language to describe him.

His personal sympathies are strongly with the more Liberal side of the Church. As one of the Lords Spiritual, he must carefully attempt to keep the strong, and strengthening, reactionary forces mainly in Africa within the Church, trusting that they will be eventually pursuaded by Christian Charity to reform.

I'm not sure this is possible. I'm glad I'm not in his position. "Blessed are the Peacemakers", but in the meantime, they get reviled as cowards by those whose views they share.

Posted by Zoe Brain at Tuesday, 19 July 2011 at 7:06am BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?






Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.