Comments: The Bishop of Willesden is asked to withdraw...

You can denie the resurrection as a C of E bishop...but insult the Royal family and...well not the Tower of London..but the very next thing!

No one has protested that the couple are already living together!

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Tuesday, 23 November 2010 at 11:30pm GMT

I have disagreed with Bishop Pete in another discussion forum (without using my real name, as I do for the first time now), and am certainly not on the same page as him with some of his concerns, nor do I fit well with his particular tradition.

Nevertheless, this heavy-handed treatment of him - in relation to unguarded comments that many others (OK - mostly republicans) might think are poorly timed but not at all unrealistic - is ridiculous and repugnant. More than that, it seems to betoken an idolatrous privileging of temporal status. That might be a side-effect of the establishment of the CofE, but that doesn't lessen the feeling of revulsion.

I don't think Bishop Pete would ever think much of me (woolly liberal that I am), but I have no doubt that he is a good man, and this has often been evidenced by his tendency to say what he really feels to be true or right, whatever people might expect him to do in order to fit in. I'd gladly sit with him in the stocks on this occasion.

Posted by Paul Hibbert at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:02am GMT

Couldn't have happened to someone more deserved

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:07am GMT

Words fail me! Whatever his personal views it was nuts to put them out on Facebook and imagine that it wasn't going to be all over the press. He could have expressed a bit of concern in a more episcopal way - but this was just plain rude, gratuitously cruel and uncalled for.

Whatever your views of royalty the young couple have not milked the media attention, but have behaved with some restraint in a situation where they knew they were going to be the focus of all sorts of attention. I wish them well for a long and happy marriage. Isn't that what we would hope for ourselves and our own?

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:09am GMT

Bishop Broadbent and I were fellow seminarians at St. John's Theological College, Nottingham in the 1970's.

This is what I wrote him today:

"Hi Peter

This is from Michael Povey St. John's, Nottingham 1972-1976

Of course you said the right things about the up-coming "royal" wedding.

I congratulate and honour you.

The buzz about your "suspension" is far from clear.

I trust that Quiverful has rapped your knuckles simply for reasons of public relations, and that he will soon "fugetallaboutit".



Posted by J. Michael Povey at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 1:12am GMT

Well, clearly some form of discipline was necessary. It is not merely the grossly offensive, cruel, and uncharitable attitude of the Bishop of Willesden towards the young couple that was at fault, poor example though that be, but his apparent contempt for his ordination vows. Perhaps they mean nothing to him. Broadbent's dismissal of William and Kate and other disparaging comments are hardly compatible with his promise to be 'faithful' and 'bear true allegiance to HM Queen Elizabeth II' and her 'heirs and successors'. Hopefully Bishop Richard's firm but fair action will offer Willesden an opportunity to reflect on these various matters.

Be a republican if you like, but don't think that championing that cause while at the same time enjoying all the benefits of Episcopal Office in the Church of England is anything other than rank hypocrisy.

Posted by John Omani at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 1:46am GMT

Wow - at long last the slap of firm government. What a contrast between the response from Lambeth - we are all entitled to our own opinions - but we wish the happy couple well! with that from Fulham Palace (as was) - "I was appalled" - asked to withdraw from public ministry. The Archiepiscopal ministry of + Richard Cantuar would have been in stark contrast to that of + Rowan Cantuar.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 5:41am GMT

The Bishop of london has done the right and proper thing. For Bishop Broadbent to resort to this level of rhetoric on the British Royal Family is nothing less than scandalous - especially in view of the fact that Broadbent would have had some idea that the Queen would be present at the current meeting of general Synod. The Church of england does not need this sort of publicity at the moment.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 5:43am GMT

A bishops makes an ill advised comment. He apologises to the people he is most likely to have hurt, quickly, comprehensively and sincerely.

Pete Broadbent and I often find ourselves on different sides of the debate but for this I really admire him.

It makes sense that he undertakes no public roles until the fuss has died down, but apart from that "discipline" is certainly not needed, it's just a showy overreaction for PR sakes.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 7:33am GMT

Ron..its the New Zrealand Royal family too, as NZ has not had the political maturity to get is own head of state.

Posted by robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 7:41am GMT

It was the way he said it, wasn't it? 'I am concerned that the tabloid press who now laud this young couple may, afterwards, turn on them and try to destroy them' is one thing. What he said another. Likewise 'I am a republican' or 'in times of austerity one wonders'...

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 8:11am GMT

How can a self confessed Republican serve with any sense of honour or dignity as a bishop in a Church which is by Law Established? This makes a mockery of every ordination and induction carried out by the Area Bishop of Willsden (whose ministry is presently pending) where oaths of loyalty to the monarch - her heirs and successors are solemnly proclaimed and declared.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 8:46am GMT

Gosh Michael! Did I just miss being a contemporary of you both! Michael Green was not happy with the way I filled in the application form and suggested puckishly I looked at Salisbury - I hitched from Nottingham straight there and the rest is ......

I think it was a silly and offensive rant but the reaction is much worse!
I am surprised that Chartres should be so badly wrong footed to make this sorry tale into a major story - but then Pete did touch on his particularly sensitive and often spoken of (by him) "close friend of the royals" side and I am afraid he suffered the consequences. I hope they are soon talking of peace, love and reconciliation.

Surely Knight Grand Cross of the Victorian Order for the loyal Chartres ..... or has he already got one????

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 9:00am GMT

"No one has protested that the couple are already living together!" Robert Ian Williams

Why would they protest? Surely you don't expect two 28-year-olds to be virgins? Or is it the fact that they already share a home that is the problem? This is a serious question - please respond. Thank you in advance.

Posted by Laurence C at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 9:32am GMT

Dear Paul Hibbert - I too am a liberal (whatever that may mean), but why not look at Broadbent's remarks in context? How would you regard him if he were a parish clergyman posting remarks about a young couple wishing to be married?

To say that he lacks Christian love and compassion would be an understatement. His remarks were uncharitable, ill-informed, ill-advised, destructive (perhaps bitchy is closer) and indefensible.

As a Father in God he is a failure. As a priest he is an embarassment. As a member of the bitter, "conservative" wing of the church he is typical. His outburst tells us all about what is wrong with the Church of England and why any action, however "heavy-handed," will be both too little and too late.


Posted by William at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 10:14am GMT

I think the reaction of the Bishop of London was exaggerated and stupid, and not remotely justified by the fact that the disciplined bishop is 'not one of us'. And from a PR angle, sycophancy to the royals makes the C of E look terrible.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 10:22am GMT

"How can a self confessed Republican serve with any sense of honour or dignity as a bishop in a Church which is by Law Established?"

England is not a dictatorship nor a theocracy. Politicians can be members of Her Majesty's Government or Opposition and still be Republican.
Bishops can be members of an Established Church and still wish it wasn't.

Why on earth would it make a mockery of ordinations?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 10:53am GMT

Martin Reynolds

The Bishop of London has not (yet?) been made a GCVO. But he is a KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order), the grade below GCVO.

Posted by Peter Owen at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 11:15am GMT

Get real people: it's not about sycophancy or Establishment.

Broadbent was unprofessional and demonstrated a real lack of judgement. His comments and their undoubted emotional energy were only possible in two contexts a) with close friends in private b) on the www where the commonly accepted standards of politeness and boundaries are suspended.

No senior figure in any organisation can afford to take b) as their yardstick.

The revealing truth about the CofE is that a bishop can be so out of touch with the world which he is trying to reach.

Posted by Mark at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 11:24am GMT

It is clear that the wrath of man came on him bcos he said he was a republican and not a monarchyist or royalist for that reason he has become a martyr of the 1700 Settlements act.:) We all saw the Pope come to Protestant Britain with the 1700 Settlements in tact (or did you all chose just to ignore the Protestant Protests?)and as such the good bish spoke against the queen who has lost her crown as a result the Law affords him and all Citizens this right to be absolved of any allegeiences with such a monarch .
Bishop of Wilesden is the only ANGLICAN vicar that is worthy of his anglican salt.
How UNCHRISTIAN to suspend someone AFTER they have apoligised? what is the Church teaching all that Jesus does not forgive?

Posted by ELizabeth at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 11:39am GMT

I'm always a bit surprised by the disclaimers of admiration and the concession that the bishop is "a good man." God only knows, but at best a "good man" who publicly and hypocritically opposed the ordination of a celibate gay priest to the episcopate, which even the most ultra-conservative stance cannot justify unless you think that gays are somehow inherently dirty regardless of whether they do anything about it. Then, his goal accomplished, he attacked the same priest for expressing an entirely fair and reasonable critique of penal substitutionary atonement that any Christian not a denizen of the middle ages should have no problem with, as if the man had denied the atonement altogether. So this idea that +Pete is a hitherto fair fighter whose outburst is surprising rather baffles me.

Erika, it's one thing to be a member of the established church (and plenty of monarchists would agree that it shouldn't be) but a bishop takes an oath of allegiance to the Crown, which is why the American episcopal succession derives from Scottish nonjuring bishops. The same is true, contrary to your assertion for Members of Parliament, not only in the UK but here in Canada as well. (Mind you, we do have an avowedly secessionist party in the House).

Posted by Geoff at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:18pm GMT

Forgive my cynicism, but isn't this all about the Bishop of London hoping he'll get the gig? He obviously cares a whole lot more about what the Royal Family think of him, than about the pastoral care of the clergy in Willesden and Stepney area who are now without a Bishop.

Posted by Elizabeth at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:21pm GMT

"Surely you don't expect two 28-year-olds to be virgins?"

Why is that a particularly unreasonable expectation? It is not as if it has never been heard of in human history, and it would seem a pretty orthodox idea that people who aren't married don't sleep together. Of course, since the only respect in which they are not married is the lack of a ceremony as yet, this is not the most heinous of sins. But on the narrow point of the impossibility of 28-year-old virgins...

I was appalled by Bishop Broadbent's comments, and I find republicans who opt for the C of E, of all churches, rather incomprehensible. Nevertheless, I think an apology plus a public reprimand would have been enough without the practical suspension.

Posted by RJ at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 12:28pm GMT

I haven't actually seen the comments Bishop Broadbent made so I can't check them. But I seem to remember that they were comments about the Royal Wedding, not about the legitimacy of the monarchy. That he is a Republican is well known and hasn't bothered anyone until now, so I think we can set that aside.

What we are left with are some particularly ill-chosen comments for which he has apologised.
That should be that.

If anyone, anyone at all, has the right to say that it is insufficient it's the people the comments and the apology were aimed at.

What we're doing here is hounding someone for no other reason than that we can and maybe because we don't like his politics.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 2:29pm GMT

It is none of our business that the couple are living together. It is sheer hypocrisy to condemn them. Another example of the "imperial model" of hierarchy and how it is NO LONGER WORKING.

Posted by Chris Smith at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 2:42pm GMT

Ahh! Thank you Peter.
I feel a (pro)motion coming on ........

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 4:22pm GMT

Cohabitation before marriage is now pretty well universal in Britain ...but our bishops dont say much about it. Probably their own children are cohabiting or did so. Clearly they know they cant really do much about it.Nor can they reverse the growing trend to abandon marriage altogether in many sections of British society. Again re-marriage after divorce has been liberalised, operates more or less at the parish priests discretion and the clergy have to use the original marriage rite rather than one that has a different preface to publically acknowledge that a second marriage is happening..although as Lady Openheimer has reminded us that was what was envisaged by many who were happy at the re-marriage of divorcees in Church. Yet it seems that despite considerable liberalisation of hetero-sexual mores in the last couple of decades ( unthinkable to C of E churchmen 40 or 50 yrs ago) any liberalisation for homosexual partnerships is judged impossible. Perhaps this is because gays are 4% of the population and it is thought that being such a small minority some sort of "discipline" is possible. I'm beginning to think that this state of affairs represents a sort of psychological "displacement" on the part of the Church leadership.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 5:09pm GMT

That no Church of England bishop has spoken out on the issue of the couple living to me more scandalous than the crass but honest opinion of Bishop Broadbent.

Posted by robert ian williams at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 7:53pm GMT

"It is sheer hypocrisy to condemn them" Chris Smith

I'm guessing that those who criticise the 'royals' for living together before marriage were themselves virgins on their wedding nights. I agree - none of their business, but not necessarily hypocritical.

Posted by Laurence at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 7:57pm GMT

I am amazed that in country where there is "freedom" of speech that Bishop Pete should be treated in such a manner. He has already apologised so why does the Bishop of London feel he needs to apologise....on whose behalf. I have seen the Christian faith ridiculed on tv, in the press, etc. Where was the "church"?

Where is the forgiveness?

What about the poor? The unemployed and those to be?
I am offended further by the notion that Prince Willam will be the Bishop's boss in the future.

Get real there is only one "boss" just in case you have forgotten....his name is GOD.

Let's get on with his work and support our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you've never made a mistake ....set up the stocks and cast the first stone.

Posted by Kimberly at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 8:35pm GMT

If my marriage were put under the media spotlight, would it survive?

If the greatest sin we can commit is telling the truth as we see it in public, what help is there for the integrity of public life of our nation?

Most of what Bp Pete is reported to have said seems to have been extracted from its original context. Some of what has caused shock-horror offence is no more than he has said before. He's apologised for the rest.

If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves ...

If we expect our Bishops to have no sin, we are shot as a Church.

If we expect a couple coming to marriage to have no sin, then we wouldn't marry anyone.

To my mind the most difficult thing about the reported comments is the sense that 'I have no hope in this marriage' - which is where the context is lost, because I don't believe for a moment that Bishop Pete lacks any hope.

I am glad we have bishops who tell it as they see it. Sometimes I'd rather they agreed with me - but sometimes I do need to be reminded that there is a higher authority than my own belief and conscience.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 10:20pm GMT

Let’s be clear: this storm is entirely of Bishop Pete’s own making and many of us are very unclear of what he must have been thinking, although the Bishop of London now seems to know ‘how his comments came to be made’. This is a rare episode of the press running a story which was given to them ready made; they didn’t even need to edit or spin. I wish him well and am very willing to hold him in my prayers as he does the happy Royal couple. The offending FB thread, to which I contributed, was the most extraordinary outburst I have ever seen (even on FB) and it was clear when he made the fatal single post, without condition, ‘I give the marriage seven years’, that he was in deep trouble. If I took that at face value, many others did. His republican views and mindset are one thing, his deeply hurtful and pastorally crass comments about an impending (and rather public) marriage are quite another. The fact that he apologised unreservedly is important; what his bishop needed to do about it is another. I completely support the Bishop of London’s decisive step to defuse the situation and make clear that diocesan bishops absolutely care what their senior colleagues do and say. I was struck by the generous and warm retirement tribute to the Bishop of Lincoln today by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he said: ‘a bishop who is known to be not only free and willing to engage in comment but to be relied upon for intelligent and challenging comment is a bishop to be treausured.’

Posted by Anthony Archer at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 10:31pm GMT

Yes, the Bishop of Willesden's comments were a little churlish but so was the Bishop of London's hysterical over-reaction. Should he not have suspended himself for suggesting that redundancy in the middle of a recession was a blessing?

Various Church of England Bishops have said much more offensive things about all sorts of people - Graham Dow, anyone? - and no-one has been suspended. I must admit that I'm amused to recall all the comments I've had over the years from members of the Church of England that establishment doesn't really matter, not to mention those from Englishmen on the liberal-left more generally that the Monarchy doesn't really matter. Like hell they don't.

The danger with the suspension is that it implies a test of political loyalty on Church of England Bishops. That is a dangerous implication, one that has lain dormant for probably about 90 years and one which we should be very careful about even hinting about reintroducing. It flies in the face of the liberality of conscience that is the cornerstone of Anglican diversity and Anglican comprehensiveness.

Some members of the Church of England are loyal monarchists, others are radical republicans. No-one would suggest (or at least I hope and assume not) that I should not have received communion in the Church of England over the many years in which I lived there because I favour disestablishment of the Church and the abolition of the monarchy. I appreciate that Bishops take a different set of oaths, but then we should be asking whether those oaths are in consonance with the teachings of Christ and indeed the social context in which the Church of England operates.

The UK, thank the Lord, is a liberal democracy where we are free to support the existing political order and equally free to peacefully advocate for its change. While Canada may have *an* avowedly seperatist party in parliament, the UK has three avowedly seperatist parties in the House of Commons, another which is avowedly open to seperatists, unionists and agnostics and a fifth which wins seats in the House of Commons but chooses not to take its seats in what it regards as a foreign parliament. The junior party in the current governing coalition has many republicans in its ranks (I would suspect including the Deputy Prime Minister) as did the previously governing party; at least one of the governing parties in each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is formally seperatist and heavily republican. We also have two different established churches in two constituent countries of the UK and none at all in the other two. Your North American settler societies are, like, so homogeneous in comparison.

In some ways, the fact that the Church of England is established is all the more reason why it must be open to Bishops with all sorts of views on all sorts of matters, including the monarchy. A diverse, open, society deserves a diverse, open, national Church. Or alternatively, we could keep being diverted by the gaudy baubles of coronations, royal weddings and funerals and pretend that it's still the 1950s and the Church of England isn't in deep trouble. Personally, I have too much love for the Church of England to do that.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Wednesday, 24 November 2010 at 11:38pm GMT

"The fact that he apologised unreservedly is important; what his bishop needed to do about it is another"

As in the well-known Christian doctrine: You will be forgiven if you say sorry but I'll punish you anyway?
And there I was thinking that the strongest thing Jesus ever did in this respect was to say to the woman taken in adultery that she shouldn't do it again.

Now, do we follow the ways of the world of the ways of Christ?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 8:12am GMT

The 'suspension' helps the Bishop of London to look ever more like the Tudor Monarch. A joint statement of regret/apology/hand-wringing would have been quite enough to make +Willesden feel deservedly ashamed and +London contented that he acted decisively. No doubt +London will now be adding confirmations and parish visits in the willesden Area to his busy schedule.

Perhaps more importantly, we also beginning to see clearly that we do not need so many bishops in London if we can manage without Stepney, Willesden and Fulham at the same time?

Posted by Lister Tonge at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 8:15am GMT

Gerry: I don't think it is having republican views that is the issue, it is the fact that 1) the bishop expressed them very rudely (I was surprised to discover subsequently that he is actually a Cambridge English graduate, and so one could expect a better grasp of what is appropriate language from him - calling the son and heir of the person he has sworn allegiance to "Big Ears" is hardly an intelligent or kind thing to do, is it?); 2) he was very judgmental about the marital future of two evidently pleasant young people ("I give their marriage 7 years"), when, as a Christian, the bishop should surely believe in the virtue of hope as well as supporting a couple getting married.

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 9:04am GMT

Is it true that the Province of the Southern Cone might be needing a sympathetic Bishop in the Near future? I would like to propose Bishop Pete!I think he might do very well down there.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 10:16am GMT

Yes, Pete was intemperate and ill-advised in (some of) his comments - which next to none of those commenting here, let alone the world at large, would have heard about apart from the Daily Mail deciding to make story of it. They must be rubbing their hands with glee! He apologised fulsomely - and was slapped down for his pains. So, as Erika asks, precisely what understanding of Christian doctrine is Richard Chartres new seeming to promulgate? And what to make of the energy with which several Thinking Anglicans seemingly delight in now putting the boot in? I wonder if any of you have bothered to listen to the dismay with which the people of Willesden Episcopal Area have greeted this? Or, of you were able to see Pete's Facebook page now, to register the number of people offering warmth and support? But perhaps they don't count, in the face of establishment wrath?

Posted by pete Hobson at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 9:32pm GMT

"A diverse, open, society deserves a diverse, open, national Church." - Gerry Lynch on Wed. -

But not, Gerry, I suggest, an openly abusive bishop within its ranks. There is such a thing as decorum - not to mention, charity.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 9:53pm GMT

Dear Bishop Pete, don't let the bastards grind you down. It's only a bit of celebrity gossip anyway, and the monarchy fanatics overreact as usual. I've heard similarly heated debate over the X-Factor results. Isn't it about time we dump that oath to the queen anyway?

Posted by Gareth Hughes at Monday, 29 November 2010 at 1:22am GMT

Gareth H: "don't let the bastards grind you down"

Why are anti-monarchists so prone to expressing themselves rudely? I was brought up to believe it unChristian to use bad language, and sometimes wonder whether I'm the only person left who tries to avoid it.

The Bishop's "Big Ears" and "Porcelain Doll" comments are similar cases in point. Making fun of people based on their perceived physical differences is a particularly nasty form of humour, and belongs firmly in the past, as I would have thought a right-on family values-type bloke would realise - Fatty, Four Eyes, Spastic, Poofta are formerly common examples of the same wince-making type of cruel humour. Haven't we moved on from that sort of thing nowadays?

I find it quite odd that you would defend such obviously rude and cruel words, whatever view of the monarchy one takes: surely they indicate a clear lack of both the good judgment and charity required of a Bishop.

Posted by Fr Mark at Monday, 29 November 2010 at 11:43am GMT
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