Comments: Bishop of Chichester to retire

I served on his group reviewing the Structure and Funding of Ordination Training which reported in 2003; we weren't much loved for what we came up with, but much of the current thinking (the need to collaborate better regionally and for there to be more flexible pathways to ordination) stems from that work. Fascinating time for the See of Chichester to become vacant. The next bishop must ordain women (you heard it first here!).

Posted by Anthony Archer at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 7:48pm BST

Now this is interesting and perhaps an opportunity. What chance of a bishop who will reflect the realities of the Church rather than those of an entrenched and embattled minority.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 7:51pm BST

"The Crown Nominations Commission now sends only one name to the Prime Minister."

...which he should veto.

Posted by A J Barford at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 8:41pm BST

I hope the next Bishop of Chichester is as devoted to the Gospel and God's church. For the record, the current Bishop does ordain women - to the diaconate!!!

Posted by Dobby at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 9:00pm BST

Time to nominate Jeffrey John again I think!

Posted by Tina Beardsley at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 9:33pm BST

Tina raises an interesting point.

To what extent does the policy announced by the House of Bishops control the Crown Nominations Commission?

For example, how many votes do bishops on the CNC have, as opposed to other commissioners, who might consider themselves free to disregard the House's announcement?

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 10:43pm BST

If the CNC for Southwark did not have such courage, then what chance the CNC for Chichester? There are many 'Affirming Catholic' parishes in the diocese that would rejoice at such an appointment but their affirming voices will be drowned by those of clergy whom the Bishop of Lewes has nurtured in East Sussex.

Posted by commentator at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 10:43pm BST

Oh my, another day another tantrum.

BUT WAIT, ¨wouldn´t it be loverly¨ if another gayman ¨passed¨ for ¨hetero¨ and snuck right into the HOB´s ranks and joined his mellow fellows?

BETTER YET, a partnered Lesbian who passes for ¨male¨...heck, it´s sooo hard to keep ducking Gods people and sorting out Gods many interesting versions of authentic would think Dr. Williams would be tired and simply interview suitable candidates on the basis of true personal character, stewardship, leadership skills, mistry/work history, ¨calling¨ and plain olde genuine INTEGRITY.

MAYBE LATER, let´s think about reality some more and have a good long chat about sense rushing into giving up the good olde/safe world of ecclesiastical pretend...pretending people are different than they really are, especially oneself, has always been a specialty amongst those without sin at Church.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 10:47pm BST

Gay clergy in the diocese of Chichester, Tina?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 11:25pm BST

Quite so, Tina. I think that the Dean of St. Albans would be a perfect choice for the diocese of Chichester. After all there has been quite a trend recently in preferring deans to the episcopate - Rochester to Stepney, Exeter to Lynn and, most significantly - Liverpool to Durham.
Go on - you know it makes sense.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:55am BST

I rather thought the next round of episcopal appointments would begin after the vote on women bishops in July 2012. I suppose the diocese will now be vacant when the vote takes place.How likely that it is again filled by someone who doesnt ordain women priests ,I wonder? How much has changed in the last 11 years or have clergy opposed to womens ordination moved into the diocese to "firm things up" Any comments from a Chichester observer?

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 9:12am BST

No, JJ should steer well-clear until women are in charge there.

Posted by A J Barford at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 9:14am BST

Even more interesting when you consider that Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes, is going in August 2012. Something of a clear out in the Diocese. Who will join me in carrying a 'Jeffrey John for Chichester' banner at Brighton Pride?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 9:31am BST

This may be an awfully un-PC thing to say, but I think the next Bp of Chichester should be a married woman!

Posted by A J Barford at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 9:31am BST

Perry. There were some 40 people ordained a week or two ago. I don't know the exact numbers but looking at the picture on the Diocese website it does seem as if some half of these are women. There are a fairly large number of women in post as incumbent as well as assistant priest posts in the diocese, at least judging by the parishes which are prayed for day by day in the Cathedral and who come with their congregations. My feeling is that the diocese is less of a no=go area for women than it used to be. Like the Cathedral, the image of the diocese is some ten to twenty years out of date and things have changed significantly. I would also suggest that this reputation is something of an embarassment of both the Diocese as a whole and Sussex people too.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 10:29am BST

"Correction: I am advised that the CNC does still send two names to the PM. But my understanding is that they are now always put in order of preference and that the PM has agreed to always pick the first choice. The other name is there in case the first choice declines."

They should revert to the former practice to let the PM choose between two. As we've learnt from Southwark CNC, the first choice offered is not always the one favoured by the Diocese.

Posted by A J Barford at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 11:51am BST

To answer Jeremy and clarify the procedure (which though still arcane is actually rather more transparent than it was), each member of the CNC has one vote, archbishop, clergy or lay. The ongoing requirement to produce two names is simply a prudential measure: the preferred finalist candidate might not accept (it has happened) or some other crisis might mean the second candidate needs to be brought into the frame. However, the constitutional position has not changed. Appointments to diocesan sees remain Crown appointments. What has changed is that the new 'convention' is that Downing Street will accept the first name (which has been the convention for suffragan bishops for some time). Could the Prime Minister decline to accept the first name? Yes, but it could spark a Church-State mini-crisis. It should be noted that both of the two preferred finalist candidates need two-thirds support in the CNC (or 10 out of 14 votes). Under the old system, the CNC was not bound to express a preference between the two, but invariably did. Today, Downing Street expects one name, so the CNC need to vote as between the two names they have arrived at, based on a simple majority. So, after all that, could the Dean of St Albans be a candidate for Chichester? The answer is of course yes (as any male priest could be), but only if a member or members of the CNC mandate him as a candidate or if his name appears on the list anyway. The so-called legal advice to the CNC applies to all candidates and is probably only advisory. At the end of the day, the CNC, working as one body, needs to make its mind up and clearly any candidate that cannot secure the necessary two-thirds majority (for whatever reason) will never be one of the two finalist names. The process that leads to the two names is one of elimination. The CNC will (under the new machinery) have decided to invite three or four candidates for interview. They may have needed to vote on who those candidates are. Thereafter, after deliberation and prayer, they start to vote on the finalist names and after each cycle of votes the candidate with the least votes drops out etc. It does work and for the present serves the Church rather better than many commentators suppose.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 9:39pm BST

Much as I'd like to see JJ as Bishop, I think the poor man has suffered enough and should not have to be forced through that appalling process again, certainly not until there's a genuine chance that he will succeed and not just end up a pawn in an awful political game.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 8 July 2011 at 9:49pm BST

Isn't it about time we reverted to the old pre-Callaghan system of appointing bishops i.e. where the Prime Minister of the day after making soundings nominates a candidate to the Crown? If this were the case surely the present Prime Minister with his declared support for equality would ensure that the obvious talents of Jeffrey John no longer languished in a Deanery but shone forth from an episcopal palace.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 7:04am BST

Will the bishop do a Tony Blair I wonder?

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 9:11am BST

Is there any good way to chose a bishop?
I can't recall the exact wording of the exchange in the episode "The Bishops Gambit" from the TV series, "Yes, Prime Minister" but the PM asks why the C of E doesn't use the method of drawing lots (as in the Book of Acts") & is told, "We're not sure that the Holy Spirit knows the qualities needed in a Church of England bishop."

Posted by Prior Aelred at Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 10:13am BST

Let's try again: If there are 14 votes on the CNC, how many of them are held by bishops or archbishops?

Why should non-bishop members of the CNC feel themselves bound by an House of Bishops vote in which they themselves could not take part?

(Perhaps I underestimate the extent to which the English laity defer to bishops.)

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 7:39pm BST

The CNC has eight central members: the two archbishops, three clergy (not bishops) and three laity. If an archbishop is unable to take part then he is replaced by another bishop.

The vacancy-in-see committee of the diocese elects six members to the CNC. It is possible for one of these to be an area or suffragan bishop.

So the number of bishops on the CNC is normally two, but it could, at most, be three.

Posted by Peter Owen at Sunday, 10 July 2011 at 4:16pm 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.