Comments: Stephen Bates writes about Justin Welby

Rather like the Chesterbelloc, we now seem to have a new ecclesiastical monster, the Woodpercy, that lumbers after the Archbishop of Canterbury at every opportunity, but never quite catches him. Perhaps he is not the one going round in circles after all.

Posted by Robin Ward at Monday, 3 April 2017 at 4:06pm BST

Good article. The only thing that would improve it would be setting it to music. Gilbert and Sullivan come to mind.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 3 April 2017 at 4:15pm BST

Last journalism with a collection of comments from the usual suspects - Woodhead, Bates and Percy. The rest is mostly gossip or total nonsense.

Posted by Simon Butler at Monday, 3 April 2017 at 5:38pm BST

Interesting article. Unless we do some real theology the articles 'for now,'will be the best we can do in terms of any longer term peace let alone flourishing. The church cannot be managed to a place of peace and flourishing.

Posted by Andrew Lightbown at Monday, 3 April 2017 at 5:45pm BST

"After the vote, Welby and Sentamu issued a statement promising a rethink producing “radical inclusion” but, essentially, same-sex marriage has been kicked into touch at least until after the 2020 Lambeth Conference of the world’s Anglican bishops."

If Welby was serious about expecting same sex marriage to wait until after 2020, he needed the paper from the House of Bishops to genuinely build upon the Shared Conversations, not ignore them. We have learned that patience gets us nothing, so I suspect patience is off the agenda.

I think people have wised up to Welby's delaying tactics.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 3 April 2017 at 8:05pm BST

Is it theology that is lacking?

Or strategic thinking, that looks beyond the obstacle of today?

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 3 April 2017 at 10:29pm BST

"It somehow seems appropriate that while everyone called Rowan by his first name, many use the current archbishop's surname"
Rowan was unusual in being universally known by his Christian name. In my life time, pre-Rowan, all other ABCs have been known by their surnames - Fisher, Ramsey, Coggan, Runcie and Carey.
"That was six minutes, let's keep comments down to 90 seconds"
One bishop remarked on Justin Welby's alleged "bad temper" "I haven't been spoken to like that since I was at school."
Perhaps the Archbishop Justin Welby most resembles is Geoffrey Fisher who was, of course, a Headmaster. Not only a Headmaster but also quite managerial in style. His greatest contribution was the reform of Canon Law. What an opportunity was missed when Fisher succeeded William Temple. What a different Church of England it would have been had George Bell been the war-time successor.
A Suffragan bishop's observation on the Bench - "They are like a bunch of Labradors...Perfectly nice, gentle creatures but you want a bit of variety in the breed". Stephen Bates' article seems to suggest that there are, in fact, too many poodles - willing to roll over and let Welby tickle their tummies. What a great shame that the rottweiler of Christ Church supported by others in his pack succeeded in preventing a true greyhound from going to Sheffield.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 6:32am BST

Disregarding what I think of this article or even the esteemed Archbishop I don't think I would like articles like this written about me, whatever they said - good, bad, or indifferent.

Posted by Adrian Judd at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 8:21am BST

Simon Butler,
your words would carry more weight if you would explain what is gossip and nonsense.
In the absence of genuine engagement with the points made, it's hard for ordinary readers like me to come to any other conclusion than that Woodhead, Percy and Bates are right. Because if they weren't, someone would explain why not.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 9:53am BST

"Unless we do some real theology the articles 'for now,'will be the best we can do in terms of any longer term peace let alone flourishing. The church cannot be managed to a place of peace and flourishing."

No women priests since the Church cannot ordain something against the written word of God. But in contrast Leviticus is swept aside and ministers (ministers, never priests) are free to marry at their discretion with marriage being defined by the State.

It is a compromise all wings would hate passionately.

Posted by Kate at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 2:29pm BST

Being Archbishop of Canterbury must be a bed of nails at times. And Justin is a human being with a sincere faith. So we ought to be careful about avoiding invective and unreasonably personal attacks.

To date, the action that disappointed me most was the attempt after ACC-13 to claim that 'receiving' the Primates Statement actually meant 'agreeing' with it.

To me that was pure managerial 'spin'. And it resulted in a clarifying repudiation by key people who were there. It seemed to be an attempt to bounce 'fake news' about ACC-13, as a political ploy to placate sceptical Primates.

In my opinion, that was a mistaken and desperate action.

Nevertheless, as a person, Justin is a sincere Christian. We all make mistakes. We all get irascible sometimes. But there is doubtless loads of kindness, desire to serve God, prayerfulness, and honest, gentle walk with God.

We all live on the brink of mortality and oblivion. We bleed. We cry in private. I may not politically agree with Justin on some things, but I believe in his sincerity of faith and no doubt people close to him see the private human being rather than 'the leader' in the public glare.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 3:02pm BST

Tongue in cheek, me thinks Rome was fortunate in getting Francis. But many of his Curia would disagree.
We Anglicans got the short straw, but then perhaps the choice was all short straws.
Reading this column you have to have some sense of humour, or else you would be in despair.

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by Fr John E Harris-White at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 3:56pm BST

Not a word about his understanding and actions regarding The Anglican Communion of which he is the Spiritual Leader.

Posted by David Alvarez at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 4:31pm BST

Always a treat to read Steve Bates' writing on religion.

Posted by Jim Naughton at Tuesday, 4 April 2017 at 7:03pm BST

'Gossip and total nonsense' @Simon Butler? Je ne pense pas! Perhaps that is why Tim Thornton is going to Lambeth, to put a 'nice' spin on the graceless behaviour behind the scenes. What Stephen Bates failed to do was draw a distinction between the Pope's authority and Justin Welby's (i.e. Welby does not have any outside his own Diocese, although he continues to behave in a quasi Papal way). This probably accounts for the pattern of episcopal appointments in recent years, with the elimination of those who are likely to challenge him. Labradors indeed.

Posted by Alan Mitchell at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 10:25am BST

Good mission is rooted in good theology. If you make a point of getting frustrated with theologians (as Justin Welby did during his training at Cranmer Hall) and falling back on skills learned in the boardroom, it is hardly surprising that the strategy is limited when it comes to leading the Church of England. I would also say that good preaching arises out of sustained theological reflection, which may explain why the Archbishop is deadly dull in the pulpit and rarely says anything fresh and original.

Posted by Colin Graham at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 4:10pm BST

What exactly does this website have against labradors? Every single one I've ever met has been full of love!

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 11:20pm BST

'What exactly does this website have against labradors? Every single one I've ever met has been full of love!'

Tim, labradors are great dogs - friendly, loyal to their bosses, trainable. But the HoB also needs:

border collies - to keep the flock together
huskies - able to pull a heavy load over a long distance in harsh conditions
newfoundlands to save the drowning, those going under
St. Bernards to bring home the lost
terriers to sniff out a rat
Alsatians to guard the household
can't think of a breed that's good at theology, but the basset hound at least looks as if it's engaging in profound thought

What the HoB definitely doesn't need is:
corgis - friendly only to their master
pekinese - disguise bad smells
any breed content to sit in a handbag and look ornamental

Posted by Janet Fife at Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 8:44am BST
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