Comments: Reactions by and to the new Bishop of London

A straightforward message, and singularly lacking in anxiety, from @CardinalNichols: "I congratulate the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally DBE on her appointment as Bishop of London. I assure her of my prayers as she prepares to take up leadership in the thriving Diocese of London. I look forward to our partnership in making Christ known in this diverse and unsleeping city". I hope the observation from Bishop Pete (in his ad clerum)will gain wide currency: '... and sees her vocational experience as nurse, civil servant, priest, and bishop as a totality'. I find that inspiring.

Posted by JKR at Monday, 18 December 2017 at 7:54pm GMT

Pious words from Luke Miller. Having tried to be loyal to the ‘mainstream’ why can’t he simply admit ‘we’ve been shafted’?

Posted by Neil at Monday, 18 December 2017 at 9:26pm GMT

Thank you, JKR, for showing us this lovely response from Cardinal Nichols - to the preferment of Bishop Sarah to the Diocese of London, This is proof postive of a true desire within the Roman Catholic Church for fellowship in the Mission of OLJC. Next step for +Sarah - ++ABC?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 19 December 2017 at 5:51am GMT

Having just listened to the interview with Sarah Mullally on Radio 4's Today programme, I am left in no doubt that we well and truly have a Welby clone for London. Not only could she not say whether gay relationships are sinful, she quickly took recourse to what 'the Archbishops have asked for.' The whole thing was embarrassing. Another uninspiring episcopal appointment - and I had such high hopes when we took the momentous decision to ordain women to the episcopate. Lucy Winkett, where are you when we need you?

Posted by Eric Hardy at Tuesday, 19 December 2017 at 8:42am GMT

Up here in the Yorkshire Dales, as we look forward to the arrival of Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley, we know who's got the better deal. Why didn't the CNC put Nick Baines in charge of this appointment? As we know, up here in the Diocese of Leeds, he has the Midas Touch when it comes to senior appointments.

Posted by Graham Hardy at Tuesday, 19 December 2017 at 3:36pm GMT

Sadly, Eric, I have to agree with you entirely. It was embarrassing. +Sarah spoke fluently enough, but without saying anything bar some platitudes and, to the obvious frustration of her interviewer, without any attempt to answer the questions.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Tuesday, 19 December 2017 at 5:59pm GMT

I agree Bishop Sarah's performance this morning was evasive. But be reasonable: whatever her views after reflection may turn out to be, she wasn't going to rock the boat, on Radio 4, the day after her appointment was announced. She will need to plan carefully how she goes about things.
I suggest it's easy for men simply not to be aware what it feels like to be, as a woman, working in a male-dominated occupation. I'm sure Bishop Sarah is up to doing the job, but it makes sense for her to avoid a controversial start.

Posted by Flora Alexander at Tuesday, 19 December 2017 at 8:59pm GMT

Thank you, Flora, for pointing out another way of looking at the matter, and I concede that I may have been unreasonable in my criticism.

But, given the difficulties which you point out in facing up to such an interview, would it not be better to decline such requests, and say that, in the period leading up to her installation, she would be listening, praying and reflecting but not making statements about policy or belief?

Because, unreasonable though the criticism may be, what happened this morning did no favours to anyone, and especially not to the cause of women's threefold ministry, in which I strongly believe.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Tuesday, 19 December 2017 at 11:49pm GMT

The appointment is controversial already--not that I think it ought to be, in any way, but facts are facts.

That being the case, for better or for worse, I think the new Bishop would be well advised to proceed one controversy at a time.

This likely means that leadership on equal marriage will have to come from elsewhere.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 20 December 2017 at 2:30am GMT

Thankyou, Malcolm, for your comment. While I am as eager as anybody to see the church move forward on LGBTI issues, I do think it was appropriate for Bishop Sarah to appear on Today just to introduce herself, bearing in mind that she now has a prominent position in a church while contains elements unfriendly to women's ministry. It would have been wonderful if she had been able to say something progressive, but as Jeremy says it's probably best to deal with one controversy at a time. It's true that so far our women bishops have been disappointingly 'safe', but it is not surprising that they have not yet managed to do what a lot of male bishops have been failing to accomplish for a very long time now.

Posted by Flora Alexander at Wednesday, 20 December 2017 at 11:53am GMT

interesting that this was not included among the links to the reactions to the appointment of the Bishop of London

The point about theological competency and episcopacy is significant, I feel.

Posted by Michael Mulhern at Wednesday, 20 December 2017 at 12:56pm GMT

Given my disappointment at Nick Holtam’s equivocation on gay rights, I see no reason to hold the new Bishop of London to a lower standard. Yes, evasion’s “reasonable” from an amoral PR perspective — just like sitting on the fence about equal ordination and consecration. To see a person who’s directly benefited from a campaign for justice refuse to campaign for others is, well, less than prophetic witness.

Posted by James Byron at Wednesday, 20 December 2017 at 4:29pm GMT

I agree with James. There should be no equivocation. If priests are forced to live celibate lives if they are gay, that presupposes the bishops are upholding the view that gay sex is a sin - otherwise why force gay priests to be celibate?

There should be no evasion because people's lives are impacted by the status quo. Either a bishop believes gay sex is a sin or they don't. They should say so, they should not be political. Justin has refused to answer the 'Tim Farron' question. So have almost all the bishops. To be fair, Sarah (and I wish her well) is no more evasive than almost all the other bishops on that. But - like the other bishops, she should be challenged and called to task on this point, because it is seen fit for the bishops to deny their priests sex on the basis of their non-disclosure and collaboration with the status quo.

And James has several times made the point that it seems profoundly disappointing if female bishops - who have benefitted from progressive changes in the name of justice - do not themselves champion other causes demanding justice - such as LGBT equality - and they haven't (yet).

I do know from correspondence that some male and some female bishops are unhappy with the status quo, but there seems to be a collegiate obedience to the Archbishops, or something like that.

I stand to be corrected, but that is the impression I get. Women have been radically included more and more, lgbt people on the other hand remain significantly marginalised. What do female bishops in particular have to say about that seeming contradiction between 'us' and 'them'?

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 20 December 2017 at 5:54pm GMT

So she ‘reaches out’ to conservatives. Wouldn’t it be nice if she and others reached out to the rest of us?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 20 December 2017 at 10:04pm GMT

@Richard Ashby - Well, you know, the task of the Church is to reach out to those who've been comfortable and privileged and are now, in no substantive way, threatened by change (but can't stand to see someone else *equal* to them) so that they continue to say nice things and stroke episcopal egos and give money and peerages, etc. The rest? Well, those are *outsiders* - they can't give you anything, or do anything for you. Where's the profit in that? After all, what does it profit a man to gain a soul, if he lose the whole world?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 21 December 2017 at 6:37am GMT

The Bishop designate of London 'reaches out'. Is there any more vomit-inducing churchy jargon than this? Oh possibly - 'seek to'. But 'reaches out' wins the prize, just. It implies that the reacher has somethig that the reached-to earnestly desire. There is no evidence that that is the case. It is patronising, sanctimonious and condescending. Like 'seek to' it puts me in mind of those who are so full of themselves that they forget to listen and observe. Please let's ditch these phrases.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Thursday, 21 December 2017 at 6:16pm GMT

Also very good to see the message and photo from @bishopoffulham: "A great welcome to Bishop Sarah. Looking forward to our partnership in The Gospel". I think such a partnership would be a great blessing for the diocese.

Posted by JKR at Thursday, 21 December 2017 at 10:39pm GMT

'Reach out' was the Four Tops greatest hit in my view. I like the thought of +S humming that as she tours her new diocese. But so close to Christmas I don't seek to jeopardise Stanley Monkhouse's health by commenting any further.

Posted by David Runcorn at Friday, 22 December 2017 at 8:09am GMT

Mr Runcorn, how kind. In fact, you would not be endangering my health but rather energising me. A very happy Advent 4 to everyone on TA.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Friday, 22 December 2017 at 9:10am GMT
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