Comments: Discerning in Obedience: the Crown Nominations Commission

Interesting. Footnote 12 references a report I made to the CNC on electoral procedures. That report has never been published. As it is part of the evidence base used by O'Donovan and colleagues, I hope that a Synod member will ask to see it. It would not be for me to publish without the agreement of the CNC.

Posted by Iain McLean at Saturday, 20 January 2018 at 4:42pm GMT

“Footnote 12 references a report I made to the CNC on electoral procedures”

Ian McLean’s report (dated July 2014) is helpful. I will make some inquiries as to its status.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Saturday, 20 January 2018 at 9:49pm GMT

This is an example in action of the immunity of the Church of England from Freedom of Information legislation. The Established Church isn’t a public body. Alice in Wonderland would be proud.

Posted by Bernard Silverman at Saturday, 20 January 2018 at 10:29pm GMT

Oh dear, a missed opportunity! So, it looks like the ABC will continue to make the C of E in his (soon to be her) image and likeness!

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 21 January 2018 at 1:01pm GMT

You have to love the good old Church of England. The report claims that an appointment rests on discernment. The report also attempts to define discernment but sort of misses the key point: discernment = trusting God.

And it is clear from this report that, when it comes to choosing bishops, the Church of England does not trust God. Anyone who might be undesirable to the existing bishops is screened out at outset through the mechanism of lists. Then the report goes on to describe the qualities a bishop should have so that the CNC can evaluate candidates. There might be an element of prayer but at the most this is discernment-lite, not full discernment, not a full trusting of God, in fact to my mind not really discernment at all.

Does discernment work? Well we seem to have no openly gay Bishop, other than the celibate Bishop of Grantham, and few from ethnic minorities. And - it goes without saying - none who have lived in more than one gender role. So is God a homophobic, transphobic racist? Or does the CNC not really practice discernment - or do the bishops prevent true discernment?

I am sure there are TA contributors who have a first-hand experience of true discernment or guidance. It is certainly possible; however the results can be surprising, challenging - even shocking - if one lets go and trusts God. And this report outlines something which is really the opposite of letting go. God is included in the process, undoubtedly, but little more than the Prime Minister used to be. God is allowed to gently nudge people to select His preferred candidate from a shortlist provided to Him - but he doesn't even get a free choice from the shortlist. The CNC does that based on their understanding of what is desirable in a bishop.

I sometimes despair of how weak a relationship the Church seems to have with God. So much is written on why church attendance is falling but, for me, this report explains why: when it comes to decisions, God is not at the centre of the Church of England and the Church wants to keep it that way.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 22 January 2018 at 9:13am GMT

I can't quite go along with Fr David on this one. This is a rigorous report and, for my money, three things stand out: (a) that it was felt necessary to comment on the role of Caroline Boddington - both as Secretary to the Report as well as her role in the nominations process; (b) the overall concern about the generally poor quality of public espicopal pronouncements, especially in the House of Lords, and the impact this is having on perceptions of the Church in wider society; and (c) the observation that 'the CNC may opt for the false unity offered by candidates who are merely bland and inoffensive' - a perfect description of the outcome of the London nomination, I thought.

I wonder if we will see a repeat of the Carlile report that, having commissioned it, the Archbishop of Canterbury will reject some of its key findings. I bet that won't happen with the Cathedrals report, though!

Posted by Michael Mulhern at Monday, 22 January 2018 at 11:16am GMT

Kate I think you are missing something. For me the stress on trusting in God and looking beyond human processes is one of the significant stresses in this report. Two examples ... the CNC 'must approach their task expecting to be shown something ... To think ahead about what will be needed to review a few possible names .... but at that point the work of searching for God’s will has still hardly begun' ... 'Discernment involves a step of faith enabling us to conceive something that God will bring about, which is not yet objectively visible.' This gives me hope.

Posted by David Runcorn at Monday, 22 January 2018 at 5:09pm GMT

This body's part in the disastrous appointment to London alone makes a good case for all the existing members to be sacked.

Posted by Ken Powell at Saturday, 27 January 2018 at 2:02pm GMT
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