Comments: John Perumbalath to be next Bishop of Bradwell

An excellent appointment of an excellent man.

Posted by Charles Read at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 3:08pm GMT

It is pleasing to see the appointment of a non-white candidate but that is offset but yet another blurb which presents being married with a child as a positive thing when all it does is highlight that the church is opposed to gay and lesbian bishops.

The least the church could do is ban any mention of marriage in appointment bios until the Church embraces equality.

Posted by Kate at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 10:10pm GMT

Affirming Catholics in Rochester diocese rejoice in this appointment, since John was our chairman until he moved to Chelmsford. What a pity that he could not have been the next Bishop of Tonbridge, a post that seems to have been vacant for almost as long as John has been away. It hasn't, but it seems like it. But that would be selfish of us, and I am sure that he will be a great Bishop of Bradwell.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 12:55am GMT

Sorry Kate - as a wife married to a male priest in a heterosexual marriage I fundamentally disagree with your suggestion of banning mention of marriage in appointment bios. Actually I find your suggestion very offensive. Whether we like it or not most clergy appointments affect the spouse in ways that do not apply in other careers viz because it requires a change of house/home on the part of the person appointed - which impacts upon me as much (or perhaps even more) than it affects my husband. It also has the potentiality to derail my own career and vocation. So I think it is entirely appropriate that the spouse is not treated just as an object or thing - which your suggestion seems to do - but affirms the humanity and human needs of the wife/husband as well as the clergy appointee. I myself am all in favour of working towards more equality but suggestions like yours leave me feeling that some in the equal sexuality lobby have a deeply engrained hostility and antagonism to married heterosexual women, and are unwilling to treat us as fully human.

Posted by Marian Birch at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 7:12am GMT


We have the situation where someone in a same sex marriage would be overlooked for promotion (unless maybe they promise to be celibate). That's bad enough. To then celebrate heterosexual marriage in appointment blurbs rubs salt in the wound.

Kylie Minogue - a pop star - publicly refused to marry her boyfriend until Australia allowed same sex marriage. Personally I think ALL married candidates should decline ordination or promotion to bishop until things are equalised. When a pop star does more for equality than clerics, no wonder the church is in a mess. So, whenever heterosexual marriage is mentioned in a blurb my immediate reaction to the candidate is "sell out". If I come across a married vicar or bishop, my reaction these days is that s/he is someone who doesn't care enough about equality to refuse the office until the Church accepts same sex marriage.

I doubt I am the only one who feels that way - although most people won't admit it. It is time people actually stood up for equality.

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 10:04am GMT

Kate, I don't think we help our own cause of desire for recognition and appropriate treatment by "taking down" our allies or putting restriction on others. We're not talking about a pie with a limited number of pieces. We don't make ourselves more free by making others less so. That is a fallacious way of reasoning often employed by conservatives who tell themselves that, if the rights of others are expanded, their own will somehow be truncated. The fact is that the only thing lost by affirming everyone's dignity is the right to mistreat someone you don't like. None of us can afford to allow any of us such a right.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 12:12pm GMT

For what it is worth, this is a standard format for 10 Downing Street appointment announcements of all sorts and so doesn't really appear to be anything to do with reassuring some people that news Bishop are heterosexual or taunting those whose who are not and whose preferment is difficult in a church which hasn't come to a common mind - the recent announcements of new Lords Lieutenant all include such details in the brief biography given.

Posted by Peter Mullins at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 12:15pm GMT

"Kate, I don't think we help our own cause of desire for recognition and appropriate treatment by 'taking down' our allies or putting restriction on others."

'Cept many aren't really "allies," are they, Daniel, given that they merrily enforce discriminatory policies while wringing their hands and feeling really bad about it.

How about this: anyone who refuses to discriminate has their marriage celebrated; anyone else is constantly reminded of their hypocrisy until they stop denying others access to that which they enjoy themselves.

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 1:51pm GMT

Although Kate is correct in identifying an asymmetry (and the Church is full of such), I have to observe that it represents a cut-off-nose-to-spite-face tactic: in the interests of quasi-doctrinal purity, anyone with a progressive bone in their little body should deny the voice of God in their hearts calling them to ministry. Well, maybe we should, such extravagant gestures of commitment and self-sacrifice have an honourable place in human history. But the necessary consequence of such a policy is the self-exclusion of all progressive voices from ministry - Readers, Clergy, many lay workers. Is that what we're hoping to see?

I'm sure Reform would be delighted by such a strategy, just like the Tories were delighted by the 1983 Labour Party manifesto....

Posted by David Rowett at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 2:31pm GMT

Marian, Daniel Berry, Peter Mullins et al

In a perfect world who would to object to details of a bishop elect’s home life in a press release (apart from perhaps those wanting privacy)? But it isn’t a perfect world. The Church of England is currently engaged in a vicious culture war about sexual orientation, equal marriage etc. the latest manifestation of centuries of hate of a vulnerable minority. In that context people finding offence at constant heterosexual signalling is, whether you think there are grounds for that offence or not, entirely unsurprising. In the current Anglican climate riffing on someone’s marital status cannot be a neutral statement. Personally it’s just one more insensitive and unwelcome slap in the face from a privileged majority, however well meaning they may individually be.

Though it may be standard procedure for announcing a Lord Lieutenant, Lord Lieutenants are not, unless I’m missing something, currently operating in the midst of a battle about sexual orientation, nor have they been told they can only marry somebody of the opposite sex and may lose their job and home if they do.

I’m with a Kate on this one. Until the Church of England demolishes its structural homophobia, keep people’s domestic arrangements out of new job press releases.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 2:49pm GMT

I am sure that if a Lord Lieutenant were in a same sex marriage or civil partnership that would receive equal treatment in a Downing Street press release.

Posted by Bernard Silverman at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 5:01pm GMT

Thank you Daniel for your very helpful comment, with which I entirely concur.

Posted by Marian Birch at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 5:51pm GMT

Daniel, that argument is completely bogus. The discrimination continues because heterosexual ministers and bishops allow it to continue. As I say, Kylie Minogue took a stand and refused to get married until Australia equalised its laws. Do you know of a single minister who is taking the same line and refusing to get married until gay ministers can freely marry to? Do you know of a single straight, married ordained who won't accept an office until gay married minsters can freely do so? Shame.

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 6:45pm GMT

The same sex spouses of vicars, both make sacrifices for their ordained partner, and the Church; and are sacrificed by the Church.

I find the treatment we have been meted out over our life-time very painful, as does my husband.

The sense of entitlement of the privileged majority still brings grief, still hurts.

Just imagine, we were in our twenties at the out-set, and are now retired -- a lifetime of waiting and still unvalued by the Church institution, and waiting still....

Have we been wasting our lives ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 8:04pm GMT

“I am sure that if a Lord Lieutenant were in a same sex marriage or civil partnership that would receive equal treatment in a Downing Street press release.”

Yes, but any cleric in a same sex marriage isn’t going to be appointed a bishop are they? It’s not a real comparison.

Why everyone expects LGBT people to be grateful for being given crumbs instead of their due portion, stones instead of bread, happy that even if things are dire they’re not as dire as they were, I don’t know. It’s great that we have supporters out there, but as far as I can see, the only people who are being required to make sacrifices, yet again, as ever, are LGBT Christians. How about some ‘gracious heterosexual restraint’ for once? Don’t hold your breath.

As the saying goes, check your privilege.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 8:06pm GMT

I've always thought it odd that someone's spouse and children, if any, should be mentioned in the announcement of their appointment to a new post. As a preacher's kid, I think it reinforces the notion that the parish can expect the whole family to work alongside the appointee - two, or three, or five for the price of one. Those expectations can weigh pretty heavily on kids, and some partners feel them too.

When such announcements name the children and/or give their approximate ages - teenage, at university, grown up - I always wince on those children's behalf. Poor things, they'll have to live that down.

I know the change of jobs affects the partner and family, but so do many jobs. There's only one person appointed to the post, why should anyone else be included in the announcement? It's not only those in same-sex partnerships, but also single people, who can be sensitive about this. I know I am.

Posted by Janet Fife at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 9:36am GMT

Kate, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, which I would not call bogus. Please return the courtesy. I ask that you and James Byron please take note of this sentence in my posting:

"The fact is that the only thing lost by affirming everyone's dignity is the right to mistreat someone you don't like. None of us can afford to allow any of us such a right."

This must be true even for those who are not our allies. I repeat: we gain nothing if we take away the rights of others, no matter how much we disagree with them. That only makes us more like our adversaries, which is no strategy for winning, and certainly no strategy grounded in the Gospel.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 9:53am GMT

I must say I agree with Janet. Years ago as a young(ish) curate I was approached by the wife of the warden to complain that my two children (8 and 10 at the time) had been seen eating an ice cream cone in the street. Quite inapproriate for the children of clergy!

Posted by ian at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 3:01pm GMT

Daniel, I'm in no position to "take away the rights of others" even if I wanted to (which I don't), and nor have I suggested it: I said hypocrisy should be highlighted at every opportunity. No-one has the "right" to do one thing and say another without being called on it.

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 3:13pm GMT

I understand the point about a standard form for announcements from Downing Street. But in ten years or so of recent activity in the Church of England, I have been surprised at the extent of the attention paid to people's domestic arrangements. When I was a candidate (unsuccessful) for election to the General Synod, I was amazed that a number of fellow candidates included in their personal statement their marital status, and indeed in some cases the number of their grandchildren. And I have been beyond surprised when, occasionally, a speaker at a church meeting has imagined it relevant to tell his audience which Oxbridge college his son or daughter is studying at.

Posted by Flora Alexander at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 4:33pm GMT

Fr Andrew--I'm sorry if I gave you the impression I disagreed with the point of view you expressed. On the contrary, I am 100% in agreement with you.

In the case of many MPs you will find it difficult to discern from any publicity or announcement whether or not they are in a marriage, partnership or other relationship.

Downing Street announcements will be run past the individual in question and there's nothing to stop them saying, as I would, that someone's personal arrangements and non-professional personal interests are not of any public interest and therefore should not be mentioned.

I often chair appointment panels in non-church contexts and, while I can remember years ago having to stop panel members asking questions about the marital or personal status of candidates, it's in fact been a long time since that has happened. Because of the intense secrecy around the CNC, one can only conclude that they do indeed continue to enquire about, and take into consideration, these things, something that would be illegal in any organisation that did not make use of carve-outs from equalities legislation. This isn't only about discrimination against LGBT candidates, but about discrimination against those who are single, divorced, separated, and indeed those who have spouses who don't wish to be involved in their work. Sadly it is a symptom of an organisation which would fight hard for proper, just and fair treatment of people in every other aspect of life, but regards itself as above any need to look to itself in that regard.

Posted by Bernard Silverman at Monday, 12 March 2018 at 12:01am GMT

Bernard Silverman, spot on.

Posted by Janet Fife at Monday, 12 March 2018 at 9:22am GMT

"I'm sorry if I gave you the impression I disagreed with the point of view you expressed" @Bernard Silverman

Apologies Bernard for responding to your comment then following on to a general expression of largely unconnected exasperation without clearly delineating the two.

Your subsequent post hits the nail on the head. The end of obsessive fetishising of (heterosexual) 'married with children' is long overdue. However 'nice' the person being thus publicised, it's not really a neutral act: it's signalling that plugs directly into a heterosexist and patriarchal narrative.

A first step in the right direction has to be the removal of the C of E's shameful exemption from the Equalities Act. It's depressing but that might be the only way the homophobes who are currently running the show might actually grow up.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Monday, 12 March 2018 at 1:24pm GMT

I don't know, and don't think it's any of my business to know, the domestic arrangements or marital status of my MP, my local councillors, my GP, or most commentators in the press or TV. Why is it deemed relevant in the case of bishops? Any more than which football team they support, if any (and why should they be expected to do so?) Bishops are appointed to do a job and none of these things should affect their ability to do that.

Posted by David Emmott at Monday, 12 March 2018 at 4:11pm GMT

I am sorry to see that the discussion about the appointment of an inclusive priest has turned out to be a discussion about CoE's double standards and hypocrisy. It is the candidate who chose to include the family in the press release because he considered them as an important part of his ministry - rather than Oxbridge background etc which Kate thinks relevant to the ministry in another announcement made yesterday one - and wanted people to include in their prayers. Can't we just leave it there and be happy that one more inclusive clergy is appointed a bishop in the CoE. It is the candidate who decided finally what was there in the press release, so your criticism is not about the Church of England!

Posted by Benny Thomas at Wednesday, 14 March 2018 at 9:18am GMT

This is excellent news. Fr John will bring great theological insight to the role.

Posted by Revd Christopher Griffiths at Wednesday, 14 March 2018 at 11:27am GMT

I am delighted that John Perumbalath, someone with great gifts and committed to inclusion, has been appointed. I would point out that there are different dimensions to inclusion and it is good to see another BME bishop appointed so that they are now over 3% in the C of E from I think under 1% a year ago. Ethnic minorities may have helped to keep the church alive in many urban areas but among senior clergy are exceptionally rare.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Thursday, 15 March 2018 at 8:35am GMT
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