Thinking Anglicans

Richard Harries speaks

The Bishop of Oxford has published an article, Why Jeffrey was the right man for Reading in the Oxford diocesan magazine, The Door, which also carries a news story about the article.
This article has generated considerable publicity elsewhere, on the BBC, in The Times, in the Guardian, and in the Telegraph.

Here is the BBC Radio interview with Richard Harries on the Today programme (Real Audio required).

The bishop says this about Jeffrey John:

Jeffrey has publicly said that he has been celibate for “A considerable time”. Critics called on him to publicly repent of the sexual dimension to his relationship in earlier years. But it is not the practice of the Church of England to call for public repentance. Jeffrey has always bought that relationship to his confessor and what other bishop has been asked to publicly repent of anything before being nominated? There are other Bishops, some Diocesan, who hold the same views as Jeffrey. The arguments against his appointment do not stand up to Christian or rational scrutiny.

…It seemed to me quite wrong to discriminate against him just because he is gay if he was willing to subscribe to the present practice and teaching of the Church of England, which he was. So, despite the division his appointment caused, this was and remains a profound issue of principle for me. In any secular job anyone who discriminated against someone on the grounds that Jeffrey was opposed, would have been in found in breach of the Human Rights Act.

Jeffrey’s nomination aroused distress and anger in some quarters. His withdrawal has certainly aroused a very great deal of distress and questioning about the kind of church the Church of England now is. Speaking with the Area Deans of the Episcopal Area of Reading and going round to clergy chapters in that Episcopal Area, however, has brought home to me how constructively people are working at maintaining relationships and moving on. One of the good features about this whole passionate difference of view has been that it has not degenerated into personal animosity. Good relationships have been maintained throughout, both between myself and my critics and in the fierce disagreements that have occurred in deaneries.

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Revd Andy McMullon
Revd Andy McMullon
20 years ago

I am pleased that Bishop Harries has spoken out so robustly in defence of Jeffrey John. It is also my opinion that there never was any argument against his appointment that held up. Opposition may well have been ‘principled’, in some quarters, but that never meant they were right. In the end it does come down to the simple fact that Jeffrey John couldn’t be a bishop because he is a gay man who believes that the traditional position of the Church can and should be changed. None of this prevents him from being a Bishop even without the CofE… Read more »

Don Temples
20 years ago

I read these articles and have been mulling them over. And while I understand clearly the politics behind what was presented in Canon John’s defense, I have a hard time with the theology. I understand that our leaders are worried about losing the Anglican Communion and want to placate conservatives. But I think we are in danger of forgetting why our churches face this so-called problem. Does anyone think that the pressures we are facing caused by homosexuality will go away anytime soon. I know that emphasizing Canon John’s celibacy is supposed to make people feel better about his qualifications… Read more »

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