Thinking Anglicans

more on Welsh elections

Updated Thursday evening

First, apologies for the break in service yesterday and today.

Now, further reports on the Bangor election.

Stephen Bates weighed in at Comment is free with a very detailed background report on earlier events, titled Diocesan machinations.

However, more recent reports show official spokespersons are suggesting that earlier reports may have been overstating the case:

Christian Today Jennifer Gold Church plays down speculation of gay cleric as next Bishop of Bangor

Wales Today Darren Devine Gay cleric’s bid to be bishop in Wales

…a spokeswoman for the Church in Wales yesterday refused to comment on whether Dr John was in the running, saying nominations are not made until an electoral college of the church convenes to make the appointment. And she suggested the appointment was unlikely as the Church in Wales is subject to a moratorium – agreed at a recent conference in Lambeth – on the appointment of gay bishops that covers Anglican churches worldwide…

The spokeswoman for the Church in Wales said the bench of bishops here wanted to uphold the Lambeth moratorium and the electoral college would be mindful of their advice.

But the six bishops on the bench do not make up a majority on the college and other members are not bound by their views.

“The bishops of the Church in Wales are mindful that the recent Lambeth conference called for a moratorium on the ordination of bishops in single-sex partnerships and they take that conference very seriously,” said the spokesperson. But she acknowledged that as a popular cleric fluent in Welsh, Dr John was “absolutely” qualified for the post.

St Albans Observer Alexandra Barham Will dean become a bishop?

CLAIMS that St Albans Dean Jeffrey John could be on the verge of moving to Wales to take on the role of Bishop of Bangor have been condemned as speculation.

Reports in national newspapers that the clergyman, who celebrated a civil partnership ceremony with another priest two years ago, has been nominated for the Bangor post in North Wales were denied by St Albans Abbey spokeswoman spokesman Arun Kataria…

Daily Post Eryl Crump Gay clergyman may be in line as Bishop of Bangor

Dave Walker has some useful links to Church Times reports of earlier events in Jeffrey John and the Bangor post.

Ruth Gledhill republished her interview with Jeffrey John, first published in Thursday 19 June 2003, see Is Wales ready for a gay bishop?

Damian Thompson at the Telegraph had If Dean Jeffrey John becomes a bishop, the floodgates will open.

Thursday evening update

Ruth Gledhill reports in The Times that there is a Resignation threat over gay bishop appointment.

This was first reported in the Western Mail this morning.

The Herts Advertiser also had a report Dean Of St Albans Tipped As New Bishop Of Bangor.

13 comments

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “John’s sin, of course, was honesty; he was discreet about his homosexuality and had certainly not flaunted it, but had argued, quietly and academically, for a more Christian understanding of gays. Evangelicals who sought assisuously for evidence of promiscuity and sinfulnesscould not find it, even though they trawled the electoral register to see if he was living with his partner.” – Stephen Bates

    Stephen Bates, in his article on this thread, has put his finger on the heart of the dilemma; the honesty of Jeffrey John has worked against him – in the case of his aborted election to Reading, and perhaps in the possibility of his election to Bangor – if, indeed, that is the outcome of the present speculation.

    It would seem that institutionalised hypocrisy wins against honesty – even in the councils of the Church. I wonder what God might want?

  • David Walker says:

    I thought the Lambeth moratorium applied to bishops in sexually active homosexual relationships, and that this had not been Dr John’s situation for some years.

    There is no moratorium on bishops who think gay relationships are godly and none on bishops who have celibate friendships with persons of the same sex.

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    David Walker:

    It is my experience that those who oppose gay inclusion make no such distinctions.

  • JCF says:

    I find the whole notion that there should be inquiries of a loving, faithful, committed couple as to HOW they live their faithful, committed love, absolutely *disgraceful*.

    Lord have mercy!

  • Jim Pratt says:

    Although I am very orthodox and theologically conservative in many ways (and one of my seminary professors tried to throw up obstacles to my ordination because of it), the prior treatment of Jeffrey John pushed me firmly into the “liberal” camp on the sexuality issue. In the vehemence of their opposition, the so-called orthodox showed that it wasn’t about behavior, it wasn’t about an allegedly sinful lifestyle, but all about orientation and homophobia.

    Bishop Anderson is showing once again that the true face of this movement is not concern for scripture and godly living, but hatred. And for the time (10 years ago or more) that I contributed to a local affiliate of the American Anglican Council, I repent.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    Horray, Bring it on.

  • Treebeard says:

    Many thanks for your contribution Jim Pratt.

    Heart-warming.

  • Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Father Ron Smith-

    You must know that what you write can’t possibly be true. Supposing we hold, with Christianity and the other large-scale international cultures, that homosexual practice is not something good and/or causes more harm than good. We will therefore resist the promotion to leadership of anyone in that category, whether or not they are open about it. In the case of those who are not open about it, it is in the nature of things that people may be unaware of the true situation. Who can do anything about that?

    To summarise: the situation does not work against the honest and open, whom the orthodox would never have promoted higher in any case; it does, however, work unjustly in favour of the less open.

  • choirboyfromhell says:

    Shell: “Supposing we hold, with Christianity and the other large-scale international cultures, that homosexual practice is not something good and/or causes more harm than good.”

    But we increasingly don’t hold those views, and that’s the reality of the situation, in a true honest, open and healthy environment.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “the situation does not work against the honest and open, whom the orthodox would never have promoted higher in any case; it does, however, work unjustly in favour of the less open.”

    Ah, but you have to ask why they are less open and what that lack of openness does to them. An American comedy show recently made the observation that, in the US, if you want to find a sex scandal among Liberal politicians, you have to go back to Clinton. Before that, probably John F Kennedy. However, in just the last two years, there have been five (5) sex scandals involving conservative American political leaders, and each one involved homosexuality! Does the repressive conservative attitude towards sexuality lead to this kind of duplicity? Or are liberals merely better at keeping their shenanigans out of the media glare? Given the American media, I sincerely doubt that any American liberal politician is so skillful as to keep his private life from them, so I would think there is something damaging about repressive conservative sexual mores. Would Ted Haggard have been saved a life of drug abuse and sexual infidelity if, as a younger man, he had been accepted as a gay man, encouraged to enter a monogamous lifelong marriage and supported by his Church, for instance? Would he have been put through the spectacle of silly stories and justifications of his behaviour and the shame of nonsensical public claims that he is “not gay”?

  • Fr Mark says:

    Christopher: but the reality of your position is, that gay clergy will in consequence just go into “lavender” marriages if necessary. I know several in that situation, and I think that is miserable for them and the poor woman involved. You cannot actually stop gay people from being in the Church and holding high office: they have ALWAYS done this, for as long as there has been a Church. We are among the society’s great survivors, and if you persecute us, we learn how to play the system and go underground. But that leads to deceit, blackmail, suicides and all sorts of other nasty things that British society was full of until we recently changed so much for the better. Surely you can see that the situation now, of honesty, openness and no stigma anywhere, except the Church, is much better and healthier for gay people than it was a few decades ago?

    In the early 90s, when the press was virulently anti-gay, the tabloids were busily outing clergy, and I saw about a dozen good priests whom I knew have their lives destroyed by being outed in their pages. They included my Vicar and my Bishop. I think that was a shockingly awful thing to have happened, and I hope that we have now moved on definitively so that could never happen again: your favoured system would entail a return to that kind of world, which would be crazy.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    Christopher, I suppose what I am trying to say is that there have always been gays in the Church. However, hitherto they have had to resort to the necessity of being deceitful (hypocritical) – when faced with hostile questioning about their personal sexual orientation.

    As Fr. Mark has said; the situation now is rather better – at least from the point of view of society’s emerging acceptance of ‘gayness’ as a normal variant of human sexuality. Some parts of the Church, unfortunately, still hold to the pre-enlightenment view of sexuality and gender which is holding up the emancipation of women and gays, by not allowing them to answer the call of God into the ministry of the Church. This is a form of institutional injustice which ought not to be perpetuated by a Gospel-oriented Church.

    I guess an openness to hermeneutical engagement with Scripture is way overdue, as well as an openness to really hear the experience of gays and women in the Church. These two issues really do go hand in hand.

  • There are some interesting comments about this on the Church Times blog, go to
    http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/blog_post.asp?id=62768

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