Thinking Anglicans

Church Times reports and comments on CNC document

See previous article here.

Today, the Church Times has this news report by Tim Wyatt Public statements on sex can be a bar, CNC is advised.

And, it has a leader article, Lawful, but doleful that unpacks what is actually going on here:

…If hard cases make bad law, they also prompt bad guidance. The hard case in this instance is the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, and, although not named, this guidance is essentially about him. He is not a conventional hard case, of course: the difficulty he has caused the church hierarchy stems from his popularity with successive CNCs. Their deliberations are confidential, but it is well known that, besides his appointment as Bishop of Reading in 2003, subsequently withdrawn, he has come close to being chosen for the sees of Southwark, Exeter, and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich…

And, it later continues:

…the new guidance repeats the view that it would not be illegal to discriminate against someone (i.e. Dr John) on the grounds of his past statements on sexuality if it were felt that these prevented his being a focus of unity, a fundamental element of episcopal ministry. The fragility of this argument when compared with the weight given to candidates’ views on other subjects is what has led to this succession of legal clarifications, especially in the light of Dr John’s threat of a legal challenge after the Southwark fiasco. The difficulty of making general rules from individual cases is that they must be applied indiscriminately. The recent appointment of the chairman of Reform, a conservative Evangelical campaigning group, to be Bishop of Maidstone might be questioned in the light of this guidance…

Read it all.

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Susan Cooper
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Susan Cooper

Very helpful leader in the Church Times. At least journalists can’t be defrocked for giving sensible opinions.

June Butler
Guest

If I understand correctly, according to the letter of the law in the Church of England, it is legal to discriminate against clergy and bishops who are in faithful, same sex marriages or partnerships and also against those who express opinions that these unions should be honored. What about the spirit of the law of love? In the document, the church quite clearly reveal its discrimination. How anyone in authority can claim the Church of England is not homophobic is a mystery to me.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

So … does this actually make it easier for someone like Jeffrey John to take legal action against the church?
Because, presumably, it would be unfair (and illegal) if this rule was applied in a discriminatory fashion against people who have made firm pro lgbt statements only?

Paul
Guest
Paul

not sure this is much more than making one thing specifically named, CNC’s have always discriminated against people on the basis of churchmanship and public statements, and divorce and re-marriage being a very obvious relationship issue.
The truth is none of us ever fully know what happens in any specific CNC because the makeup and desires of each one is different, could another candidate have missed out multiple times because of another specific thing, not only Jeffrey John?

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Paul – your hypothetical question is not unreasonable. There used to be a story that candidates for more senior posts received, of course, an all round evaluation. Preference was often shown to those who had the letters WOM in their notes – Wife (has her) Own Money. Urban myth or not, it is possible that some candidates have been rejected multiple times for discriminatory reasons that would be illegal in any other context. All of which brings me to the conclusion that our system of choosing bishops is broken, not fit for purpose and should be stopped. The Church of… Read more »

Jeremy (non P)
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Jeremy (non P)

“We are not children to need a cabal of people in the know appointing our bishops as they think is best for us.” It’s worse than that. It’s a cabal of people appointing bishops not as they think best for the Church of England, but as certain primates from elsewhere tell the cabal is best for the Anglican Communion. In other words, we are reduced to wondering this: On every CNC, do the Primates of Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda now effectively have veto power? One might think that if CNC members focus so much on meeting the demands of Global… Read more »

Paul
Guest
Paul

Jeremy P, very much the point as does anyone not believe the classic Yes Prime Minister line?! The whole process seems so closed it can only lead to endless speculation, correct or not. Feel that non P is overstating the case, not sure the Global South direct CNC’s, but again this belief springs from the cloak and dagger of Jeffrey John. One other point, is it not the case that you only get one interview with a candidate for 1.30h for a diocesan post, if that’s it surely all sorts of other criteria must make a large part of the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Jeremy (non-P) is writing a lot of sense about the odd way of choosing bishops in the Church of England. I think it could be said that this (the selection of Bishop by the CNC) is something unique to the C. of E. in the Anglican Communion – to do with the fact of it being the State Church. I do not believe there is any other Anglican Province that has to defer to the State in the choice of its bishops (will someone correct me if I’m wrong?) – a situation that makes the United Kingdom something of a… Read more »

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

The CNC is an entirely church-based system. The Crown (which really means the Government, not the Queen) nowadays simply rubber stamps their choice. There used to be the possibility of choosing the number 2 candidate but, by clear convention and hence in reality, that will not happen. If the General Synod wanted it could easily replace the current system by any other system it wished. Of course (not entirely tongue in cheek) if we went back to the old system where it really was done by the state then we might well have less ducking and weaving round equality laws… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Like a mighy tortoise moves the Church of England, and the CNC as a component part is no exception. The principle of representatives of a diocese and representatives of the national church together nominating bishops is not unique to the CofE. In the USA, the diocese elects, but this is subject to ratification by the House of Deputies and House of Bishops (unless the process does not fit the General Convention timetable, in which case another procedure is used to obtain the approval of the rest of TEC, clergy, bishops and laity alike). The CNC standing orders were changed to… Read more »

JeremyB
Guest
JeremyB

I may or may not be writing sense, and the CNC system is unusual, but my point had little to do with any state involvement.

Indeed, if the state were more involved, then CNCs would likely pay much less attention to Global South demands, and much more attention to English needs.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I appreciate the comments of those who see that the State has very little to do with the actual choice of candidates for the episcopate on the Church of England. However, the ‘rubber stamp’ required from the State must have some authority behind it, or why bother? JeremyB’s remark; that if the State were more involved the Church in England might be more open to the needs of mission in its own area – without having to take into account the homophobia of the GAFCON Provinces – could be useful, but only if the C. of E. were less homophobic… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Anthony Archer, why do you make electing bishops seem so difficult?

If TEC can do it, so can the Church of England.

“Katherine Jefferts Schori in on record by saying that the processes we use have got us far more women bishops in office, quicker, than TEC has ever achieved.”

I’m not sure what statistic is being asserted here as true.

TEC has had far more women bishops than the Church of England has ever appointed.

If the issue is speed — well, let’s just say that the Church of England has had many good candidates waiting, and 20+ years of catching up to do.

David Runcorn
Guest

When does being a ‘focus of unity’ become simply an exercise in compliance; a passivity in favour of the most vocal or influential; a form of collusion or even institutional cowardice? At the very moment the CofE is investing millions into training its senior leaders it appears to be trying muzzle them at the same time. At some point faithful Christian leadership has to be a source of dis-unity if it is to be a source of renewal and true to the gospel.

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

The C of E does have a democratic system for choosing its bishops, in the sense that its elected representative body has chosen to set up the CNC as currently constituted—and many of the CNC members are elected at GS or diocesan level. The system is rotten, no doubt, but it’s entirely in the Church’s court to fix it.

Stanley Shaw
Guest
Stanley Shaw

Some correspondents here are missing the point. The guidelines were drawn up because some CNC members, particularly those from the dioceses that wanted Jeffrey John but also some of the central members, objected to the way the Archbishop of Canterbury argued against appointing him, even after the CNC had voted not to impose the Church’s exemptions under the Equality Act. These guidelines have been drawn up retrospectively in order to try and protect the Archbishop if John mounts a legal challenge. Remember that Rowan Williams forced John out of Reading because he was afraid of Akinola. He then did the… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“TEC has had far more women bishops than the Church of England has ever appointed” The first woman bishop in TEC (and the Anglican Communion) was Barbara Harris in 1989. Her’s was the 834th consecration. The latest consecration is the 1091st. That’s 257 consecrations, of which only about 20 were of women, call it 10%, appointed over a 27 year period. The CofE currently has seven women bishops out of some 114 bishops, that’s over 6% in 11 months. That’s what KJS was talking about in a conference in London earlier in the year. It has much to do with… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

“The C of E does have a democratic system for choosing its bishops, in the sense that its elected representative body has chosen to set up the CNC as currently constituted…” However, that elected representative body is only indirectly democratic. Having delegates to vote for delegates (Deanery Synod electing General Synod etc) is a pretty indirect way of doing democracy. It reminds me of the Trade Union ‘delegates’ and the Politburo ‘delegates’ of the 1970s. Generally speaking, having layers of delegates between the general members and the executive is an effective way of keeping people at arm’s length from the… Read more »

Adrian Judd/Unitetheunion
Guest
Adrian Judd/Unitetheunion

Since we are discussing democracy, and mentioning trade unions… perhaps I might suggest that Robert Michels concept of the iron law of oligarchy in his 1911 book (trans. 1915) ‘Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy.’ is relevant to Churches, and political parties, just as much as trades unions past and present?

fr rob hall
Guest
fr rob hall

‘At the very moment the CofE is investing millions into training its senior leaders it appears to be trying muzzle them at the same time.’

Hardly a discrepancy here. If the C of E is investing millions in the training of ‘effective’ institutional leaders/managers then discouraging wildly independent thinking (prophetic speaking?) and encouraging singing from the same institutional hymn sheet and toeing a party line seems consistent. In a troubling and perhaps mistaken sort of way.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“At present, decision-making and policy enforcement is skewed in favour of top-down control and a system of delegates that is vulnerable to capture by groups within the church as a whole.” Thanks to Susannah Clarke for this. I have little experience of the TUC and no experience of the Politburo, but as with all forms of democracy it is the “activists” who normally get elected! The General Synod is no exception. The only element of the Synod which is not elected by universal suffrage is the House of Laity. There have been many debates in the past as to whether… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Welby is on record as approving of the way Williams handled the gay issue, and he wants to be able to follow exactly the same line. When questioned why he will not let John become a bishop he has regularly replied ‘because most Anglicans are in Africa’. It is as simple as that.” – Stanley Shaw – If this is true – and, from outside of the C. of E. it seems like it – it would appear that the Archbishop of Canterbury has some sort of archi-episcopal veto over the choice of who may be listed as a candidate… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” In the USA, the diocese elects, but this is subject to ratification by the House of Deputies and House of Bishops (unless the process does not fit the General Convention timetable, in which case another procedure is used to obtain the approval of the rest of TEC, clergy, bishops and laity alike).” – Anthony Archer – Precisely. And that is my point. In TEC, it is the diocese that has the privilege of choosing for themselves who they want to be their bishop. What the national Church then does, is either ratify or reject their choice. The General Convention… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

To quote from Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s opening sermon at the 1968 Lambeth Conference: ‘The faith to which we are called will always be folly and scandal to the world, it cannot be in the usual sense of the word popular; it is a supernatural faith and it cannot adapt itself to every passing fashion of human thought. But it will be a faith alert to distinguish what is shaken, and is meant to go, and what is not shaken and is meant to remain… The Bishops who will lead our thinking about faith at this Lambeth Conference will help us… Read more »

Commentator
Guest
Commentator

This document leaves the intelligent reader in no doubt about Justin Welby’s lack of commitment not only to the basic principles of equality but to the proclamation of the Good News within his own province and to the people of that province. Here we have another archbishop frightened of the truth that sets you free and terrified of the conservative sections of the wider Anglican Communion. No wonder that those closest to him have reached the conclusion that he is simply homophobic and lacking in the integrity necessary to articulate his own position openly and honestly. I wonder when Peter… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Precisely. And that is my point. In TEC, it is the diocese that has the privilege of choosing for themselves who they want to be their bishop. What the national Church then does, is either ratify or reject their choice. The General Convention (General Synod) alone has this option – not the Presiding Bishop (or The ABC, in the case of the C. of E.)” This is true if the bishop is elected near the time of a General Convention. But because General Convention meets only every three years, far more often than not the approval of the TEC as… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

This is the internal operation of a national church which is not mine, but it does indicate a distance so vast between TEC and the CofE that I wonder how we can truly call it “communion.” A cooperative, perhaps, but not a communion. It shows a fundamental difference in perception of ecclesia and clerical function so profound as to be a chasm not currently bridgeable. Why are we so desperate to preserve the appearance of a communion? Is it simply to protect the ownership of our church buildings in TEC? Stubbornness? A true desire for unity? Full disclosure, I can… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

For the benefit of members of the Church of England, who may be unaware of the democratic way of listing canadiates for the Episcopate in TEC (The Episcopal Church in North America), here is the latest news of the search for a new Bishop in Los Angeles: ” Friday, November 20, 2015 Adapted from the Diocese of Los Angeles The Diocese of Los Angeles has posted an eight-page profile [PDF] and will accept nominations until Jan. 15 as it searches for a bishop coadjutor. The diocese’s convention that meets on Dec. 2-3, 2016, will elect the bishop coadjutor. “Individuals may… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

The Church Times has today, 27 November, printed a letter from me, behind the paywall, but which reads thus: Sir, — So, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Director of Communications, and the Chief Legal Adviser are each variously “shocked”, “astonished”, and “bewildered” by the actions of a commercial agency with whom they had been negotiating to place an advertisement in cinemas. The agency has ended up banning the advertisement by retrospectively documenting a policy that certainly was not mentioned at the time the negotiations started. No doubt church officials feel that they have been double-crossed, and have even threatened legal… Read more »