Thinking Anglicans

Archbishop responds to Church Times leader on Brexit

The Church Times has a news report today (which covers other episcopal Brexit responses too) This is how to honour the referendum: Welby clarifies Bishops’ statement. In it the Archbishop of Canterbury  makes a fairly lengthy response to last week’s leader column. Do read it all.

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James ByronDavid LammingBill BroadheadStanley MonkhouseFr. Dean Henley Recent comment authors
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James Byron
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James Byron

“To honour or respect the 2016 Referendum result is not to sign up to Brexit at any cost. Honouring the result means no more than paying proper attention to an outcome that saw 52 per cent of those who voted favouring leave, but 48 per cent favouring remain.” So you still support Brexit, Archbishop. That’s a partisan position, since it explicitly rejects the policies of Labour and Liberals. If that’s really the unanimous position of every English bishop, at least own it, and explain why you’ve disregarded the misconduct of the referendum. As for using calls for unity as a… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

And this from an Archbishop who is supposed to be an expert on reconciliation!
If he’s not more careful, he’ll have trouble reconciling with the next Prime Minister.

John Wallace
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John Wallace

It’s the use of words like ‘honour’ and ‘respect’ the result that upsets many of us. More neutral words like ‘accept’ or ‘abide by’ are much less inflammatory and take into account the views of the 48% who, like me voted Remain.

FrDavid H
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FrDavid H

That’s made it clearer, then. Abp Welby is in favour of Leave. But we knew that before.

Kate
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Kate

And again he ignores that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted remain. As clarifications go, it is feeble.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

When Justin Welby has attempt to explain his theological positions on matters of the day, such as his position on same-sex marriage, one has not exactly been put in mind of the clarity of prose of an essay by Montaigne. It is not surprising that he is equally incoherent on matters of politics, a topic about which he knows absolute nothing beyond reading the daily papers. As we are learning from the antics of the Borisites, a middling first degree from a good university is absolute not a minor achievement, but is not proof of intellectual depth, nor was it… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Struggle as I do to be fair to Welby, has he ever claimed to be an intellectual? Nor does post-grad training seem to make much difference to other senior bishops: Williams has just about every certificate ever invented, as does N.T. “Tom” Wright, yet both proved at best mediocre in their English bishoprics. Richard Holloway, by contrast, has fewer formal qualifications than Welby, but displays far more breadth and depth of throught than I’ve ever seen from Wright (who wastes his vast academic arsenal in arguments that amount to “the Bible says it, I believe it — and so must… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
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IO, your analysis and comments hit several nails on heads. Allow me some personal reflections. I have Cambridge medical degrees* MB, BChir 1975 and a Nottingham PhD 1985 in zoology/cell biology. I don’t rate them particularly. The undergraduate medical course demands perseverance, pattern recognition, and memory. It is absolutely NOT intellectually demanding – that comes later. The science PhD required more in the way of analysis, but little speculative ability or imagination. The course of study that taught me how to THINK was History of Art intercalated in the third year (1971-2) of the Cambridge medical course, and then theology… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

I’ve always found the crucial thing to be a willingness to challenge your beliefs and flee from group-think and intellectual fashion.

At opposite extremes, I’ve known people with glittering résumés who’re utterly closed-minded; and those with no formal higher education who’re hungry for knowledgeable and open to new ideas. Most fall between the poles, and while education can certainly nudge open the door by training you how to think in a systematic way, the underlying desire has to be there before a person can go through.

Lorenzo
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Lorenzo

Would his grace also care to clarify again the position of the Church of England regarding the death penalty for gay people?
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/uganda-death-penalty-kill-the-gays-homosexuals-lgbt-a9151411.html
or will he keep silent (sorry, lobby behind closed doors)?

Cynthia Katsarelis
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Whether the topic is Brexit, safeguarding, or the well being of LGBTQ+ people, the ABC is on the side of the status quo, regardless of the horrors suffered by vulnerable people. He is aligned with the privileged and powerful at the expense of the powerless. After reading Matt Ineson’s testimony, I can only conclude that the ABC and his team are Godless and heartless. Anyone who’s victimization challenges the comfortable (for him) status quo is the enemy and must be ignored, at best. Odd that someone who is trying to hold together the Anglican Communion would ignore the plight of… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Being wedded to the status quo’s unfortunately inherent to the Canterbury posting, and always has been. I’m sure English bishops in the 1940s were devout and sincere Christians, but most stayed silent while the Allies deliberately bombed civilians, and the few who didn’t rose no further. However personally decent a person may be, the role overwhelms them, which is why I don’t think the answer lies in getting the right person for an impossible job. The only way to end the ultimate case of regulator capture’s for England to sever the bonds between church and state. A structural problem demands… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

Brexit is undoubtedly political, even though the Bishops don’t seem to want to acknowledge beliefs as a strong basis for political action (eg. to oppose government policies that fuel poverty and inequality) and other criticism of Brexit. The Archbishop’s claims also ignores the fact that in a political process it is one-party states and autocrats, not democracies and democrats, who expect everyone to agree with whatever their political line is. That is why political parties and people in democracies see no reason why they should agree with the views and policies of whoever is in government at any one time.… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Couldn’t agree more about the lack of episcopalian elections in England (try saying that one fast!). As I’ve said previously, the current system is the worst of all worlds, not only undemocratic, but insular, lacking even the external perspective of the British prime minister. It’s guaranteed to churn out company men like Welby, which is why a suffocating unity’s descended on the bishops’ bench in England, a soulless united front that’s smothering the entire church.

Fr. Dean Henley
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Fr. Dean Henley

‘in our desire for brevity we may have sacrificed clarity, so I apologise.’ There really is no excuse for such a sloppily worded (original) document; it can only have been laziness on the bishops’ part. But this wasn’t a press release about yet another hopeless mission initiative, this concerned THE political issue of the day! It reinforces the view that the college of bishops couldn’t organise a party in a brewery.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

But it’s worse than that, because bishops aren’t supposed to be party planners. Bishops _are_ supposed to be good communicators—logical thinkers and clear writers who give a thought to how what they say will be received by those who hear it. Which is part of what we call empathy. The original document was poorly phrased, yes, but it was also badly vetted and incompetently reviewed. Is no one willing to stand up to Archbishop Welby within the House of Bishops and say that he’s wrong? Or is there a similar problem at the staff level? Did anyone consider the possible… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

I agree. Spreading the Word is a core skill for all clergy and for bishops, and definitely archbishops, the ability to communicate clearly is fundamental to the office.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Welby, and the College of Bishops, don’t care about the long-term health of the CofE, they want to prop it up at minimum intellectual effort for the next twenty years, while the boomers who are the youngest members are still alive in quantity. If that leaves behind a smoking ruin of a church – less the Tory Party at prayer, more UKIP at prayer – so be it. Hence gays bad, trans people unspeakable, Europe bad. That it alienates everyone born after 1960 is irrelevant: they don’t care, they just want to make sure that their elderly constituency of middle-class… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
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Party? Party? Dean, O Dean, such delicacy! I’m reminded that when Ireland (where I then lived) joined the euro, I wrote to the Irish Times suggesting that cash machines should be called eurinals since the banks saw it as their function to eurinate on customers. It was not published.

Fr. Dean Henley
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Fr. Dean Henley

Stanley I was worried that I might fall foul of the moderator! And in response to IO I think it’s mean to pick fault with the Archbishop’s academic ability he was selected on other criteria – presumably being an urbane Old Etonian. Most of the other bishops are the product of minor public schools and they present in many ways as an homogeneous bunch. I thought that the arrival of women amongst their number would enliven all of them male and female, but the women seem to be as much company men as the company men. Once again it’s reasonable… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

As I said here before the CoE came to its senses and banished the absurd sex-bar to its episcopacy, there was never any chance that female bishops would lead to fundamental change. They haven’t in any other province, and equality cuts both ways: just as men are no better than women, they’re no worse, either; we’re all equally flawed human beings, and power’s corrupting effects are ruthlessly egalitarian. As for Welby, TBF to him, his bump up to Canterbury appears to’ve surprised him as much as anyone. He’d just been appointed to Durham and all indications were that he expected… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

IO writes: “if anything’s to blame, it’s the church’s obsession with becoming a business … Welby’s just a symptom.” I wonder if Ms Boddington is a symptom too, or something much more influential. I recall social events at the Bishop of Derby’s gaff in the naughties where she, Mrs Redfern, was “networking” and, with hindsight I now assume, assessing suitability for high office.

James Byron
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James Byron

That’s me, not Interested Observer: I’m a shy moderate by comparison. 😀

Stanley Monkhouse
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Yes indeed, James. Silly me. Apologies. And while I’m at it, the soirées at the Redfern’s were possibly in the early 2010s. But I remember them well. Mrs Redfern and I had a discussion about Ed Balls at one of them (I was once a colleague of his father) during which I made it quite plain that I couldn’t be “relied upon”. DG.

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

I want to be fair and even-handed, especially as Justin is my Christian brother, and it is easy to get carried away in controversy and debate. The contentious phrase was “our belief that the result should be honoured”. To be open about this, and giving the statement some slack, I did think at the time that this was an ambiguous and open-ended expression… because it could be read as implying advocacy for Brexit unreservedly, or it could implicitly be assuming multiple ways that this controversy might be played out in a way that honours ‘the result’. So – what kind… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

As ever, the angle of our better nature! 🙂 I’ve checked my habit of being rude about bishops above by defending Welby from charges of intellectual arrogance (much I’d accuse him of, but not that), but it’s always good to be reminded to be charitable. Charity, however, must have something concrete to deal with. The bizarre combo of doubling-down on evasiveness is the worst of all worlds. If England’s bishops really want to unanimously defend the current Brexit movement, well, it’s a POV. Let them make the case clearly, address the criticism of the referendum’s conduct (the Swiss have voided… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Or rather angel, fear my autocorrect’s been hacked by Professor Dawkins. 😉

Kate
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Kate

Susannah, I am sure that Justin the man is lovely and lovable.

But he has chosen to take on high office. I, and others here, are highly critical of his performance in that office. I don’t believe it is un-Christian to present our criticisms of his performance of the office – after all Christ was critical of clerics in his day too.

Bill Broadhead
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Bill Broadhead

As a resident of this part of England North of the Trent that is persistently ignored by everyone else, I was was wondering what Sentamu has had to say about it all. He had gone deafeningly quiet over these last weeks. But, hey presto, he’s just popped-up on Twitter to remind us all that today is Safeguarding Sunday. That’s right. You read it correctly. ‘Safeguarding Sunday.’ You couldn’t compose the irony, could you? And there was me thinking it was plain old Trinity XVII!

James Byron
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James Byron

Well, I did note Welby’s brief tenure in Durham, and the minor controversy that followed when he was appointed to a post that traditionally featured scholars.

Sentamu does usefully illustrate my point about the CoE’s woes being primarily structural. If you wanted to create the Platonic ideal of a bishop, it’d be him (deep faith; near-superhuman bravery in the name of justice; highly accomplished academically but wears his learning lightly). Yet even Sentamu was compromised by the CoE machine. If someone as outstanding as him can’t overcome it, who can?