Thinking Anglicans

Bishops criticise Dominic Cummings

Updated again Thursday afternoon

There has been widespread media coverage of the interventions made by numerous Church of England bishops in the story about Dominic Cummings. Here is a sample:

And there have been several blog articles discussing them:

Mark Strange, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church has published the letter he sent to the Prime Minister. You can read that here.

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Jeremy
Jeremy
1 month ago

I don’t know whether the bishops’ criticism makes much sense for the Church of England politically and socially.
But it may be driven by the fact that the C of E has bent over backwards to reinforce Government’s “stay home” directive, in order to achieve health benefits at spiritual and financial cost.
No wonder many bishops feel betrayed.

Peter Spychal
Peter Spychal
1 month ago

Are we being objective and fair about lockdown rule breakers?

Father David
1 month ago

So when are the Archbishops and bishops going to allow the church doors to give people the opportunity to pray and light candles and host funerals of lived ones?
What kind of message does a firmly closed church door display?
Not only has the reputation of the Prime Minister and his Chief Advisor been seriously damaged but the longer the church doors are shut the reputation of the Established Church will take a long time to recover. Is the National Church letting down the nation?

David Lamming
David Lamming
1 month ago
Reply to  Father David

David – the church doors in England are currently closed by law – i.e. order of the government, not the archbishops and bishops, and notices on locked church doors make this clear. Regulation 5(5) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 [SI 2020 No. 350], which were made and came into force at 1.00pm on 26 March 2020 and, in this respect, has not yet been relaxed, provides: “A person who is responsible for a place of worship must ensure that, during the emergency period, the place of worship is closed, except for uses permitted in paragraph (6).”… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago

Firstly, Dominic Cummings behaviour as someone at the heart of Government warrants his resignation or his dismissal. Secondly, those sending death threats to bishops should face the full weight of the law for their reprehensible actions. However it is legitimate to point out that the bishops have no claim to the moral high ground. They have colluded with the oppression of the LGBTQI community in this country and passed by on the other side as other Anglican provinces have sought to retain legal sanctions for gay men, including in some cases in the Caribbean and Africa the death penalty. They… Read more »

Fr John Harris-White
Fr John Harris-White
1 month ago

Fr David, I agree with you. My nightmare is the sight of every church door closed to those most in need during this pandemic. On the other side of the coin we see hospital chaplains doing their priestly duties in their hospitals. Also Leo the cat has drawn attention to the good work of his owner the Dean of Canterbury and his team. Bringing to many of us spiritual feeding. Also their weekly newsletter from the Friends of the Cathedral through the secretary Caroline, with a short personal message from the Dean. In my own diocese of Edinburgh the cathedral… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the Cummings affair, I note that the bishops’ threat of non-co-operation coincides with negotiations between the Church and the Treasury about the restoration of VAT exemption on church repairs (the bishop of Portsmouth has been asking questions about this in the Lords in recent days). This is all in the context of: (i) Church finances having been thrown into complete disarray; (ii) government revenues having fallen by at least 30%; and its outlays having increased by nearly 60% (https://twitter.com/PantheonMacro/status/1265192522655109120). On that basis, should the Government interpret the remarks about non-co-operation as a ‘helpful’… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

Well done those bishops.

Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Bishops and their masters in Church House meet in secret, evade questions, tell fibs, are economical with the actualité, speak with forkèd tongue, and treat some of those to whom they should minister with cruel disdain. Gilo said it better here: https://twitter.com/seaofcomplicity/status/1264916304244375553/photo/1
They are thus well placed to accuse Mr Cummings of the same. I hold no candle for Messrs Johnson or Cummings, but I rather suspect the bishops have done them a favour. They should watch their language.

I regard Mr Cummings as an agent of liberation: the lockdown is clearly ended.

Michael O’Sullivan
Michael O’Sullivan
1 month ago

Judge not lest ye be judged…
Amazing how the bishops have suddenly woken up from their collective slumber to moralise about hypocrisy.
I laughed out loud when +Londin welcomed the intervention of MPs encouraging the opening of the churches she herself had shut down..
Could they please just get on with their jobs and open up our churches. It’s clearly safe to do so and they should use every bit of political clout they have especially now the government is on the back foot.
Zeal for thy house hath not consumed them!

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

As a past Anglican and now a Roman Catholic, I had a Roman Catholic friend express to me a view that they thought the Bishops intervention in the Dominic Cummings affair was “Far too political”. I said to this friend that as long as you have Bishops brought into the political system by being members of the House of Lords and as long as the Church of England remains the established Church, in other words a State Church, it was impossible not to expect the Bishops to be political. However this conversation certainly made me think, we seem to have… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal

Many thanks for this excellent comment! You mention Germany. The paradox is that in England the Church is notionally nationalised but economically privatised, whereas in Germany it is notionally privatised but economically nationalised. In 2016 the archdiocese of Munich and Freising had €5.52bn in reported assets; in 2014 the archdiocese of Paderborn reported assets of €4bn and the archdiocese of Cologne €3.35bn. Thus three German dioceses have assets which dwarf the aggregate assets of the Church Commissioners covering the whole of England (£8.3bn in 2018-19; rather less when pre-1998 pension accruals are taken into account). The RCC in Germany had… Read more »

ACI
ACI
1 month ago
Reply to  Froghole

“The number of nominal Anglicans amongst those aged between 18-30 is now little more than a statistical blip, and that is the number professing a nominal commitment: the committed are little more than a rounding error and are concentrated in a tiny number of mostly conevo parishes. I have frequently attended almost a hundred services without seeing anyone in that age group (perhaps I have been unlucky).” This is surely the numb of the matter. I think that Germany got in front of the issue and so Kirchensteuer is in the lower brain stem. My German relatives pay it without… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

I think the criticism of the bishops who have spoken up is unfair and unhelpful in this case. Yes, they should indeed be speaking up about some other things but this is a start and green shoots should be nursed. Yes too, it is political but unlike the Royal Family there is nothing wrong in our bishops commenting on political issues. Personally I wonder why so many bishops have not spoken up. They are the ones IMO which deserve criticism. For instance where is the Bishop of London? The Church keeps stressing her medical background so surely she should have… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

Dame Sarah is a nurse by profession not a medic as you seem to suggest Kate. As a nurse she will have a valuable perspective in infection control.

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

Bishops receiving death threats (as Helen-Ann Hartley and John Inge have) is no laughing matter – and certainly not a pretext for political point-scoring. That this has happened is just another indication of the divided and dysfunctional society we currently inhabit – and a sign of how unused we have become to bishops of the Church of England publicly intervening to hold governments to account over the past 7 years or so. Temple, Ramsey, Robinson, Stockwood, Runcie, Sheppard, Habgood, Jenkins – and even +Rowan – are becoming a fading memory in the ‘new’ C of E! What’s deeply significant, of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

I entirely agree. We have witnessed a breakdown of moral values, integrity and civilised behaviour in our poor, sad country.

Kate
Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

I think archbishop John perhaps deserves a pass. He is at the very difficult stage of being effectively a dead duck and quacking now could look impolite to his successor.

There is no justification, however, for archbishop Justin’s silence.

David Emmott
David Emmott
1 month ago

What’s wrong with people on this site? On another thread some have criticised a discussion about clergy titles as a diversion from the seriousness of Covid-19. Yet here, when some bishops (and I don’t think it was an official, corporate response was it – just a few individuals) speak out against a prime example of corruption at the heart of our nation and government, it’s diverted into comparative trivia about who gave the order to close church buildings. Or about episcopal hypocrisy, which might be a valuable discussion in another context, but dangerous for anyone wishing to cast the first… Read more »

J Kirby
J Kirby
1 month ago

The problem is the bishops are, all of them, one homogenous liberal-left, remain, soft-Labour blob. They have a smattering of ethnic minorities, and now they have women, but it’s window-dressing. In their views and outlook there is no diversity at all. That’s why there’s universal silence on Life issues, but a clamour of outrage about some guy driving to Durham to take care of his little boy.

Why?

Because he’s a Brexiteer.

Ian
Ian
1 month ago
Reply to  J Kirby

Well now JKirby that’s a balanced viewpoint if ever I saw one!

David Emmott
David Emmott
1 month ago
Reply to  J Kirby

Just like the Daily Mail and Piers Morgan I suppose. Lefties all; you can’t trust ‘em.

J Kirby
J Kirby
1 month ago
Reply to  David Emmott

Not sure the Daily Mail is left-wing, David. You must be on the far right to think that.

David Emmott
David Emmott
1 month ago
Reply to  J Kirby

You must have failed to switch on your irony meter.

J Kirby
J Kirby
1 month ago
Reply to  David Emmott

Point out to me some CofE bishops whose outlook is akin to that of the Daily Mail, Mr Morgan or even mild Christian conservatism and I will defer to you.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

Stephen Parsons on the Bishops’ Dilemma in Two Orders of Reality: “Our Church seems to operate on two levels, and it needs leadership for both these aspects. “The first is the theological or ideal aspect. This attempts to embody and articulate the spirit and the ethos of its founder. Thus, the Church would be expected to enrich us all by being a place of reconciliation, healing, forgiveness and joy. “The other aspect of the Church is the physical reality of its institutional embodiment. This involves buildings, money and power. It is extremely hard for this second dimension of the Church’s… Read more »

Mrs Purdue
Mrs Purdue
1 month ago

Regardless of our political thoughts on Dominic Cummings, too many have neglected Christian compassion for him as a husband and father, dealing with coronavirus health issues, looking after his little boy without childcare, and, perhaps uniquely, having to do all this in a home where he and his family are doorstepped by the press. Furthermore, why did those critics, including the media, fail to criticise the media photographers when they were shown on the national news, blatantly ignoring social distancing guidelines while doorstepping him for photographs when he came out of his London home. We should take the plank out… Read more »

Anne Farthing
Anne Farthing
1 month ago
Reply to  Mrs Purdue

What moral planet, exactly, are you living on, Mrs Purdue? And in which Bible (Hebrew & Christian) do you find God showing compassion to the unrepentant abusers of power and merchants of double-speak, who show complete contempt for the people who are directly impacted by their hypocritical sense of entitlement? I’m not a Bible-bashing evangelical by any stretch of the imagination, but you might just find 2 Samuel (and quite a lot of the Psalms) a profitable starting-point for your bed-time reading.

Mrs Purdue
Mrs Purdue
1 month ago
Reply to  Anne Farthing

Thank you for your replies, and thank you for your suggestion. I read the Psalms daily as well as other parts of the Bible, including 2 Samuel. I believe Jesus cares for all of us with compassion when we are in desperate straits, even the centurion who represented the Roman oppressors in Matthew 8. As for the trip to Barnard Castle (which was closed), it was not the wisest way to test his ability to cope with driving, but, having recovered from serious illness myself, I quite understand someone not wanting to attempt a long drive after being ill, without… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Mrs Purdue

Indeed, but while being loving and compassionate not, at the same time, to be foolish and endanger others. I think the NT and the Lord’s Prayer say it more succinctly: “Love thy neighbour as thyself”. I’m afraid this whole episode (not just the short journey) demonstrated lack of integrity – added to by those in high office who have condoned it. How shameful for our country.

Brenda
Brenda
1 month ago
Reply to  Mrs Purdue

Mrs Purdue, I’d be interested to have your take on Mr. Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight with the four year old in the car. My own feeling is that it was reckless to put not only his own family at risk but other road users too.

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