Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 5 October 2019

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Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News Power, Men & Politics

Lambeth Conference Eamonn Mullally shares his hopes for the Lambeth Conference

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Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
1 year ago

Eamonn seems like a lovely, decent guy so let me start by affirming his goodwill and positivity as expressed in this article. Setting him aside, to the ‘marketeers’ who produced this article for the Lambeth website, what else (inevitably) does this interview say: 1. “Married to Sarah” – heterosexual. This is a conference, let us remember, that is discriminating against gay and lesbian partners. So interview a heterosexual partner as if everything is alright. 2. “Eamonn will be attending the 2020 Lambeth Conference.” Yes he will. Cool. But others have been excluded. 3. “I’m looking forward to meeting other people… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 year ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Lovely decent guy maybe but it also makes clear that he isn’t attending because of how much work he does for the Diocese but simply because of to whom he is married. If an MP took a husband or wife to a conference, not because they are fully involved in the work, but simply because they were his/her spouse, there would be outrage. In what way is this different?

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate

I’m afraid I don’t share your slant on this, Kate. I think it’s great, really great, that partners are invited to attend, to be given the support of meeting others in their own position, and also as an act of solidarity and involvement with the givenness and vocation of their bishop husbands/wives. In marriage, two people become one, and being a bishop’s partner must inevitably be part of a partner’s own vocation. It is also a further opportunity for members of very different cultural experience to meet, to encourage, to affirm, to learn. As I have said before, I think… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 year ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

That’s double standards. Most spouses support each other. But if a politician or business(wo)man took his/her spouse to an international conference simply because they were married we would all recognise that was wrong – unless the spouse was paying for themselves and there is no indication of that.

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate

I’ve no idea what current British business practice is, but the high tech company for which I worked from the early 1970s until around the turn of the century held many residential senior management conferences to part of which (typically a 24 hour period) spouses were regularly invited. This was considered a normal cost of doing business.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

Fully agree – common practice, even today.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate

“We would all recognise that was wrong” – disagree, happens all the time in business.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate

You use the example of MPs – certainly all the spouses of MPs I know (male and female) attended their respective party conferences. I don’t imagine they were paying a half share of the hotel room, personally.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate

Many clergy and bishops work from home and that necessarily involves the whole family. Additionally, most clergy spouses and families attend church, whereas few partners would turn up at their spouse’s workplace. And, particularly overseas, many bishops’ wives have a role in leading and setting an example among women and families. I attended a Lambeth Fringe a few years ago and met several bishops’ partners. They found the spouses’ programme really valuable, an opportunity to gain resources they could take back to their own countries. This was especially so in the developing world. I have no problem with spouses attending,… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 year ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

But in the cases like Eamonn who, by his own account, does very little wouldn’t it make more sense for Bishop Sarah to take an assistant or secretary?

Kate
Kate
1 year ago

Q: What does being married to a bishop involve? How does it affect your own life and work?
A; Surprisingly little.

So even though Eamonn says his life is barely affected by Sarah’s episcopate, he has still decided to attend Lambeth 2020 rather than protest against others who have been excluded. He doesn’t even MENTION their exclusion. I used to be in the Diocese of London and am horrified that the Diocese considers paying for him to be a suitable use of limited funds. Nepotism at its worst.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate

I’m currently in the Diocese of London and I think this is a great use of funds.

Kate
Kate
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick

Then the Diocese ought to put it to a vote

Nick
Nick
1 year ago
Reply to  Kate

Any member of any parish in the diocese of London can take it up with their Deanery Synod representative, if they see fit. Those outside the Diocese should – perhaps – keep their views to their own Diocese, rather than suggesting ridiculous plebiscites. We all know where plebiscites got us 😉

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 year ago

Eamonn Mullally put it better than I could: “I try to be supportive and learnt a long time ago the best way to achieve this is by just being there and being a distraction from the challenges.”

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy

Yes I try to help my wife switch off from the job too.

Kate
Kate
1 year ago
Reply to  David Runcorn

And that is very valuable but not in itself, I would suggest, reason for a Diocese to pay for a spouse to attend the conference. We were told that spouses had been invited because they share much of the work of the bishop. Some do and their attendance makes sense. But when the spouse has a career and interests of their own, or just helps the bishop to “switch off” then their inclusion is hard to justify. Feminism has spent years working to stop wives from being seen simply as adjuncts of their husbands and for most provinces we are… Read more »

peter kettle
peter kettle
1 year ago

In amongst all the excitement about Bishop’s spouses, don’t ignore the Stephen Parson’s blog and the responses – there’s some really sinister stuff going on there.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago
Reply to  peter kettle

Nothing sinister – all very sensible!

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
1 year ago

Kate, I think you are determined to spin this brief interview about Eamonn Mullally all you can. It is not true that he says his life ‘is barely affected by Sarah’s episcopate’. He actually speaks of his support. He is clearly involved alongside her – ‘I get to meet many different people in different settings. I feel really privileged to have such a unique opportunity. He has actually moved house three times since 2015 for her ministry. He sees Lambeth as a ‘unique opportunity’ to do more of that or he would presumably not be bothering to help organise the… Read more »

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