Thinking Anglicans

Primates criticise appointment of Canterbury dean

The Church Times reports: New Dean of Canterbury comes under fire from GAFCON Primates

PRIMATES allied to the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) have condemned the Archbishop of Canterbury for “refusing to prevent” the appointment of the Very Revd David Monteith as Dean of Canterbury Cathedral (News, 14 October). They have urged Archbishop Welby to repent. Lambeth Palace has responded by saying that the statement is inaccurate.

The subject of Dean Monteith’s appointment takes up a large section of the communiqué issued by the Primates of North America (ACNA), Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, All Nigeria, and the Indian Ocean after a meeting of the GAFCON Primates Council meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, which ended on Wednesday…

And it concludes:

…A spokesperson from Lambeth Palace on Friday described the statement as “inaccurate in a number of ways including the nature of the Anglican Communion, the appointment of the Dean of Canterbury, and the understanding of civil partnerships in England”.

Lambeth also confirmed, in answer to a question from the Church Times, that the Archbishop was engaged in ongoing WhatsApp conversations with Primates. These are described as “closed and private groups and as a matter of policy, all conversations remain private and confidential”.

The Anglican Communion News Service has this: Church of England and Anglican Communion respond to inaccurate press statements which begins this way:

Statements issued this week by the “GSFA Steering Committee” and the “Gafcon Primates Council” contain several inaccuracies, including the nature of the Anglican Communion, the appointment of the Dean of Canterbury, and the understanding of civil partnerships in England, a Church of England spokesperson has said.

The statements criticise the appointment of the new Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Revd David Montieth, because he is in a civil partnership. Much of the criticism levelled against the Dean-designate appears to be based on international confusion about the nature of such civil partnerships.

“A civil partnership in English law dates from 5 December 2005”, a C of E spokesperson said. “Civil partnerships are not recognised as marriage but are a legal means, not involving any church, by which two people (of the same or different gender) can create a bond which, for the purposes of secular law, gives them the same legal entitlements as if they were married.

“Some gay and lesbian English clergy have entered civil partnerships from near the beginning in 2005. They are still bound by the rule that sexual relationships must only be within marriage as recognised by the Church, and are not allowed by being in a civil partnership. Abstention from sexual relationships (celibacy) is required of all unmarried clergy, whatever their sexuality.

“Since 2005, in the Church of England, appointments have not been refused simply because the person concerned is in a civil partnership, so long as they obey the discipline of the church…”

And it concludes

…The C of E spokesperson added: “Let us pray that the commitment made by bishops at the Lambeth Conference to walk together to the maximum degree possible despite our deeply-held differences will endure. Let us continue to build up our common life together on the solid rock of Jesus Christ who calls us to unity so that the world may know His love.”

The two original documents containing the criticisms are linked below, so readers may see exactly what was said.

GAFCON has issued this: Communiqué from the Gafcon Primates Council. The relevant section is in part 2 (do read it all):

…We were deeply grieved by the recent appointment of a man who lives in a same-sex civil partnership as Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. It is a heartbreaking provocation that such a departure from biblical standards would be thrust upon the Communion in the historic See of Canterbury and in opposition to the established teaching and practice of the majority of Anglicans.

The announcement from the Archbishop of Canterbury distanced himself from this appointment, as it was the recommendation of a Selection Panel, requiring the Queen’s approval. Yet it is difficult to see how a Diocesan Bishop, let alone the Archbishop of Canterbury, could not influence the appointment of the Dean of his own Cathedral, especially given the published process for the Appointment of Deans. Moreover, filling this position was the responsibility of Mr Stephen Knott, the Archbishop’s Secretary for Appointments, who is himself in a same-sex marriage. It is disingenuous, if not duplicitous, for the Archbishop to claim that the Church of England has not changed its doctrine of marriage, when he has engaged an Appointments Secretary, whose own union is a living contradiction of marriage as God has ordained it, and which the Church of England claims to uphold. By empowering Mr Knott to oversee the appointments of senior positions in the Church of England, it is hardly surprising that the recommended nominee was likewise in a same-sex relationship. Clearly, the process for appointing senior positions in the Church of England needs to be reformed, so that decisions are in the hands of those who abide by the teaching of the Church of England, especially in relation to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, which are generally perceived as a cloak for homosexual activity….

This document is signed by

Archbishop Foley Beach, Primate of North America & Chairman
Archbishop Laurent Mbanda, Primate of Rwanda & Vice Chairman
Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, Primate of Kenya
Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba, Primate of Uganda
Archbishop Henry Ndukuba, Primate of All Nigeria
Archbishop James Wong, Primate of Indian Ocean & Advisor to Primates Council

The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (follow link to see who that includes) has issued this: GSFA Statement on the appointment of the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, England which includes the following (again, do read it all)

We are aggrieved by the announcement on 11 Oct 2022 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Hon & Most Revd Justin Welby (ABC) regarding the appointment of a person in a same- sex civil partnership (The Very Revd Dr David Monteith) as the new Dean of Canterbury….

…It saddens us that in this recent appointment of the Deanery of Canterbury, the ABC shows yet again, that his oft-expressed assurance that Lambeth 1.10 remains ‘the official teaching of the Church’ is merely lip-service [2]. If it is the official teaching of the Church, then it ought to be followed through in the ‘faith & order’ of all Provinces. The appointment of a person in same-sex civil partnership to a senior clerical position clearly contravenes the spirit of Lambeth 1.10, which not only rejects ‘homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture’, but goes on to declare that the Lambeth Conference of 1998 ‘cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions.’

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Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
1 year ago

What ghastly people. How much homophobia do we have to put up with?

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
1 year ago

They are indeed homophobes, but they are right that accepting same sex civil unions while claiming to prohibit same sex marriage is sophistry. Time for that to end and for the Church of England to recognise them as marriages and, indeed, to accept same sex marriage itself.

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

accepting same sex civil unions while claiming to prohibit same sex marriage is sophistry

See my comments below. In the legal sense, the church can no more “prohibit same sex marriage” than it can prohibit the sale of tobacco. The state has has created a legal status of civil partnership, and it has redefined legal marriage to include same sex unions, and the church can’t undo either of those.

Father Ron Smith
1 year ago

How interesting that the ‘Primate of ALL Nigeria’ should append his signature along with his fellow Gafconites, while all the time planning to start up his very own ‘Anglican Church’ in North America and Europe. (Watch out bishop Andy Lines (AMIE); Nigeria is after alienating your flock!)

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
1 year ago

What I think of GAFCON is unprintable, unless I want to face a decree of anathema from the TA moderators and creators. We know any time there’s an opportunity to do so, GAFCON will kick GLBT people to the curb, will condemn them, will denounce the splinter in the eyes of GLBT couples while ignoring the redwood trees in their own community’s eyes. That’s a given. What I continue to feel sad about, and I know I expect way too much, is the reaction from the CofE establishment. Would it have been too much for the CofE spokesperson (whose statement… Read more »

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
1 year ago

Gafcon make me want to consider Buddhism as a healthy alternative!

Paul
Paul
1 year ago

It’s bizarre that the response is that the Primates are ignorant about “the understanding of civil partnerships in England”.

I don’t know any other English person who regards civil partnerships as anything other than an equivalent to marriage, apart from senior CofE clergy.

This does make our bishops look shifty and dishonest.

Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

Legally speaking, they are the equivalent of marriage, and carry the same rights and protections as marriage. That was the whole point of extending civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. No one would have wanted a deal that offered less than marriage – but CPs exist for two sorts of people: those who don’t like the history and baggage of marriage, and the bishops of the C of E who are so hung up about sex, it seems.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
1 year ago

I would want to be careful here. Broadly speaking CP and same sex marriage may be equivalent, but I think there are some differences, in detail, around grounds for dissolution for example.

However I am speaking from memory whilst eating a breakfast bap in a cafe on the SW coastal path, so I can’t access my normal books and files to be certain.

But I do think it would be helpful to be aware of these differences in detail, and consider if they are relevant, before going on to assume direct equivalence between CP and marriage.

Best wishes.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

Yes, there are differences between CP and the current law surrounding marriage but they are less than the differences in the evolution of marriage itself over the years. To concentrate on the former while ignoring the latter isn’t helpful.

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Kate
1 year ago

There’s a confusion here. The state has a concept of marriage, and a closely related concept of civil partnership. These are legally defined relationships, which entail specific legal rights and obligations. The christian churches also have a concept of marriage, as a spiritual relationship between two people. Some churches recognise such a relationship between any two people; others recognise it only between a man and a woman. Of course, it so happens that the Church of England, being the established church, has the ability to conduct both forms of marriage simultaneously. Other churches are required to separate out the two… Read more »

Rich
Rich
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

Correct. It’s a bad witness. And unfair on a couple in love not to be able to express their love sexually. It pleases no one this civil partnership with assurances nonsense.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Paul
1 year ago

I think that it’s unfair to describe the bishops as dishonest; that would imply that there was some guile at work. My personal view is that they’re mostly maladroit and thus poor leaders.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

I think it’s dishonest to tell foreign church leaders that they’ve misunderstood the new dean’s relationship because they don’t understand how the English view civil partnerships.

The press release is designed to suggest that the foreign church leaders are ignorant, because they think that when the dean introduces his partner to people in Canterbury the parishioners will see the partner as his spouse.

But they will.

And our bishops know that.

So it is dishonest.

Benjamin Williams
Benjamin Williams
1 year ago

I note that the spokesperson responded not by challenging homophobia but by insisting that the Church of England conforms to it in every respect.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Benjamin Williams
1 year ago

Yes, Amen!
GAFCON is GAFCON. But for the spokesperson to yield to them is appalling.
If the CofE establishment is so blinded by the size of the GAFCON flock that they ignore the sheep in their own flock, then the establishment is in dreadful sin. IMO.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Benjamin Williams
1 year ago

Yes. Disappointing..But by now we know that Canterbury tends to try to say what people want to hear so I am not minded to draw conclusions from it.

Ronnie Smith
1 year ago

Is there any point in hoping that the ABC will offer any sort of restraint against the machinations of Gafcon? For the sake of the rest of us in ACC, if not the C. of E.? It may be time for a stand against the homophobia of the Gafcon Primates

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Ronnie Smith
1 year ago

“I neither have, nor do I seek, the authority to discipline or exclude a church of the Anglican Communion. I will not do so.” So said Justin Welby recently. So no use appealing to him for help on any issue.

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
Reply to  Ronnie Smith
1 year ago

No

peter kettle
1 year ago

Anglican Communion News Service: “Since 2005, in the Church of England, appointments have not been refused simply because the person concerned is in a civil partnership, so long as they obey the discipline of the church…”

Is that correct?

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  peter kettle
1 year ago

Well we have certainly had a few civilly partnered deans and archdeacons. And there are a good number of civilly partnered clergy. Surely GAFCON knew this. I suppose they see the Canterbury appointment as significant as it is the Anglican communion’s “mother”church. From what I hear (I live in Canterbury) he was certainly the best of those interviewed and comes with an impressive record from Leicester.

peter kettle
Reply to  Perry Butler
1 year ago

Actually what I was questioning was whether anyone had been refused an appointment because they were in a CP – should have made that more clear!

Rich
Rich
Reply to  peter kettle
1 year ago

Yes. It’s why Michael Nazir Ali retired early. He saw it as sophistry.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
1 year ago

Just tell them to get their tanks off our lawn. Some of these ‘traditionalists’ are not so fussy about the remarriage of divorcees and some of the provinces represented here have to deal with polygamy. Plenty for them to be getting on with on their own turf.

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

Who are the “we” referred to here?

Richard
Richard
1 year ago

Here in the US, there are complaints that Welby must have known this prior to Lambeth… and he was deceptive in not announcing it then.

We don’t know that it was official at that time… and those who are most disturbed didn’t attend Lambeth anyway.

Lister Tonge
Lister Tonge
Reply to  Richard
1 year ago

It is not the Archbishop’s business to announce an appointment that is not his so he can’t be criticised for that.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Lister Tonge
1 year ago

As I wrote.

Hannah
Hannah
Reply to  Richard
1 year ago

Assuming he did know before Lambeth (which is a reasonable assumption), he couldn’t have announced it even if he’d wanted to, because these are Crown appointments and the announcements come from 10 Downing Street not from Lambeth Palace. It’s part of being the established church.

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

Well… at least we know where these Archbishops stand!

We cannot say the same for the Archbishop of Canterbury or the English Bishops.

Father David
Father David
1 year ago

Whoever was appointed as the next Dean of Canterbury – Robert Willis would have been, as they say, “a hard act to follow”

Father Ron Smith
1 year ago

It strikes me that one of the problems confronting the unity of the Anglican Communion at the moment is the FACT that most of the GAFCON-ites live in countries where homosexuality is still penalised by legal criminalisation. This situation was different in the U.K., when the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Arthur Ramsay, was at the forefront of opposition to the extant criminalisation of gay people. Such radical opposition to the reigning government in some GAFCON countries may, in itself, be cause for further criminalisation of the protesters – making the local Anglican Bishops unable to protest the injustice of… Read more »

Catherine Loxton
Catherine Loxton
9 months ago

Since The Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury 2001-2022, is also in a civil partnership, these people have had quite a long time to get used to the idea. I find it quite bizarre that they would launch an enquiry into David Monteith, formerly Dean of Leicester Cathedral, who has proven experience for decades in the Church and is perfectly qualified in every aspect to run Canterbury Cathedral. Too much notice has been taken of this nonsense.

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