Thursday, 26 May 2011

Propriety and Scandal


I have OCRed the text originating with Colin Slee. It's not mine so I can't publish straight up. What's clear is the dirty way both Williams and Semantu tried to pin the leak on Slee, via gossip, having had the leak earlier. The meeting was a disgrace, with Semantu doing some vote changing using a him and three other persons visit to the urinals.

Let's look at this Guardian report carefully, based on a record by the late Colin Slee.
The fraught divisions have been laid bare in the leak of an anguished and devastating memorandum written by the Very Rev Colin Slee, the former dean of Southwark Cathedral, shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer last November. Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, and John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, vetoed candidates from becoming bishops of the south London diocese.

So these two were actively involved in preventing Southwark choosing its bishop. We know this much. So how was this done?

The document reveals shouting matches and arm-twisting by the archbishops to keep out the diocese's preferred choices as bishop: Jeffrey John, the gay dean of St Albans, and Nicholas Holtam, rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, whose wife was divorced many years ago. Eventually Christopher Chessun, then an assistant bishop, was chosen.

Sounds rough. How rough?

Slee described Williams shouting and losing his temper in last year's Southwark meeting, which left several members of the crown nomination committee, responsible for the selection of bishops, in tears.

So perhaps we understand a little more about this bureaucratic Archbishop and his Yorkie sidekick, and the railroading of the Covenant, with the presentation of a one-sided argument. Outside all the academic stuff, outside the public smiles, comes an operator losing his temper in order to exclude and preserve.

Since then Nicholas Holtam has received a position, but Jeffrey John hasn't. The Archbishop is so sorry about Jeffrey John that he continues to shout.

Duplicity, that is dishonesty, meanwhile runs riot, for those who are less open as gay bishops, enjoying their relationships fleeting and otherwise, carry on regardless.

Ruth, eldest daughter of Colin Slee, thinks the row and its bad atmosphere made her father angry and depressed, and it contributed to his cancer from which he died.

Furthermore, Colin Slee believed that Rowan Williams himself leaked about the meeting, about which an enquiry was set up. What's the betting that the enquiry does not find that Rowan Williams leaked? Lambeth Palace denies it, Bishopthorpe stays silent.

Compared with any scandal that a gay bishop might not be a focus of unity, this is real and actual scandal. Of course Williams should have gone long ago, and take his York subordinate with him. He is railroading the Church of England to a point where it freezes itself so that he and his successors and their instruments can stand and direct Anglican traffic on issues like excluding gay people. He is building a Church empire to take the result for 'better identity' to the pope.

As for the policy and law in York this week, here is some real bullshit. You cannot take into account whether a person is gay in considering them for being a bishop, but you cannot promote a bishop who is in a relationship nor if they would not be a focus for unity in the diocese.

Process, then:

  • He's gay. Doesn't matter, we must consider him.
  • He's actively gay. Does matter, we can't appoint him.
  • He's not actively gay. Does matter, it probably means disunity.
  • A bit of a delay but a divorced chap can get through so far.


Rick+ said...

As one who has some experience with both church and secular politics, I still find this shocking behavior.

Anonymous said...

Churches move slowly. It will happen in time - for the CofE to move towards the ECUSA position.

However, until that point, it should be no surprise that the ABC enforces the rules.

Unlike in the US, in England the church is filled with masses of evangelicals, hence the impass.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Williams is not doing something for evangelicals, but for the bureaucracy. Bureaucracy believes in processes and centres for those processes. It is not the Anglican ethos, whatever evangelicals might think, who'd have more absolute rules.