In case you haven't heard, a memo written by the Very Rev'd Colin Slee, former Dean of the Cathedral in Southwark, England, before his death from pancreatic cancer last November, has been released by his family.
The memo, first reported by The Guardian UK and described as "devastating," states:
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.See what I mean? It's pretty awful, isn't it?
John, an able theologian and gifted preacher and pastor, highly regarded in the diocese and a friend of Williams, is celibate but in a longstanding civil partnership with another clergyman. He was forced by the archbishop to stand down after being appointed suffragan bishop of Reading eight years ago, following an orchestrated protest campaign by evangelicals. Holtam's promotion had been blocked because of his wife's divorce but he has since become bishop of Salisbury.
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.
Slee also in effect charges the church with hypocrisy, stating that there are several gay bishops "who have been less than candid about their domestic arrangements and who, in a conspiracy of silence, have been appointed to senior positions". The memo warns: "This situation cannot endure. Exposure of the reality would be nuclear."
Except, of course, that their hypocrisy has been, at long last, exposed. That's a huge relief for many, many people - especially those of us in the North American provinces of The Anglican Communion who have been used as a British whipping post for all that is wrong with the world and the reason we 'need' the Anglican
We are "more than candid" about our bishops. Indeed, there's a word for it:
Here's another: Truthful.
That's sooOOoo annoying.
Of course there have been bishops in the Church of England who are gay! There have to have been. It has been ever thus in the church throughout Christendom. Bishop Gene Robinson is hardly the first gay bishop in the Anglican Communion. He's merely the first to be honest and truthful about his God-given sexual orientation.
Many gay men who come from affluent families and/or are well connected to deep pockets of money or political power have often been appointed bishops. It's an old, sad, pathetic game the church thinks no one can detect from behind the billows of incense and lace cottas and perfectly chanted psalms.
|Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori|
Remember when he wouldn't allow our Presiding Bishop wear her mitre when she visited Southwark Cathedral in June of 2010?
Some of us remember it clearly. ENS reported:
In the week before her visit, the presiding bishop said, Lambeth pressured her office to provide evidence of her ordination to each order of ministry.Bizarre behavior, bullying and bad behavior seem the order of the day when Men in Purple Shirts feel their power and authority threatened.
"This is apparently a requirement of one of their canons about the ministry of clergy from overseas," she said.
The presiding bishop said both the ordination and mitre issues put the Very Rev. Colin Slee, Southwark's dean, "in a very awkward position."
She called the requirements "nonsense" and said, "It is bizarre; it is beyond bizarre."
Apparently, according to the Slee memo, "We had two very horrible days in which I would say both archbishops behaved very badly." And,
"The archbishop of Canterbury was bad tempered throughout. When it came to voting, certainly two – possibly three – members were in tears and [Williams] made no acknowledgement but carried on regardless. At a critical point Archbishop Sentamu and three other members simultaneously went to the lavatory, after which the voting patterns changed."One wonders what it was they washed their hands of.
Oh, but wait! There's more!
Slee's evidence to the leak enquiry claimed that it was the archbishop of Canterbury himself who was responsible for the leak by asking church lawyers outside the committee for legal advice on whether John could be stopped. Lambeth Palace denies that it was the source of the leak and says there are errors in Slee's account. The archbishop of York's office refused to comment, saying the whole process was entirely confidential.Besides the hypocrisy, is anyone else catching the deep irony here? The governance of the secular world is more concerned with justice than that of the governance of the church. Indeed, the law of the land in England would seem to have a higher regard for the justice and liberty and full inclusion of all individuals into every aspect of community life than does the Church of England.
The House of Bishops sought legal advice to discover whether it would be illegal to deny John a job. A briefing in December from the Church House legal department appears to state that though it would be illegal to discriminate against him because he is a celibate gay person, it was perfectly in order to discriminate against him because there are Christians who cannot accept gay people.
Bizarre, badly behaving, bullying Bishops? How can this possibly be? Why would otherwise mild-mannered, God-fearing, well educated men who have dedicated their lives to following the teachings of Christ behave like this?
It's something of a mystery to many.
The French would say, "Cherchez la femme" - ( \sher-shā-lä-fȧm\ ) - a French phrase which literally means "look for the woman." The implication is that a man behaves out of character or in an otherwise inexplicable manner because he is trying to cover up an affair with a woman, or trying to impress or gain favor with a woman.
I don't think there is "another woman" involved here - well, not in that way - but I do think this sordid 'affair' is all part of the Church of England's conflicted ideas about gender and the authority and power.
I have long maintained that wherever there is the smoke of homophobia and heterosexism burn the fires of misogyny and sexism. This is what some are calling the Lambeth "Quadrilateral of Bigotry".
Look at the way an institution treats homosexual men and you will soon discover what it really thinks and feels about women (of any sexual orientation) - beyond how they treat women publicly.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung talked a great deal about 'midlife crisis'. Jungian theory holds that midlife is key to individuation, a process of self-actualization and self-awareness that contains many potential paradoxes.
Jung talked about how our culture forces men to keep their feminine aspects - the anima - under control. By the time a man reaches midlife, the anima rises again and many men try to control their interior life by conquering the feminine in their exterior life. So, they have affairs with their secretaries or other women and divorce their wives.
It has been argued that the church is in the midlife of her development into the realities of modernity and post-modernity. The feminine aspects in the interior life of the church - the anima - are rising again and the 'animus' - the male aspects in the interior life of the church - has become like a lion roaring over his pride.
And that's the real 'nuclear reactor' of Dean Slee's memo. All of it - the hypocrisy and prejudice and bigotry - is being exposed for all the world to see.
Cherchez la femme - look for the woman - the anima - behind the mystery of this bigoted, bullying, bizarre behavior from the Princes of the Church and you'll understand it better. It may even give us a strategy in terms of how to confront it and heal ourselves of this terribly painful rift.
When Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached last June - without her mitre - at Southwark Cathedral, the text of the gospel appointed for the day was Luke 7:36-50, in which a woman washed Jesus' feet with her tears and then let down her hair to dry them.
In her sermon, Jefferts Schori asked,
"What makes us so afraid of the other?"There's a word for that: hypocrisy.
"There's something in our ancient genetic memory that ratchets up our state of arousal when we meet a stranger -- it's a survival mechanism that has kept our species alive for millennia by being wary about strangers," she said. "But there's also a piece of our makeup that we talk about in more theological terms -- the part that leaps to judgment about that person's sins. It's connected to knowing our own sinfulness, and our tendency toward competition -- well, she must be a worse sinner than I am -- thank God!"
Here's another - the key to the not-so mysterious bad behavior of the Princes of the Church:
Cherchez la femme.