Sunday, July 4, 2010

Too Good to be True?

The Sunday Telegraph has reported the openly gay Dean of St. Albans Cathedral will be the next Bishop of Southwark .

The story is hard to believe.

The process for the selection of a Bishop is very different in the Church of England than in the Episcopal Church: a committee nominates, the Prime Minister signs off on the nominee and the Queen appoints. The Archbishop of Canterbury chairs the committee ("The Crown Nominations Commission"). If the Dean of St. Alban's is the nominee, then the role of the Archbishop in his selection will be an interesting story.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Rowan Williams (the Archbishop of Canterbury) favored Jeffrey John (Dean of St. Alban's Cathedral) to be the nominee. That Johns would be favored by Williams is hard to believe.

John was nominated to be the Bishop of Reading in 2003, but was asked by Williams to "stand down" before he could be consecrated as Bishop and installed at Reading. If the story in the Telegraph is true, Williams has changed course.

Further, Williams has been critical of the Episcopal Church for consecrating two openly homosexual persons as Bishops. Again, if the story in the Telegraph is true, Williams has changed course.

Williams' position on openly homosexual persons serving as Bishop has, however, been complicated. Before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Williams supported the full inclusion of homosexual persons into the full life of the Church. As the Archbishop of Canterbury, however, he has opposed the consecration of openly homosexual persons to be bishop. Apparently, Williams laid aside his personal convictions in this matter and followed his understanding of the dictates and duties and obligations of the office of Archbishop of Canterbury.

Given this history, the story in the Telegraph is hard to believe.

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