Jeffrey John Blocked – Again

In a most disappointing move, Jeffrey John will Not, after all, be the next Anglican bishop of Southwark.

It seems that part of the reason may have been the breach of confidentiality. Rowan Williams is said to have been furious, and insisted that he would not be “pressured” into backing any one candidate. Interestingly, a report from the Guardian earlier this week was that “sources” were that the leak had been engineered by the evangelical faction.

Part of the build-up to this was news that the evangelicals were “furious” at John’s nomination. Others will be furious that an obviously talented, capable and much-loved candidate, with close personal knowledge of Southwark diocese, has been blocked on purely ideological grounds.

From the Guardian:

Gay clergyman blocked from becoming bishop

Jeffrey John barred from becoming Bishop of Southwark – the second time that he has failed to be appointed to such a senior position following a row over his sexuality Read the rest of this entry »

Anglican Inclusion as Toronto Welcomes the Queen – and the “Queens”.

By a happy chance, the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Toronto on Saturday coincided with Toronto’s Pride parade later the same day.

Joining the crowd were two gay men, Randy Pierce and Kim Hutchinson, who had just met a week ago. The pair, who wore khaki shorts and short-sleeved dress shirts, had come to see the Queen.

“We’re here to see the real Queen and the other queens,” Mr. Pierce said, outlining the couple’s plans for Sunday. “We’ve got time to leave and change and put on our happy gear. We had to tone it down for the real Queen, and spice it up for the others.”

The synchronicity provided an opportunity for a timely and thoughtful reflection by Douglas Stoute, Dean of St James Cathedral, on the theme of inclusion in the church, in a sermon calling for the Anglican Church to hold a “respectful, inclusive dialogue with all God’s people”.

“The church is undergoing a rebirth,” the Very Reverend Stoute told the congregation. “It is at times destructive.” He noted that some in the Anglican church have sought to defend traditional biblical ideas of who belongs and who does not, a reference to a schism in the Anglican church over the blessing of same-sex unions.

“A church grounded by inclusiveness and openness is becoming more relevant,” he said.
“Polarization within Anglicanism is not new,” Rev. Stoute added, noting the 16th-century division between Catholicism and Protestantism and the 19th century dispute between high church and low church.

“Throughout history Anglicanism has sought to find a middle road,” he added. “It is a recognition that we do not have all the answers. It requires that we let go of pride and reach out to listen with open minds and open hearts.”

(Read more at National Post_)

This is timely on two counts. The Canadian church recently disappointed by fudging a decision on church blessing for same-sex partnerships. Last year, the proposal was passed by a comfortable majority, but failed nevertheless because the proposal needed separate majorities from each of laity, clergy and bishops  – and comfortable majorities in the first two groups sat alongside a narrow loss among the bishops. This year, early expectations were that a fresh vote would get the three separate majorities required. This did not happen. Although the atmosphere was reported to be more conciliatory, with an increased commitment to listening to each other, the fact remains that the church remains divided, and has failed to accept a decision on inclusion that has the support of a clear majority overall. The Canadian church would do well to take Dean Stoute’s words to heart.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, an announcement is expected later this week which will confirm the first openly gay Anglican bishop, joining the Episcopalians Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool in the US, and Eve Brunne in Sweden as the world’s first openly gay or lesbians selected for ordination as bishops. (There have been openly gay bishops before, but in the earlier cases, they were not open about their sexuality until after selection).

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St Paulinus of Nola: Bishop, Poet, Saint – and Gay.

Although some would dispute the description of Paulinus as ‘gay’, the description seems to me entirely appropriate to his sensibility. Although history records no evidence of physical expression of his same sex attraction, nor is there any evidence against it.  Given the historical context he was living in (4th/5th century Roman empire), when sex with either gender was commonplace for men at at all levels of society, inside and outside the Christian church, the absence of written records of private activities after 15 centuries is completely unremarkable.  Nor is the fact that he was married particularly significant – for Romans, marriage and sex with men were entirely compatible.

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And Then There Were Three (Gay Bishops)*

This post has moved to my new domain at

Centre & Margins: Anglican/ Episcopalian Distortions on Gay Bishops, Gay Marriage

Over the past week there have been some notable postings and responses at Bilgrimage about the margins and the centre in the church, and on attempts to control public discourse from the right. This is a powerful theme, which can stand a great deal of further analysis, and on which I have been reflecting a lot ever since.  For now, though, I just want to point out how this same pattern of misappropriating and misrepresenting decisions and history in the church has played out in the Anglican/Episcopalian Communion in much the same way.

Ever since Gene Robinson’s consecration as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, and the Episcopal Church’s decision this year to suspend the moratorium on further consecrations of gay bishops, we have become accustomed to howls of outrage (on the “right” ) and regretful cluckings (from the “centre”) about how the US Episcopalians have thrown the Anglican communion into crisis by their actions, in ignoring earlier decisions of the church and so forcing schism.  This meme has become so commonplace, it has become widely accepted without question.  There is however, one important difficulty with this story, as popularly reported:  it just isn’t true.  Gene Robinson was not the first openly gay bishop.  The departure from earlier decisions came not from the Episcopalians, but from those  opposed to the recognition of same sex partnerships.

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Outing the Church: Gay Popes, Gay Bishops

"A statue of a bishop or cardinal or pope strikes a particularly effeminate pose as he gazes at the sculptor while holding an open book".  Image by Holoweb

"A statue of a bishop or cardinal or pope strikes a particularly effeminate pose as he gazes at the sculptor while holding an open book". Image by Holoweb

It is widely guesstimated that gay men today represent something of the order of half of all priests. There is no reason to assume that this percentage differs dramatically in the senior ranks – indeed, there are those who claim that in the years of Paul VI and John Paul I, a gay orientation was a positive advantage in gaining papal preferment, leading to the creation of a “gay mafia” in the Vatican.  Be that as it may, whatever the proportions, it must be true that the absolute numbers of gay bishops and clergy must surely be significant.  We know of many examples from history, and there are well stories of their modern counterparts – emerging only after death, or in the aftermath of blackmail scandals.

But the numbers we know about represent only a tiny proportion of the total.  I have noted previously (“Traditional Family”  values, traditional “Family Values”) that I believe it is time to start identifying and outing those senior clergy who connive in the official oppressive church teaching, yet freely give expression to their own gay sexuality:

It is widely reported that a large and growing proportion of priests, at all levels in the hierarchy, are gay.  Others are heterosexual, but non-celibate.  Professional Vatican watchers, it is said, know not only who many of these people are, but also their partners and preferred sexual practices.  As with politicians, I would prefer that they should have the courage to come out publicly, difficult as this would be, but where they choose not to, we must respect their privacy.  But as with politicians, where they actively connive in the church’s demonization of “homosexuals”  and other sexual minorities, they should lose that right to provacy.  There have been plenty of reports of gay bishops and cardinals emerging after their deaths, or after nasty blackmail scandals – so why not when they are alive?

It is also often said that the pope’s balls are one of the three most useless things in the world.  So………come on, you professional clerical journalists:  are your cojones any more useful than His Holiness’s ?”

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Gay Bishops, Gay Marriage: Catholic Church Consecrates Openly Gay Bishop in France!

In  1098!

With all the current fuss about the decision of the US Episcopal Church to consecrate openly gay bishops, and the Catholic Church’s declared hostility to gay priests and to gay marriage or even civil unions, we forget that in the older history of the church, it is not gay priests and bishops that are new, or gay marriage, but the opposition to them.  Many medieval and classical scholars have produced abundant evidence of clearly homosexual clergy, bishops, and even saints, and of church recognition of same sex unions.

gay bishops

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