Personal Fiefdom?

It appears that the Rev Martin Dudley truly is a law unto himself, and himself alone.

In today’s Church Times Dudley writes on the letters page:

Sir,

Your report concerning the blessing of Peter Cowell and David Lloyd contains a number of errors, though you are not responsible for only some of them.

Bishop Broadbent stated that there was a "series of frank discussions" with me which led to my expression of regret. This is not the case. There were no discussions with the Bishop of London or anyone representing him.

I did not issue "a statement of apology to the Bishop of London"; I sent him a letter of regret on the 21st of July, drafted in consultation with my lawyers, to which he replied on 15 September requesting that it should be made public.

Let’s summarise this shall we?

  1. Bishop Pete Broadbent is either a liar or seriously mistaken / misinformed
  2. Dudley is not apologising for performing the service.

I think this letter makes it completely unambigious that, as I have pointed out, Dudley sees absolutely nothing wrong in the theology of the service he performed. He doesn’t even regret doing the service, he only regrets the embarassment he caused to Richard Chartres.

Does this present the case of a man who does think he runs a personal fiefdom, accountable to no-one? Last month I asked the question "Who paid Dudley’s Bills?" in which I wrote the following:

The legal team for Martin Dudley incuded Mark Hill.

Mark Hill is Chancellor of the Diocese of Chichester, on the Legal Advisory Commission of the General Synod, on the General and the Executive Committee of the Ecclesiastical Law Society and is Chairman of the Editorial Committee and Editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal.

I wonder how much he costs and who paid?

Dudley himself responded to the thread and the conversation was as follows:

  1. Who paid Dudley’s bills?  You could ask him

  2. OK then – tell us. Who paid the bills and how much were they? Or are you inviting us to ask and then not going to give a reply?

  3. Why do you want to know the answer?  Will it assist your conspiracy theory?

  4. I’m insatiably curious.

    I don’t do conspiracy theories, I do analysis. I’m simply wondering how much the Chancellor (who is a top top canon lawyer) cost and where the money came from?

"No Answer", came the stern reply.

You would think from the first comment Dudley was actually willing to be open with us about where the funding for his senior legal team came from, but once again he doesn’t feel the need to hold himself accountable to anybody.

I’m not holding out any hope for a reply, but let’s all be clear about two things. Firstly, Dudley does not appear in the slightest bit apologetic for conducting a service that tore up huge sections of the doctrine of the Church of England, and also seems to revel in that fact that he hasn’t been disciplined. Secondly, he invites questions of his actions but then shows no inclination to answer them.

I have it on very good authority (and not just here from Winston, which by the way I think is, contrary to my original surmisings, a pretty accurate description of the political position in Two Cities) that Dudley’s actions have severely hacked off other revisionist activists in London. This whole affair has been far too public for them, and frankly they wish he’d been much more discrete.

From time to time bloggers get accused of simply being ego-centric self-publicists. Heaven help us if Dudley ever discovered the joys of WordPress.

I think we’re all done here aren’t we? Let’s move on.

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  • winston

    Peter, I think this affair proves some of my earlier points which is even a bishop like Richard Chartres will not even act against the ”revisionists’ (your term), and that this case does not substantiate any argument that things are now going to get worse for those who are liberal in their approach to the blessing of civil partnerships.

    Yours, Winston.

    • I’m still tempted to argue that if Dudley had not said that he wouldn’t perform such a ceremony in the future, that Chartres would have taken it further.

  • Lateran

    I am perfectly willing to answer the question about legal fees.  I paid them.
    Happy now?
     

    • Just to clarify. You paid them personally and you received absolutely no assistance financially or otherwise with doing so?

      • Lateran

        Quod scripsi, scripsi.

        • And what I asked, I asked. We have all noted your inability to answer the question directly.

          • Lateran

            I gave you the answer.  No-one gave you the right to interrogate me.

            • I’m not interrogating you. You keep coming back when you can instead walk away and simply not engage anymore. It’s just that once you’ve so deliberately put yourself into the public limelight, it’s hard to just pretend it all didn’t happen.

              I mean, for example you are now on public record as stating that there were no contacts between you and the Bishop’s representative. Are you still willing to claim that, or would the diaries and correspondence of members of the Bishop’s staff contradict that?

              You could put this all to bed by apologising properly for performing a service that was at odds with the doctrine of the Church of England and being genuinely remorseful for the content of that service. It is your failure to do so that means that when you claim persecution, you are in fact “the Troubler of Israel”.

              • Lateran

                OK.  Let’s be clear about this.  My web alert shows that you are constantly writing about me, so I came to visit and got tired of you treating this person “Dudley” as a sort of sub-human enemy.  Once you got into your disciplinary fantasies, I decided to join up.  And I’m not pretending anything didn’t happen.
                So, to take your example, I am indeed on record as stating that there were no contacts between me and any representative of the Bishop of London.  There were no frank discussions.  I am not claiming that this is the case; it is a simple statement of fact to which I would swear, without risk of perjury, in a court of law.  No diary or correspondence would disprove my statement.
                But I’m not going to satisfy you by going any further than I have gone in my letter to the Bishop of London.  I allowed my regard for Peter Cowell to override my obligations under the Bishops’ Statement.  I regret the embarrassment to the Bishop.  I have undertaken not to bless civil partnerships again.  Otherwise I stand by what I said ten years ago.

              • Lateran

                “Troubler of Israel”?  You sound just Ahab and you have certainly created a new Ba’al.

                • I believe I was meaning to sound like Elijah, not Ahab, but I think you know that.

                  Let’s be clear Martin, I have never treated you as “sub-human”. These ad hominems really do you no credit. All I have ever done is criticise the theology of the service that you undertook and followed the story from there. I continue to stand by my proposition that the major failing of your letter to the Bishop (and in the correspondence in the Church Times) is a lack of apology for the content of the service itself. You conducted a liturgy which contradicted the Church of England’s doctrine of marriage and you give the impression through your response that you are unrepentant of that. Such a position, I believe, displays the truth of the words of the Bishop in his original letter to you as regards this matter

                  Martin, nobody’s under any illusion that these kind of things go on all the time in Central London. But to be clear, a simple service of thanksgiving for a civil partnership does not use the language of a marriage service. Even when some of your colleagues “bless” a civil partnership, they make absolutely sure to use liturgy that does not pretend to ape a proper nuptial mass. The service you conducted on the other hand went well beyond that careful constraint, and as such you have made that action, and subsequent events, not only a source of discussion and contention but also a phenomena over which you now have little control.

                  Welcome to the internet and the world of modern communications.

                • A further thought Martin. When I wrote my piece on the Clergy Discipline Measure, it was soon pointed out to me that I was applying the wrong piece of legislation. That’s what the internet and the world of blogging is about – accountability. It’s a place where we can thrash around ideas and analysis, criticise each other and come to a better understanding of just what the state of affairs actually are. In this particular example then I was able to write a second blog post acknowledging that my first had been mistaken (and I’ve actually done the same thing on another recent post). That’s what blogging lets us do – we can interact and correct each other, but equally we open up our own arguments to the criticism of others.

                  And let’s just settle one other thing. Ten posts in five whole months does not constitute “constantly writing” about you. However, please do not take that as an invitation not to continue to provide myself and others with more material upon which to blog.

  • sound

    Could I seek clarification about something please Peter? Have you responded to the Bishop of Willesden or the Bishop of London at all to check whether there was any frank discussion?  Have you made any complaint about this matter under the CDM or the EJM?   

    • Hi Sound,

      I’m quite happy to tell you that I haven’t made a complaint about this under the CDM or the EJM. Whilst I clearly have a healthy interest in the matter, I don’t think I’m personally in a position to make a complaint.

      I can’t tell you who is or who isn’t on my email list and who I chat with. I have a number of friends in London Diocese and it’s not just the two Bishops who are in the know about the situation. I’m sorry not to be more clear about it.

  • rybam

      Peter, am curious how C of E clergy do mere same-sex blessings without lapsing into the theologically problematic areas you identifed with Martin’s service.  Is there something in the current liturgy that can be (you would say mis) adapted for same-sex blessings?

    • I think Ryan, it’s because some clergy, while breaking the rules, don’t attempt to make the Civil Partnership out to be a marriage. For example, Jeffrey John had a service of thanksgiving for his Civil Partnership. There was not a hint of blessing or aping a marriage in that service.

      • It’s been pointed out to me that Jeffrey John and his partner Grant didn’t have a service of thanksgiving or even prayers said, contrary to what I wrote above. Thanks to the person who corrected me on that. I think however that that fact just goes to prove my point to Ryan.

  • Lateran

    Sound, why would Peter want to check what I have said?  I don’t think I could say it any more emphatically?

    • sound

      Lateran, I apologise for any confusion. Let me say that I completely accept your statement as being emphatic and very clear.  You will note that Peter does not make a clear answer to my very clear question, which is of course curious as he accuses you of not answering things clearly. 
      But Peter accuses the Bishop of Willesden –  he writes this: 
          Bishop Pete Broadbent is either a liar or seriously mistaken / misinformed

      So I simply wondered if Peter had the courtesy to check with Pete before he made such an accusation rather publicly.  

      • Sound,

        I think it’s clear that as regards that reference to Pete Broadbent, I am highlighting that the allegation of dissemblance is the inference that Martin is making. I personally don’t believe that Pete Broadbent is either of those things, but you cannot read Dudley’s letter to the Church Times in any other manner than an accusation of dissemblance on behalf of Pete Broadbent.

        As to the matter of not answering your question, I haven’t “responded” to anybody. I believe you were trying to find out whether I had spoken to either of the Bishops on this matter and I’m quite happy to tell you that over the course of the past 5 months I’ve had a number of communications with them and others on this and other matters. But you’re not going to get me to divulge the specific contents of any of those conversations with any of the people I chat to. It simply wouldn’t be right and proper. You can assume from that what you want.

        • sound

          Well please be a little clearer then Peter? Are we to infere from your comments then that you think Martin Dudley is lying? That can really be the only other thing you mean.. so perhaps you could clarify for us? Or do you accept his emphatic answer as being true?

          Then I asked you a very spoecific question, to which you have still not given a specific answer. Yes or no is quite sufficinet; you don’t have to divulge any details. 
          Have you been in touch with either of the Bishops in this case (or their offices) to check whether they had any frank discussions – yes or no? You have asked Martin Dudley to clarify so I am assuming (out of fairness) that you have asked the Bishops. 

          • Sound,

            I think it was very clear in the blog post what I was referring to. I am obviously suggesting that Martin Dudley is at best mistaken in his comment on this matter in his letter to the Church Times. I don’t think you’ll find that Martin will sue me for libel. (Crikey, am I tempting fate here?)

            I can’t answer your second question for the reasons I gave above. If I said “no” then you would press me on who I had spoken to, and this game would just continue. I’m perfectly entitled (as Martin is) to refuse to answer questions about who I have and haven’t spoken to. You can make any inference (as I do in the case of others) from that that you wish.

            I have a number of sources for some of the  material that from time to time I post here. Like any good journalist in this regard I simply won’t reveal who those sources are. As regards this specific issue I have asked a number of people whether there were any “frank discussions”. My blog posts and comments have been based on the several replies I have received to that question. You might want to assume from that the specific people I have asked (and indeed you might consider it an oversight to have not asked certain people), but you won’t get out of me anything that they may (or may not) have said, or even that they gave me the courtesy of a reply (because some of them didn’t).

            • sound

              No Peter, I am not interested in whether you have spoken to anyone else. I’d simply like to know whether you have have asked the two Bishops involved.

              We note here that you do not accept Martin Dudley’s clear and unequivocal statement that there were no frank discussions as being true and therefore accuse him of lying.   

              • I’m not accusing him of lying, I’m accusing him of being mistaken. I’m suggesting at the same time that his letter in the Church Times can be interpreted as accusing Pete Broadbent of dissembling.

                • Lateran

                  I am neither lying nor mistaken.  I would after all know if there had been any frank discussions involving me; so if anyone is telling you that there were such discussions, they are mistaken.   I think +Pete may have not been properly informed when he wrote his ad clerum, and I am going no further than that. 

  • I think we know where I stand on this (what are the exact facts around any communication between Martin and the Diocese) and where Martin stands. Let’s move on.