Southwark – A Solution

I have a solution.

Really, I have a solution. I grant you, it’s a slightly provocative solution, but I guarantee you that absolutely no-one could have an objection to Dr John being the Bishop of Southwark if it’s implemented.

It’s very clear that Dr John fashions his own private life in line with the Church’s requirements. That’s not at issue and those who make insinuations that Dr John says one thing in public and does another in private should really find another target to aim their prejudice at. No, it’s very clear that Dr John is a man of his word.

So my solution is quite simple. Dr John should be welcomed with open arms to Southwark by all and sundry, as long as he puts his signature to the 2005 Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships and also confirms that he will make sure that his diocesan clergy hold to the standards expected of them, as outlined in Issues in Human Sexuality.

This solution would let Dr John continue advocating for a change in policy whilst being seen clearly to uphold the current agreed position publicly. It allows for the development of our theological understanding on the issue of human sexuality whilst upholding the collegiality of the House of Bishops. I can’t see anybody having a problem with Dr John being a Bishop if that happens. Apart from, of course, the many, many people he knows in Southwark that he might be needing to have conversations with…

Told you it would be provocative.

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11 Comments on “Southwark – A Solution

  1. Peter

    I've just read the link to the 2005 Bishop's Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships:

    It affirms that marriage ‘is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society.’ CHECK

    It affirms 'that clergy of the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.’ CHECK

    It ‘does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.’ CHECK

    And it affirms 'that the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged.’ DOUBLE CHECK

    So I think you've got it Peter. As long as JJ signs the statement with the same degree of publicity that was generated by his earlier, unorthodox statements on homosexuality.

  2. Maybe I missed something, but isn't JJ a nominee, rather than Bishop elect…

    Do we know who the other candidates are?

    Maybe they should sign it too…

  3. Having read the Job Description that Southwark put out for the post, it was basically a document which said We want Jeffrey John. It looks very much like it was created with that specific goal in mind.

    In this light, I think he will get the post.

  4. I can't see why he shouldn't sign, providing his signature would only commit him to advise other clergy to abide by the conditions ( as he is doing), but his signature would still leave him free to campaign for those conditions to be changed.

    To be fair, all other bishops and candidates would also have to sign. No doubt some bishops would be unhappy or feel unable to – would they be sacked?

    The media would no doubt pick up on the matter, as well. Huge sympathy and support would be generated for the liberal cause and for gay clergy in the church.

    Let's go for it…

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