No Confidence

The text of Canon Stephen Barney’s reasons for the vote of no confidence in Philip Giddings is now public.

Philip GiddingsMy reason for asking members of the House to debate this motion is that I do not have confidence in our Chair since:

  • His speech against the measure followed directly after Justin Welby’s and therefore I believe directly undermined what the Archbishop elect had said
  • Since it was against it did not support the views of the House of Bishops as a whole
  • Speaking as the Chair of our House his speech was instrumental in convincing some of the undecided members of the House to vote against
  • I believe the speech was therefore a significant contributor to the reputational damage the Church of England is already suffering at the hands of the press, which is also manifest in the comments of the Prime Minister, the emerging reports of withdrawal of financial support, the angry reaction of church members and the disbelief and ridicule expressed by many of our secular friends, all of which I believe will damage the mission of our church
  • The failure of the Measure is already giving momentum to the idea that the only likely solution now is a single clause Measure, which would result in a worse outcome for the minority groups than was on offer on Tuesday

I have always been one of the first to say that individuals must vote according to their consciences; however leaders have other responsibilities and accountabilities. I feel that if I am to support the leader of a group of which I am a member then that leader must show wise and good judgement and I do not believe that this has happened.

I think this is very poor. Let’s get to the core of what Stephen’s complaints are, bullet by bullet. Each point below is directly related to the bullet in the text above.

  1. Philip Giddings disagreed with Justin Welby – How is this possibly a reason to have no confidence in someone?
  2. Philip Giddings disagreed with the majority if Bishops - How is this possibly a reason to have no confidence in someone?
  3. Philip Giddings convinced some people to vote no - How is this possibly a reason to have no confidence in someone?
    Philip Giddings spoke as “Chair of the House” – This is possibly the only point of merit, but in his speech Giddings specifically referred to his role as Chair for two purposes only. First, to congratulate Justin Welby on his appointment and second, to reflect a minority view which he may or may not hold to. Is it Canon Stephen’s position that the Chair of the House should not try to represent minority positions?
  4. Some people in the wider public didn’t like the decision of the Church – So what? How is this possibly a reason to have no confidence in someone unless he and he alone made the decision?
  5. There might now be a vote on a Single Clause which will provide poorer provision then Philip Giddings wants – So what? There might not be. One cannot blame Giddings for something that “might happen”.

The only point of any merit is that Giddings used his role of Chair of the House inappropriately, but given the content of his speech, it is very clear that he felt he was representing a minority position. Indeed, Giddings’ speech is interesting in that he at no point mentions his own theological position on the issue (he does mention he voted yes in 1992) but rather his concern for others’.

Lay members of General Synod should reject this motion outright. I think it also behoves supporters of introducing Women Bishops (like I have become this year) to publicly point out how ridiculous and damaging these kind of procedural actions actually are.

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