Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Lambeth equivalent of the "October Surprise" in June

It is now clear that the wedding was a political time bomb set to go off as the Lambeth equivalent of an "October Surprise." What we see here is a rector who kept this impending wedding a secret so that there would be maximized media coverage (forget the idea that this is just a mere "distraction," Bishop Chartres) - this is the type of street politics that has been underway in the U.S. churches. We didn't become refugees out of our Episcopal homes for nothing. Learn from our mistakes, sir - this is the real thing and they take no prisoners. You either deal with it swiftly (and be ready for what will happen to you, as has happened to Peter Akinola) or attempt to sweep it away as a distraction. Welcome to our world, sir.

Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, has written a stern letter to the rector of the church where the wedding of two male priests was conducted. Unfortunately, as we see in the posting below this one, he has appointed a buddy of Martin Dudley - not exactly impartial is he? Either that is an attempt to sweep this under the rug in time for Lambeth and to keep sleeping giants like this or this in the fold, or to place such personal pressure on the rector (which in England they call a vicar) as to cause him to fold in contrition. Guess we'll see.

Here's the letter:

Dear Martin,

You have sought to justify your actions to the BBC and in various newspapers but have failed more than two weeks after the service to communicate with me.

I read in the press that you had been planning this event since November. I find it astonishing that you did not take the opportunity to consult your Bishop.

You describe the result as “familiar words reordered and reconfigured carrying new meanings.” I note that the order of service, which I have now received, includes the phrase “With this ring I thee bind, with my body I thee worship”.

At first sight this seems to break the House of Bishops Guidelines which as I explained in my letter of December 6th 2005 apply the traditional teaching of the Church of England to the new circumstances created by the enactment of Civil Partnerships.

The point at issue is not Civil Partnerships themselves or the relation of biblical teaching to homosexual practice. There is of course a range of opinion on these matters in the Church and, as you know, homophobia is not tolerated in the Diocese of London. The real issue is whether you wilfully defied the discipline of the Church and broke your oath of canonical obedience to your Bishop.

The Archbishops have already issued a statement in which they say that “those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

St Bartholomew’s is not a personal fiefdom. You serve there as an ordained minister of the Church of England, under the authority of the Canons and as someone who enjoys my licence. I have already asked the Archdeacon of London to commence the investigation and I shall be referring the matter to the Chancellor of the Diocese. Before I do this, I am giving you an opportunity to make representations to me direct.

Yours faithfully.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD FSA

Yes, this was the Lambeth equivalent of

3 comments:

Rick Arllen said...

I'm betting His Grace goes with the time honoured tradition of "muddling through" as the vehicle to handle this. In the long run, he'll be handed his hat, rump and overcoat for his troubles.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that "Christians" have not been more upset about this passage in Chartres' letter:


The point at issue is not Civil Partnerships themselves or the relation of biblical teaching to homosexual practice. There is of course a range of opinion on these matters in the Church and, as you know, homophobia is not tolerated in the Diocese of London.



As it is - clearly he is offering Dudley the chance to resign before charges are brought under the 1963 act. If Dudley were to resign, at least he'd keep his pension: if he is thrown out, he'd be on the dole (or rather, he'd be offered several ECUSA parishes :-)

Unlike ECUSA, CoE bishops cannot simply defrock or un-licence priests they don't like without due process. Note that Lord (one of the husbands) voluntarily handed in his license in Waikato, and even he has not been defrocked - he may well be allowed back once the fuss has died down.

David Wilson said...

There once was a vicar named Dudley

Who married two gays who were studly.

His bishop was irate.

But old Dud continued to prate,

So the bish said, "Dud, we are no longer cuddly-wuddly."