Not entirely baseless speculation about the Jeffrey John situation

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Updated again, at bottom, with Andrew Brown column.

I don’t know whether the Very Rev. Jeffrey John, dean of St. Albans, is about to be elected Bishop of Southwark by the Crown Nominations Commission. And I don’t know how Jonathan Wynne-Jones of the Sunday Telegraph learned that John had made the shortlist for this position, or that neither Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, nor John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, had objected. Further, I don’t know why the archbishops held their tongues. In fact, I know very little with reportorial certainty about what will transpire when the committee meets today and tomorrow.


With those disclaimers in place, here are three things I think I know:

1. Dean John could be elected.

2. There is at least one other strong candidate in the field. (Ruth Gledhill names this person as the Rev. Nick Holtham of St. Martin in the Fields in London, and I think that’s right.)

3. If Dean John is elected, I don’t think there is much the Archbishop of Canterbury can do to stop him from becoming the Bishop of Southwark.

I think it is too early to speculate intelligently on whether Williams and Sentamu let John be included on the shortlist because a) they didn’t think he could be elected and saw this as a low risk way to give the impression that they had thrown us lefties a bone; b) they are about to make a big deal about the difference between sexually active and sexually inactive gays and lesbians; c) because they have had a legitimate change of heart, or some other reason I have not considered.

I dearly hope the answer is not b, because if sexual inactivity becomes a criterion for judging the worthiness of a gay or lesbian candidate for bishop, then demands for proof of sexual inactivity will not be far behind, and people who still take the Anglican Communion seriously will have trouble continuing to do so.

That said, I do wonder, as I have always wondered why the election of a celibate man of any sexual orientation should trouble conservatives. And there seems to be at least one conservative clergyman in the Church of England who agrees with me.

Updated: a BBC radio interview with FOB (Friend of this Blog) Giles Fraser and Chris Sugden. BBC news has a report and a transcript of key portions here.

Andrew Brown seems to think that Williams really wants John to be elected, a scenario I had not seriously considered.

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The Rev. Daniel D. Robayo
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The Rev. Daniel D. Robayo

Lord, have mercy! Sexual Activity Police can't be far behind.

It reminds me of the old joke about a cross examination in a courtroom:

Lawyer: "Are you sexually active?"

Witness: "No, I just lie there."

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Peter Pearson
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Peter Pearson

Yes Jim, can you imagine anyone (straight or gay) allowing some panel of inquisitors into their home and relationship to determine whether one is sexually active or not? The thought is completely offensive regardless of sexual orientation. What it says, in fact, is that the only good gay is a non-functioning one. Why not just force people to become eunuchs if we're that paranoid? Not for me, thanks.

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www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnXBhKdni5bM
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www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnXBhKdni5bM

There appear to be 14 voting members on the Crown Nominations Commission, including both ABC and ABY.

-- Six are automatically from the Diocese of Southwark (via it's Vacancy-in-See committee).

-- One - Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral (and recent host to our PB) is on the Commission representing C of E Cathedral Deans.

In other words half the voting members are from Southwark. It only takes one more person (assuming Southwark votes as a block) to elect anyone they choose.

One caveat - it isn't clear if the Archbishops have veto power.

Nigel Taber-Hamilton

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Simon Sarmiento
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The Crown Nominations Commission - itself composed mainly of individuals elected by either the General Synod or the diocese concerned - acts as an electoral college. Links to detailed explanations of the process available at

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/004479.html

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Ormonde Plater
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Ormonde Plater

Are English bishops elected or appointed by the crown? Who elects them?

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