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Slee memo details fierce dissension over preferment of gay clergy to bishoprics

Slee memo details fierce dissension over preferment of gay clergy to bishoprics

A memo by the late Colin Slee reveals fighting at the highest levels of the Church of England over the question of whether gay clergy might become bishops, The Guardian’s Andrew Brown reports.

The fraught divisions have been laid bare in the leak of an anguished and devastating memorandum written by the Very Rev Colin Slee, the former dean of Southwark Cathedral, shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer last November. Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, and John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, vetoed candidates from becoming bishops of the south London diocese.

The document reveals shouting matches and arm-twisting by the archbishops to keep out the diocese’s preferred choices as bishop: Jeffrey John, the gay dean of St Albans, and Nicholas Holtam, rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, whose wife was divorced many years ago. Eventually Christopher Chessun, then an assistant bishop, was chosen.

Slee also in effect charges the church with hypocrisy, stating that there are several gay bishops “who have been less than candid about their domestic arrangements and who, in a conspiracy of silence, have been appointed to senior positions”. The memo warns: “This situation cannot endure. Exposure of the reality would be nuclear.”

Slee said of the meeting: “We had two very horrible days in which I would say both archbishops behaved very badly. The meeting was not a fair consideration at all; they were intent on wrecking both Jeffrey John and Nick Holtam equally, despite the fact that their CVs were startlingly in an entirely different and better league than the other two candidates …”

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tobias haller

The supreme irony in all this remains, that the motto of the Anglican Communion is, The Truth Shall Make You Free. Tell the truth, C o E about your gay bishops, take the consequences, and move on… into the light!

EH Culver

I think that both archbishops should grow the heck up!

SCG

Appalling. I’m so fed up with straight men and their homophobia!

John B. Chilton

More from the article:

“The archbishop of Canterbury was bad tempered throughout. When it came to voting, certainly two – possibly three – members were in tears and [Williams] made no acknowledgement but carried on regardless. At a critical point Archbishop Sentamu and three other members simultaneously went to the lavatory, after which the voting patterns changed.”

Dennis

@ Michael R: there is no need to attack a group of which many of us are proud and active members. One can be a good Episcopalian and a Mason, too. Trying to compare Rowan’s boorish behavior in this committee meeting to the appointment of a man who happens to belong to a fraternal order (that does a lot of good) is a little uncalled for.

Dennis Roberts

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