Sunday, 16 May 2010

Bishop of Gloucester sides with James Jones

Canon Mary Glaspool was yesterday consecrated as assistant Bishop of Los Angeles, an event that would not be particularly newsworthy were it not for the fact that she happens to be in a same sex partnership. Reaction to this has been fairly muted in comparison to the outcry over the appointment of Gene Robinson, because that, as has been said, tore the fabric of the Communion; now we are just looking at the rents and squabbling over who gets which bit of cloth.
The Bishop of Gloucester, The Right Reverend Michael Perham, has made what seems to me an interesting address which started with a consideration of the impact of Mary Glasspool’s consecration. Michael Perham seems to advocate the kind of approach suggested by James Jones, indeed he makes reference to that speech and to the “honesty and courage” of the Bishop of Liverpool.
Michael Perham’s speech is cogent and balanced; a short exerpt is given below,

“We ought to be able to stay together while recognising that we honestly interpret scripture and tradition in different ways. I know there are those who believe it is a first order issue, because it relates to the authority and interpretation of scripture, but I confess that, while respecting and understanding that view, I remain unconvinced. Any church that has found a way of coming to terms with divorce and remarriage, in a way that our Church has, has put itself firmly in a place that says that ethical behaviour, especially in regard to human relationships, involves a dialogue between the biblical tradition and the cultural realities if the Church is to have any chance of ministering to people in the complexities of contemporary life.”
I don’t agree with everything in this speech, but that is not the point! I do agree with his conviction that the only reasonable way forward is to accept that there is a range of conscientious opinion on the issue of same sex unions. Michael Perham’s comments are worth reading and can be found on this website under Bishop Michael's address on the Anglican Communion 6th May.


  1. This woman is a disgrace! She is leading young people astray. Would YOU like your sons to wear cheese on their heads?.

  2. Thank you for your comments, Fr Hugh Jass. I shall go away and serious reflect upon my views so far ;)

  3. Canon Andrew Godsall16 May 2010 at 20:47

    Thanks Sue for drawing attention to this piece from Michael Perham. Whilst, like you, I don't agree with everything in it, I think it is an excellent example of some eirenic thinking and I hope the House of Bishops, which is meeting this week, will be able to hear both James Jones and Michael's approach as a positive way forward for us.

  4. Thanks for this, Andrew. Lovely to hear from you again.

  5. ...and I've corrected the spelling of Bishop Michael's surname!

  6. Is the ordination of women bishops a secondary issue as well? If so, can we agree to disagree on that? There seems to be a range of conscientious opinion on that too...

  7. I'd be happy to agree to disagree, the problem though is the practicalities in the case of women bishops, one side wants to be protected from discrimination and undermining of authority, the other side wants to be protected from...women!

    Some of the demands of those opposed to women's ordintion, such as the right to trace a "pure male line" with some sort of "passport" would lead to a church where one half didn't recognise the other.

    As regards the same sex issue, it could (note I only say could!) be easier to agree to disagree in theory - but not if people were to start leaving and entering into litigation for church buildings etc.

  8. Now, now!

    One side want to intepret the Bible in one way, and the other in theirs. The ordination of women is an issue of biblical interpretation.

    What you seem to be saying is that one set of conscientiously held beliefs can trump another. That doesn't look like agreeing to disagree!

  9. If Synod had voted not to have women as bishops, that would not have been agreeing to disagree either.
    I think we are well aware that there is a range of conscientious opinion on the matter of women's ministry. People are entitled to still hold the view that no such thing as a female priest exists. However, it is a simple fact that, because of that view, a church that has voted for women as bishops ( with all the authority that entails) may not be a comfortable place for them to be.

    However, it is also true that the church is not a comfortable place, for example, for gay people, both lay and ordained. As a result, many do leave the church, but some stay and compromise. I would advise those opposed to women's ministry to do the same, but if they cannot compromise, to go with good grace.