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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Living with Diversity

From left to right: The Rt Revd Gregory Cameron (Bishop of St Asaph); The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek (Bishop of Gloucester);
The Revd Canon Jeffrey Gainer (Chairman, Credo Cymru) The Rt Revd Philip North (Bishop of Burnley); The Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall
(Bishop of Ebbsfleet) and The Most Revd Barry Morgan (Archbishop of Wales). Source: Credo Cymru

'The English Experience of Living with Diversity' was the title of an address given by the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev'd Rachel Treweek, to the Credo Cymru conference held in Cardiff on 21-22 September under the heading 'That Nothing Be Lost: A Conference to Preserve the Breadth of Welsh Anglicanism'. 

Book ending participants in the above photograph are the Bishop of St Asaph and the Archbishop of Wales who chose not to live with diversity when the Governing Body of the Church in Wales agreed that women could be made bishops in Wales. In consequence many devout Christians have since left the Church in Wales with catastrophic effects on attendance figures and consequent finances. For those who have remained in hope, the current dialogue represents the best opportunity for something to be salvaged from a Code of Practice which not only lacks charity but smacks of vindictiveness.

In his address the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev'd Jonathan Goodall, quoted the then Archbishop of Canterbury replying to a Church of England debate on the same subject. Abp Rowan Williams said,

‘People have talked at times about differences of opinion and how the Church
can live with differences of opinion. I think that the problem is for those who
are not content with the idea that we should go forward along the line of
ordaining women as bishops, the problem is not one of opinion, it’s rather of
obedience. It’s one of obedience to scripture, or obedience to the consensus of
the Church Catholic. And, while that’s not a view I wholly share, I think we
ought to recognise that that’s where it comes from, that those who hold that are
not just thinking this is a matter of opinion, and therefore it is rightly and
understandably a lot harder to deal with dissent if you’re talking what
fundamentally comes down to a question of whether you obey God or human
authority. That’s why it’s serious, that’s why it's difficult. More than opinion.’

The Credo Cymru Media Release (here) quotes the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Rev'd Gregory Cameron, asking ‘hard questions’ in his keynote address:

 Did the Church in Wales really mean what it said in the canon enabling women to be bishops – that traditionalists should be given ‘a sense of security in their accepted and valued place within the Church in Wales’? Did traditionalists really want to be in communion with the Bench of Bishops? He thought it ‘very, very unlikely’ that the Church in Wales would establish any form of supplemental episcopal ministry, but recognized that traditionalists needed a corporate life. He encouraged them to explore ‘double belonging’: loyal both to the fellowship of their diocese (with canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop) and to their own (non-political) fellowship (with ‘affective loyalty’ to a bishop, whose friendship, trust and relationships with the Bench of Bishops would be crucial).

Obedience is the key. Conscience, or, as Abp Rowan put it, the problem of 'obedience' rather than 'opinion', whether you obey God or human authority. This cannot simply be superseded by loyalty to "the fellowship of their diocese (with canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop)". There has to be give and take on both sides, 'transformation of conflict' as Bishop Rachel Treweek succinctly put it. 

I have heard differing interpretations of what Bishop Gregory said, some more cynical than others. In my view it would have been the height of cruelty for the bishops of the Church in Wales to enter into discussions offering no hope. If 'double belonging' means anything it must surely mean living with diversity, something that the Anglican Communion is well accustomed to as a broad church. 

On 23 September the Church Times published an article under the headline‘Your Grace’ receives farewell tributes. The report was followed by another, 'Traditionalists try to build bridges', referring to the Credo Cymru conference. It reminded readers of the final straw for many of the only significant minority not to be favoured by the current Archbishop - closing the door to any meaningful pastoral and sacramental integrity: "Any attempt to approach another bishop elsewhere to provide episcopal ministry would have 'very serious implications' ", a threat one hopes is regretted if the Church in Wales is to live with diversity.

In the absence of a separate structure for Wales along the lines of the Church of England model, the simplest way forward is for visiting bishops from The Society to provide an additional episcopal ministry, the ‘double belonging’ as Bishop Gregory put it, for mutual flourishing.

Update [28.09.2016]

Two further papers delivered at the "That Nothing Be Lost" Conference last week have been added to those previously posted (here).

Update [04.10.2016]

The keynote Address by the Rt Rev'd Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph has been added to the Credo Cymru web site. You can read it here.


  1. Welsh Photographer25 September 2016 at 14:25

    I am one of those who fled when the decision was first made to allow the ordination of women, but for a variety of reasons I have returned to the C in W in recent years.
    I still cannot accept the case for the ordination of women and really do hope the conference produces some concrete and acceptable method of alternative episcopal oversight for those of us in Wales who wish to remain obedient both to our consciences and to the catholic (and Catholic!) teaching of Anglicanism.....

  2. I wanted to look at the history of this mess and try and judge what, if any, progress has been achieved.
    In 1992 Forward in Faith was formed in England being committed to the traditional Catholic faith, and in response to the Bill to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood. Credo Cymru was formed in 1993 ,in response to the same C of E Bill, although it was not until 2013 that the C in W passed their own Bill.
    In 2013 Credo Cymru combined forces with FIF .
    There are now women bishops in the Church of England and we have a Bill passed in the Church in Wales to permit an appointment of a female Bishop.
    Last week we found ourselves holding a conference with a contribution from the Bishop of Gloucester (female). This conference "Living with Diversity'', does not seem to have achieved anything other than a commitment to 'continuing and extending the conversation '.
    At the Conference the Bishop of S.Asaph ( is this probably the next Archbishop?), said, in answer to his rhetorical question,that he thought it "very,very unlikely" that the Church in Wales would establish any form of supplemental episcopal ministry.
    So I can only conclude that there has been no progress at this conference or progress in any conference since 1992 !
    It is worth noting that it was the Bill passed to ordain women which made it very unlikely that any more progress could be made in ecumenical relationships in the ARCIC discussions.

  3. "Double belonging"?
    No man can serve two masters.
    Another futile conference and less than 90 in the congregation at the 9am in Llandaff Cathedral this morning.
    Enough said.

    1. You're wasting time fighting a cult. Surely you have more to give. Leave and enter The Anglican Catholic Church.

  4. Exactly! An expensive mistake AND they want to continue in their stupidity.

  5. So, Bishop Treweek describes her qualities as a secular mediator, Fr Ben hopes beyond hope, Bp Goodall believes that joining a Society of one's own volition (i.e. bottom-up authority, priest upwards towards a Bench of Bishops) is the way to prove one is acting as a priest with delegated Apostolic authority, and Bp Gregory is honest enough to say there is no chance of having a Bishop on the Bench who has the authority just alluded to above. Which night school did these people get their theology from? Perhaps we could double-belong to/with Jehovah's Witnesses. Come on, please, dear brothers and sisters, wake up and smell the coffee. Bishops are there to strengthen our connection with the Catholic Church, and to delegate priests to minister the Sacraments on their behalf. That way we are assured of right thinking and practice, and fruitful ministry in a needy world. I know from personal experience that offering faithful catholic ministry is not welcome in the Church in Wales, rather it has become an embarrassment. I am right in saying that the CinW has said to prospective ordinands that they must personally accept that the sacramental ministry of women has been settled. The implication is that traditionalists must go elsewhere if they wish to be ordained through the CinW. This is on record in some report (can't remember which one: was it to do with St Michael's...). In the Ordinariate, priests who differ have to act with courage and trust the Lord to provide for them and their dependents; and most have waited until they can do so in their retirement. At least they do act on their conscience. In my own Anglican Catholic Church, all of us have to find our own way financially. But the Lord provides. We do have lay sympathisers who have justifiable worries about the sparsity of priests in our Diocese of the UK, but, I believe the Lord is knocking more and more loudly, and I pray that some (particularly priests) who are really sad will take heart, take joy, and step out in faith. Their ministry is needed.

  6. Having waded through the papers published so far, congratulations to Fr Rabjohns for his direct and honest statement.

    Given that +St Asaph & +Ebbsfleet both gave (opposing) papers, there is a sense in which one person was very much missing from this discussion: the man they both served as chaplain, +Rowan Williams. The two current bishops did not overlap at Lambeth Palace but there was a year-long gap between their services in 2004. It makes you wonder what went on in +Rowan's thinking during that time.

    Whilst from an English perspective I can understand 'double belonging' in the context of the Society's accepted role in the CofE, +St Asaph's definition appears - unfortunately - to be more like 'double speak' than 'double belonging'. It appears to have lost rather a lot in translation from one province to another. "Affective loyalty" sounds as if he is suggesting that traditionalist parishes should find some friendly 'episcopal uncle' to 'have a word' with the local Welsh prelate from time to time. That is not a recipe for sacramental assurance and continuity allowing for 'mutual flourishing'.

    It is understandable that the over-stocked bench of Welsh bishops does not want to add another to their number, especially one that might he even dare to say something the others do not want to hear; but nor do they seem willing to allow the designated 'episcopal uncle' to offer "supplemental episcopal ministry".

    So whilst +St Asaph (and presumably his fellow Welsh bishops) 'talk the talk', they are not willing to 'walk the walk' of 'mutual flourishing'. Their implied motto unfortunately seems to be, " for ours in this kingdom is the power and the glory, in this province, for ever and ever".

    On this basis their next step may well be to publish a 'prayer of humble access' to be used by Traditionalists in Wales when addressing their diocesan bishop': "We do not presume to address thee in person, oh most mighty one, even though our affectionate & loyal episcopal English uncle has already tried and failed..."

  7. Just had another good look at the photograph .First prize for the biggest smile (with dimple) goes to Barry. The Rt.Rev Rachel and Rt.Revd Gregory tie in second place. The remaining three traditionalists are trying to say 'cheese' for the sake of it.
    That's the way to live with diversity.

  8. Can anyone double belong to two opposing theologies? Of course not, especially when one relies on a method of interpreting the Bible which leads to the inevitable innovations of same-sex marriage etc

  9. I was interested to see + John condemning blogs such as this one:

    Bishop John criticised those who attacked Dr Morgan from the “veil of anonymity” in the “most shameful way”. “That is something we would all regret,” he added.

    I think + John that the sad truth is, many of us have no other voice. Governing Body does not seek the opinions of lay people, and the lay reps make no effort to ask people their views before they vote. Even when governing body does vote against something (such as gay marriage) the Bench ignore their wishes (and brings in a service that looks and sounds like a blessing with no consultation on how that affects parishes).
    Many do not speak out openly for fear of reprisals on their parish or clergy.
    The liberal agenda pretends to be inclusive, but in reality is a hate filled creed for anyone who does not agree.
    It's the bullying and exclusion of many of us, that leads to blogs like this..........

    1. Precisely Danny, but it's worse than that.
      Those who have openly challenged either Darth --Insidious, Peggy the Pilate of Gerwhibe the glove puppet on any matters have been told "tough", have been ignored, have had their complaints ignored, have been excluded, have been made redundant, have been called "subversive", have been written poison pen letters or combinations of some or all the above.

      Morgan and his sycophants can't tolerate either comments, criticisms or opinions that don't fit in with their own views of the world.

      The latest begging letter from Gerwhine is available at

    2. Norman Lloyd Edwards wants to bring back Choral Matins and Gerwhine thinks it's a good idea?
      There's a shortage of choral settings of Matins for three voices so, unlike last Sunday morning, unless and until the faux Llandaff Cathedral choir can find some Countertenors this will prove to be more worthless soundbites.

    3. Oh dear. Grumpy +John dislikes playing 'anonymity'? What a bunch of overbearing schoolboys these bench sitters are.

      Blogging is a wonderful tool when considering the extortionate fees required to publish air brushed images of His Darkness in the press and gagging orders to prevent truth. They should try it themselves and save the CofW some dosh. Its free for Gods sake.

    4. Let us not forget those wonderfully satirical and greatly amusing Llandaffchester Chronicles.
      If only there was a means by which they could reappear, as a farewell/retirement gift for Darth --Insidious, now that would indeed be a fitting tribute and legacy to the dark lord.

    5. Sure Cymru'r Groes. That can be arranged. Hows about a meeting to organize. Any time next week 'Ancient Briton Pub' opposite parish church Swansea? We'll invite Queenie to advice us on the pros and cons on bishop seduction.

    6. Llandaff Pewster4 October 2016 at 08:16

      I don't know if the LLandaffchester chronicles blog pages were archived anywhere on the web but failing that I have access to hundreds of hard copies of chronicles pages that were printed out at the time and which could be scanned, but by no means would they be a complete record.

  10. Correct, subversive. They do not appear to listen (Bench Sitters) but act as if infallible. For instance, a priest having his licence to officiate revoked (by, say, in the interest of slander, call him, 'Alice Cooper' ?) following a runner with another mans wife, has been restored to ecclesiastical health by 'Wynne the Bin' (Current St Davids) whilst still sharing a home of 'celibacy' with the same woman. Meanwhile, right under her very nose, his former wife, an honest committed spiritual lady, is expected to accept all this.

    Seems to be a shift in the view of things. Same, and opposite sex, are now able to conduct celibate relationships within the vicarage. Morning Del Boy! Marline sends her apologies.