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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Festive Charades: Welsh bishops

Bishop of Llandaff (Pritchard Hughes) Source: Wikipedia
Soon it will be time for the Electoral College of the Church in Wales to elect another bishop. This time the Bishop of Llandaff. Secrecy is the name of the game. An oddity when openness has become the norm, especially in matters of sexuality. The reason becomes obvious when the meeting in St Davids which resulted in Canon Joanna Penberthy becoming bishop-elect of St Davids is regarded as the biggest stitch-up yet.

Ignoring the specific requirement for a fluent Welsh speaker enabling the bishop to communicate effectively with all worshippers in a diverse, conservative diocese, the 'election' of someone who can conduct a service in Welsh parrot fashion was deemed to be sufficient.

The Archbishop keeps repeating that Canon Penberthy was elected not because she is a woman but because she is "the best person to be a bishop". This cannot be true if as reported, a fluent Welsh speaker was specified in the diocesan profile.

In a valedictory interview for BBC Radio Wales, Dr Morgan again repeats his assertion in an attempt to convince his listeners that the election was not a stitch up. Believe that if you will despite the fact that Canon Penberthy's name had been circulating as the next bishop for months before her election.

Dr Morgan's interview starts with a promise recorded fourteen years ago at his installation as Archbishop of Wales: Will you be faithful in your ministry in calling the dioceses of the Church in Wales to work in harmony together. And will you so guide us in our work ecumenically that all the churches of Wales may see in our ministry the work of fellow members of the body of Christ? 
Dr Morgan answers: With the help of God, I will.

Regrettably, harmony has turned to discord. Motivated more by politics than by the mysteries of faith Dr Morgan has steered a different course to all but like minded liberal primates in the Anglican Communion such as Katharine Jefferts Schori, the disastrous former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

People sitting on Dr Morgan's side of the fence will agree among themselves that he has much to be proud of but that is from a secular point of view. For others his tenure has been a disaster. His influence will linger on among those owing their 'success' to him so it is with little surprise that I learn that the options being considered for the see of Llandaff are close to Barry's heart, advancing the role of women in the church, homosexuality and same sex marriage (SSM).

One name which routinely pops up whenever there is a vacancy is that of the Dean of St Albans. His ministry has suffered greatly from church politics but he did himself no favours when he came Out4Marriage, bending scripture in the modern fashion to accord with personal circumstances. Many others, despite what Dr Morgan says in his BBC interview, have suffered more for their faith. Ignored or passed over because they have not gone along with Western Anglicans' obsessions with so-called women's rights, LGBT+ and SSM issues.

Thought to be the favourite candidate is a woman vicar serving in a parish in the centre of Cardiff. If elected she will of course have to accept that she is second best despite her superior CV because 'the best person to be a bishop' according to Dr Morgan is the Bishop-elect of St Davids regardless of her being a monoglot in a Welsh speaking diocese.

With a second female bishop in place, women on the bench will still lack parity so that will be the next feminist clamour dressed up as an equality issue. Parity could be achieved next year if the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon retires at 65. That would leave one male bishop, the Bishop of Monmouth, to cover the whole of South Wales under the flawed Code of Practice which was designed solely for the advancement of women in the church, hence the urgent need for some sort of Society similar to that operating in England to support faithful Anglicans who have been marginalised for their faith in their own church.

When feminisation of the Bench is complete there will of course be no male bishop to provide "appropriate sacramental episcopal ministry" under existing rules. But the provision is a nonsense anyway because none of the existing bench sitters shares the conscientious beliefs of those for whom provision was intended.

To provide some semblance of choice on this occasion a third name is in the frame, that of one of the Llandaff Cathedral canons so unless there is a translation the choice is gays v. wimmin so spare a thought for all those loyal, straight male priests who Barry says he listens to but has ignored like a backfiring bishops' consultation.

Striking a positive note for the New Year, as church attendance continues to shrink, at least Barry Morgan can be proud of his promise to work ecumenically. Thanks to his efforts, much of the Church in Wales is becoming indistinguishable from chapel so we are all in it together.


  1. I thought that the preferred option of Credo Cymru is for oversight to be provided by a traditional Bishop from England.
    In time it seems possible that a new Bishop may have hands laid upon him/her by an all female Bench.
    In such circumstances this would undoubtedly mean that the 'new Bushop' if a male ,would not in fact be a Bishop?

    Then...push comes to shove!

  2. Thank you for drawing my attention to the interview of the Archbishop and Roy Jenkins. I sincerely found it a really moving interview - compassion, vision, grace and humility exuded from the Archbishop. And once again, how very humbling to hear him speak openly (with both humanity and faith) about the loss of his wife. On behalf of many who read this blog and who perhaps don't make a contribution, may we wish the Archbishop a happy and restful retirement. With prayers and God's blessing.

    1. Not the Nine O Clock Pews6 January 2017 at 10:28

      At least ++Bazza's retirement won't include any more cruises on Swan Hellenic. They've just collapsed!
      (An omen perhaps for the sinking Church in Wales?)

    2. Is there anything bully boy --Bazza has touched that hasn't turned to ash?

    3. The new designer retirement eco-house in a fashionable suburb of Cardiff certainly isn’t an ash heap! I wonder how much that little project cost? Discretion(([ary fund])) is the name of that game (hush, hush!!). When there’s no cash to pay the pensions of the CW clergy perhaps the he will open a B&B for destitute clergy in his new mansion, for a meagre fee.

    4. The project cost being kicked around the Green for the Bazzer-Eco Zone is £2M! That's not a bad retirement nest egg. Plus the long shot of a life peerage. But the combined efforts of yesterday's Lords Lieutenant Dr B and Sir N couldn't pull that on off. Perhaps they know where the skeletons are hidden?

    5. Interesting that you find back scratching "moving" and "emotional" gaychristian. Why not pleasurable?

  3. gaychristian, while I agree with you about how the interview came across, and indeed there is a lovely humble part of the Archbishop, and with you, I wish him every blessing in retirement.
    There is sadly also a side to him which people see if they dare to disagree with him.
    Many people have suffered at his hands. He most certainly doesn't know the pastoral situations of all his clergy (as claimed on the radio) and many are deeply unhappy. Countless people have fled from the diocese, and currently many across Wales are fleeing to the CofE.
    We are in a Bishop Centric Church and their word is law, a very dangerous situation.

  4. Relax!
    Whoever is elected as the new Bishop of Llandaff will be a continuing puppet and clone of ++Barry.

    ++Barry will be made an honorary Bishop and thus the dynasty continues.

    1. .........and it might well be +Andy -Barry can control him with ease.

  5. Bangor Diocese is going from strength to strength under Andy - at least according to the website. New members of staff being appointed to key roles within the Diocesan Office have been recently reported.

    How odd though that mention has been made of those who have recently left their posts? Odder still that this person was asked to keep her departure quiet until her very last day at work. Why would that be, one wonders? Is it possible that her, until recently very good, relationship with the DS had broken down to such an extent that she felt she had no choice but to leave?

    Bangor watchers may recall another odd departure from the DO some 12 months ago. In strikingly similar circumstances, no one knew of her departure either until she announced that on a particular day that this would be her last day of work.

    What an odd HR policy that is! Gagging clauses all round it seems.

    1. Is this the bishops wife you're referring to?

  6. Carla Bach,
    My friends up North, tell me that there is real confusion as to who is the bishop in Bangor. And the proper bishop is confused as to who he is and the diocese is frightened that there will be an announcement that is going to confuse them all.
    Do you remember how Barry came to us after being up there? but his election was all supposed to be the Holy Spirit in action he said. No such thing! Archbishop Alwyn had to sort out a confused individual and sent him South. We were stitched up. We later learnt that our archbishop had a lot to be confused about. Amnesia indeed.
    Andy has to stay up there. We don't want confusion on top of everything else.

    1. The Archbishop and the holy Spirit are unacquainted with each other.
      The sooner Barry buggers off to Whitchurch to manage his property portfolio the better.
      The first task of the next Bishop of Llandaff will be to abolish the archaic "discretionary" funds made available by the Llandaff Dioscesan Board of Finance funded by dipping ones sticky mitts into the collection plate at Ordination and Confirmation services.

    2. Not the Nine O Clock Pews8 January 2017 at 23:59

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. He wasn't sent down south because of 'confusion' my dear thrupence, but because of 'corruption'. The bench sitters, (Alwyn & Co Ltd) knew what they were doing. Google 'Scandal and Offence' for the Bangor scandal, followed by 'gowermaster blog' Fantasy Island, for the south scandal. Elementary my dear Watson - corruption and rule.

    Confusion arrives if a certain bishop arrives at his Cathedral and wishes to be known as Andrea +.

  8. I was, was present to witness flop of the year, Bob the Builder Robert Townsend, (Diocesan Tea Boy) at Bangor Cathedral yesterday. Full of nerves, he reminded me of a teenager agreeing to do his own bed.

    However, the national hype about the 20 year women ordination celebrations at the Cathedral yesterday produced 22 members of the public sitting in the pew area. What a stark difference to last Sunday when today Radio Cymru misfit Rev John Robert chose to remain almost silent. Been a bad week Bonzo? I wonder why? Lets see if the Daily Post will provide a true account on Monday.

    As the Japanese Emperor said at the end of World War 2, "Things didn't turn out exactly as we expected".

    From the southern end of the province however, glowing smiles, dancing in the aisles and tambourines suggest that the recent "Solid Silver 60s Morgan Tour Bus" in search for tea and sympathy, was possibly more about clan loyalty than anything else.

  9. Sources close to the Enforcer inform of suitable buildings available on the Isle of Anglesey and the Bangor area to hold Mass. They have read of Fr Miles, courtesy of Ancient Briton, and the community of the Anglican Catholic Church of Wales, complete with an authentic male bishop. Prayers are asked for a solid bi-lingual, spiritual priest of catholic tradition (male only need apply) to serve God and his faithful in this area of North Wales.

    To quote Dr Barry Morgan,with whom we would agree for once, " a sign of the Holy Spirit at Work". God bless Bangor. The spirit and tradition of Deiniol is alive.