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Friday, 7 April 2017

Second best

The Dean of Liverpool Pete Wilcox to be Bishop of Sheffield   Source: Cranmer

As Wales awaits the name of the bishop-elect of Llandaff, news that the Dean of Liverpool is to be the next Bishop of Sheffield after Bishop Philip North withdrew following pressure from Women and the Church. In his blog Cranmer announced Sheffield gets its second best bishop – Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool.

It was unfortunate that the former Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan chose to complement the new bishop of St Davids by referring to her as the best person to be a bishop. Llandaff therefore can also expect the second best, or worse, unless there is a translation.

Ironically the Guardian is carrying a exclusive article claiming that Jeffrey John has been "passed over seven times for promotion to bishop". Had St Davids not been a stitch-up presumably his name would have come up there. But it seems he was expected to get Llandaff.

What the powers to be fail to realise is that many people in the pews are fed up with cries of homophobia when the real issue is that it is same sex marriage in church that is not wanted.


  1. Thank you for providing the link to the Guardian article, ‘Gay Clergyman Passed Over Seven Times For Promotion To Bishop’. It is worth a read, as is the link it provides to Dean Colin Slee’s account of the episcopal selection process in the Church of England. It simply isn’t good enough for the senior bishop of the Church in Wales to say that Jeffrey John was not appointed because he did not secure the requisite two thirds majority in the Llandaff Electoral College.
    It was why he did not attain the numbers required that is key here.
    Like it or not, the Anglican Church in Wales and England is institutionally homophobic; small wonder that small numbers of clergy retreat into self-imposed ghettos of silence and the closet – it’s their only sure means of protection in this place.

  2. We will never know why over a third of the Electoral College in Wales did not vote for JJ. They were all entitled to an opinion and obviously a great number preferred a different candidate.

  3. @celtacymru they voted like that because they didn't want a woman but you conveniently forget that and don't raise an objection.

  4. @Whamab @Celtacymru Actually, both homophobia and misogyny have a long and unhappy tradition in the Church, extending right back into the Old Testament itself. Either or both, may have been a factor in the Electoral College. But the articles cited by the Guardian and CeltaCymru, I agree, indicate the presence, if not the prevalence, of the former, in the C of E and in the Church in Wales.
    From Watchword.

    1. To believe that a woman should not and cannot represent Christ at the altar is not synonymous with misogyny. By the same token to understand that the threefold ministry is open only to men has nothing to do with male privilege. It is associated with understanding the Christian Faith .

  5. Colin Slee’s account is startling. What on earth happens to these people when a mitre is put on their heads? ‘Was it for this the clay grew tall?'


  6. Christian Badger11 April 2017 at 10:50

    The church is indeed 'institutionally homophobic' (Celtacymru) but in this regard it only reflects society in general. Things are thankfully changing and we are slowly (oh so slowly) becoming the tolerant and forgiving society that Jesus embodies. The difficult question is how to disentangle homophobia from the legitimate position (with which I disagree) of opposing same sex marriage.

  7. Indeed, Christian Badger – “the difficult question is how to disentangle homophobia from the legitimate position (with which I disagree) of opposing same sex marriage”.
    When Jeffrey John was passed over for the Reading bishopric, same sex marriage was not on the statute books - that would come ten years later. Evenso, the Church authorities then, could not support his candidacy. So, what was at issue? Fear of opening the floodgates? Fear of incurring the wrath of one or other wing of the Church, should such support be forthcoming? Fear of personal attack? Expediency? We may guess, even if we may never know. What is clear, though, is that courage, within the hierarchy, was in short supply; decency and morality, even more scarce. The ethos that prevailed then (and Colin Slee’s account really should be read carefully, by all thinking Anglicans), remains today. It is simply that now, under guise of protestation against same sex marriage, it has a legitimate – but nonetheless, still shameful, cover. It is an issue that many should reflect upon as they consider, at leisure on Maundy Thursday, and in the safety of their liturgy, the betrayal of the cause of Jesus of Nazareth, and his championing of those whom religious society saw fit to condemn.

  8. OK. So the comments have gone off topic. Pete Wilcox's appointment tell us that Sheffield got second best. What on earth Llandaff will end up with is anyone's guess. Third best would be an improvement on what I suspect we are likely to get. Anyone going to tomorrow's Chrism Mass, which is +David Wilbourne's farewell to the Diocese, may pick up plenty of snippets in the Butcher's afterwards.

    1. Afraid not old chum, I have to wash my hair.
      But the Butcher's sounds like a fine idea.