Bishop of Southwark to retire

The Right Reverend Tom Butler, Bishop of Soutwark will retire in March when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.

In July, 2008, Bishop Butler wrote in the Guardian that “Anglicanism’s militant tendency must be resisted.” He called the GAFCON document a “manifesto” which “reads precisely like a student union document from earlier times. The claims are equally inflated and polarised.”

It is maintained that there is a North/South division. This is nonsense. The African primates attending Gafcon came from a narrow tropical belt. The majority of African primates were not there and the language of the manifesto would be anathema to other influential African church figures such as Desmond Tutu. Reading the manifesto, you would form the impression that the other Anglicans had moved away from the core beliefs of the Church, grounded in scripture. This, too, is nonsense.

What the Gafcon group seems unable to understand is that it is possible to take scripture seriously but not, in the 21st century, to interpret it precisely the same way as previous generations. Thoughtful holiness has been the hallmark of Anglicanism and we don’t leave our brains, our newspapers or our prayers behind when we open our bibles.

Reading the manifesto, you would think that western Anglicans have capitulated totally to their culture. This, again, is nonsense. We are trying to relate the Christian gospel with its grace and challenge to the culture in which we are set.

The London Evening Standard remembers a strange incident in 2006:

The bishop may be best remembered for losing his crucifix and memory during the widely-publicised episode of December 2006, when a member of the public found the bishop throwing toys around in the back of his Mercedes, in Crucifix Lane, Southwark.

Asked what he was doing, the bishop allegedly told Paul Sumpter: “I’m the Bishop of Southwark. It’s what I do.”

. . .

On the night of his alleged drunkenness in 2006, the bishop returned home to Tooting Bec from a reception at the Irish embassy in Mayfair with a black eye but without his crucifix, briefcase and mobile phone.

He denied being drunk and maintained he was mugged. He said at the time: “It would have been entirely out of character for me to be drunk.”

A Wikipedia entry says:

Dr Butler has been active at national and international level. Until 1995 he chaired the follow-up to “Faith in the City”, which published the controversial Staying in the City report. He chaired the General Synod’s Board of Mission from 1995 until 2001 and is now Vice Chair Public Affairs of the Mission and Public Affairs Council. He is also Chair of the Governors of Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He served as the General Synod representative on the Inner Cities Religious Council, an initiative set up by the Department of the Environment, until 2001. Since mid-2003 the Bishop has represented the Church of England on the central committee of the World Council of Churches.

Read the rest here.

Here is the Church Times blog post and the release from the Diocese of Southwark.

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