As we noted in our post yesterday, it looks like the Rev. Jeffrey John will not be the next bishop of Southwark. There are a variety of reactions to this news:
From the Guardian (UK):
Gay clergyman blocked from becoming bishop
Jeffrey John barred from becoming Bishop of Southwark – the second time that he has failed to be appointed to such a senior position following a row over his sexuality
Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, was under consideration for the post and would have replaced the Right Rev Tom Butler, who retired earlier this year. In 2003 Dr John had been forced to stand down from his appointment as suffragan bishop of Reading.
When news of his second candidacy was leaked, the prospect of the first openly gay bishop in the Church of England immediately angered conservative evangelicals, who threatened to seek alternative leadership overseas and warned of a schism.
The disclosure also infuriated the Crown Nominations Commission, tasked with presenting two names to the prime minister and whose members swear an oath of confidentiality regarding the nomination and selection process. The decision of the commission followed two days of heated debate. One of its 14 members is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. He was said to be furious at the breach of secrecy, and insisted he would not be pressured into backing a particular candidate or vetoing another.
The Associated Press ran this story, published here in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
News reports: gay priest rejected for UK bishopric
John was nominated to become bishop of Reading in 2003, but withdrew in the face of an uproar from conservatives. He is now the dean of St. Albans cathedral.
John, although united in a civil partnership with his long-term partner, has declared he is celibate, conforming to Anglican teaching.
Church officials had not confirmed news reports that John was on a list of candidates considered by a Crown Nominations Commission which met earlier this week in what is supposed to be a strictly confidential process.
“This is painfully disappointing news for Jeffrey, who has lived through a week in which his identity and reputation have been pored over, analyzed and attacked once again by conservative forces in the church in a way which I can only describe as poisonous,” said the Rev. Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude.
From the Telegraph (UK):
Conservative Anglican leaders had warned that evangelical parishes would not recognise him as a bishop and instead would seek “alternative episcopal oversight”.
But the snub will infuriate liberal clergy who believed he was the outstanding candidate and that his appointment would signal a move towards greater inclusion for homosexuals in the Church.
It is understood that discussions at the two-day meeting, held at a secret location in Stepney, were heated with members of the Commission arguing over whether they should select Dr John.
Also writing in the Telegraph, Damian Thompson has this reaction:
The second humiliation of Jeffrey John: Rowan’s liberal credentials go up in smoke
So the gay but celibate Dean Jeffrey John has – unexpectedly – been blocked from becoming the next Bishop of Southwark, prompting my colleague Jonathan Wynne-Jones to ask why the Archbishop of Canterbury allowed his name to go forward in the first place. In 2003 Rowan Williams quietly supported John’s nomination as Bishop of Reading and then, after Downing Street had made the offer and it had been accepted, was persuaded by evangelicals to force John to turn it down. Yet again, Cantuar has allowed his old friend’s expectations to be raised and then dashed.
+Rowan is used to dealing with furious evangelicals. Now he’s about to taste some liberal fury.
The ChurchTimes blog has a roundup of blog reactions to this news:
Southwark developments: Jeffrey John rejected
Jeffrey John will not, apparently, be the next Bishop of Southwark. The latest ‘leak’ was posted last night on the Telegraph website and on Jonathan Wynne-Jones’ blog.
The focus on a number of blogs has been the damage done by the reporting of this story.
And, there is a growing Facebook fanpage of those who would welcome the Rev. Jeffery John as a bishop in the Episcopal Church.
1,000,000 strong for Jeffrey John as a bishop in The Episcopal Church
which you can find HERE
[corrected link for Facebook Fanpage]