The Guardian endorses Jeffrey John for bishop of Southwark

An editorial in The Guardian endorses Jeffrey John for bishop of Southwark. It’s pithy enough we hope they don’t mind that we post it in full:

In the recent history of the Church of England, there can have been few more miserably resonant meetings than the one that took place on 5 July 2003 at Lambeth Palace between Archbishop Rowan Williams and his friend the then Canon of Southwark, Jeffrey John. It occurred because the nomination of Dr John, who is gay, as Bishop of Reading had set off a storm at home and overseas. Parishes had threatened to take their money and loyalty elsewhere, and senior clergy in Africa and the Caribbean had called for the nomination to be revoked. The meeting at Lambeth lasted six agonising hours. It ended with Dr John agreeing to sign a letter withdrawing his acceptance of the bishopric “in view of the damage my consecration might cause to the unity of the Church”. A few months later, Dr John moved to St Albans, where he has worked as dean with distinction ever since. Now, seven years almost to the day after the humiliation over Reading, he is a step away from becoming the next Bishop of Southwark. Dr John was shabbily treated over Reading. No damage that his consecration may have done compares to the damage done to the church and Dr Williams by its abandonment. Dr John has behaved with great dignity throughout. He has no presumptive right to the Southwark see. Yet surely neither he nor Dr Williams would have allowed things to get this far if they were not determined to see a different outcome this time. Right should be done. Dr John’s name should go forward.

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Alan Wilson, Area bishop of Buckingham, echoes the Guardian’s endorsement:

The press has been full of stories about the possibility of Dr Jeffrey John becoming bishop of Southwark. He was nominated as Bishop of Reading at the time I was as Bishop of Buckingham, and personally, I would have been perfectly happy to serve with Jeffrey as an episcopal colleague. His rule of life was, as far as could be told, entirely consistent with the discipline of the Church and still is. I’ve heard reactions from the pews since Sunday’s Telegraph story ranging from “Oh not again” to “this is a great opportunity to redeem a nasty injustice.” If Jeffrey were to be nominated, the reaction would be an interesting sign of how things have moved on, or not, since 2003.

The only sane bottom line has to be that this is simply an appointment and if those whose job it is to discern the truth see in Jeffrey the gifts and calling to undertake the work (and most who know him and the Southwark diocese well seem to think these are pretty obvious), why, apart from steamy politics, why, apart from fear, wouldn’t they appoint the best person for the job?

In its coverage of the story of John’s possible appointment the AP focuses on the celibacy factor.

Any resemblance between Dr. John and Dr John is purely coincidental. I endorse both.

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