Martin Hislop muses from the South Bank
A colleague from across the Thames said to me earlier this year, ‘You must be relieved with the new regime in Southwark?’ I suppose he assumed that anything was an improvement on the ancien regime. He was somewhat surprised when I revealed that on the contrary things were worse for traditionalists. The relentless modernist agenda is being pursued with a vengeance and recent appointments and actions have simply entrenched the ill-liberal intolerance of the South Bank franchise of the North American Anglican disease.
Ideological game plan
The recent Southwark Diocesan Synod which met in early November was a classic manifestation of the ideological game plan that seeks to marginalize and ultimately eliminate all those who through benighted attachment to outdated values or, more likely, baser prejudice are unable to embrace the brave new world of equality and justice, as defined by the ascendency.
A speaking list was drawn up that superficially suggested balance but in reality the troops had been mustered, the tactics pre-determined and not an inch was to be conceded to the traditionalists. The debate on the main motion from General Synod was a foregone conclusion. It was the Following Motions that went to the heart of what Southwark was all about.
Three Following Motions were presented. Motion A was similar to motions presented by Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics in many dioceses and requested in effect assured episcopal care by virtue of the primary legislation and not by dint of delegation from a Diocesan bishop of whatever gender.
The innovators who have torn up any recognizable understanding of Catholic and Apostolic Order invoked a newfound devotion to episcopal integrity. Which, translated, means they want all the power and any provisions for misguided dissenters will be an act of generous bounty from purported Mother in God and their co-consecrators.
Having declared wholehearted support for women bishops in terms of the draft measure the Bishop of Southwark abstained in the vote by houses on this Following Motion, but the Bishop of Kingston declared his opposition to any provisions as envisaged by the motion and hence guaranteed his vote would kill off the motion in the House of Bishops. Needless to say the vote failed in all three Houses. Then we came to the Following Motions B &C that in essence both advocated no concessions. In the debates that ensued speakers hectored the Synod that the majority had spoken, it was a matter of justice, and the General Synod and in particular the House of Bishops should do nothing to impede the implementation of women bishops and in such a manner as to allow for no questioning of their Authority or Power. Interestingly the House of Bishops abstained on one but voted in favour on the other that specifically called upon the House of Bishops to take no action to make any further provision for traditionalists!
A new Residentiary Canon has been appointed. The new Canon Treasurer is a women priest who is 37 and will combine her Cathedral duties with responsibilities as Diocesan Director of Ordinands. Now the selection of a young women priest to fill a vacant Cathedral Stall is of itself of no particular question, although other women clergy might wonder why they were passed over for someone only ordained priest in 2003. But when the person is given the important task of overseeing the identification, nurture and training of future priests, the vast majority of which will serve in parishes, it is to be hoped that such a person would have at least some realistic understanding and experience of parish life. Apart from three years rather limited experience as a curate in the hardly taxing environment of Hampstead, the new DDO has spent the past six years as chaplain of an Oxford college.
Then we have the appointment of the new Dean of Southwark. Andrew Nunn has been a diligent Sub-Dean who has had to work for many years under the mercurial fiat of the late Colin Slee. There is no doubt he will bring to the office of Dean an application and pastoral care that will serve the Cathedral and its flock well.
This appointment, however, is also about positioning one of the leading affirming catholics in a position of influence in the Diocese and beyond. The reach of that agenda is revealed when it is realized that the Southwark Bishop’s Council wishes to keep Andrew Nunn as a Southwark proctor on General Synod for at least a year, despite him now being a Dean (and therefore not eligible to be elected as a proctor), because they want him to remain on the Crown Nominations Commission so that he can play his part in ensuring Chichester Diocese does not have another traditionalist bishop.
In recent weeks a number of new honorary canons have been announced and yet again not a single traditionalist clergy amongst them.
The Bishop’s Council is bereft of clergy or lay people from ABC parishes, as are ranks of area deans, and yet no attempt has been made to co-opt people to redress the imbalance. And so it goes on. Nothing has changed. The Southwark hegemony will not rest till all vestiges of non-conformity let alone dissent are eliminated. ND