Transcript of the Bishop of Dover and the Archbishop of Canterbury at General Synod Today

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Please note that this was produced by the voluntary hard work of a blog reader. We are incredibly grateful to him/her for his/her efforts since not everyone has been able to listen to the full audio the link for which is available via the Church of England website as linked in the immediately preceding blog post. Readers are welcome to check it against the audio and please if you would be so kind let us know if there are any corrections--KSH).


Bishop of Dover
Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, number 45 – Chairman, I am grateful for this unusual opportunity to speak. I ask Synod’s forgiveness if what I am about to say strikes hard. It is not intended to do so. Throughout my time on Synod in many different ways, I have tried to be of assistance to our working, and I will continue so to act in the future.

I understand however, that there are some who question the appropriateness of a member of the House of Bishops chairing the Business Committee of this Synod and perhaps, dare I say, even this bishop in particular.

I want to say it is a role which I have not sought. I will not speculate on the reasoning behind these views, partly because I am ashamed to say, many of them have been spoken in the darkness!

I just want to say that I am deeply saddened at the thought that a member of any house of this Synod is somehow disqualified from holding a particular office, merely because he or she belongs to that particular house. Even more so, the thought that somehow belonging to that house, cuts across personal integrity and the loyalty to carry forward a shared task.

Members of Synod, I do not intend to embarrass you any further this morning. I therefore ask the Archbishops’ Council, not to consider me for nomination as Chairman of the Business Committee. If such a nomination cannot gain the consent and confidence of the Synod, I do not believe that this office or any office is worth holding. I would suggest however, that very urgent consideration now be given to the amending of the standing orders of this Synod, so as to find a better and more transparent way of appointing the Chair of the Business Committee, and somehow preventing others finding themselves in that unenviable place in which I now find myself.

Synod Chairman:
In his absence I thank the Bishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury wishes to address the Synod.

Archbishop of Canterbury:
Thank you Chair – Archbishop of Canterbury 001. The Bishop of Dover has spoken very movingly of his, um, perception of and experience of this process.

I do want to remind Synod that the proposal of Bishop Trevor’s name was in no sense an infringement of any standing order or rule of this Synod. Therefore, it is bound to be felt, whatever is intended, as, in some degree, to do with the perception about either the House of Bishops corporately or the Bishop of Dover individually. A perception as Bishop Trevor has said that, in some sense, a position renders someone incapable of discharging such an office with effectiveness and integrity.

If it is the view of Synod, that membership of the House of Bishops precludes someone taking office like this, then Synod needs to say so, after proper and open discussion, and I think we have quite properly been embarrassed by what we have just heard and so we should be.

If it assumed a perspective of a Bishop is inimical to the interests of the Synod as expressed through the Business Committee, that is a perception that needs dealing with, I think rather seriously. I suggest those who think that might be the case, should perhaps read the Ordinal and remind themselves of what bishops are supposed to be there for.

It is also rather disturbing if it is assumed somehow not only that a bishop’s perspective is inimical to the interests of Synod, but that the House of Bishops or the Presidents of the Synod would habitually seek to interfere in the proper business of the Business Committee or the Synod. If that is a perception again I would like to hear it said openly rather than privately.

This morning at the Eucharist we heard an extremely powerful sermon from the Bishop of Chelmsford on the subject of trust among other things, for which I and others are very grateful. We have spoken quite a bit over this weekend about the need to build trust within Synod. I don’t think that we build trust very effectively by acting on the assumption of suspicion.
[No Applause]

Thank you Archbishop. Item 18 thus falls [Appointment of the Chair of the Business Committee] and we move directly to legislative business].

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops

Posted July 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Sarah wrote:

This is utterly fascinating.

The ABC sounds like he’s attempting to scold children—but mainly that he’s po’d and distracting himself from that anger by the scolding and hectoring.

And then he has the amusing audacity to assert that those who do not have trust should not *act upon the fact that they do not trust* but instead “build trust”!

I don’t think that we build trust very effectively by acting on the assumption of suspicion.

July 11, 5:13 pm | [comment link]
2. Sarah wrote:

Anybody know anything about the back story on this?

Also—thank you so much to whomever transcribed this.  Yeoman’s work!

July 11, 5:22 pm | [comment link]
3. TomRightmyer wrote:

Trust is a major issue in all contemporary social structures. The news that the Presiding Bishop when she was a diocesan bishop accepted a former Roman Catholic priest with a history of sexual abuse of at least one minor, given that all the canonical requirements were met, and given that by all reports he did not offend again in the ministry of this church, but combined with her silence since, does not increase trust in her, or her office, or the process.  Half the parishes I know of in the Episcopal Church have had to deal with serious misconduct by clergy or lay parish leadership.

July 11, 5:25 pm | [comment link]
4. driver8 wrote:

The Bishop of Dover is a suffragan of the ABC. Perhaps, and I know nothing, there was a desire not to give (or be seen to give?) the ABC more influence over the business of Synod?

July 11, 6:45 pm | [comment link]
5. Martin Reynolds wrote:

Following a link from here might help perhaps

July 11, 6:58 pm | [comment link]
6. Formerly Marion R. wrote:

Trust is not built. Trust is earned.

July 11, 7:48 pm | [comment link]
7. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#1/2 Sarah
It is not only fascinating, it is extraordinary.  The Audio [first five minutes] just has to be listened to, to be believed.  The holy desert father mask drops, and you see perhaps the real man, and it is not a pretty sight at all.

As far as background goes, there was resistance from the laity in the February Synod to having appointments just foisted on them: +Dover first time and Dr Priscilla Chadwick.  As +Broadbent says in the link provided by #5 there is no precedent or intention that the Chairmanship of the Business Committeee should be held by a bishop, much less Rowan’s suffragan.

I don’t know what went on this Synod “in the darkness” but it seems to me that there is a battle going on about Synod quite rightly resisting the control-freakery of the Archbishop and those around him and refusing to become an Indaba-emasculated council of advice to the ABC, to be heeded or not at Rowan’s whim, just like the old Supreme Soviet.    It is a great pity the Primates who attended Dublin were not on the ball enough when Rowan pulled a similar fast one on them and got them to agree to neuter themselves to just advising him.

I don’t think it is anything to do with incapacity, effectiveness or integrity of bishops as the ABC tries to cast it in his hectoring rant, but everything to do with Synod’s rejection of him appointing Trevor Willmott as his suffragan and then through his influence on the Archbishops’ Council and with the HOB trying to get him placed in charge of the key Business Committee of Synod.  It is obvious to anyone that there is a problem of both a conflict of interest and centralisation of power in Rowan in what Synod refused quite rightly to endorse.

I do not support unkindness at all, but Rowan put +Dover in this position, got caught pulling a fast one by Synod, and I think that explains this intemperate rant at Synod and impertinent display of frustration and temper.  I think Rowan got exactly what he deserved.

July 11, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
8. MichaelA wrote:

Thanks yet again Pageantmaster for your measured and insightful comments.

It appears Rowan is copping it from all sides on this one.

July 11, 9:26 pm | [comment link]
9. BlueOntario wrote:

And Martin Reynolds, thanks for posting that link in #5.

July 11, 9:39 pm | [comment link]
10. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

The more time goes on, the more we see inappropriate fingers in inappropriate pies. 

For one to speak of “building trust” when doing things that are very untrustworthy, one has to be a) stupid; b) thinking he’s too smart by half or “above the rules” or c) unaware that he’s rivaling Maupassant for irony.

July 12, 11:14 am | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.

Next entry (above): Author Says Amish Thrift Makes Sense by Saving Cents

Previous entry (below): C of E General Synod - summary of business Monday 11th July 2011

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)