|Three of the 'Current Challenges' facing Llandaff. Source Church in Wales|
"At a meeting of the Electoral College of the Church in Wales held from February 21st to 23rd, no candidate nominated received the necessary two-thirds of the votes cast to be declared Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Llandaff.
Under the provisions of the Constitution of the Church in Wales, the right to fill the vacancy has passed to the Bench of Bishops, and the Bishop of Swansea & Brecon, as the Senior Bishop and President of the Electoral College, has determined that there should be a process of consultation before names for possible appointment are considered...." (See Provincial press release: Bishop of Llandaff – appointment process)
The press release has a link to the 'Llandaff Diocesan Profile' and 'Person Specification for Bishop of Llandaff', and a note on the provincial perspective, all here.
LGBT+ people have been busy commenting under a previous entry, Llandaff stalemate with their usual vitriol about lack of inclusion due to homophobia. Their campaign has even reached the floor of the House of Commons (see the Thinking Anglicans site). Former Anglican priest, Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab) - AKA Captain Underpants MP - put the Question:
But discretion is not always good in the Church, is it? Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, has been barred from becoming a bishop in the Church in Wales, which I know is separate from the Church of England, because the other bishops have refused to do what they have done in every other case—accept what the members of the local diocese have wanted.
Let us put this into perspective. Historically, some gay people suffered for their sexuality but there are gay people and there a gay people. Most quietly get on with their lives while others constantly agitate for greater acceptance making life difficult even for people in their own community. Society has moved from a position of intolerance to tolerance and understanding to harassment by LGBT+ organisations making false accusations. This is evident in the Church. They are using the same tactics which resulted in the ordination of women as part of a liberal agenda which was supposed to grow the Church but it has had the opposite effect with a steep decline in Church attendance in England similar to that in Wales.
Thousands of men convicted of offences that once criminalised homosexuality but are no longer on the statute book have been posthumously pardoned under a new law after the successful campaign to pardon Alan Turing. Gay and lesbian people can benefit from civil partnerships but there is no gratitude, just demands for more. The sticking point for the rest of us is the sanctity of marriage which is the union of a man and a woman but opposition to same sex marriage in church is met with cries of Homophobia!
Changing Attitude which campaigns for equality in the selection, training, ordination and appointment of LGBT clergy estimate that about 10% of clergy are LGBT compared with 1.7% of the UK population who identified themselves as LGB in 2015. There is no shortage of LGBT people in congregations yet the third bullet point in the extract from 'Current Challenges' is to increase the representation and inclusion of LGBTI Anglicans. This followed by another bullet point in the text:
"To commit to ensuring a safe space within the Church and within our communities where members of the LGBTI community can be honest and open, respected and 'fully affirmed as equal disciples' (Same Sex Pastoral Letter 2016)."
Why? LGBT people are not under represented and are very vocal whereas traditional Anglicans receive no support or encouragement. Could it be that LGBT inclusion was inserted so that an openly gay candidate would fit the profile? It fits the former Archbishop's political agenda following the stitch-up which resulted in the first woman bishop being appointed in the Church in Wales to a diocese she was unsuited for.
The first bullet point includes the statement "Caring for our existing membership is important, but a radically different approach to sharing the Gospel is needed to fulfil the mission of the Church at a time of declining attendance."
That is a lie. The bishop of St Asaph has assumed responsibility for advancing and ministering to LGBT people with the addition of a chaplaincy while care for traditionalists was withdrawn when Bishop David Thomas retired in 2008. One of the challenges (the second bullet point) "To recognise and affirm the wide range of traditions across the diocese" must do just that, affirm and recognise traditionalists, many of whom are cradle Anglicans.
The outcry being orchestrated following the rejection of the Dean of St Albans by the Electoral College is disingenuous. The Church does not discriminate against celibate men in a gay civil partnership. The problem with Dr John's candidature is that he is a focus of disunity. He favours same sex marriage in Church and has twisted scripture to add credence to the LGBT campaign. Also, in the view of many Church members he appears to be yet another pawn in Archbishop Morgan's manipulation of the Church.
The first bullet point stresses that, "Caring for our existing membership is important, but a radically different approach to sharing the Gospel is needed to fulfil the mission of the Church at a time of declining attendance." [My emphasis - Ed.]
If the bench wished to demonstrate the importance of caring for existing members at a time of declining attendance they would also recognise the importance of members who have struggled to keep the faith in the face of hostility over many years. Even 'the best bishop the Church in Wales never had' was told "There is no place for you in this Church". That must change. The time is now.
With hindsight the ordination of women has benefited career opportunities at the expense of plummeting attendance. Increasing the representation and inclusion of LGBT Anglicans to throw more abuse at loyal members of the Church is not the answer.
The Church in Wales has the opportunity to begin anew. No doubt the bishops will be bombarded by the LGBT brigade to appoint Jeffrey John. They must resist. In order to stop the decline the bench must appoint a bishop from among traditionalist clergy who will restore the mystery and the holiness of the Church.
I have received news of one consultation in which an Area Dean invited nominations provided the nominee had agreed: "We can confirm that the Assistant Bishop David Wilbourne 'would see it as a great privilege to be Bishop of Llandaff' and therefore is willing to be considered."
Readers may recall that back in 2011 it was David Wilbourne who took the view that the ordination of women would 'rid the world of homophobia, misogyny, brutalisation of women in all situations including those in war zones'. Wrong there.
Asked in a BBC Radio interview before the election process why applicants should not apply, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon replied that anyone who wanted the job was unlikely to be suitable. That's Wilbourne out then.