New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
UK >

On handling the press

Paul Handley

by Paul Handley

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 @ 03:19

WHEN Bishop Welby walked into the Guard Room at Lambeth Palace shortly after 11 o'clock on Friday, somebody towards the back began to clap - then stopped when he or she realised that none of the other members of the assembled press were about to join in.

Half an hour later, when the Archbishop-designate left the room, there was much more warmth in the applause. It wasn't overwhelming - press people aren't the applauding sort - but it was an expression of genuine admiration for the way that he had handled what to almost anyone else would have been a paralysing experience.

He began with a prayer, as Rowan Williams had done ten years earlier; but God kept coming back into his answers throughout the Q and A session. He dealt with women bishops and homosexuality in his opening statement, in order to get the subjects out of the way in his terms, which were decided on the issue of women bishops, and at least open to friendly interpretation on homosexuality ("I know I need to . . . examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully").

Several things impressed the press: the courtesy with which he took the questions from around the room; the gentle humour that appeared from time to time; the self-deprecation that is already being seen as an essential part of his style.

But above all it was his professionalism that people noticed - not only in what he said, such as in the careful mentioning of the bishops (and, looked at in a different light, disappointed rivals), whom he had had the "great privilege" of service - but also in what he was careful not to say. There were no blunders, no hostages to fortune. He playfully refrained from name-checking the Financial Times; he spoke of his schooling without mentioning Eton and thus providing a soundbite that might be used later.

And he was "utterly optimistic" about the Church, realistic about agreement (he spoke about his work in reconciliation in Nigeria, encouraging people to "continue to differ passionately but without violence", a useful skill for the C of E), and committed to unity: Jesus's prayer for the unity of the disciples in St John's Gospel was, he said, one of his "greatest influnces."

In future, of course, the press will be less sympathetic. But for the time being, even the Mail seemed to like him.

Job of the week

Priest in Charge & Deanery Ministry Development Officer

South West

Diocese of Exeter Priest in Charge for the North Creedy East MissionCommunity and Deanery Ministry Development Officer We need a Priest with vision to lead our mission to 8 rural parishes in a bea...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

When the Iron Lady met a steely Church

When the Iron Lady met a steely Church

The 1980s brought a remarkable remodelling of the Conservatives and the Church of England, says Eliza Filby  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Do you believe the promises contained in party manifestos?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

It’s the theology, stupid

What do we want from our clergy, asks Alister McGrath  Read More

Sun 19 Apr 15 @ 18:31
'Where the Sun (still) don’t shine': @nickbaines on @TheSunNewspaper publication of Katie Hopkins' piece on migrants https://t.co/riz1n8HHOu

Sun 19 Apr 15 @ 18:25
"Misrepresentation & manipulation" - @nickbaines issues a robust response to the @gafconference communique https://t.co/Ne7OplgleQ