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

Archdeacon

West Midlands

The Church of England, Birmingham "As the youngest urban population in one of the most lively and diverse regions, Birmingham is a great place to be. The rich variety of social contexts in the Archd...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Putting Passion into performance

Putting Passion into performance

Pat Ashworth talks to the originators of two home-grown Passion stagings, one musical and the other theatrical  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Should parishes be able to sell treasures that no longer reside in their churches?

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

My faith in the Church of England

David Cameron expresses his pride in its openness, beauty, social action, and pastoral care  Read More

Wed 16 Apr 14 @ 23:51
RT @suttonnickThursday's Daily Telegraph front page - "Cameron puts God back into politics" #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers http://t.co/iSMQdxCzg4

Wed 16 Apr 14 @ 17:23
BBC story on @David_Cameron's comment piece in tomorrow's @churchtimes http://t.co/wLfu23dSPZ