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Bishop Broadhurst and the Synod elections

27 October 2010


From the Rt Revd Dr Colin Buchanan

Sir, — I have read your account of the Bishop of Fulham’s statement about his future (News, 22 October), and have heard him interviewed on the BBC’s Sunday programme. Am I right in my un­der­standing of his position as follows?

He believes himself to be a true apostolic bishop ministering in the Church of England, and giving ab­solute assurance about the validity and efficacy of the sacramental ministrations he offers, which assur­ance, being of top priority for the life of the people of God, is guar­an­teed by the historic succes­sion from the apostles, the preservation of that succession in the Anglican passage through the Reformation period, and in latter days the ensur­ing that the succession is sustained by male bishops only.

This assurance has not only been the key to all eucharistic celebrations by the Forward in Faith (FiF) constituency: it has also been visibly expressed in ordination by the Bishop of Fulham, in that in Sep­tember he ordained a deacon (an­nounced on another page) and, presumably, assured him that he was being truly ordained. All that is how I have read his present position.

At the end of the year, however, he will resign, and, in joining the Church of Rome, will acknowledge he has never been ordained, that his sacramental ministrations have been open to the highest level of doubt, and that the orders he has conferred (mostly, presumably, within the FiF constituency) have been fictitious. Does he in fact say this now, or is it simply that he will say it in two months’ time?

If I have got it wrong, I would be the first to acknowledge it and apologise for misrepresenting the position that I think I read. But I still have the dilemma that, if Rome is right, we have to go today; where­as, if it is wrong, nothing that hap­pens in the Church of England can make Rome right. Surely logic has some part to play in relation to integrity?

21 The Drive, Alwoodley
Leeds LS17 7QB

From the Revd Richard Tillbrook SSC

Sir, — I guess I would be labelled a “traditionalist”, though I have no problem with those who don’t share my beliefs about priesthood. I joined Forward in Faith (FiF) believing it to be an association of members of the Church of England, both lay and ordained, who wished to preserve an honoured place for traditonalists in the Church of England.

I was surprised to note that Bishop Broadhurst chose to resign publicly rather than informing Her Majesty first, and that he wished to remain as chairman of FiF, claiming that it is not a C of E organisation.

If he is right, then I need to resign from FiF, and, if he is not, then he needs to resign immediately.

St Barnabas’s Vicarage
13 Abbot’s Road
Colchester CO2 8BE

From the Revd Simon Heans

Sir, — Writing of Bishop Broadhurst’s claim that “the Church of England has become a kind of fascist democracy,” Andrew Brown (Press, 22 October) says that he finds it “really rather sad to see him decline to this kind of infantile ’60s rhetoric”.

May I remind him of some rhetoric of the ’70s which makes the same point? The former Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, warned in 1977 of the dangers of the House of Commons’ becoming an “elective dictatorship”. He was referring to the prospect of one ideologically driven party forcing through legislation leading to a “tyranny of the majority”, which is a phrase used by Plato, Aristotle, Madison, Tocqueville, and our own J. S. Mill.

It is up to the new General Synod to prove that it does not deserve Bishop Broadhurst’s description. But, whatever its behaviour towards the minority who in conscience cannot accept women bishops, one has to admit that his political analysis, far from being “infantile”, has a distinguished pedigree.

The Vicarage
Oakhill Road
Beckenham BR3 6NG

From Mrs Mary Watson

Sir, — Your headline “Traditionalists glimpse hope in Synod election results” (News, 22 October) is a disgrace.

In April 2010, the Equality Act was completed and accepted by the House of Lords. This, apparently, consolidates the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, and three statutory instruments protecting discrimination in em­ployment.

If only someone in the so-called “Establishment” would insist that the Church cannot continue to claim exemption from the law, the ludi­crous situation indicated by your headline would cease.

Those remaining in a Church that adhered to the same law as most of us have to could then channel their energies into demonstrating what Christianity is supposedly all about: worshipping God and caring for those in need, instead of focusing too much attention on themselves and their pathetic struggle for male domination.

Roseville, Studley Road
Ripon HG4 2QH

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