Lay rebel explains his Giddings challenge
THE mover of a motion of no confidence in the chairman of the
House of Laity (
News, 7 December) has outlined his reasons in a note circulated
to all members in advance of the vote next Friday.
The note concentrates on the speech given by the chairman, Dr
Philip Giddings, during the debate on women bishops at the November
Synod meeting (
News, 23 November), in which he opposed the Measure as
"unwise", given that a "significant minority of our Church [are]
unable to accept its provisions".
The mover of the motion, Stephen Barney, argues that the speech
was delivered immediately after that of the Bishop of Durham, the
Rt Revd Justin Welby, and thus "directly undermined" what Bishop
Welby had said. It was "instrumental in convincing some of the
undecided members of the House to vote against", and was a
"significant contributor to the reputational damage the Church of
England is already suffering".
Mr Barney wrote: "I have always been one of the first to say
that individuals must vote according to their consciences; however,
leaders have other responsibilities and accountabilities. I feel
that if I am to support the leader of a group of which I am a
member, then that leader must show wise and good judgement, and I
do not believe that this has happened."
On Tuesday, Dr Giddings said that "the time for debate is when
we have the debate."
Also speaking on Tuesday, Christina Rees, a member of the
Archbishops' Council, suggested that concern among members of the
House was rooted in the fact that Dr Giddings "made it absolutely
explicit that he was speaking as the chair" rather than in a
personal capacity. He had gone on to "speak up for the views of the
minority of lay people in the House of Laity", which was already
"not representative of the wider membership of the Church of
England. . . Questions have to be asked: who does he
Dr Giddings had "misused his position" on other occasions, she
suggested. For example, he had written a letter about homosexuality
to The Times on 17 December 2011 signed as "Chair of the
House of Laity".
On Wednesday, Keith Malcouronne, of Guildford diocese, said that
he did not believe there were valid reasons for calling for a
motion of no confidence. He defended Dr Giddings, and suggested
that Mr Barney had acted in an "unchristian" manner.
"All members are there to do their best in terms of scrutinising
potential legislation, and to speak freely in terms of not just
their own personal view, but their view as representatives and
potential legislators," he said. "Dr Giddings's speech was very
gracious, and he was quite clear in recognising the general desire
and not wishing to stand in the way of having women bishops."
He envisaged that there would be "quite a lot of support" for
the motion, but that a "significant proportion of people, while in
favour of women bishops, will feel that trying to punish Dr
Giddings for speaking out against it is completely unreasonable and
undemocratic. . . This is a vote on a personalised attack . . . and
At least 43 members of the House of Laity will need to attend
the meeting to form a quorum. The motion requires a simple majority
to pass, but, if it is passed, Dr Giddings is not obliged to