From the Revd Dr Barry Norris
Sir, — Thank you for your thoughtful leader comment last week. I quite agree that perhaps now is the time for bishops with views similar to the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John’s to speak out on the gay issue.
I would, however, offer one caveat. There is all the difference in the world between heterosexual bishops’ and gay bishops’ speaking out. For the former, taking such a position will not attract comment on their private family lives, but for the latter the spotlight will immediately be turned on theirs, as it has been on Dr John’s. I am not sure that we have the right to expect gay bishops, or anyone, to put themselves through this.
It must have been truly awful for Dr John to have his private life and his sexuality under scrutiny in this way, now on several occasions over the past 12 years. I know that there are many within the Church and beyond it who are thoroughly appalled by the treatment that gay men and women continue to receive in the Church.
As has been said so often, why is it the gays who have to pay the price for the very questionable appearance of unity within the Church of England?
Devon EX17 3LP
From the Revd Jonathan Frais
Sir, — Your leader comment supports the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, as a future bishop, but the arguments bear uncertain weight.
On popularity: inside information on the Crown Nominations Commission cannot be challenged without others’ breaking confidences, too.
On Dr John’s clarifying that his relationship is chaste (as required for an unbiblical pairing): we still await sorrow for past sin.
On the Church of England’s capacity to accommodate the disunity he would bring: the experience of Oxford diocese (with the Bishop of Buckingham) and the Episcopal Church in the United States is unsettling — the Bishop of Maidstone (whom you mention) being called to give voice to an unrepresented flock.
Now that social conservatism has switched to the LGBTI side, the Church’s stand can be maintained only by its theological roots.
The Rectory, 11 Coverdale Avenue
East Sussex TN39 4TY
From Mr Steve Vince
Sir, — Your report “Public statements on sex can be a bar, CNC is advised” (News, 13 November) quotes Tracey Byrne of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement as claiming that the Church of England has demonstrated “just how out of step it is with the nation”.
Of all the things that the Church might do or say in the future, few, if any, would appal me as much as the prospect of its wholesale adoption of this country’s current sexual mores.
13 Selwyn Close
Wolverhampton WV2 4NQ