THE Bishop of Bradwell in the diocese of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Wraw, has expressed his support for same-sex relationships, his joy at the consecration of women bishops, and the need for discipleship focused on young people within the Church.
The sentiments were expressed in open letter to churchpeople, last week, in which he confirmed that he would not survive his illness.
Bishop Wraw was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer, three years ago. He wrote that, while his treatment has now moved on to palliative care, there had been “moments of great joy and delight” in the difficulty, and that he intended to continue his ministry until Petertide Ordinations, in June.
His letter also addressed the “two biggest challenges” now facing the Church: the growth of discipleship and its relationship with young people, which, he said, must be “high priorities” in east London and Essex in particular. “Young people long to be included, to be part of, and there is a richness in relationships that span the generations,” he wrote. “We lose so much in not recognising all they have to give.”
On national changes, Bishop Wraw wrote that welcoming the consecration of women bishops had been a “joy” and “far from contrary” to the tradition of the Church, which had been “hugely enriched” by women’s ministry.
But the recent focus on same-sex relationships, culminating in the rejection by the General Synod of a sexuality report from the House of Bishops, last month (News, 24 February), had, he wrote, distracted the Church from championing “the fundamental and core values of commitment, fidelity, openness, trust, intimacy and indeed faithfulness, both within the Church and more widely in society. This severely weakened our contribution to the life of the nation, and those conversations have suffered through the lack of our voice.”
He continued: “More time does need to be given to a well-founded theology of relationship, friendship, and marriage which I hope will lead in time to a full acceptance of same-sex marriages in the Church. That will take time.
“However, that should not hold us back in the immediate from proper recognition through prayers, blessing, celebration and affirmation of all that is good and wholesome in a wide variety of relationships including stable, faithful, committed, and God-given, same-sex relationships.”
Bishop Wraw told the BBC on Sunday, however, that he would not conduct a same-sex blessing, if he was asked, because of current disciplinary measures in the Church.