Friday, 11 June 2010

The discourteous Dean of Southwark

The Dean of Southwark Cathedral, Colin Slee, has been described as 'provocative and discourteous to the Archbishop of Canterbury' by The Church of England Evangelical Council. This is because of his latest attempt to use his position as Dean to undermine the Anglican Communion's finely balanced position on human sexuality, and, in particular, the ordination of gay bishops. The Dean has invited the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, Catherine Jefferts Schori, to preach and preside at a eucharist in the cathedral on Sunday. Dr Jefferts Schori ordained a practising lesbian as a bishop in the ECUSA last month, an action which has put that church effectively outside the Anglican Communion. The rest of the Anglican Communion has agreed a moratorium on such ordinations, but ECUSA seems to think itself above the rest.

Colin Slee is no stranger to controversy. When the proposed appointment of the former Canon, Jeffrey John, as Bishop of Reading was reversed Colin Slee accused those who opposed the appointment - a large number of the clergy of Oxford Diocese, of which I was one - of being 'the evangelical Taliban'. He was forced by the Bishop of Southwark to apologise.

What annoys me is not that another priest in the diocese takes a different view to that which I take, but that the Dean can use our diocesan cathedral to promote whatever hobby-horse he may like. What a shame that the church which should be a focus of unity for the diocese is being highjacked for this deliberately provocative invitation. No doubt it will attract the media, and any who disagree will be portrayed in similarly negative terms to the Taliban.

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