Colin Slee, the late Dean of Southwark Cathedral
For those of you who follow the increasingly melodramatic politics of Anglicanism, the late Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral in London who died of pancreatic cancer in November, dropped a posthumous bombshell today.
Madpriest in Newcastle scooped the Anglican blogosphere with this article in The Guardian. Apparently the two English Archbishops in private are far from their earnest conciliatory public personas. Here are some highlights from The Guardian article:
The fraught divisions have been laid bare in the leak of an anguished and devastating memorandum written by the Very Rev Colin Slee, the former dean of Southwark Cathedral, shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer last November. Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, and John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, vetoed candidates from becoming bishops of the south London diocese.
The document reveals shouting matches and arm-twisting by the archbishops to keep out the diocese's preferred choices as bishop: Jeffrey John, the gay dean of St Albans, and Nicholas Holtam, rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, whose wife was divorced many years ago. Eventually Christopher Chessun, then an assistant bishop, was chosen.
When persuasion fails, there is always intimidation. Interesting how the next Bishop of Southwark was chosen by the two Archbishops in a men's room. I don't think even the most aggressive satirist could come up with a more emblematic image of the whole process.
This is behavior which to me appears more like Cromwell (Thomas and Oliver) than Hooker. This whole Covenant business, the whole right wing effort to transform the Anglican Communion into the Anglican Church, to transform a tradition of Lex Orandi Lex Credendi into a confessional church, is starting to look less like a legitimate campaign and more like a bishops' coup.
There is a very good discussion at Mark Harris' blog about the Colin Slee memo and its possible impact on the Covenant process. Not only is Fr. Harris' post worth reading, but so is the conversation in the comments.
I think Episcopalians should think hard about giving veto power over the decisions of their General Convention, and over their diocesan conventions, to a group of unelected and unaccountable bishops who make their decisions in secret. I've always said that we need only look across the Tiber to Rome's travails to see the results of unaccountable power making decisions in secret. In the wake of the Colin Slee memo, I'd say we need look no further than across the Thames at Lambeth Palace.