Yesterday I speculated about how the story about Jeffrey John taking legal action arrived in the public domain and what the motive might have been for releasing confidential information. Someone deliberately revealed private information to the press and it wasn’t Jeffrey John. Is it likely to be the same person who was responsible for leaking information from the Southwark CNC meeting held on 5 July 2010?
The motive? – to block the preferment of a highly gifted, prophetic priest because he is gay and partnered. In 2010 the information was released to subvert the possibility of Jeffrey John being appointed to Southwark.
What might the context be now? Well, the answer might lie close to where I live. The Bishop of Salisbury has recently advertised for a new Bishop of Ramsbury, vacant since Stephen Conway was appointed to Ely. It’s possible that Jeffrey John has been talked about as a likely candidate for Ramsbury, given Bishop Nicholas Holtam’s pro-gay credentials at St Martin-in-the-Fields.
Someone wants to ensure that any chance of Jeffrey being appointed is sabotaged from the start, just as people wanted to sabotage his appointment to Reading and Southwark. It’s hard to believe that anyone involved with the central bodies of the Church of England might act in this way, but I’ve concluded that indeed, someone is indeed bent on sabotage.
Colin Slee in his memorandum thought the Southwark leak might have happened in two ways. The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to consult lawyers about Jeffrey John. Colin thought one of the lawyers might have been indiscrete. Alternatively, the CNC meeting was held at a venue where other people were in the garden. It was perfectly possible for someone to look through the window and read names from a flipchart. Colin, however, thought the leak occurred prior to the meeting.
The more likely source of the leak was someone who believed that it was morally right to protect the church from appointing a partnered (even if celibate) gay priest. That person has to be a permanent member of the CNC and a conservative evangelical layman. There are two possible candidates and one name in particular has been circulating for some months.
The same person is likely to have been told about the exchange of lawyer’s letters because he is a permanent member of the CNC. He has never admitted that he was the original source of information, thus condemning Colin Slee to a series of deeply painful accusations in the period before his death.
That is a scandal in itself. The person believes he is right to break oaths of confidentiality and leak information with the aim of sabotaging the place of gay people in the church. I’m convinced he did it again prior to last weekend.
There is more that is scandalous. I believe senior church staff must know who the person is. They allow this abuse to continue. They tolerate the presence of a colleague who personifies ugly homophobia.
Both Archbishops and senior Church House staff such as William Fittall and John Rees are involved in a strategy of actively preventing any progress towards a healthy church which welcomes joyfully the ministry of LGB&T people.
The membership of the newly-appointed House of Bishops review group is calculated to guarantee an impotent process – no women, no LGB&T people, no progress. As Nelson Jones comments in the New Statesman, “the present situation is one of studied hypocrisy.”
The big question is – why has no one at Church House or on the CNC taken action to remove the person who breached confidentiality in such a scandalous way and is poisoning Christian attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people?