Men and Women in Marriage report and our dysfunctional, secretive, hypocritical Church

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines said at a deanery clergy meeting today that most bishops were completely unaware that the Men and Women in Marriage report was being released. He found out that the report had been issued from a message on Twitter. Bishop Nick said the House of Bishops, Church House and the Communications Officer for the Bishops need to co-operate better.

When he was asked what he thought of the report he said that it “hasn’t helped move the agenda forward”. He said a follow-up document / press report was expected to be issued yesterday (Monday) by the House of Bishops Press Officer. This didn’t happen, to the best of my knowledge.

We now know that Charlotte Methuen, a member of the Faith and Order Commission which produced the report, dissents from the content of the document, and that most bishops were unaware it was being issued.

We don’t yet know whether other members of the Commission dissent from the report. Nor do we know whether all members of the House of Bishops and all members of the FAOC saw the final version of the report before it was released.

So far, only one conservative evangelical has commented on the report, the Revd John Richardson of the Ugley Vicar blog. He comments: OK, I’ve come back from a few days’ break and just read the document “Men and Women in Marriage”, and I feel like my head is full of fog. Did I forget how to do theology while I was on holiday? Has anyone else felt the same?

The report doesn’t seem to have the support of the Faith and Order Commission nor of the House of Bishops. The Bishop of Coventry seems to have written a report that both conservatives and pro-gay groups deride as being theologically and intellectually inept and inadequate.

The story, which is continuing to come out, shows our Church to be dysfunctional and secretive. If there was greater transparency such disasters might be more easily avoided. If there was greater confidence among the majority about the loving, generous nature of God, such disasters might be avoided. If there was greater transparency, honesty and openness within the House of Bishops, the Church might be less hypocritical in its treatment of LGB&T people.

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