(Please note that this was produced by the voluntary hard work of a blog reader. We are incredibly grateful to him/her for his/her efforts since not everyone has been able to listen to the full audio the link for which is available via the Church of England website as linked in the immediately preceding blog post. Readers are welcome to check it against the audio and please if you would be so kind let us know if there are any corrections–KSH).
TRANSCRIPT OF THE UNSCHEDULED ADDRESS TO SYNOD BY THE BISHOP OF DOVER AND THE ADDRESS FROM THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Bishop of Dover
Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, number 45 ”“ Chairman, I am grateful for this unusual opportunity to speak. I ask Synod’s forgiveness if what I am about to say strikes hard. It is not intended to do so. Throughout my time on Synod in many different ways, I have tried to be of assistance to our working, and I will continue so to act in the future.
I understand however, that there are some who question the appropriateness of a member of the House of Bishops chairing the Business Committee of this Synod and perhaps, dare I say, even this bishop in particular.
I want to say it is a role which I have not sought. I will not speculate on the reasoning behind these views, partly because I am ashamed to say, many of them have been spoken in the darkness!
I just want to say that I am deeply saddened at the thought that a member of any house of this Synod is somehow disqualified from holding a particular office, merely because he or she belongs to that particular house. Even more so, the thought that somehow belonging to that house, cuts across personal integrity and the loyalty to carry forward a shared task.
Members of Synod, I do not intend to embarrass you any further this morning. I therefore ask the Archbishops’ Council, not to consider me for nomination as Chairman of the Business Committee. If such a nomination cannot gain the consent and confidence of the Synod, I do not believe that this office or any office is worth holding. I would suggest however, that very urgent consideration now be given to the amending of the standing orders of this Synod, so as to find a better and more transparent way of appointing the Chair of the Business Committee, and somehow preventing others finding themselves in that unenviable place in which I now find myself.
In his absence I thank the Bishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury wishes to address the Synod.
Archbishop of Canterbury:
Thank you Chair ”“ Archbishop of Canterbury 001. The Bishop of Dover has spoken very movingly of his, um, perception of and experience of this process.
I do want to remind Synod that the proposal of Bishop Trevor’s name was in no sense an infringement of any standing order or rule of this Synod. Therefore, it is bound to be felt, whatever is intended, as, in some degree, to do with the perception about either the House of Bishops corporately or the Bishop of Dover individually. A perception as Bishop Trevor has said that, in some sense, a position renders someone incapable of discharging such an office with effectiveness and integrity.
If it is the view of Synod, that membership of the House of Bishops precludes someone taking office like this, then Synod needs to say so, after proper and open discussion, and I think we have quite properly been embarrassed by what we have just heard and so we should be.
If it assumed a perspective of a Bishop is inimical to the interests of the Synod as expressed through the Business Committee, that is a perception that needs dealing with, I think rather seriously. I suggest those who think that might be the case, should perhaps read the Ordinal and remind themselves of what bishops are supposed to be there for.
It is also rather disturbing if it is assumed somehow not only that a bishop’s perspective is inimical to the interests of Synod, but that the House of Bishops or the Presidents of the Synod would habitually seek to interfere in the proper business of the Business Committee or the Synod. If that is a perception again I would like to hear it said openly rather than privately.
This morning at the Eucharist we heard an extremely powerful sermon from the Bishop of Chelmsford on the subject of trust among other things, for which I and others are very grateful. We have spoken quite a bit over this weekend about the need to build trust within Synod. I don’t think that we build trust very effectively by acting on the assumption of suspicion.
Thank you Archbishop. Item 18 thus falls [Appointment of the Chair of the Business Committee] and we move directly to legislative business].