The Hypocrisy of Authoritarian Bishops

Jan 24, 2023 by

by Lee Gatiss, Church Society:

Like many clergy, over the weekend I read GS2289, the response of Church of England bishops to Living in Love and Faith. Let me confess honestly, that in my personal lived experience I am experiencing this stuff from the bishops as a deeply hypocritical, flawed, insulting, and overtly manipulative attempt at institutional gaslighting.

The whole document feels to me personally like an insincere jargon-filled betrayal of the gospel and an abandonment of all I hold dear and love about Anglicanism. It gives me immense pain and sorrow. I feel profound personal grief. I am hurt, embarrassed, and humiliated that the leaders of my denomination could be so brazen in their rejection of the Bible and in their sneaky attempt to pretend that it is not a rejection of the teaching of Jesus as we have always received it. I am upset that I have been treated with intellectual and spiritual contempt by such a poorly argued, thinly veiled power grab. The emotional impact of GS2289 for me is akin to being mugged.


In the Church Times this week it is reported that Bishop Alan Smith of St Albans has attacked the government in the House of Lords. He accuses them of ruling by “executive edict” and abusing their delegated powers. Parliamentary scrutiny is, he says, “one of the core constitutional functions”. He rails: “If this becomes the norm, any government will take it for granted that they can ignore scrutiny by Parliament. As a minimum, we need policies that have the support of both Houses and all parties, and clear principles on what needs primary legislation and what can, in exceptional circumstances, be dealt with by delegated legislation.” And yet, the House of Bishops of the Church of England which he is a part of has decided to bring about the most revolutionary changes in Anglican doctrine since the Reformation by episcopal fiat, treating General Synod with contempt in the most dishonest and discourteous way.

Because it is clear that although there may be a discussion of the ways forward proposed by the bishops in GS2289, at February’s General Synod (on Wednesday 8th February), the bishops will be pressing ahead with their plans regardless of what Synod says. That is what they say in this document. Synod will not be voting on these changes. It will not be allowed to. It has come down on high from the bishops that the lower orders do not need to be consulted after all, and they themselves can just decide what is best. Synod don’t get to debate and vote, just to “welcome” the whole thing.

Read here



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