In needing to Pray for the Pope to Take a Stand upon the Bible, we should include the Archbishops of Canterbury and York too. (In fact, I nearly included ‘and all clergy’ in that title but it was entirely about Pope Francis and Jerusalem.)
2017 saw Archbishop Justin Welby’s standing enter into deep decline as a result of his inability to give satisfactory answers to interview questions and deal with transgender issues. For example, he was taken to task by Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden in Justin Welby Unable to Give a ‘Straight Answer’ on Whether Gay Sex is Sinful.
Furthermore, a HUGE furor is now brewing over his handling of a past Anglican court’s inquiry into an unsubstantiated claim of abuse against the revered, deceased Bishop of Chichester, Dr George Bell.
Gavin opens his latest in this ‘sexuality saga’, Welby’s Will-to-Power: Pride & Ego – Sanity & Sanctity in the Saga of George Bell:
‘The facts are on the whole well known. Lord Carlile, having been forbidden by his terms of reference to judge the innocence or guilt of poor Bishop Bell, did allow himself to tell the world that Bell would never have been found guilty in a court of law. (Mail Online columnist) Peter Hitchens was almost apoplectic with surprise and frustration at Welby’s intransigence…’
His deep experience gives Gavin perspicacity of insight for analysing the situation. His careful, well-considered exposition is bang on target and thus comes with my high commendation to my readers. In particular, Gavin observes that Safeguarding policies bring a negative, political effect and he considers the real issue in this saga is that of pride and corruption of power.:
‘So, what does it mean when the Archbishop says “I cannot with integrity rescind my statement”? He has at best muddled himself. He is in the grip of what appears to be both a serious sin and a psychological distortion.
‘At some point, he has conflated what he thinks is right with the notion of his integrity. He has convinced himself, having fallen victim to pride, that since what he thinks is right must be right, it is his ‘integrity’ that is at stake when he is challenged.
‘But what the challenge to his opinion has done, in fact, is to expose his soul.
‘One might argue in his defence that all that has been exposed is stupidity, because one would have to be dull in mind not to weigh up the evidence and come to the conclusion along with the choristers and the historians and the ecumenists that Bell was innocent. But Welby is not stupid. In which case one has to ask if he has become proud and obdurate.
‘And the trouble with pride and obduracy is that, if it bites sufficiently deeply, one’s cognitive reasoning can become impaired.
‘What might flow from this?
‘The great danger he is in is that he loses all spiritual and moral authority. He becomes a hollow figure of religion, rather than an authentic spiritual leader and inspiration…’ (emphasis added).
Gavin concludes his observations:
‘Perhaps he might be firstly warned by the words of Jesus,: “Whoever wants to save his life, will lose it.” (Matt 16.25)
‘but then encouraged: “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14.11.’
Lastly, readers may also like to note blogger Archbishop Cranmer’s opinion in Justin Welby has staked his reputation and legacy on the maintenance of a profound injustice to Bishop George Bell and its attached discussion.