Bishop Pete, Bishop Richard, Archbishop George
November 24, 2010 § 5 Comments
The news and blogosphere are full of Pete Broadbent, the Royal family, and his subsequent treatment.
In short, Pete doesn’t like the fact that we have a royal family, and is an unrepentant rebublican. He Twittered about it, and a lively thread followed where, in answer to certain comments, Pete said some more. Crucially he wished William and Kate well, but that was outweighed by other comments which, taken together (and with the contributions of others removed) looked like an awful and graceless tirade against the royal family and the happy couple in particular.
He made a formal apology, which seemed well done. Then the Bishop of London released a statement saying how appalled he was, and that he had invited Pete to ‘withdraw from public ministry’ for a while. THis sounded like a suspension, and +Londin had to clarify that Pete was continuing to be the Bishop of Willesden, just not going out and about.
Now, hidden behind the Times’ paywall, former Archbishop George Carey (Pete’s training incumbent in Durham, where I was a member of the PCC all those years ago) says thate Pete was wrong, but that withdrawing him from ministry in such a public way was disproportionate.
This is how it stands at 3.15 this afternoon. What reflections therefore?
1. Facebook is dangerous. Even if you can plead that you were only talking to friends, if they number up to 1000 and you make your wall public anyway, you’re stuffed.
2. The Press can make certain comments made in a sequential conversation look awful when putting them all together.
3. No priest should say disrespectful things about couples they are to marry, or who are to be married by someone else.
4. Pete was probably trying to make a comment about how the tabloid press can turn on the royal family when they’ve had enough of the niceness of it all, and that’s why he gave the marriage a short life span. That was, however, drowned out by the stuff about the track record of the royals, not all of which was caused by the press.
5. I’m not quite sure whether the relationship between +Pete and +Londin is reparable. I hope it is, because Pete has been overwhelmed by messages of support from his area, and there is too much to lose. It would be good to think that +Londin can assure the royals that action has been seen to be taken, and +Pete that he’s got a future.
6. Bishops and Clergy say some amazing things about God, Jesus, the church, doctrine etc, and little is seen to happen. A media storm does have to be dealt with, but it seems harsh to punish comments which, in sum, were crass and inappropriate, but were not in the same league as others we can think of which have gone unremarked.
7. Archbishop George is someone to whom I owe a vast amount. But I can’t think of many of his interventions and comments about the current life of the C of E recently which have move things forward, and I’m sure +Londin didn’t need this comment. It continues to air the argument in unhelpful circles. And I rather dislike the fact that +George is paid by the Murdoch press to write in the News of the World – not a bstion of press freedom and ethics. Oh well.
What now? Pete was going to keep a low profile at General Synod anyway. He’s got great respect here, as someone brilliant at sorting structures, prioritising mission, supporting the church on the ground and shaping us for the future. I really want him to be able to carry on doing that – and I hope that a low profile for a few weeks will enable that aspect of his reputation to be restored. But whether things can ever be quite the same I’m not sure.