In a move described by the Telegraph as raising “serious questions” for Anglicans, it seems a clergyman married to a divorcee is set to become a Bishop in the Church of England.
In other, closely related news, a clergyman married to a divorcee being made a Bishop in the Church of England has never happened before.
And it’s the twenty-first century.
The Rev John Richardson tells concerned Telegraph readers why he’s all worried and stuff. (Stand by for some fretting of epic proportions.)
The announcement from Downing Street [for patently anachronistic reasons] that the Revd Nicholas Holtam, currently vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, has been nominated as the next Bishop of Salisbury poses great challenges for traditionalist Anglicans [who are expected to jump up and down and puff and blow and go red in the face] here and abroad, but it also raises serious questions about the functioning of the Crown Nominations Commission [serious questions such as: "Really, that's still the job of the Crown?!"], responsible for choosing Anglican bishops.
There have been rumours about Mr Holtam’s appointment for some time, principally because [Anglicans love to take tea and have a good natter, plus] he is married to a divorcee. Oddly enough, although the Church of England imposes certain restrictions on clerical ordination for those in that situation [okay I'll say it out loud again: being married to a divorcee... ooh, the thought just makes me shudder], there was no clarity about the consecration of bishops. At the last General Synod, however, such clarification was urgently sought and the suspicions of many people as to why seem now to have been confirmed. [Nice one, Sherlock.]
What is perhaps not realized is that the Church’s historical opposition to divorce goes back to the remarkably hard line taken by Jesus himself. Asked whether divorce was possible for any reason, he answered, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9, NIV).
[... blah blah Henry VIII blah the Pope blah pedantic point about the Apostle Paul blah blah ...]
For some people, therefore, the proposed consecration of Nicholas Holtam is a serious challenge to Church order. And indeed it may be — but the extent to which this is so clearly depends on the circumstances of his wife’s divorce.
This, however, took place in her teens, and it is obviously not for individuals to pry into why. [Despite which, I've obviously done a little bit of digging around myself, and I definitely am saying that her personal choices made as a married teenager some years ago essentially determine her moral worth in the eyes of me, the Church, Jesus and Almighty GOD Himself.]
The Rev John Richardson indeed presses on to rehearse the different categories of marital sin which may or may not apply to Mrs Holtam’s first marriage. It later transpires that the potential Bishop Holtam has previously expressed some sympathies (you guessed it) toward the idea that homosexuals might not be entirely devoid of the light of God; a radical thought which makes our author, Revd Richardson, feel he should like to have been more involved in the process of selection… of the gay-loving, radical, married-to-a-divorcee trendy vicar.
Some may feel it unfortunate or unworthy [and not very 'Christian'] that someone like myself [an important person] should be so critical of a man who has yet to take up his post on the very day his nomination is made public. My reply is simply [pish and posh, and] that if we’d been told earlier we could have had the proper discussions in a very different forum. [Instead of me speculatively dragging his wife's hypothetically tawdry past into the pages of the Telegraph, like I've just done.]
Ahh, isn’t the Church of England basically just all warm and fuzzy inside.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Oooh, Vicar: Some epic fretting by a Church of England guy,