The true nature of the Grand Tufti that his spin doctors keep safely hidden behind the facade of academic gentleness has been exposed. The final act of the wonderful Colin Slee shortly before his death was to document the bigotry and viciousness of Williams and Sentamu, especially Williams.


A meeting of Church of England bishops in York this week has broken up without agreement on whether gay clergy should ever be allowed to be chosen for promotion to bishoprics. Church lawyers have told the bishops that while they cannot take into account that someone is homosexual in considering them for preferment, they also cannot put forward clergy in active same-sex relationships and, even if they are celibate, must consider whether they can "act as a focus for unity" to their flocks if appointed to a diocese.

The fraught divisions have been laid bare in the leak of an anguished and devastating memorandum written by the Very Rev Colin Slee, the former dean of Southwark Cathedral, shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer last November. Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, and John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, vetoed candidates from becoming bishops of the south London diocese.

The document reveals shouting matches and arm-twisting by the archbishops to keep out the diocese's preferred choices as bishop: Jeffrey John, the gay dean of St Albans, and Nicholas Holtam, rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, whose wife was divorced many years ago.

Slee described Williams shouting and losing his temper in last year's Southwark meeting, which left several members of the crown nomination committee, responsible for the selection of bishops, in tears.

Slee also in effect charges the church with hypocrisy, stating that there are several gay bishops "who have been less than candid about their domestic arrangements and who, in a conspiracy of silence, have been appointed to senior positions". The memo warns: "This situation cannot endure. Exposure of the reality would be nuclear."

Slee said of the meeting: "We had two very horrible days in which I would say both archbishops behaved very badly. The meeting was not a fair consideration at all; they were intent on wrecking both Jeffrey John and Nick Holtam equally, despite the fact that their CVs were startlingly in an entirely different and better league than the other two candidates …

"The archbishop of Canterbury was bad tempered throughout.

In a covering letter seen by the Guardian, Slee's eldest daughter, Ruth, says: "Both my mother and I feel [his] hurt and anger were contributory to the cancer from which he died … this association is borne out by the medical timescale of his illness, but will never be known."



  1. I’ve gotten rather tired of so-called “thoughtful” progressives who claim that they can want justice in the church while still claiming to admire this man. Letting the cat out of the bag, letting people see what a nasty piece of work this man is, will hopefully change their minds. It is time to put an end to the psychological projection of some imagined kindliness onto this nasty and vicious homophobe. Only a bully yells at gathering until grown adults are in tears. Only a thug is willing to do whatever to get his way. He is obviously a bully and a thug and nothing he has to say to the church is of any relevance or value. The one step left for this man is to retire and run off to Rome where he belongs.

  2. You can see it if you look carefully….

    It’s the way the eyebrows curl up.

    I feel such compassion for Colin Slee and his family, for Jeffrey John, and for what Nicholas Holtam and his wife had to endure. What an insult to all the honest gay clergy in the Church of England to see the hypocrites preferred. But anyone who was paying attention already knew of the vast, hypocritical conspiracy of silence.

    There’s not much new here but for the description of the yelling. The real Rowan was there to see, unless you chose to be blind. Still, the article in the Guardian is a blockbuster of reporting by Andrew Brown. Will Rowan resign?

  3. No doubt the character indelebilis helped him maintain a xtian demenour throughout.
    And thank god for being the Established Church; none of that vulgar disestablished or free church nonsense here! Nothing but the highest tone throughout!

  4. I second Dennis’ comment.

    The man we all imagined to be bullied turns out to be a bully himself. My last tiny little shred of respect for him is now gone.

  5. I have a couple of reactions, maybe three, to this horrifying article.

    First, we now know the reason why the participants in Crown Selection Committee meetings are sworn to secrecy. I wonder how many other of these meetings have been marked by acrimony and tears.

    Second, Colin is stirring the sh*t even from beyond the grave, where his oath of secrecy does not apply. We are just having the consultation with the Appointments Secretary and the Dean of Manchester over the requirements for a new Dean of Southwark, and this revelation ensures that The Rev’d Percy Dovetonsils, Rector of Milquetoast, will be appointed as Dean.

    The Archbishops ought to be ashamed of themselves. And this episode shows that, even though it is open to everyone’s scrutiny, election of bishops by a diocesan synod, with confirmation by the rest of the Church of England, would be infinitely better. The acrimony will at least be in the open.

    Third, please spare a thought for the poor Diocese of Southwark. Bishop Christopher, whose selection as Bishop was a surprise to many of us in the Diocese, is now revealed to have been thought to be inferior to Jeffrey John and Nick Holtam. How would any of us like it if we knew that we were only the third choice for our current jobs, and only got the job because of the objections of the two Archbishops to the two preferred candidates? It will colour his entire ministry in the Diocese, and will blight anything he tries to achieve.

    Will Rowan resign? I doubt it. Lambeth Palace and Bishopscourt in York will have no public comment, and their private rage at their machinations being revealed will be all the more vicious because the reporter of it all is beyond their power to censure or punish. How Colin must be delighting in what has transpired!

  6. My favorite part of the story is where Slee reveals that the election was apparently determined in the men’s toilet:

    “At a critical point Archbishop Sentamu and three other members simultaneously went to the lavatory, after which the voting patterns changed.”

    Whatever may be said about process that TEC has about “electing” bishops, at least it’s out in the open. It’s certainly better than men — and only men — meeting in the toilet to “appoint” them.

    This is truly revolting.

  7. Are “active same-sex relationships” the same as “practicing same-sex relationships”? Why is either type of relationship anyone’s business but the two people involved?

    I’m guessing I was stifling a good deal of pent-up anger, because I can’t let this go.

  8. It is a very long time since I cared what +Rowan Cantuar thinks or says about anything. I hope this nudges many more to the same position.

  9. Grandmere, “that bit” conjures up delicious photoshopping opportunities for the Mad One!

  10. I think there might be problems if one partner is active and the other is still practicing. I think in those situations it would be good manners if the active partner slowed down a bit to let the other partner catch up.

  11. as me and mine are approaching ten years together later this year, I can assure you that there is a stage beyond both “active” and “practicing”.

    It is called “remembering.”

  12. Yes, Dennis. But that is most definitely not an exclusively gay thing. But hang on in their mate. In another few years it usually all starts again, not so often, but it is good. Ask Grandmère Mimi. She’ll tell you.

  13. At a critical point Archbishop Sentamu and three other members simultaneously went to the lavatory, after which the voting patterns changed.

    And to think it’s usually gay men who are accused of committing sinful acts in the loo!


  14. What is said in secret will be shouted from the housetops, or at least the Guardian…

    When I had the one chance I’ve had to speak to Rowan directly (in 2009) I told him it was time to take of the masks and let the Spirit work, risking whatever reaction might happen by those who live in closets, or those shocked… simply shocked… to find gambling at Rick’s.

    And then get on with life.

    He is not the man for this job. There are few things worse than cowardly bullying. How very sad.

  15. I’m stunned speechless. And at least I can give up hope of anything being different during the archepiscopate of these two bishops. Hope is what has plunged me into periods of disappointment bordering on despair for any kind of world where law rules over compassion and love, at least from the church.

  16. Can any of your readers with a better classical education than I come up with a biting derogatory slur in Latin that rhymes with “primus”?

  17. Can anyone understand why ANY bishop with any sense of integrity (no pun intended) who would sell out for the chance with cucumber sandwiches at Lambeth with this twit? But it seems to be oddly important to so many.

  18. Even as low as my opinion of this man has been for years, I am still shocked by the sheer ugliness of this.

    What a vile little man he is.

  19. Oh, no.

    How could this be?

    If only there had been someone, anyone to warn us that he and Sentamu were not what they played at being.

    Oh, why . . . why did no one see this?

  20. With Lois, I’m stunned speechless.
    Misguided acquiescence out of badly chosen loyalty to church unity is one thing. Active and secret bullying and scheming quite another.
    Yes, Dennis, I finally get it.
    And it’s not one of my happier moments.

  21. Look the guy is angry because when it came to be his time in the sun he got blighted by the bloody homo question. He’s livid that the whole thing has arrived on his watch and blown up in his face.

    He’s probably (obviously) not the man to rise to the occasion. He won’t take on the evangelicals and be the man who has the beliefs that he has. He’s willing to play disguise. On becoming archbishop he’s willing to drop his former views and he wishes that everyone else (who is similarly promoted) would do the same.

    ‘If you’re a poof, for god’s sake can’t you now pretend that you’re not?’

    He didn’t see the possibilities that leadership brings. He didn’t say ‘Oh goodie a real difficulty for me to rise to.’ I’d say he’s had the attitude from the beginning of, ‘Oh shit! why has this bloody happened to me, just when I’m the archbishop?’

    Which is not to say that if he supported gay bishops he would have carried the day. Thats not for anyone to know. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the opposition would be too strong. The point is that by taking an authentic stance it could have been the making of him (and given great spiritual comfort to many) but instead, because he threw away the chance it will become the unmaking of him.

    And it turns out he’s a bully! (Many cowards are).

  22. I’ve been thinking about the meeting of the TEC House of Bishops meeting that Rowan attended a couple of years ago, in which he is reported to have firmly instructed our bishops to exercise the charism of episcope – as he and Rome see that charism and not as TEC bishops exercise it.

    I’m now wondering just how “testy” he got in demanding our bishops be like him.

  23. My source in the Covenant process told me that at a meeting of one of the committees, Williams imposed himself on the meeting (of which he was not an official member) and was almost as grumpy and manipulative as Colin Slee reports that he was at the meeting he attended.

    Things are beginning to add up and the answer is RESIGN!

  24. I wonder if Jane and the kids ever see the bully side of him.

  25. Here lies the reputation of Dr. Rowan Williams, false friend, liar, bully and father of the Anglican Covenant.


  26. I think Boaz nails it exactly.

    The timing is important don’t you think? Covanent wize? Which presumably is why it vomes out now.

    I think a powerful statement could be made if the closeted Bishops came out and admitted it. Otherwise, it’s just a C of E version of the RC scandalwhich at its base is putting the Institution and personal Power before anything or anyone. Not as tragic as the RC bit sordid nonetheless

  27. BTW my typing is bad because I’m all thumbs on the keyboard of my iPhone. Unlike the younger generation my thumbs haven’t evolved to do this well!

  28. @Paul(A.): My preferred suggestions for a couplet with “primus” are irritus (“ineffective, useless”), regressus (“turning back, retreating”), or traditus (“one who is handing over, surrendering, or betraying”).

    Hope these help.