The language of leadership is the language of love? With thanks to ‘the Speaker.’

A short while ago I bumped into my M.P. in a supermarket car park (okay it was Tesco, and when I say I bumped into him him I don’t mean it literally).

The Honourable Member for Buckingham is non other than John Bercow, Speaker of the House.

I vaguely know John because when he was a parliamentary candidate he spent a week working on my father in laws farm. As a ‘city boy’ he was seeking to deepen his experience of rural life. ‘Dad’ ensured he did some of the dirtiest jobs on the farm!

I told John how pleased I was that he was trying to raise the standard of behaviour in the House of Commons. Looking straight at my dog collar, for John isn’t tall enough to look me squarely in the eyes (and I am only 5 ft 8 – although when I played rugby I was always down in the programme at 5ft 10) John said:

‘You know Andrew their are two institutions that have a moral obligation to show how difficult issues can be debated in a fitting way: yours and mine.’

I have been thinking about the language of leadership ever since, and have become convinced that the language of leadership is the language of love.

And here’s the strange thing. This statement becomes increasingly true as the level of heat in any given debate rises. And boy in the Church are we dealing with some ‘hot topics:’ the nature of episcopal leadership, issues in human sexuality, the relationship between faith and politics (or the corpus and the polis) to name just a few.

In recent weeks I have been involved in discussions on these issues and, there is no doubt that feelings run high; exceedingly high. And, this is is a good thing, but………..

But, the language employed has sometimes (well often) fallen below the standards we might expect and hope for.

I know that on occasion I have sought to make cheap points, deliver a carefully aimed jab to the ribs in order to deflate my adversary and, allowed the combative, competitive and curmudgeonly side of my character to play the leading part. And yet in today’s Gospel reading (I use the daily readings for the Eucharist in Morning Prayer) we are reminded of the injunction to: ‘love you adversaries.’  And, one of the ways we are to do is by praying for them (Matthew 5, 43 & 44).

Can you imagine what might happen if in all our contentious debates, we prayed for those who hold opposite views; not that they might change their minds, but simply for their welfare?

But, if we are serious about using the leadership language of love we must go beyond prayer, into the guarding of the tongue. This does not mean that we shouldn’t speak out, but that we should only do so having repressed the combative, competitive and curmudgeonly sides of our characters. Ecclesiastes 9, 17 & 18 seems apt:

‘The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one bungler destroys much good.’

Wisdom asks us to consider not only which words we use, but how we use them. Are the words we use designed to impress, put down or undermine – in which case they are simply weapons – or are they used to question, affirm and reconcile?

James provides an insight into the value of words: ‘If any think they are religious and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless,’ (James 1, 26).

James seems to be saying you may be right, but if the words you use don’t re-ligature (religion) you would be better off keeping schtum. I think there is also something in James’ pithy observation that speaks to the use of specific words and phrases: liberal, conservative, orthodox, biblical all have positive meanings and yet are all frequently used as put downs. I suspect we all know this to be true?

St. Paul (who could be a tad cantankerous) reminds us that the words we use must be exercised with one aim in mind; building up the body of Christ, the Church in other words: ‘let no evil talk come out of your mouths but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so your words may give grace to those who hear,’ (Ephesians 4, 29). Blimey! The words we use, the language we deploy, should be ‘gifts of grace.’ 

So to summarise:

Christians have a moral obligation to model good (virtuous) and lively debate (according to the Speaker of the House no less!)

Our debates must be rooted in prayer and, the welfare of those who disagree with us must be our priority in prayer.

Our motive must be to re-ligature, to build up and to reconcile.

We are to regard words as a gift of grace.  

Let’s leave the last word to the Psalmist:

‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer,’ (Psalm 19, 14).

Next week, I hope to reflect on human sexuality. I will try to do so with ‘gentle grace.’ (So help me God).

Pastoral letters, Green Reports and Episcopal leadership

Let me start with two quotes from the liberal theologian Marcus Borg:

‘To abandon politics means leaving the structure of society to those who are most concerned to secure their own interests.’

‘All are not called to be activists. But all are called to take seriously God’s dream for a more just and non violent world.’

I think Borg was correct (sadly he recently died – hence ‘was.’) 

My rationale is twofold: every Sunday we pray ‘thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven’ and, in making this prayer we presumably believe certain things about the nature of the kingdom of heaven? Secondly, Jesus was political. He took the title Lord – the preferred title of Roman Rulers – he spoke an awful lot about money and, how those on the margins of society were treated. He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, on a donkey, just as the Roman elite were processing into the city through another posher gate, behind Pilate.

The Bishops Pastoral letter ‘enjoyed’ a mix reception, both inside and outside the Church. The bishops wouldn’t have expected anything else!

So were they right to place the political classes under the spotlight?

I suggest they were because its part of their prophetic ministry, and prophets have never been made to feel especially welcome in their own country (didn’t Jesus have something to say about this?) Their own country in this sense includes both the nation state and, the church itself.

The letter  sought to bring into the national consciousness several of Christianity’s major themes: neighbourliness, equity, justice, protection for the marginalised, the moral obligation on those who can bear the greatest burden to bear the greatest burden, community, solidarity, transparency, participation and subsidiarity.

Surely, it would be a bit of a stretch to suggest the Church shouldn’t talk about distinctively Christian motifs?

Yes, subjects such as defence were discussed,with many arguing that this is simply none of the Church’s bees wax. But, wasn’t it a certain Christian theologian (Aquinas) who first got us thinking about the moral justification for war?

Just as politicians stand in a line called tradition so do bishops and, any attempt to cut them off from, or redefine, the tradition in which they stand is disingenuous. 

Those dismissing the right – or in my view obligation – of Bishops to enter the political arena showed a distinctively dodgy and ‘politically reductive’ grasp of Christian theology.

Tim Montgomerie on News Night (17th February) stressed time and again that Christianity’s concern is individual morality, which it is, whilst refusing to accept that corporate morality has always been central to the Judea Christian tradition.

Even the most superficial reading of the canon should demonstrate this. The prophets talked (on behalf of God and his values) to a nation, Jesus spent a lot of time talking to the elite groups within that nation such as the Scribes and Pharisees and, St. Paul initiated the idea of the pastoral letter, by writing to entire Christian communities.

Nominally the U.K. remains a Christian country so it would be somewhat surprising if the nations Christian leaders – bishops- didn’t address the political classes through the use of Pastoral Letters, because that is what the tradition indicates Christian leaders do.

The Times sought to reduce the role of Bishops to ‘the soothing and saving of troubled soles.’ Of course the political classes might prefer a church which sought only to save souls and provide instruction in personal morality (confident in the knowledge that over time such a church would get smaller and smaller) but it can never be the establishments role to define the boundaries of church. That is a possible path to some form of earthly Armageddon.

One more thought before I criticise the Church: aren’t the views expressed by Tim Montgomerie and in The Times editorial (18th February) simply reflections of a society that has become progressively individualistic and placed far too much misguided faith in trickle down socio-economic theory?

The Times critique of the Bishops Pastoral Letter also included the following:

‘Where it seeks to cut more sharply into the political debate it is variously hypocritical and wrong……….the church is certainly in no place to lecture government on equality so soon after consecrating its first woman bishop after years of delay.’ 

I have a lot (or as Cilla Black would have said ‘an awful, awful lot’) of sympathy with this observation.

Whist I suspect that many secular commentators (including Tim Montgomerie and the writer of the Times editorial) would prefer a church operating at the margins of public life, focused only on saving souls and private morality, I also suspect that a Church, or Corpus, that manifestly embodied virtues of neighbourliness, justice, transparency, equity, charity, hospitality, inclusivity in its internal dealings would act as a lightening rod to the polis. (This might mean becoming very unpopular indeed.)

What would this mean for the Church? Perhaps our Bishops could make a start with the following four commitments:

  • Paying the living wage to all employees (today’s ‘bad news’)
  • A style of leadership that fosters widespread debate and participation even when such participation might prove uncomfortable and challenging to its ‘leaders’ (the Green Report and Issues of Human Sexuality, for instance)
  • Transparency (the workings of the Crown Nomination Committee)
  • Participation and representation on all synods and review groups by those at the margins of Church life and, less reliance on the insights of the powerful and elite?

You never know an institution that embodied such values might just prove to be irresistibly attractive?

The Bishops in their leadership of the Church stand at a cross roads, they have begun in their critique of the political system to look ‘for the old paths, where is the good way,’ if they are to fulfil Jeremiah’s injunction they must, in their internal dealings ‘walk therein’ (Jeremiah 6, 16.)

The Green Report: a response to today’s Church Times article.

The defence of the Green Report in the Church Times this morning is astonishing.

The Bishop of Manchester accuses critics of ‘mostly playing the man not the ball.’  The Sub-Dean of Westminster suggests that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ had given way to ‘guilt by association.’ The Bishop of Leeds implies that the critics are out solely to be critics: ‘the criticisms still don’t address the question of how we do then invest in ensuring church leaders in the future are better equipped to do what is expected of them.’  The Bishop of Ely, at Synod, stressed that the Green Report was not the business of synod.

All of these comments deny one important and crucial fact: most of those who have spoken out and written about the Green Report did so before the HSBC story broke and in doing so reject the thesis that the Green Report ‘stands on its own merit.’  (This being the line spun by those who know best).

In my own reflections I have always been very deliberate in separating the man from the report,although I have commented that the recommendations are symptomatic of the ‘pathway to the top’ experienced by the lead author (Lord Green) and, that the report is shot through with unacknowledged assumptions. Martyn Percy’s critique is entirely based on the report and so is Justin Lewis Anthony’s.

One further comment: those who have been constant critics do so because they really care for the Church, its mission and the common good. And, yet it is implied  that we critique for the sake of it. Why would we do this?To do so would be highly irrational.

The suggestion that serious critiques of the Green Report are a function of a certain distaste for the man himself are disingenuous and misleading and, unworthy of our Bishops. 

A number of critics would like to make a positive contribution to the ongoing ‘debate’ but are being denied the opportunity to do so. That is the reality.

I can’t speak for any of the other critics – although Martyn Percy has also rebutted the ‘charge’ – but I can say that no one has contacted me to discuss the concerns I have raised.

I have written directly, in private, to some of the reports sponsors but have yet to receive even an acknowledgement. Those who have expressed legitimate concerns are met with the ‘sound of silence.’ No one, other than my acting Diocesan Bishop (who has been very supportive), has expressed an interest in a working model ‘we’ have been developing which seeks to address the styles of leadership required in different contexts.

Defendants of the Green Report seem to be operating from a perspective of ‘we know best.’ The fact that they refuse to engage perhaps reveals something about their preferred management style and, a fear of accountability. Are these the leadership traits we wish to identify and nurture?

The Green Report and Episcopal Leadership

So the Green Report wasn’t discussed at General Synod.

I think this was a significant mistake.

It was also unfortunate that HSBC, and Lord Green, hit the news whilst synod met, forcing Archbishops Justin and John to issue a joint statement in which they stressed that the report stands on ‘its own merit’ with the efficacy of its analysis, and recommendations, being distinct from any issues surrounding Lord Green.

I have some sympathy with the separation principle (even if it was clearly manufactured in the light of events), although, I have always argued that the report does not ‘stand on its own merit.’  However uncomfortable it might make us feel it is theoretically possible for someone whose standards we might want to place under the lens of scrutiny to produce a credible piece of work.

Before proceeding I would like to make it clear, and I have repeatedly made this point prior to recent news headlines, that I strongly believe that the recommendations are a reflection of a system that values and delivers ‘alpha leaders’ and, that the recommendations are far too generic, simplistic and, likely to produce leaders ‘moulded in plastic,’ rather  than ‘tested in fire.’ I also believe that’our’ leadership is far too easily impressed by status and money; hence the choice of Lord Green as lead author.

Having said all this my current concern is that the bishops seem determined to impose the report on the Church of England come what may. Now it may be that the ‘myriad, myriad’, voices singing out in criticism of the report are wrong and that the Bishops are right in their analysis, however, this misses the point, for the nature of the debate has shifted.

Lord Green and his fellow authors were asked, on behalf of the House of Bishops, to consider how talent may best be identified and, subsequently trained. This they did (inappropriately in the opinion of many). Given the attitude of the bishops the question now facing the Church of England is how should episcopal authority be exercised?

This is a question for the entirety of the Church, not just the bishops. I can’t help but wonder whether the bishops handling of the Green Report shines a light into how the bishops currently believe they should exercise leadership, and authority, more generally.

The bishops’ line of argument is that because the selection and training of clergy is their prerogative the report does not need to come before synod. An adjunct to this line of reasoning is that the funds for clergy training come from a budget over which synod has no, direct, control. Both parts of the argument are technically and legally correct.

BUT!

But, this doesn’t mean that the bishops shouldn’t a) consult widely and, b) seek to secure the good will of the majority – even if the majority (i.e. the clergy and the laity) are wrong in their analysis.

In fact theChristian leadership tradition’ suggests that it is judicious to consult as widely as possible and, to gain the highest possible level of assent, especially when making decisions reserved for a particular set of post-holders. Christian logic is frequently counter intuitive (and this is why it won’t be taught it on the majority of MBA courses!)

Let’s have a look at the ‘Christian leadership tradition’ drawing on the Rule of Benedict and, the ordinal.

In chapter 3 of his rule Benedict acknowledges that some decisions can only be taken by the most senior member of the community. Accordingly he places two obligations on the abbot or abbess:

  • when any business of importance is to be considered in the monastery, the abbot or abbess should summon the whole community together and,
  • the community should be summoned for such consultation because it often happens that the Lord makes the best course clear to one of the younger members. Benedict endorses, and actively seeks out, the ‘wisdom of youth.’ Does the Church?

Benedict also tells his audience that it is only ‘when questions of lesser importance arise in the concerns of the monastery,that the abbot or abbess should consult with seniors alone.’ 

If we accept Benedict’s logic and apply it –   reasoning by analogy – to the ‘discussions’ around the Green Report we can only presume that the House of Bishops regard the identification and development of the next generation of leaders as a matter of ‘lesser importance!’ Matters to be discussed by the bishops alone.

The ordinal is a work of genius!

The Bishop asks two questions of absolute importance prior to exercising the episcopal prerogative to ordain:

The first is ‘have those whose duty it is to know these ordinands and examine them found them to be of godly life and sound learning?’ This can be viewed as the consultative question for it assumes that the ordinands vocation has been scrutinised by a wide body of opinion. Whose duty was it to scrutinise the Green Report on behalf of the bishops?

The second question – the question of assent – is addressed to the laity: ‘brothers and sisters (note the language of equality) you have heard how great is the charge that these ordinands are ready to undertake, and you have heard their declarations. Is it now your will that they should be ordained?’ 

Ordination presupposes consultation and assent; so why, reasoning by extension, shouldn’t other reserved powers, such as the development of those clerics identified for future senior leadership positions? Such decisions are too important to be taken in some form of episcopal vacuum.

The House of Bishops has the power to impose the Green Report on the Church of England. But, to do so would stand contrary to the Christian Leadership Tradition. 

If the Green Report is imposed leadership itself will be undermined and that would be deeply ironic given the report’s stated aims.

Christianity and taxation: some thoughts.

Tax and its payment, or non payment, is in the news; it’s this weeks hot ‘theonomic’ topic.

Stanley Fink suggests that ‘everyone is at it,’ ( i.e. tax avoidance) and that he was only involved in ‘plain vanilla’ tax avoidance. HSBC is under the spotlight and so is HMRC. Mega corporations have also been criticised for using elaborate corporate structures, domiciled ‘offshore’ to avoid paying U.K. corporation tax.

I don’t think we need distinguish between individual and corporate tax avoidance because at law the corporation is held to be an ‘artificial citizen.’ The corporation can also be thought of as a community of individuals. The senior individuals in a corporation (its leaders) are expected, in the jargon of business ethics (my old subject) to act as ‘moral agents,’ avoiding ‘moral hazard.’ So, we have every right to judge their behaviour using our own, moral, reasoning.

Pope John Paul 11 provided (in Centesimus Annus) a fantastic definition of the corporation:

‘The purpose of a business is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and, who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society.’ 

So what should a Christian approach be towards tax; its payment and avoidance?

I think  first of all we need to take a step back and look at a wider, theological pair of questions:

Are we (individuals and corporations) designed to be, as materialist economists might have us believe, autonomous individuals driven by a desire to maximise our own individual benefits (interesting that proponents of this school of though start with an appeal to design or creation and human nature), or are we designed to be interdependent, making decisions on the basis of the wider, common good?

I belong to the school of thought that believes that we ought – normatively – to be concerned with the common good.  Yes, we might have fallen below the standards the book of Genesis asks of us  but nonetheless we must seek in our economic behaviour to ‘return to Eden.’

One of the contributors to Theonomics (a book I co-edited, published by Sacristy Press), Nick Bion who manages a highly successful industrial business has thought long and hard about what it means to be a successful Christian businessman. Here are some of his thoughts and comments:

‘I do not see the company existing solely for my benefit and that of the other shareholders. As the majority shareholder, I hold the company in trust during my tenure, just as the owner of a piece of land or a famous painting may consider themselves to be holding it in trust for others. Buying a famous painting may give you the right to own it, but this does not make it the right thing to do.’

Nick, under the ‘materialist economic’ scheme would have every right to use the business and its assets to maximize his own benefits, or levels of satisfaction. But, he doesn’t see the economic world in this way. Applying his theological convictions to his economic behaviour he stresses concepts such as trust, stewardship and, responsibilities.Nick suggests that the corporation is one environment where the Christian leader is required to lay down, if not his life, then certainly some of his or her preferences. The business in Nick’s mind is a fertile ground for the propagation of Christian ethics.

So what is Nick’s attitude towards tax?

‘Other than providing products and services that are needed, the company’s responsibility to wider society is met, in the most part, by paying the taxes that are charged on it’s business and employment as rates, corporation tax, VAT, national insurance, and PAYE. The company also tithes its profits, giving money to various charities. These contributions to society amount to something over £1 million, or over £30k per person employed in the company, a figure which is in excess of take-home pay and dividends. In this respect we can see that the company is more of a benefit to society in purely monetary terms than it is to its employees and shareholders.

Whenever I re-read the last sentence in the paragraph above I feel ever so slightly ‘wowed.’

Here is a businessman, a successful businessman, suggesting that the rationale of the company is not to maximize individual gains, but to contribute, above all else, to the common good and that the payment of tax is one way this is achieved. Furthermore the business also tithes its profits. Nick recognises that we all have duties (the payment of tax) and discretionary obligations (charitable giving). Such an approach stems from his faith, or theological, convictions.

Tax avoidance, because it is concerned with maximizing individual gains, at the very real expense of others can not be regarded as virtuous and Godly. The payment of tax, by the wealthy, is a duty or an obligation and, therefore the avoidance of tax is wrong, if not legally, then ethically and morally.

A Gay Christians Story

Below is a true story, a testimony, if you like, written by a gay friend. My friend has suffered beyond belief, but by God’s grace has survived. I would like the piece to stand, or fall, on its own merits, so won’t be adding my own reflection, but there again many of you know where I stand!

I did something the other day that I should have done years ago.

I went through my medicine cabinet, found all the out-of-date, half-used tubs and blister strips and packets and vials, put them in bags (three enormous shopping bags, as it turned out) and took them to a pharmacy for safe disposal. I didn’t want to take them to my local chemist’s shop, so I drove to a large supermarket in a nearby town and found the in-store pharmacy.

What I handed over was, quite starkly, my life. I handed over immune-suppressants, steroids and the strongest pain killers that the NHS is authorised to prescribe. There was liquid morphine in there, and valium, and at least three different immune-modulators. These had all, at some point or other, been prescribed to me, and it came as a shock to see the reality, in three enormous shopping bags, of just how ill I have been, and just how much medication it has taken to get me through the day.

This is, as I say, my life. Or at least it has been my life, for far too long. I have always downplayed the amount of medication that I have taken, partly because I haven’t wanted to scare people, but mostly because I’ve been too scared myself to go there. Today, my medicine cupboard isn’t empty; I am still on medication, but it is the smallest dosage I’ve ever been on, and it is decreasing, slowly but surely.

I knew that I was gay when I was thirteen. I told my mum, who assured me it would pass. Maybe she was right. Maybe it yet will. But what happened next was that my Christian faith whooshed into born-again life, and all thought of being gay was expunged. Well, all thought of sex was, actually, because I knew that sex with the opposite sex was just not my thing. I became, and was, an exemplary teenage Christian, going from prayer meeting to CU to church to youth group to soup kitchen. There were crises – crushes that could never be acknowledged, but seemed to literally crush me from within – and that’s when my auto-immune diseases started. Auto-immune disease occurs, very basically, when the body rejects one of its own naturally functioning systems, perceiving it as a threat, a foreign body, so uses all its strength to fight something it cannot rid itself of because, well, it is part of it. That’s what I did, and that’s when my medicine cabinet started filling up.

I managed, over the years. I did various things which the church would bless and encourage as the fruits of a faithful Christian life. I was still an exemplary Christian. I found real joy in my Christian faith (because, as it turns out, my spirituality is as intrinsic to my identity as my sexuality) and, because I am a natural optimist, found much to celebrate in life. Some of what I did, although it looked fine from the outside, turned out to be deeply damaging. I was aware, always, always, of the anti-gay teachings and, much more often, snide sideswiping comments that were, in my world at least, irrefutable. And the hidden story, the one that I just about managed to keep quiet about, was that of the multiplying auto-immune conditions, the chronic pain and the sheer exhaustion that meant that I limped along, weakened and sore whilst telling everyone, and myself, that I was fine.

It’s taken me a long time to clear out my medicine cupboard, not just because I’m lazy and untidy and disorganised, but mostly because of what it represents; my old survival pack, my now defunct armoury, my de-consecrated altar of idolatry. Letting go of things on which one has relied for what one perceives to be one’s survival is an act of faith worthy of Kirkegaard. Letting go of the steroids and the suppressants has only been possible because of letting go of other, deeply rooted things, too, of lying about how I am, lying about who I am, and most deeply, letting go of the fear that who I am is not acceptable to the God whom I love. Perfect love, I am learning, casts out all fear.  God knit me together in my mother’s womb, I am finding; it is sin that disintegrates what God created to be integrated. The gay me, I now see, is the prodigal son, coming home at long, long last, having squandered itself and survived on scraps, to outstretched arms and a feast which, poignantly, my elder brother might choose not to come to. I hope he changes his mind, though; the party would be lesser without him.

No, my medicine cupboard isn’t empty, although it is mostly empty space. Just a small bottle remains, and I hope to be able to hand that over some day, too. But for the moment, just look at all that space that’s been cleared. I could put anything I liked in there.

The Green Review; a possible way through the impasse?

So the Green Review is not to be debated at synod. The reason: clergy development is the sole responsibility of bishops.

But, surely the Bishops need to acknowledge that many, many people have very serious concerns about the report including, the unchallenged assumptions behind the report, the recommendations made in the report, the language used in the report and, the way the report was released?  By all means preserve clergy development as an episcopal prerogative, but do so having listened to the wider church, not a narrow episcopally appointed sub set.

Maybe the Rule of Benedict offers a way ahead, for Benedict’s wisdom suggests that the widest possible scope of consultation is not at odds with episcopal authority, as seems to be the fear of some members of the House of Bishops.

Benedict’s seemingly counter-intuitive logic is that reserved powers require even greater consultation than delegated powers and, they won’t teach this kind of theological wisdom on your average MBA (sorry – cheap shot, I know). This is how Benedict puts it:

‘When any business of importance is to be considered in the monastery the abbot or abbess should summon the whole community together and personally explain to them the agenda that lies before them. After hearing the advice of the community, the superior should consider it carefully in private and only then make a judgement about what is best. We have insisted that all the community should be summoned because it often happens (wait for this next bit……..) that the Lord makes the best course clear to one of the younger members.

Maybe Lord Green et al’s report should not be discussed or debated at this synod for the simple reason is that is too toxic.

But, maybe one of the authors – preferably a Bishop – should step forward and acknowledge the very real concerns of the masses and suggest that review is shelved and that a new task force, comprising a range of people from diverse backgrounds look at the issue afresh? Maybe the new task force should include some ‘younger’ (or fresher, or just even new)members as Benedict suggests!

I have yet to see any of the authors addressing the myriad issues placed before them. Why? Are the Bishops seeing something in the report that others don’t? Or is it a case of we know best?

We do need answers. It is not too late to pause for breath. But, someone in the upper echelons needs to take the deepest breath of all and, speak up.

It is time for some real, courageous,humble and ‘Benedictine’ leadership. Let’s not keep undermining the common good, lets start afresh and, this time do it properly. If we do this the Bishops might be delighted to find that they get widespread support.