Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bishop Pete Broadbent deletes Ruth Gledhill as a Facebook friend

You've heard of kicking the cat?

Well, it appears that the Bishop of London has suspended the Suffragan Bishop of Willesden for his ill-judged remarks about the forthcoming Royal Wedding. The Rt Rev'd Richard Chartes wrote:

Dear Colleague,

I was appalled by the Bishop of Willesden’s comments about the forthcoming royal marriage. In common with most of the country I share the joy which the news of the engagement has brought.

I have now had an opportunity to discuss with Bishop Peter how his comments came to be made and I have noted his unreserved apology. Nevertheless, I have asked him to withdraw from public ministry until further notice. I have also been in touch with St James’s Palace to express my own dismay on behalf of the Church.

Arrangements will need to be made in Bishop Peter’s absence and further details will be given in due course.

With thanks for your partnership in the Gospel.

The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA
In asking the Bishop to 'withdraw from public ministry', the Bishop of London has effectively suspended his suffragan.

Yet there is confusion, for +Pete appears to have told the Church Mouse that he has not been suspended.

If he be not suspended, it is not clear what his present status is, insofar as he is prohibited from officiating in public ministry, which must include celebration of the Eucharist.

To His Grace, if a bishop may not officiate and oversee, he has ceased to fulfil the functions of a bishop.

Suspended: debar temporarily from a function, office, privilege, etc (OED)
So, however it is wrapped up, +Pete is suspended.

But the pettiness in +Pete's decision to remove the exquisite Ruth Gledhill as a Facebook friend really does suggest a certain level of childishness in the reaction to his suspension.

Perhaps His Grace shouldn't hold his breath for +Pete to confirm him as a Facebook friend.


Blogger Charlie said...

The most likely explanation is that it was Ruth who outed the story and Bishop Pete has just found out. Closing the stable door & all that...

23 November 2010 at 13:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

or if he's been asked to "withdraw from public ministry" (which presumably also involves talking to the press, perhaps not "talking" to journalists online is one of the requirements

23 November 2010 at 14:25  
Blogger Ruth Gledhill said...

Hey Charlie, thanks to you it is now going round the tea rooms Synod that I 'outed' Pete Broadbent! All journalists like to take credit for 'good' stories but I have to own up and confess I did no such thing, the exclusive was not mine. It was Jonathan Petre's in MoS. The credit for this story should go to him, not me.

23 November 2010 at 14:41  
Anonymous Hans Wildebeeste said...

Since calling Prince Charles 'Big Ears' shows a quite astonishing level of immaturity from someone in public life, childishly deleting Ruth Gledhill as a FB friend is no more than we are coming to expect.

23 November 2010 at 14:50  
Blogger Charlie said...

Oops, I only said it was "likely", I wasn't trying to imply I knew anything! I don't get to read the Times so much nowadays so I didn't realise, apols to the MoS.
Loving the idea of Synod tea rooms filled with intrigue.

23 November 2010 at 14:52  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Sitting in abbey at synod, Chartres just walked past in procession...
Well, which was he doing, professional journalist?

23 November 2010 at 14:59  
Blogger Ruth Gledhill said...

ha ha v good. twitter is changing the rules of grammatical engagement.

23 November 2010 at 15:03  
Anonymous Wilf said...

Agreed that defriending Ruth seems childish. However, he may simply be walking away from temptation now that he has made one very significant and career-affecting Facebook blunder. He probably did not need to see Ruth's status updates whenever he felt compelled to go to Facebook to answer PM's etc. etc.. He probably also did not count on Ruth even noticing (not to mention, broadcasting to the world) that he wasn't receiving her status updates any more. Of the two, I find Ruth's notification of others of the removed facebook connection the more ... childish-appearing, though in her line of work it means more attention, of course. In a way it's a pity that journalists live in such a tabloid world of jockeying for attention and comments.

23 November 2010 at 15:08  
Blogger Pam said...

Wilf said:

In a way it's a pity that journalists live in such a tabloid world of jockeying for attention and comments

I'm a bit puzzled what other world you think effective journalists would inhabit?

ISTM Bishop Pete still hasn't realised that the story got out because a) 'Faecbook friends' are not necessarily friends in the conventional sense and b) his FB page was open to view by anyone when the DM got hold of his comments.

I would imagine I have considerably less FB friends than a Bishop would have, and on there I have family, RL friends, friends family members, 'internet friends', people I have met on Twitter, people I have met at conferences, etc etc.

To say nothing of the fact that I think the default privacy settings allow 'FB friends' to see conversations that their FB 'friends' are involved in.

I simply wouldn't expect every one of the people who can see my FB conversations to consider my best interests before passing on a remark I posted.

23 November 2010 at 15:21  
Blogger Phil Taylor said...

I think Anon 14:25 has suggested the most likely reason as Pete has not blocked Ruth, or any of the other journos that follow him on Twitter and he is still following her.

Pete is not a childish man, no matter what people may think of his comments, so I wouldn't read any more into it than he's simply removing himself from the possibility of having his private comments being taken out of context again.

23 November 2010 at 15:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can rely on Bishop Charteris to do the right thing. I had hoped he would be appointed to Canterbury but, sadly, Rowan Williams got it.

23 November 2010 at 16:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears the Bishop of London has asked his episcopal colleague to 'step aside': not at all the same as suspending him. I don't like Bishop B's theological perspective, and I cringe at clergy who adopt the 'call-me-Mike' tosh, but I'm holding Bishop Peter and his family in my prayers as their future continues to unfold.
Welsh Boy

23 November 2010 at 16:20  
Blogger Justin Brett said...

If anyone's kicking the cat here I think it's +London rather than +Willsden...

23 November 2010 at 16:32  
Blogger Bryan D said...

It's ok Ruth, I'll be your friend. We'll build a treehouse and throw pies at grumpy old bishops who can't play nice.

23 November 2010 at 18:18  
Blogger The Church Mouse said...

Your Grace - I don't quite know how it is going to play out, but +Pete's comment to me was that he was NOT suspended. I don't think this is just semantics.

I am guessing that he will continue to oversee the work of those parishes under his care and with his many other roles, such as chairing the Diocesan Board for Schools in London.

23 November 2010 at 18:35  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Petes's particular bent proves too broad to bear! (sorry!)

Broadbent bites the dust, and is lucky to do so, Your Grace. Another Age might have seem him warming his cockles next to yours!

Anyone got any chestnuts???

23 November 2010 at 19:53  
Blogger Merseymike said...

Amusing - and of course, those who might normally be supportive are happy to see the fall of a hypocritical homophobe who also thinks he is left wing....

23 November 2010 at 20:18  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Merseymike .... you say 'homophobe' as though it's a bad thing! I'm relieved then to hear that Broadbent isn't entirely a pillock! But it does ruin any potential cracks on the lines of 'Broadbent Mountain...''

23 November 2010 at 20:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete is allowed to choose what he feels is right to do. If I was him I'd be deleting some of my so-called 'friends' from Facebook. Whilst I think that the tone he used to express his opinions was slightly inappropriate, we are supposed to have 'freedom of speech.' Yet the moment a public figure says something deemed to be 'offensive', people jump on him like a tonne of bricks.
Despite popular opinion, I happen to think Pete is a good man and will hold him in my prayers.

23 November 2010 at 22:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil Taylor - +Pete's comments were not a problem because they were taken out of context, they were a problem because of the language that he used. As a Christian leader he should have had more sense if not compassion.

23 November 2010 at 23:14  
Anonymous Matt London said...

I have been quite surprised how uniformly condemnatory fellow parishioners I've talked to have been about the views expressed by Bishop Broadbent: people of a wide range of churchmanship and across the political spectrum were appalled primarily at the pastoral crassness of his comments about two people (whoever they were) approaching marriage. Beyond whatever their views on the constitution of the church or the nation they felt the bishop's views were childish, spiteful and entirely inappropriately expressed for someone in his position.

For myself, I had to address our congregation the other day to ask them to consider their (already generous) giving to the church in the coming year. Many of the people I was speaking to hold responsible jobs at various levels: teacher, nurses, lawyers civil servants. It strikes me that they all have to observe pretty tight constraints regarding what they say publicly about their work or the institutions of which they are a part. I doubt if many of them would be foolish enough to put on the record personal comments expressed in term as crude as those used by the Bishop - and I doubt if any of them would expect to avoid serious disciplinary charges and likely dismissal.

24 November 2010 at 13:35  
Blogger Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Actually +Pete is neither a pillock or a homophobe (sad that we need to have the gay agenda raised everywhere isn't it? For a minority sport they make so much noise at times!!).

_Pete is a solid Christian, he's sound, he's often outrageous and he's entitled to his opinion (even though it might differ from mine). There is a question mark over his support of Tottenham, but that's merely genetic and not a choice I assume (like other thing :)).

I think the whole affair is a sad reflection on the CofE and shows Chartres in a poor light.

Strange how those who scream about their choices being valid deny such consideration to others. Odd how those who breach church rules are free to continue acting whilst those who have engaged in a purely secular reflection on celeb marriage, cohabitation, examples of parents and the like are thus condemned.


25 November 2010 at 08:57  
Blogger Carmel said...


Link to ekklesia raises some very valid points - Some of the more reasoned thinking around the suspension, refreshing against a background of so much unbridled tosh from the ill informed and the rantings of the dense and looney!

+Pete's vocabulary was the problem - not I believe if used in private - which is where I think he believed he was. His failing and his downfall is to not be as internet savvee as he may believe himself to be... FB privacy settings take some getting your head around. It is dangerously easy for friends of friends to get notifications relating to your updates and convos and of course until well into the following day after all this broke it was still possible for anyone to view the wall and all the comments. I looked when the news broke to ssee what was upsetting everyone assuming the comment to be removed or invisible and realised then that +Pete could have no idea that anyone could access this 'private' space. He seems to update FB via a linked twitter account on which his privacy may well be more secure but as the account updates FB too perhaps he over looked the need to belt and braces??? Moral Know who your friends are friends with.... life used to be so much easier! The scale of the fuss is disproportionate - so who tipped off Jonathan I wonder.....

25 November 2010 at 09:01  
Blogger Carmel said...

... on the point of deleting 'friends' agreed it is Ruth being childish and attention seeking declaring a deletion! ...and thus fuelling the theory that she was the mole!

Good idea after such an event to tidy up your Friends and settings to avoid the risk of a similar thing happening and indeed +Petes wall is now unavailable to view to all...

25 November 2010 at 09:17  

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