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Breakfast with Frost
Rt Rev Richard Chartres
Rt Rev Richard Chartres
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: RT REV RICHARD CHARTRES BISHOP OF LONDON NOVEMBER 10TH, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: And now we come to our last item of the morning. All around the country this morning churches are holding special services for Remembrance Sunday. The national focus will be on the Cenotaph in Whitehall where the Remembrance Ceremony is being led by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres. He's temporarily in charge of the Church of England until Rowan Williams takes up the post of Archbishop of Canterbury in the new year. The Rt Rev Chartres was in the spotlight recently as a witness in the Paul Burrell trial. Now a little earlier this morning before he went to concentrate on his other serious duties the Bishop came into our Westminster studio and I asked him how he felt at the time of a Remembrance ceremony.

RICHARD CHARTRES: I find it very moving indeed, I think its simplicity is particularly moving, I think every single year I hear stories which sharpen the sense of the waste and tragedy of so much of what's happened over the last century but also stories which reveal people who can be described as ordinary but they are in fact very extraordinary, stories of extraordinary courage.

DAVID FROST: And then you're following up with a project next week after the Cenotaph service which is close to your heart. Tell us about St Ethelberger?

RICHARD CHARTRES: I'm passionately committed to that, it was a church destroyed by a bomb in 1993, totally reduced to rubble and looking at the ruins it seemed to me that it might be the right place to try and rebuild the centre for preventing and transforming conflict and I actually phoned Cardinal Hulme with the idea and anyone else would have said well let me consult a few people but he said immediately it must be right, let's do it. So we started as a partnership and next week on Wednesday it's going to be opened, the church has been rebuilt, a 14th century church in Bishopsgate and it's going to have this new purpose because they didn't want to build a new old church, I wanted to preserve the memory the continuity but also make it the focus of a new project.

DAVID FROST: And talking of war and violence and so on, takes us on to the subject of course of Iraq where you said that there was nothing in Christian doctrine to prevent a country taking direct action to preserve world peace and there's a hyper-moralism of some church leaders in dealing with this subject?

RICHARD CHARTRES: I didn't talk about some church leaders in the speech you're referring to, I said that reading the dossier and looking at the lack of evidence of any connection between the regime and the terror networks, looking at the nature of the threat which is real but not imminent I agreed with all my other fellow bishops that it was difficult to justify military action now. But the most important thing is that this has been a crisis which has strengthened the international organisations, I think the Prime Minister has had an enormous influence in making sure that the Americans are going through the UN route and in a volatile world that's what we want to see. We want to see international organisations strengthened and the rule of international law strengthened and that means as we go on, as the weapon inspectors report it may be necessary to take some kind of military action which of course I'm not in a position to say definitely what kind would be appropriate. But the threat is real, all it seems to me having read the dossier not imminent.

DAVID FROST: But a pre-emptive strike is not necessarily ruled out in your...

RICHARD CHARTRES: It seems to me what kind, I mean if you discover that there is a, that there is some kind of factory it would seem to me to be justifiable to take action against that factory for example because if the threat is allowed to go on unchecked it could prove much more dangerous and cost more lives later on.

DAVID FROST: Next week is the anniversary of the first woman priest being ordained in the Church of England and you've ordained many male priests but you have chosen quite deliberately not to ordain women priests, other people...

RICHARD CHARTRES: That isn't actually true if I may say so, in the diocese of London where we have a lot of very able women priests indeed I have ordained all women and all men since becoming Bishop of London to the first stage, to the diocelate And I have actually ordained no men and no women to the priesthood. And that is simply because my principle job is making sure that the diocese of London is united, is focused on a common agenda and so I have in fact ordained everybody coming into the diocese but I've ordained no men and no women to the priesthood.

DAVID FROST: That's a very important clarification that in all the clippings is not there so I'm very glad you, you made that...

RICHARD CHARTRES: Well I'm grateful you gave me the opportunity because of course people always want to put you in a box and say you're anti women or pro women surrounded by the women priests that we have in the diocese of London I can say that I'm very much pro women priests.

DAVID FROST: And what about women Bishops, are you pro them too when that happens?

RICHARD CHARTRES: Well you say when it happens, there is of course a process which the Bishop of Rochester is presiding over at the moment and one of the things we have to think about very carefully is this. One of the main things about being a bishop is that you're a link between the local and the universal, you are a link between our church and for example some of the other churches which have bishops and that's a very important dimension of the whole debate. It may well be that we come to a decision and convince ourselves that it would be right to women bishops but I think the step is one which will have to be taken with enormous care bearing in mind the reverberations ecumenically because we've also been saying that we very much desire to move forward to the kind of church that Jesus Christ intended which is a united church, so that's another principle.

DAVID FROST: And in terms, let's check whether the clippings are correct on this as well, it appears from the clippings that you are more relaxed, the new Archbishop is more relaxed about the subject of gay priests than you and that your position on gay priests is a position outlined on this programme by George Carey and that you have said, you're quoted here as saying that there were a good number of parish priests within your diocese who are gay and that you have told one in the past few weeks that he must change his ways or leave your diocese?

RICHARD CHARTRES: I simply don't recognise those words, the fact of the matter is that being a Bishop and not a maverick I'm loyal to the position outlined by the House of Bishops in its statement, issues in human sexuality, but one thing I am absolutely determined about and that's also my duty as a Bishop, to defend vulnerable clergy in London from rumour and innuendo and I certainly don't say things which lead to any exacerbation of what is a rather hysterical atmosphere sometimes in which people feel very much under pressure.

DAVID FROST: Well thank you very much indeed Bishop Richard for being with us. The papers today are full of more of the Burrell case, you testified in the court case, what feeling are you left with of the people who suffered, the people who come out best, the people who come out worse, or should it just never have happened?

RICHARD CHARTRES: Like anybody I'm very sad and after a 50 year record I know who I trust and that remains quite undimmed today.

DAVID FROST: How do you mean?

RICHARD CHARTRES: Well after 50 years on the throne I think some of the, some of the suggestions being made are absolutely incredible and I certainly know who I trust in this situation.

DAVID FROST: Bishop Richard there, thanks to Bishop Richard and in fact of course the Remembrance Day services will be on on BBC1 this morning.

[BREAK FOR NEWS]

DAVID FROST: Well that's all for now, our thanks to all of our guests this morning. Next week we'll be back of course with among others the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Edward, or Sir Eddie George. Until then top of the morning, good morning.

END

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