Ruth Gledhill reports:
Astonishing story around today about how a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury's staff referred to the Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali as an 'a***hole' in a private memo. Anglican Mainstream has the details. Besides all the obvious things I could say about this crude, incredible and outrageous insult to one of the truest bishops on the bench, what really strikes me most is the depressingly low-grade nature of the abuse. It really is the kind of thing an illiterate oaf with an IQ of 60 might say in a Tesco queue. From Lambeth Palace, a more sophisticated forms of bullying might have been expected. Coincidentally, Dr Nazir-Ali is showing the Christian stuff of which he is made in a broadcast tonight on BBC Radio 3's latest Belief series, presented by Joan Bakewell. I am honoured to be able to give you the transcript, below. I wonder if anyone at Lambeth Palace has ever had to bury a baby in a fruit crate because the parents could not afford a coffin? Truly, the Bishop of Rochester is a prophet for our times and a mark of this is that he is disdained.
Read all of Gledhill's column here.
Bishop Nazir-Ali's views on gay rights and the integration of Muslim communities have attracted vitriolic criticism and even earned him death threats from outside the Church of England.
Now the controversial Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, 59, has found himself the target of a scatological attack by an aide in the offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
A confidential document sent from Lambeth Palace to No 10 Downing Street and the Church of England's 43 diocesan bishops included the unclerical word "arsehole" appended to the name of Dr Nazir-Ali, Britain's most senior Asian Anglican.
The rogue insult – which specifically referred to "The arsehole Bishop of Rochester" – appeared in a confidential list of job vacancies and prospective candidates which was drawn up by the clergy appointments adviser, the Rev John Lee. The offending member of Dr Williams's staff has since been sacked.
The Church of England hopes its decision to sack the author of the abuse will end an embarrassing episode for the Lambeth Palace hierarchy. Mr Lee has already sent a written apology to the Bishop of Rochester.
Read it all here.