New Labour's bishop follows Blair's calling

THE BISHOP handpicked by Tony Blair will use his first sermon today to congratulate the Prime Minister on last week's Green Paper on the family.

The mutual admiration society began when Mr Blair made an unprecedented intervention, rejecting the two candidates proposed by the Church and instead choosing the Rt Rev James Jones to be Bishop of Liverpool.

His appointment provoked controversy about whether the State should have such a strong say. But he is at ease with the issue. "If we are a national Church, as we are, I think it is legitimate for the State to be involved in the process of discernment," said Bishop Jones.

"Theologically I have no problem with God being at work through the state as well as the Church. There is lots of evidence in the Bible that God uses people outside the Church to advance his will."

Bishop Jones succeeds the Rt Rev Lord David Sheppard, who was a thorn in the side of the Tory government. But he insisted yesterday he would continue the tradition of criticism of the Government. "I'm in nobody's pocket,"he said.

Nevertheless, Bishop Jones will use his first sermon to congratulate Mr Blair on his Green Paper on the family. "I welcome very much his statement that building families is the keystone to building communities," he said. Only when questioned further did he admit that he regretted the omission of tax benefits for married couples and the family.

The two men have met just once - in the BBC's Today studio when Bishop Jones was doing Thought for the Day and Mr Blair was in Opposition. Bishop Jones refused to elaborate on Mr Blair's "very detailed letter" about why he was the right man for the Liverpool job, but reckoned his media-friendly qualities were a plus.

Bishop Jones, 50, was an audio-visual producer before being ordained 16 years ago. As Bishop of Hull he played a prominent role in revamping the city's image and, like New Labour, he knows the power of presentation. He has, as he puts it, "a very high theology of communication."

His initial reaction was to turn down the offer - even though it was "a huge honour to be invited to follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest bishops in the 20th century".

He had not been in Hull long, and his family had moved three times in the past eight years. However, his eldest daughter, Harriet, 16, persuaded him. "She said: `If God is calling us, we must go'. It was a humbling thing for a father, let alone a bishop, to be led by his children."

Consequently, children will play a prominent role in this afternoon's ceremony, which will be attended by 2,700 people. He will arrive alone at the cathedral and knock three times on the door with a mallet used in the building's construction. He has requested that he be greeted by a child from the diocese to remind him of the words of Jesus that to enter God's Kingdom all must be children.

Bishop Jones's views are traditionalist. He believes, for example, that "the gay relationship is not equal to the heterosexual relationship". He added: "I recognise that public attitudes are changing, but at the end of the day the Church must have its beliefs shaped by an intelligent reading of the Bible rather than public opinion.

"I point up Biblical values because they are tried, tested and for the benefit of people in the community. At the same time we are all flawed and we all need God's mercy and forgiveness - bishops and politicians as much as anyone."

Suggested Topics
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary