Obituary: Canon David Paton
Tuesday 21 July 1992
I knew David Paton only during his last two years as secretary of the Missionary and Ecumenical Council, when I was a young and ignorant assistant information officer at Church House, but it was palpably clear to all of us who were in any way engaged in the radical endeavours of the late Sixties that David Paton's knowledge, experience and breadth of vision placed him head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries.
If in doubt on almost any subject then being hotly debated in the General Assembly or the World Council of Churches one's footsteps were automatically directed to David's door.
But when Alan Webster tactfully mentions that 'the Church never quite knew what to do with him' one is tempted to rub in the fact that Paton came to epitomise that fatal lack of nerve which so disfigured Michael Ramsey's time at Canterbury. Ramsey had only to lift a finger to ensure that David Paton was not so much rewarded with preferment as given an appropriate platform from which to engage in his prophetic mission, and that meant at the least a residentiary canonry at Westminster Abbey or St Paul's. Or why not a deanery? But lack of intelligent patronage at that time meant that Paton's immense talents, like those of far too many others of whom the Establishment was frankly nervous, were in large measure wasted.
Paton resigned as Secretary of the Missionary and Ecumenical Council before being assured of a new job because he believed it was right at the time to make room for a new man. Instead of ensuring that he was found an appropriate post, Michael Ramsey told him he should live by faith - which was precisely what he had done by resigning. Alas, Paton's faith, like that of many others, was tragically misplaced.
Most people equate ecclesiastical scandals with sex. The real scandal of the Church is its mismanagement of manpower. But the shabby treatment accorded to David Paton may not have been entirely pointless if it serves to remind the present hierarchy of the worth of mavericks and the sometimes uncomfortable contribution they can make to a church in need of all the ability it can muster.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 5 UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...