Meg Munn, chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel, has written this: QUESTIONING THE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK. The whole article is worth a read.
On the topic of Victims and Survivors, she wrote this:
The panel was asked to consider a paper on the setting up of an Ombudsman service to adjudicate on the handling of complaints. The view of the panel was that there are currently many concerns among victims and survivors that are not properly handled, that much more needed to be done about the processes at an early stage. I represented this view at the National Safeguarding Steering Group in early April and am pleased that this was understood and consideration to how to proceed is taking place.
The recent report by the Social Care Institute for Excellence which includes a significant section on improving responses provides a lot of important information regarding the experience of a number of survivors of abuse. The findings are detailed and it will take time for the range of issues to be fully considered. What jumps out is the poor ongoing response to survivors. The importance of maintaining contact and keeping survivors up to date with any action is essential.
The recent interview of the Archbishop of Canterbury on Channel 4 news raised concerns about the glacial progress of a review into the activities of John Smyth. While there may be real difficulties in gaining co-operation of the organisation at the centre of this case, the Church must communicate more regularly and clearly about their actions otherwise it is not surprising that survivors lose heart. I am urging those concerned to consider how they can proceed as soon as possible.
On the latter point, today’s Church Times has a report by Madeleine Davies headlined Smyth abuse-survivors dispute Welby claim.
SURVIVORS of abuse perpetrated by John Smyth have written to Lambeth Palace to correct the Archbishop of Canterbury’s assertion that Smyth was “not actually an Anglican” — a comment made during an interview on Channel 4 News last week.
In total, the letter lists 14 points of dispute about the Archbishop’s comments.
During the interview on Friday, which explored the Church of England’s response to Smyth’s abuse, Archbishop Welby said that Smyth “was not actually an Anglican. The church he went to in South Africa was not Anglican, and Iwerne was not part of the Church of England.”
Smyth was living in South Africa when a disclosure of abuse was made in Ely diocese in 2013, and died there last year. He was a former chairman of the Iwerne Trust, which ran holiday camps for boys at English public schools, and is now part of the Titus Trust. A six-month Channel 4 News investigation, broadcast two years ago, found that both the Iwerne Trust and Winchester College had learned of allegations of abuse by Mr Smyth in the 1980s, but failed to report them to the police (News, 10 February 2017).
One of the survivors who wrote to Lambeth Palace this week, Graham*, described the claim that Smyth was not an Anglican as “farcical”, given that he worshipped in the C of E.. The letter tells the Archbishop that Smyth had in fact been a licensed Reader in the diocese of Winchester…
Do read the entire article for further details.0 Comments
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Press release from Number 10
Suffragan Bishop of Southampton: 16 April 2019
Queen approves the nomination of the Reverend Canon Deborah Sellin as Suffragan Bishop of Southampton.
Published 16 April 2019
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Deborah Sellin, MA, Vicar of St John the Baptist Wonersh with Blackheath and Area Dean for the Deanery of Cranleigh, in the Diocese of Guildford, to the Suffragan See of Southampton, in the Diocese of Winchester in succession to the Right Reverend Jonathan Hugh Frost, BD, MTh, DUni, MSSTh, FRSA, who resigned on the 13th December 2018.11 Comments
Updated on 16 April
Two letters in The Times yesterday,
This blog by Marcus Green such a pain includes links to several comments on social media.
Previous report on this topic is here.
Today, Kaya Burgess in The Times (£) reports that Welby says gay bishop spouse ban was ‘painful’ but necessary.
…Speaking on a tour of the diocese of Peterborough, the archbishop said that he had met university bosses to discuss their concerns. He told The Times: “Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation.”
He added: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”
He described the situation as “just the reality of such a widespread communion . I hope we’ll get to the point where we are able disagree well and that’s while affirming the doctrine of marriage in its traditional Christian form.”
Some earlier reports:
Catherine Pepinster RNS reported on the meeting between the University of Kent and the Conference organisers: Lodging for spouses becomes Anglicans’ latest battleground over LGBT clergy
…Last week the university met with communion officials to raise its “significant ethical concerns” after university Vice Chancellor Karen Cox and council chair David Warren said they had “serious issues,” calling the no-same-sex-spouses policy “contrary to the values” of the university.
Both sides are refusing to divulge what the outcome of the meeting was, but the university has now pledged to make accommodation available to spouses who want to be based in Canterbury with their partners for the duration of the Lambeth Conference — a move that will focus attention even more intensely on the Anglican Communion’s policy of exclusion.
Anglican Communion spokesman Gavin Drake said the Lambeth Conference would go ahead at Kent University in 2020, and he added: “We are not speaking about this issue at all. What Kent does is up to them.”
Mary Frances Schjonberg had a comprehensive catch-up on events up to 2 April: ENS Refusal to invite bishops’ same-sex spouses to Lambeth 2020 draws ire in Britain.
And the latest as of 12 April on registrations from ACNS: Lambeth Conference 2020: Over 500 bishops in 39 Anglican Communion Churches register:
Organisers of next year’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops have announced that 502 bishops and 382 spouses have so far registered for the decennial event, with the numbers rising each day. Registrations to date come from 39 of the Anglican Communion’s 45 member Provinces and Extra Provincial Churches. “In comparison to the 2008 event when registrations had not started at this point, this is a most encouraging position to be in”, Lambeth Conference Chief Executive Phil George said…
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“Despite a vote in Synod, April Alexander argues that nominating bishops by secret ballot has no place in the C of E”
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“Christianity’s Jewish roots are most obvious at this time. Patrick Moriarty offers advice for those leading services”
Janet Fife Surviving Church Prejudice and Tolerance
Jeremy Pemberton Openly The Church of England must open its doors to same-sex weddings7 Comments
PRESS RELEASE Embargoed until 00.01 Friday 12 April 2019
A new campaign, Equal, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England, is being launched to push for change in the official teaching and practice of the Church of England, so as to allow same-gender couples to marry in Church of England churches.
The Campaign has a simple three-point agenda:
We are launching this campaign on Friday 12 April, the fifth anniversary of the marriage of the Revd Jeremy Pemberton to Laurence Cunnington. Jeremy was the first priest of the Church of England to marry a same-gender partner and as a result was denied permission to take up a new post in an NHS Trust.The Church of England officially discriminates against LGBT+ people, in refusing to allow same-gender marriages in its buildings, or by its clergy in any building, and by excluding from its ministry both lay and ordained people who have so married. The Campaign believes that it is time for this to change. The Church of England should end this injustice and respect the consciences of the increasing majority of its members, who are supportive of gay and lesbian relationships (http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/attitudes-towards-gay-rights/).
The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who is one of the team leading the new Campaign, said ‘We congratulate Jeremy and Laurence on their wedding anniversary, and rejoice with the many same- gender couples who have made lifelong, faithful commitments to each other in marriage in recent years.
‘The Church of England has spent too many years saying that it is sorry for the way that it treats LGBT+ people and condemning discrimination and prejudice, whilst at the same time continuing its own injustice towards us in marriage and ministry. It is time for what is done to match what is said, and for the Church of England to respect the conscience of the majority who are warmly supportive of same-gender relationships.
‘The Campaign is formed of faithful Anglicans who want to see change, and we will continue to work and pray for the day when any couple, gay or straight, can walk down the aisle of their local church to make their vows.’
Press enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or Fr Andrew Foreshew-Cain on 07812 45323023 Comments
The Church of England announced today that Melissa Caslake, Executive Director of Children’s Services for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and City of Westminster, has been appointed as its first permanent Director of Safeguarding.
First national Director of Safeguarding appointed
Melissa Caslake, Executive Director of Children’s Services for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and City of Westminster, has been appointed as the Church of England’s first permanent Director of Safeguarding. She takes over from Sir Roger Singleton who took up an interim role at the beginning of the year.
Melissa has a strong professional background in adult and children’s services over a 20-year career, with particular experience of child protection and safeguarding, and a track record of leading good and outstanding children’s services in local authorities.
As executive director she has overseen the Bi-Borough response to non-current child sexual abuse and been the London lead Director of Children’s Services for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, working with Government departments to develop a stronger national response. Melissa has overseen the provision of support for children affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, also reporting to the Government’s Taskforce.
Prior to her current role she was Director of Family Services for the City of Westminster where she led the service to an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rating in 2016. She was formerly a divisional director in the London Borough of Harrow and Director of Children’s Social Care and Youth Inclusion in the London Borough of Merton.
Melissa studied English at Oxford University followed by a Master’s in social work at Exeter University; she also has a range of management and leadership qualifications including from the Warwick University Business School.
Commenting on her appointment Melissa said: “I am proud to be taking on the role of National Director of Safeguarding for the Church of England. My career has been dedicated to safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and helping families in need.
“I am determined to ensure that the Church is a safer place for all, and I look forward to applying my professional experience and expertise to this challenge.”
William Nye, Secretary General to the Archbishops’ Council, said: “I am delighted by the appointment of Melissa Caslake to this role. The Church of England has come a long way in improving its safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in recent years, particularly since the establishment of the national safeguarding team in 2015. But there is much still to do, and the creation of a director post for safeguarding recognises that.
“We have been fortunate in the last few months to have Sir Roger Singleton filling the post on an interim basis and now to have someone with the experience and seniority of Melissa to fill the post on a permanent basis, and to take the national Church’s safeguarding work to a new level. She will be an excellent addition to the Council’s leadership team, and I am very pleased to welcome her to Church House.”
Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, said: “I welcome the appointment of Melissa as the Church of England’s first Director of Safeguarding. Her strong, professional background and experience will strengthen the National Team as it continues its work at a time of increasing demand. Melissa’s appointment is part of our commitment to ensuring the Church is a safer place for all and she will take on leadership of the team as we approach our main IICSA hearing. I look forward to working with her in my role as lead safeguarding bishop.”
Melissa’s start date will be confirmed in due course.
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Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Bishops and Safeguarding failures. The SCIE report1 Comment
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In response to the report linked in the preceding article, the following press release has been issued:
SURVIVORS RESPONSE TO CHURCH ABUSE REPORT
Sent on behalf of MACSAS* and a number of survivors of abuse in a church context
Thursday 4th April 2019
Today’s report from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) illustrates the Church of England’s comprehensive failure in the treatment of victims of its own abuse. The church’s leaders should now be putting their hands up to their collective and individual failure to respond authentically and honestly to survivors.
SCIE’s independent research indicates that less than one in five people who reported abuse in the church say that they received a satisfactory response, and more than half never received any meaningful response at all. [2.1.1] The report also speaks of the church’s failure to understand the lifelong impact of abuse, and its failure to keep the victim at the centre of its response. [8.1.2]
Those of us whose lives have been devastated by clergy abuse know this from long and bitter experience. We are victimized first by our abusers, and again by the church’s “defensive responses” to criticism of its failings.
For many years the Church of England has responded to the crisis of clergy abuse by saying “You can trust us. We’ve got this in hand.” The SCIE report confirms what we have known all along – that the church can no longer be trusted to manage disclosures of abuse. We repeat our call that this work should be handed over to a fully independent body. The church’s General Synod must be allowed proper time to debate these findings – preferably at an Extraordinary Meeting at which survivors can contribute their expertise, as recommended by the report.
The full report can be found at http://tinyurl.com/yyfqxvlj
The Church of England’s response can be found at http://tinyurl.com/y425ykd4
*MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) www.macsas.org.uk
For more information contact Andrew Graystone
07772 71009064 Comments
Updated on Friday to include initial media coverage
The Church of England has announced today’s publication of the final SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) overview report, which details the learning from the 42 independent diocesan safeguarding audits and findings on improving responses to survivors of abuse. There is also a response from the National Safeguarding Steering Group.
Details are in the following press release.
The Church of England welcomes the final SCIE overview report
The Church of England welcomes the final SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) overview report, published today, which details the learning from the 42 independent diocesan safeguarding audits and findings on improving responses to survivors of abuse.
The report received by the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) acknowledges that the results of the survivor survey makes for very difficult reading and the Church’s failure to respond compassionately has undermined confidence in the its own safeguarding practice.
The report presents an overview of learning from the 42 audits, carried out between 2015-17, and introduces the additional work conducted by a survey to gather the views of people who have first-hand experience of Church responses, including survivors of clergy and Church-related abuse
It notes the audits have taken place in a changing context and the Church has done much to address early systemic issues raised by SCIE. It therefore summarises and appraises all activity (completed, underway and planned) to address issues that have been raised and makes clear areas where work is still required to improve safeguarding practices.
58 people responded to the survivor survey which focused on how the Church should be engaging with people who come forward; the vast majority said they were dissatisfied with the Church’s response.
Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop and chair of the NSSG said:
“It is essential that victims and survivor organisations have confidence that anybody coming forward to disclose abuse to the Church are treated with compassion, offered support and their concerns and allegations are taken seriously. They must have confidence that the Church will act to address instances of abuse and do all it can to prevent future harm. The Church recognises that significant changes will be required before survivors will have this level of confidence in the Church, and that this undertaking is no simple task. However, it is one that I and my fellow Bishops and the whole Church are absolutely committed to.”
Media coverage of this:
Helen King sharedconversations The indecent Virgin
Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Schools, Sex, Parents and Churches
Michael Higgins Church Times A threat to cathedrals’ collegiality and independence
“The General Synod should be wary of the Working Group report’s more far-reaching recommendations”
Rupert Shortt Church Times Does religion do more harm than good?
“Rupert Shortt weighs up the evidence in a new book. Here is an extract”
Updated again 31 March and again 1 April
The Archbishop of York has published this announcement:
Statement on safeguarding arrangements in Chester Diocese
The Archbishop of York has been informed, in the course of a conversation with the Bishop of Chester, Peter Forster, that all safeguarding arrangements in the diocese will until further notice be led by the Bishop of Birkenhead, Keith Sinclair.
An Instrument of Delegation has been signed by the Bishop of Chester to formalise this change of episcopal responsibilities within the Diocese.
The Diocese of Chester has published this more detailed statement:
Changes to safeguarding arrangements
A statement from Bishop Peter regarding safeguarding arrangements in the Diocese of Chester:
28 March 2019
A statement from Bishop Peter Forster:
“I have asked the Bishop of Birkenhead, Keith Sinclair, to lead on all safeguarding arrangements in the Diocese of Chester and have formally delegated this responsibility to him with immediate effect.
“I have taken this decision in response to recent comment into my handling of the Gordon Dickenson case in 2009.
“An independent review will seek to identify where any failures in procedures arose, and what lessons can be learned and I look forward to contributing to the review and to giving a full account of my actions in relation to this matter.
“The Diocese of Chester takes seriously its safeguarding responsibilities at every level. Whilst an independent review into my actions takes place, I recognise that I should not continue to lead the safeguarding arrangements in the Diocese.
“I will continue in all other duties relating to my role of Bishop of Chester.
“I will not be making any further public comments in relation to this matter until the outcome of the independent review.”
According to a report in the Telegraph, Bishop accused of covering up child sex abuse scandal gives up safeguarding powers
…The Telegraph has also learnt that the Church of England has also commenced formal proceedings regarding Bishop Forster’s conduct. He has been reported to the Church’s disciplinary body by its most senior safeguarding watchdog. Sir Roger Singleton CBE, interim director of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, has instigated the start of the Church Disciplinary Measure (CDM) process. This can result in a tribunal or hearing overseen by the watchdog, if evidence of malpractice is found..
…A Church House spokeswoman confirmed on Monday that Sir Roger had lodged a complaint against Dr Forster under the Clergy Discipline Measure…
…Under the CDM process, a complaint against a bishop is made to the archbishop of the province — the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, in this case. The complaint is then referred to the registrar of the province for preliminary scrutiny, during which a decision is made whether there is enough substance to the complaint to justify proceeding with it.
Within 28 days of receiving the registrar’s report, the archbishop must decide how to proceed. Options include dismissing the complaint, taking no further action, imposing a conditional deferment (whereby the complaint is kept on file for up to five years), or imposing a penalty by consent. A penalty can range from a rebuke to prohibition for life. If the respondent does not consent to a proposed penalty, then a formal investigation must take place. In the case of a complaint against a bishop, this would be heard before a vicar general’s court.
Updated again 29 March
The University of Kent has issued this: University statement on the Lambeth Conference. It reads in part as follows (emphasis added):
…The University has become aware that proposals relating to the Lambeth Conference 2020, which is due to be held at the University, raises serious issues at the heart of these values.
The Lambeth Conference is, of course, a remarkable event and has been held at the University since 1978. When the organisers of the Lambeth Conference 2020 came to the University seeking to work with us again, we were happy to engage. Bringing this gathering of spiritual leaders, from across the globe, to meet, celebrate, debate, learn and reflect, supports our vision of the kind of welcoming, inclusive, civic university we stand for and formal agreement relating to the use of University facilities was reached in August 2018.
It subsequently came to the University’s attention that, on 15 February 2019, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion made a public announcement on the Anglican Communion News Service website ‘that it would be inappropriate for same sex spouses to be invited to the conference’.
The University was concerned by this announcement, as it does not accord with our values, and determined it would seek further information and discuss the issue at its next meeting of University Council, the University’s governing body. The University has since received a large number of concerns raised by staff, students, and members of the public, about hosting the conference. While we currently understand that the Lambeth Conference may be permitted by law to rely on exemption under the Equality Act 2010 for religious organisations, we also believe there are significant ethical concerns raised. These were discussed at the meeting of University Council on 22 March 2019.
Council members were clear that exclusion of same sex spouses, on grounds of orientation, would be contrary to the values of the University. Council determined that the University shall ensure that accommodation will be available on campus for those spouses affected by this decision who wish to be in Canterbury with their partners during the conference period. The University welcomes them and affirms its belief in, and commitment to, diversity and inclusivity.
The Council also agreed that Sir David Warren, Chair of Council, and Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent, would seek to meet with the Lambeth Conference organisers and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to bring Council’s concerns to their attention and discuss the issues.
Sir David Warren, Chair of Council, University of Kent
Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Kent
Updates Further reports and comment on this:
Surviving Church Lambeth 2020. A clash of values?
…Excluding a small number of same sex spouses might have been, from a pragmatic point of view, a price worth paying to preserve harmony and unity at the 2020 Lambeth gathering in Canterbury. Surely everyone recognises that although a few people might protest, this action is not illegal. The Equality Act of 2010 certainly allows for the Church to make such distinctions between hetero and homosexual partners. This calculation seems to have been a miscalculation and protests began almost immediately it became known. What began as a small nail being lost, started to become a massive headache for the conference organisers. Although it is not uncommon for people to expect a degree of discrimination against gay partnerships in the churches, this attitude is far from universal. One particular factor in the protests and debates that have followed this Anglican decision is the siting of the Lambeth Conference gathering in a university campus. The one segment of the population that will never easily acquiesce in the conservative rhetoric about gay relationships are students. Enormous amounts of money are spent across the world promoting the anti-gay message of the religious Right in the States and countries like Uganda. Very few however among the under-30 generation are impressed by this message and they normally will not tolerate what they see simply as homophobia. Even if church authorities argue their right to discriminate according to the religious exemptions of the Equality Act, students will not stop making their opinions known. These protests have now come to the attention of the most senior members of the University of Kent and they have issued an official statement…
The statement issued by the University as previously reported, has generated criticism locally.
The Student Union at the university published this.
We are deeply disappointed that the Lambeth Conference has decided to exclude same-sex spouses from its 2020 conference. This is not a value that we expect to see on campus and we are committed to championing inclusivity in all events.
We appreciate that the University has a commercial arm to its operations and we understand that the Lambeth Conference may be relying on a legal exemption in the Equality Act 2010 to support its stance. However, we believe any externally organised event which occurs on campus should respect the diversity of both students and staff, the values of the University, Kent Union and the environment that they want to utilise. We believe that the University should ensure this at all times. We are asking students to send us their views on the issue and presenting these to the University and we will be writing to the Lambeth Conference, where our efforts need to be focused, urging them to change their stance.
The local newspaper reported: University of Kent called ‘spineless’ after agreeing to host Lambeth Conference banning gay spouses:
The university of Kent has come under fire for hosting an Anglican conference excluding same-sex couples.
Its Canterbury campus will be the venue for next year’s Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops and their spouses from around the world which takes place every ten years.
But students have called the decision “shocking” and “spineless” after it emerged gay bishops, who are joining the assembly for the first time, were personally told by the Archbishop of Canterbury that their spouses are banned from the event.
The university has said the conference, which costs £4,950 per person to attend, is lawful because of a loophole in the Equality Act applying to religious organisations.
It has argued that while it would not “apply such a prohibition to any event we were running directly”, it has to respect its clients’ wishes provided they are legal…
The website LGBTQ Faith UK has published this: Gay bishops, legal discrimination and the Lambeth Conference. This contains a detailed discussion of the whole saga so far. And it continues with this:
…It has been questioned whether this discriminatory treatment is legal in this country. The Lambeth Conference is a charity that is registered in the UK, charity number 1121679. This means that the Lambeth Conference is subject to UK law, specifically the 2010 Equality Act. The Equality Act allows some exemptions (Schedule 23 paragraph 2) and it looks like the Lambeth Conference comes under this, so it would be legal to discriminate. However, if this were challenged, they would have to show that excluding same sex spouses is necessary to comply with ‘the doctrine of the Organisation’ or ‘the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers’. While the religious conviction part might be true worldwide, I doubt it is the case in the UK. I think that, unfortunately, only the two bishops or their same sex spouses would have the legal standing to bring a case to test this legally.
The question of same sex marriage is not contained in any of the creeds nor is it in any of the authorised liturgies of the Church of England which means that Lambeth resolution I.10 does not have the status of doctrine. Lambeth resolutions are not mandatory and have to be adopted by each province individually. By specifically relying on Lambeth I.10, Dr Idowu-Fearon may be ruling out an exemption based on doctrine, because he is showing that the basis of the exclusion is something other than doctrine…
…What we appear to be seeing in the preparations for Lambeth 2020 is GAFCON inspired ideology, in line with their priorities and structured to idealise opposite sex marriage. This is not in accordance with the equality values of the English people that the Church of England is established to serve.
In order to be able to be registered as a charity, it is necessary to show that the organisation has ‘public benefit’. I checked out the Lambeth Conference’s statement of public benefit with the charity commission website. The third and final paragraph of the public benefit statement says
Most people are likely to become disciples of Jesus if Christians live a Christ like life amongst them, share the good news of Jesus, demonstrate God’s love and prayerfully expect the Spirit’s power to transform individuals, communities and whole nations.’
I fail to see how the exclusion of same sex spouses is living a Christ like life and I seriously doubt this will encourage anyone in this country to become a disciple of Jesus.
I would like to know how those organising the 2020 Lambeth Conference will live up to their own public benefit statement.
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Towards understanding why people are drawn into extreme religious groups
Lucy Knight The Guardian Being a gay Christian can be hurtful and gruelling. But I refuse to lose faith
Giles Fraser UnHerd Why is punishment so popular?
“Collective vindictiveness often dresses itself up in the language of morality”
Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of sexual irony17 Comments
The Telegraph reported on 13 March: Longest serving Church of England bishop faces calls to resign after court hears he knew about paedophile priest.
The longest-serving bishop in the Church of England is facing calls to resign after it emerged he knew about a paedophile priest in his diocese and did nothing.
The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Peter Forster, found out Rev Gordon Dickenson had become embroiled in a child abuse scandal decades earlier when the retired vicar wrote a letter about the affair in 2009.
Dickenson was convicted earlier this month of eight counts of sexual assault after pleading guilty to abusing a boy during the 1970s inside a church hall and even his vicarage.
But ten years ago, Dickenson had written to the Diocese of Chester which was conducting a review of past abuse cases admitting he been accused of the abuse during the 1970s and had promised the then Bishop of Chester he would “never do it again”.
Despite this admission, Bishop Forster failed to pass on the letter to the police or order an internal church inquiry…
Another report from the local Cheshire newspaper is here: Former Warrington vicar jailed for sexually abusing teenage boy.
…This case came to light in 2017 after Cheshire Constabulary published a report into the findings of an investigation into allegations of non-recent sexual abuse made against a former Bishop of Chester.
Operation Coverage focused on allegations made against the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s…
The Church Times reported:Diocese apologises as abuser pleads guilty.
The Diocese of Chester issued this statement on 15 March:
A statement from the Diocese of Chester in response to the sentencing of retired priest, Gordon Dickenson, who was jailed for a total of 27 months during a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court on 15 March 2019.
We can confirm that retired priest, Gordon Dickenson, has been sentenced and jailed for a total of 27 months during a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court. He had previously pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual activity with a child. This refers to his time as Vicar of Christ Church, Latchford, in 1973 and 1974.
We offer an unreserved apology to the survivor who has shown bravery and courage to share his experiences with the police and we acknowledge how difficult and distressing this must have been for him.
The Diocese has provided full co-operation with the police throughout the current investigation and anyone affected by today’s news should contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.
It has been reported that Gordon Dickenson wrote a letter to the Diocese, dated 2009, in which he admitted he had been accused of abuse during the 1970s.
The Diocese wishes to apologise for not acting on this information in 2009 and acknowledges that, had it done so, the police may have brought a prosecution against Gordon Dickenson sooner.
An independent review will be conducted into the handling of the case to identify where any failures in procedures arose, and what lessons can be learned.
On the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme this morning, Meg Munn chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel, was interviewed about this matter. You can hear what she said here, from about 27.5 minutes in, or in this extract over here.
Martin Sewell has referred to this matter in an article published at Surviving Church: Too important to care about child sexual abuse? Problems for Church and State. Concerning Bishop Forster, he writes in part:
…In both cases, plainly those exercising misjudgement are not bad people. I constantly remind readers that the context of the time must be factored in. However, the time for this to be an excuse allowing us to continue, simply apologising, undertaking a “learned lesson review’ and moving on, has surely passed. That scenario has been played out too many times in too many places. Victims need to see more robust responses either from the individuals concerned or from the relevant institutions.
Until such public figures pay a price, either through voluntarily resignation, through the withdrawal of honours conferred upon them, or through being shunned by the court of public opinion, we shall continue to have a culture of minimisation and cover-up. Hitherto the only ones who have paid a price for these matters coming into the public domain are the victims who have to revisit their history of pain, humiliation, anger and all the tragedies within their personal lives that go with this.
If the Establishment, secular or faith, is to retain any credibility, it is time for its members to grasp the personal responsibility that such cases require. Great reputation and personal advantage goes with public status: with great privilege goes great responsibility. Respect for both victims betrayed and the institutions served requires no more feet shuffling but bold moral acceptance of consequence through principled resignation…
Jesse Zink Church Times The ACC: A spurned Instrument of Communion
“As Primates assume more authority, the Anglican Consultative Council is being marginalised”
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church How abuse survivors are betrayed
and Too important to care about child sexual abuse? Problems for Church and State
Richard Moy A Reasonable Enthusiast The Myth of Episcopal Oversight in the UK Church
William Cook The Spectator Taking the God option: why I send my children to C of E schools
“No, it’s not because they get better results, but because they teach peace, hope and compassion”
Updated Friday evening scroll down for additional press releases from TEC House of Bishops meeting
Updated again Monday
Here is the response from the University of Kent to those who have written to them complaining about their hosting of a discriminatory event:
On 14 March Ben Bradshaw MP asked in the House of Commons about this matter.
Watch the video here.
Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter
May we have a statement from the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman, on the outrageous decision by the Church of England to issue the official invitation to next year’s Lambeth conference and explicitly forbid the same-sex spouses of bishops from attending, when the heterosexual spouses of bishops have been warmly invited? This is a totally unacceptable position for our established state Church to adopt, and this House needs to tell the Church we have had enough of it.
Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
I was not aware of that situation, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising it. If he would like to write to me, I will certainly raise it with my right hon. Friend Dame Caroline Spelman.
Today the Church Times has a report about the Canadian bishop, Kevin Robertson, affected by this: Gay bishop accuses Primates of homophobia.
…When asked if he believed the fierce opposition to his presence, let alone Mr Sharma’s invitation, from GAFCON aligned Primates was driven by homophobia, he replied “I do.”
“Because it appears there’s an inconsistency,” he said, pointing to a blog by the Secretary-General of the Communion, the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, which announced the policy of barring gay spouses (News, 22 February).
Dr Idowu-Fearon wrote that it was because same-sex marriages were inconsistent with a resolution on marriage from the 1998 Lambeth Conference which defined marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.
“I know as we approach 2020 that there are bishops who have been divorced and remarried, in some cases more than once, who are being invited, and their spouses are also being invited,” Bishop Robertson said.
“So to hold up Lambeth 1.10 as the reason for Mohan and Becki not to be invited seems a little thin; it doesn’t seem particularly consistent…”
Meanwhile, the American bishop affected, Mary Glasspool, has addressed the American House of Bishops. Read the whole of what she said: The Way of Love and Lambeth: Bishop Mary D. Glasspool speaks to the House of Bishops. (more…)119 Comments
The electronic voting lists from last month’s Church of England General Synod are now available. Readers may be most interested in the list for item 35. This item was the proposed, but defeated, amendment to Standing Orders to remove the requirement for secret ballots at meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission.
Also available is the official summary of Business Done.4 Comments