Church of England press release
House of Bishops Meeting – Monday 19 October 2020
A meeting of the House of Bishops took place today, Monday 19 October via Zoom.
From October, the House is now meeting once a month, a schedule which is likely to continue until Easter 2021.
The focus of the meeting was an opportunity for reflection and learning on the overarching IICSA report for the Anglican Church in England and Wales which was published on 6 October and had six recommendations for the Church of England.
The House discussed the two most significant themes from the report; proper redress for victims and survivors and greater independence in safeguarding decision making. The House was addressed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the lead safeguarding bishop and the National Director of Safeguarding. All spoke in favour of the motions put before the House (see below) and strongly urged the House to vote in their favour.
During the course of two plenary sessions and breakout groups the House reviewed the recommendations of the report, affirming that any response by the Church needs to be sensitive to, and mindful of, the views of victims and survivors.
The House unanimously endorsed a motion fully accepting the IICSA report, unreservedly apologising to victims and survivors for the harm done by the Church and committing itself to urgently implementing the recommendations.
The House also unanimously agreed with the proposal that the Church should move towards establishing an independent safeguarding structure, with a new trustee body responsible for safeguarding to take over responsibility for the Archbishops’ Council. The House also agreed that an interim arrangement be put in place for additional independent oversight of safeguarding, prior to the establishment of the new trustee body.
The House then underlined the importance of a full response to the IICSA report being released in the coming weeks.
The House also received updates from the various works streams operating under the auspices of the Emerging Church Groups. An overview by the Chair of the Co-ordinating Group, the Bishop of Manchester was given, followed by a brief report from the Chair of the Recovery Group, the Bishop of London regarding ongoing changes and updates to the guidance for worship, following the introduction of the tier system across the nation.
The Archbishop of York updated the House on the work of the Vision and Strategy Group and received the House’s endorsement for his work on developing a shared vision for the Church. Further updates were also given by the Governance Group and the Transforming Effectiveness Group.3 Comments
This letter to the editor of the Financial Times has been signed by:
The Archbishop of Armagh
The Archbishop of Canterbury
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
The Archbishop of Wales
The Archbishop of York
As the Anglican primates of the four nations of the United Kingdom and Ireland, we wish to highlight the grave responsibility of peers in the House of Lords today as they debate the UK internal market bill (Report, October 15).
We are taking the rare step of writing together because the decisions implemented in this bill will profoundly affect the future of our countries and the relationships between them.
The bill represents a profound shift in how trading relationships within the UK will be regulated and governed. This will not be a return to a trade regime that existed before UK joined the EU; it will be an entirely novel system, replacing one that evolved slowly and by careful negotiation over decades.
The Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd have made clear that the bill’s weakening of both the principles and the effect of devolved policymaking is of constitutional significance. Moreover, if the bill is made law without consent from devolved legislatures (as will happen if it is not amended to address their concerns), this will further undermine trust and goodwill among those who govern the different parts of the UK.
The bill is, of course, not just concerned with domestic law. It currently asks the country’s highest lawmaking body to equip a government minister to break international law. This has enormous moral, as well as political and legal, consequences.
We believe this would create a disastrous precedent. It is particularly disturbing for all of us who feel a sense of duty and responsibility to the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement — that international treaty on which peace and stability within and between the UK and Ireland depends.
The UK negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol with the EU to “protect the 1998 Agreement in all its dimensions”.
One year on, in this bill, the UK government is not only preparing to break the protocol, but also to breach a fundamental tenet of the agreement: namely by limiting the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights in Northern Ireland law.
If carefully negotiated terms are not honoured and laws can be “legally” broken, on what foundations does our democracy stand?
We urge lawmakers to consider this bill in the light of values and principles we would wish to characterise relationships across these islands long after the transition period.
The Most Reverend John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh
The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Reverend Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
The Most Reverend John Davies, Archbishop of Wales
The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York
There has been a lot of coverage in the press over the weekend and this morning about why the recently retired Archbishop of York has not (yet?) been given a peerage. His three predecessors (Hope, Hapgood, Blanch) were. The three before that (Coggan, Ramsey, Lang) were all translated to Canterbury and in due course received the customary peerage for retiring Archbishops of Canterbury.17 Comments
Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel First reflections on IICSA’s second report
Helen King ViaMedia.News Why the Church of England Must ‘Connect the Dots’ – IICSA and LLF
Shirley O’Shea The Living Church What Mentally Ill Persons Wish Their Clergy Understood
Anne Atkins Church Times When people won’t believe you
“Victims are often doubted, Anne Atkins finds”
Andrew Graystone Surviving Church Towards a Theology of Redress4 Comments
BBC Radio 4 had this Sunday programme interview including survivors and the Archbishop of York. The item starts 13 minutes into the programme.
The same radio station had a programme in its Moral Maze series, titled The Moral Authority of Organised Religion.
The Telegraph had a surprising item: Church of England’s ‘Safe Spaces’ helpline labelled ‘unsafe’ by abuse survivors
Today the Church Times has many relevant items, including:
The Church of England announced the terms of reference for the PCR2 Reference Group for National Church Institutions and Archbishops. Here is a direct link to the actual Terms of reference.
Parliamentary Questions to the Second Church Estates Commissioner included some on this topic.
The Bishop of Birkenhead, Keith Sinclair, has announced today that he is to retire on 08 March 2021, 14 years to the day after he was consecrated. Birkenhead is a suffragan see in the diocese of Chester.5 Comments
Charlie Bell Anglicanism.org Risk and Prophesy – has the Church got its COVID-19 response right?
“In this paper Charlie Bell challenges assumptions about how we should approach the COVID- 19 crisis not least in church. He argues that church authorities have misunderstood the science and imposed a culture of fear thereby exacerbating the crisis. It is time for a radical reassessment.”
Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Safeguarding, ‘Reabuse’ and LGBT People
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church We are sorry, but please be patient: An Apology after IICSA
Narcissism – A Recipe for Unhappiness in the Church
Ian Black Church Times Comment: how the Church can end its abuse culture
“Policies and procedures are not enough to stop abuse, says Ian Black. Much deeper changes are needed”
Church of England press release
A Taskforce set up to make bold changes to ensure greater racial equality in the Church of England has got under way, with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York joining its meeting today.
The Anti-Racism Taskforce will carry out preparatory work ahead of the launch of the Archbishops’ Commission to address racism in spring next year.
The nine members of the group will make recommendations for immediate action that can be taken by the Church of England to improve its record on racial justice and equality. They will also recommend the proposed remit and membership of the Commission.
Jointly chaired by Revd Sonia Barron, Director of Ordinands and Vocations for Lincoln Diocese, and Revd Arun Arora, a Vicar in the Diocese of Durham, the Taskforce is expected to complete its work by the end of January.
Revd Sonia Barron, Co-Chair of the Taskforce, and a former adviser to the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, (CMEAC) said: “The Taskforce has been set up at a critical time in the history of the Church of England, with the Black Lives Matter movement pushing racial justice right up the agenda. The Church has an opportunity that it cannot afford to miss – we cannot just pay lip service to issues of racism as we have done for so long. It is vital that we listen to all the different voices out there and having listened, fulfil our mission as a Church, by taking appropriate action.”
Revd Arun Arora said: “For more than thirty years the Church of England has been talking about racism, making recommendations and passing resolutions. Despite this the Church remains a place which is poorer for the lack of participation of all God’s people in the fullness of its life together. The time has now come for urgent implementation and action. The purpose of the Taskforce and Commission will not be to produce more reports but rather to directly address the sin of racism and those impediments that prevent the Church from fulfilling its call so that racial justice is both done and is seen to be done.”
The Taskforce and Commission, a joint project by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, were announced earlier this year amid rising concern about insufficient progress towards racial justice, equality and inclusion within the Church of England.
There are five serving bishops from UK minority ethnic (UKME) backgrounds currently in the Church of England. But there are no diocesan bishops currently from UKME backgrounds, following the retirement earlier this year of the former Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
Fewer than four per cent of serving clergy identify as being from a UKME background, according to the latest statistics. One in 10 of the people recommended this year for training for ordained ministry in the Church of England were from UKME backgrounds.
The General Synod voted in February to apologise for racism experienced by UKME people in the Church of England since the arrival of the Windrush Generation.
Speaking to the General Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said there was ‘no doubt’ that the Church of England was still ‘deeply institutionally racist’.
Notes to editors:
The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, has announced today that he intends to retire at the end of July 2021. He was consecrated the Bishop of Lynn in 2004 (Norwich Diocese) and appointed Bishop of Rochester in 2010. In 2014 he entered the House of Lords as one of the 26 Lords Spiritual.
Simon Burton-Jones, Bishop of Tonbridge, will take on responsibility for the Diocese from then until the next bishop is in place.5 Comments
Statistics for Mission provides the latest figures including:
Detailed Diocesan tables (excel file) are also available.
There is a press release which concentrates on the digital report; it is copied below.
David Keen has analysed the statistics: Last Chance To See…… Church of England Membership and Attendance Stats 2019. Do read what he has to say; it is very good.
More than 17,000 online services and events provided by Church of England parishes
More than 17,000 online services and events are being provided by Church of England churches following the introduction of the lockdown and restrictions on public worship earlier this year, according to a new report published today. (more…)33 Comments
Sam Dennis All Things Lawful And Honest Mass Education
“As many churches are forced by the pandemic to reconsider their Sunday School or Children’s Church, Sam Dennis asks whether the Mass is the best place for teaching the faith.”
Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Resignations, Dysfunctionality and the House of Bishops
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Cultural Change and the Church
We have added several Church Times opinion pieces to our post: More about the IICSA report.47 Comments
Here at Thinking Anglicans we try to note announcements of the retirements of Church of England bishops and cathedral deans, and the names of their successors. We do not always succeed and I have just discovered that the Bishop of Lynn announced in June that he would be retiring on 25 January 2021.25 Comments
See also Wednesday’s Opinion roundup.
Church Times Julie Conalty Comment: the IICSA report sheds light on darkness in the Church.
Religion Media Centre: Church of England concerned for its reputation rather than dealing with child sex abusers and the video recording of the media briefing (chaired by Andrew Brown) is here: Damning report says Church of England more concerned for reputation than dealing with sex abusers. (40 minutes, but well worth the time to watch).
Giles Fraser UnHerd Can the Church solve its paedophile problem?
The Church Times today has a great deal more material related to the IICSA report:
Religion Media Centre also has Fact Sheet Abuse and the Church of England – timeline.15 Comments
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Rebuilding Trust after the IICSA Report
Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer The Church of England – a safer space for abusers than for the abused
Peter Ormerod The Guardian Think unconscious bias training is a fad? It’s been going for at least 2,000 years
“MPs balking at ‘PC gone mad’ forget that Jesus instructed people to examine their consciences for unacknowledged sin”
Christina Baron ViaMedia.News Living in Love and Faith – Is There Really Hope for Change?18 Comments
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following personal statement following the publication of the IICSA report:
To fail on safeguarding casts a profound stain across every good thing we do. I have said this before and I continue to stand by it. But I am acutely aware as we come towards the end of this year that while there is a genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church, it is evident we still have not got it right.
The report published today is a stark and shocking reminder of how so many times we have failed – and continue to fail – survivors. Apologies are vital, but they are not enough. We have to listen. We have to learn. And we have to act.
In calling for the enquiry, through a letter to the then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014, I was aware that although it would be something that survivors had demanded it would also be a deeply painful process to tell their stories. I am very grateful to them for their courage. We cannot and will not make excuses and I must again offer my sincere apologies to those to have been abused, and to their families, friends and colleagues.
There is clearly much to respond to and an in-depth consideration of today’s report is vital. IICSA has shone a light on the past and present to help us better inform our future safeguarding work. They are owed our thanks which we give wholeheartedly. I pray this report and its recommendations will result in the changes needed to make our Church a safer place for all now and for future generations.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its long-awaited report on the Church of England and the Church in Wales. The report totals 154 pages.
Initial media coverage:
Surviving Church published this article by Gilo Looking ahead to IICSA report day on Tuesday.
By no means a comprehensive list. Just a brief visit across a number of things we may probably see further comment upon after the Inquiry makes its final Anglican report…
Gilo also was interviewed by the BBC Sunday programme (along with Bishop Jonathan Gibbs). Listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000n4vy (25 minutes in)
For the first time The Church of England has announced a scheme offering financial support to abuse survivors. Emily [Buchanan] gets reaction from one survivor and talks to the Church’s Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gibbs, about how he hopes this will pave the way to a full redress scheme in the near future.
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Carlisle also made the news, but not in a good way: Bishop under investigation for giving paedophile Wiltshire vicar a reference.
Update: more detail here: Investigation after Bishop of Carlisle gives child abuse canon a character reference.
Updated Tuesday morning
See our September 2019 report:Bishop of Albany to face disciplinary hearing.
A disciplinary hearing was duly held in June 2020, and Episcopal News Service reported here: In disciplinary hearing, Albany Bishop William Love defends prohibition of same-sex marriage in his diocese.
The Church Times carried this: Zoom tribunal for US Bishop of Albany.
The full recording of that can be found here.
The hearing panel has now published its decision, available in full here (42 pages). This does not include any decision relating to disciplinary consequences. That will be the subject of a further hearing to be held within the next month. An extract:
This Panel unanimously concludes that TEC has met its burden of showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that Bishop Love has violated Canon IV.4.1(c) in that his November 10,  Pastoral Directive violated the Discipline of the Church, as Resolution B012 was properly constituted and passed as an authorized revision to the BCP as expressly provided for in Constitution Article X, thus requiring that all Bishop Diocesans permit their clergy the option to utilize such rites. TEC has further met its burden of establishing that Bishop Love’s Direction also violated the Discipline of the Church in that it violated Canon I.18. The canonical legitimacy of Resolution B012 rendered Canon I.18 mandatory, requiring adherence by Bishops Diocesan in permitting their Clergy the option to perform same-sex marriage rites. TEC has also met its burden of establishing that the Direction violated the Worship of the Church in that Resolution B012 added canonically-authorized same-sex marriage rites to the Worship of the Church pursuant to the BCP.
Bishop Love has published a letter to the diocese, which you can read here.
Hat tip to Episcopal Café.
Update: Episcopal News Service has now published its report, which contains a summary history of the case: Disciplinary panel finds Albany Bishop William Love broke church law in banning same-sex marriages.67 Comments
The Dean of Sheffield, the Very Revd Peter Bradley, has announced his resignation from the role of Dean with effect from 31 December 2020.9 Comments
John Sundara The Living Church A Thicker Constellation of Vocation
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Is the Church of England ready for new moves in Safeguarding?
Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Time for Review
Rogers Govender ViaMedia.News Walking in Beauty – Contemplation in times of Struggle, Suffering and Exclusion
Paul W Thomas Church Times Deaneries’ moment of truth has at last arrived
“It is time that they replaced parishes as the locus of the Church of England’s mission”
Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Lament, Joy and Hope in a Time of Pandemic34 Comments