Thinking Anglicans

Church of England Safeguarding Data Report 2015-17

The Church of England issued the following press release today.

Safeguarding Data Report 2015-17
19/06/2019

Safeguarding data has been published today taken from annual safeguarding returns, collected by dioceses from 2015-17 and sent to the National Safeguarding Team. This is the first time that trends have been analysed over a three-year period.

The Church of England consists of more than 16,000 churches across the country; with around 1.14 million adults and children making up the regular worshipping community. This means it comes into contact with vast numbers of children, young people and adults every day of the week and safeguarding them is a priority. The majority of safeguarding-related concerns or allegations relate to children or vulnerable adults who attend or who have contact with the Church and their lives within the community.

In any report about data of this nature, it is important to recognise that behind each statistic is a person. Safeguarding is about everyone’s wellbeing and means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture; it is about valuing every person as made in God’s image.

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Opinion – 19 June 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Mandatory Reporting and the Church of England

Mark Clavier The Living Church The Church of the Introverts

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Senior Blackburn clergy reflect on IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball

The bishops, dean and archdeacons in the Diocese of Blackburn have written to all clergy, readers and safeguarding officers in the diocese. They reflect on reflect on the IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.

The press release states:

Since the recent publication of the report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on the Diocese of Chichester and the Peter Ball case, Bishops’ Leadership Teams across the country have been strongly encouraged to read and reflect on the reports in their entirety.

Having done this in our Diocese, the Bishops, Archdeacons and The Dean of The Church of England in Lancashire were moved to send a message across our Diocese to urge others of the need to be ‘spending time with the report’; the reading of which they describe as a ‘powerful, emotional experience’.

The text of the letter follows below the fold and can also be viewed in its original form here.

Aban Quaynor writes about the letter in The Lancaster and Morecombe Citizen: Senior leaders in Diocese of Blackburn call on church to protect children from sex abuse.

SENIOR clergy in the Blackburn Diocese have written a joint letter to Christian faith leaders urging them to ensure ‘local churches are places where children and vulnerable adults are entirely safe’ from sexual abuse.

The letter … also states that members of the diocese should take a collective responsibility for abuse which has taken place within the wider church because ignoring it becomes a form of re-abuse…

This article is also published in the Lancashire Telegraph.

Stephen Parsons writes about the letter on his Surviving Church blog: The Blackburn Letter. A new beginning for the Church?

(more…)

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Opinion – 15 June 2019

Meg Warner ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say….that Sodomites were sodomites?

Laudable Practice Newman, Keble, Pusey: High Church Parsons on Trinity Sunday

John Barton Church Times Richard Hooker and Puritans: Of sundry things, in the light of reason
“Richard Hooker’s engagement with the Puritans has much to teach those who debate scripture today”

Paul Bayes Thinking in Liverpool Believing in the Public Square

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July General Synod – online papers

Update 1: Synod members reading this might like to note that the deadline for the submission of questions is a week earlier than normal; it is 12 noon on Wednesday 19 June 2019.

Update 2 [18 June]: More online papers linked

The first batch of papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online. The remaining papers will be issued on 21 June and I will add links when these become available.

Papers with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration are listed below the fold. Synod meets from Friday 5 to Tuesday 9 July in York.

The Agenda is here and the Report by the Business Committee (Guide to the July 2019 group of sessions) is here.

Timetable
[This is a revised version of the timetable originally noted here.]

First mailing .zip file [This contains some papers not yet otherwise available online]

(more…)

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Opinion – 12 June 2019

Sue Wallace Precentor Sue Smoke – Part 1
Smoke – Part 2
“In this Pentecostal time of year it seemed a really good time to talk about incense, which seems to me to be a bit like the Marmite (you either love it or you hate it!) of the liturgical world!”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church A Church that cares for Survivors?

Michael Fitzpatrick The Episcopal Café False Gospels?
“Many of my fellow Anglicans do not seem as excited as I am about the upcoming Lambeth Conference…”

56 Comments

Safeguarding issues in an Essex school

There has been discussion recently in the media and on social media of an incident at a Church of England school in Essex. This involved a Church of England priest who has resigned as a governor of a church school and also as the local incumbent because he did not like the way that the school handled the gender transition of a child.

This discussion began on 25 May when the Mail on Sunday reported: Vicar resigns after being ‘silenced’ over a Church of England school’s plan to keep an eight-year-old pupil’s sex change a secret from parents.

That provoked a detailed press statement the same day from the Mermaids charity: Response to Mail on Sunday.It is worth reading..  You can read more about this charity here. It is recommended as a resource in Valuing All God’s Children, the Church of England’s guidance on challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, republished in Autumn 2017 (see page 39 here.)

The next day, 26 May, Christian Today reported: Vicar quits over transgenderism policy at Church of England school.

Premier published on 28 May: Read the letter from the CofE vicar resigning over the Church’s approach to sexuality.

Christian Concern published  a statement dated 31 May:  Statement from Reverend John Parker.

Subsequently Christian Today reported twice on responses from the Bishop of Chelmsford:

1 June ‘I’m at a loss to know where this comes from’ – bishop responds to transgender accusations

5 June Bishop of Chelmsford denies suggesting vicar could leave Church of England over transgender views

The Diocese of Chelmsford then published the full text of the bishop’s Ad Clerum which I recommend reading in full.

On 6 June, Premier published this report: Bishop defends actions after suggestion he told vicar to leave Church over transgender complaint.

You can find other articles published earlier by Christian Concern about this incident here and here (26 May),  also here and here (28 May).

36 Comments

Opinion – 8 June 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Safeguarding in the Churches. Dreams for the future
Unity and conservative Christian groups

David Gillett ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say that….Same-Sex Love is Wrong?

Giles Fraser UnHerd In praise of incompetence
“To be a priest is to be a failure”
and in response Jeremy Pemberton From the Choir Stalls In Praise of Method and Application

Jeremy Pemberton Openly The Anglican Communion must act against the Church of Nigeria’s homophobia

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau The biblical power of the moon

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Kenyan Anglicans support continued criminalisation of homosexuals

Two recent news reports from Kenya:

Anglican Bishops Extend Special Gesture To The Kenyan Gay Community

Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Bishops on Sunday welcomed gay worshippers to fellowship with them but held on to the principle of not officiating their marriages in church.

This came after the high court ruling that declined to repeal sections of the penal code that criminalized same-sex relationships…

ACK Church shuts doors on gay marriages but welcomes gay worshippers (emphasis added)

The Anglican Church has declared it will not officiate same sex marriages.

The stand comes just weeks after the High Court in Kenya declined to declare unconstitutional some parts of the Penal Code which criminalises same sex relationships.Today, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby from the Church of England said the Anglican Church believes in the biblical definition of marriage and relationships. He however noted that with the modern world, Christians should learn to respect each other’s differences in order to preach God’s word.

He said there exists so many differences in the world that the church has to deal with.”My own view of the Christian marriage is the traditional marriage (between a man and woman),” said Welby who is in the country for a visit. Welby steered clear of the Kenyan court ruling, which is the latest upset of the global gay community saying he is not fit to directly comment on it.

“But just so you know in England, it is not currently possible to have same sex marriage in the church,” he said. Same sex marriage is however legal in England…

The Anglican Church of Kenya has published this video recording of a Press Briefing by the Archbishop of Kenya And the Archbishop of Canterbury at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi. So you can see and hear for yourself exactly what the two archbishops actually said.

To understand how all this is.viewed from a GAFCON perspective, you need to study this lengthy article by Phil Ashey whose formal position is President & Chief Executive Officer of the American Anglican Council and leads the GAFCON Lawyers Task Force.

Walking In The Light: A Study In Contrasts

He refers to the video recording:

At about 3:00-3:37 in the video you can listen to what Archbishop Justin Welby says about the upcoming Lambeth Conference 2020.  He says that the Lambeth Conference of Bishops has always been marked “by controversy” since it began in 1867.  He notes that the Lambeth Conference scheduled for 2020 has not met since 2008.  He notes that “When we are able to meet together rather than…not communicating, not meeting together we are able to listen to each other. And so we will see what happens in the Lambeth Conference when we get there.”

And further on he continues:

Beginning at 3:56 Archbishop Welby says “the Bible is clear,” and that “my own personal view, which I have stated on numerous occasions in public…is the traditional view of Christian marriage…which has always been the view of Christian marriage…”

But note what else he says and what he does not say:

  • That he is also “deeply torn” on the traditional definition of Christian marriage as between a man and a woman for life, and that he confesses publicly that “I am equally convinced that it may be that I am wrong… and that “Anglican theological methodology never closes things down.
  • That, therefore, he believes that Marriage is a secondary issue over which Anglicans can agree to disagree;
  • That he would approve the Church of England’s blessing of same-sex “unions” as a way to gain traction within English culture;
  • That he approves the public, liturgical celebration of “gender-transitions” in rites approved by the Bishops of the Church of England that are almost identical to baptism;

And there is a lot more about what is wrong with the Church of England and the Lambeth Conference which you can read for yourself.

But earlier in the article Ashey says this about Archbishop Ole Sapit:

With regards to the question about the Kenyan Supreme Courts recent decision against legalizing same-sex marriage, he applauds the Supreme Court for upholding the traditional view of marriage as between a man and a woman for life, for not introducing into the laws of Kenya a redefinition of marriage contrary to the teaching of the ACK;

The recent Kenyan Supreme Court decision was not about same-sex marriage per se, but about retaining the criminalisation of homosexuals generally. It seems nobody is prepared to comment on this, although the primates of the Anglican Communion have previously spoken quite clearly.

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IICSA report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions

In addition to the several investigations  by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse into specific religious organisations, including the continuing investigation into the Church of England, IICSA’s separate Truth Project has recently published a Thematic Report: Child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions.

The full report (92 pages) can be downloaded from this link.  There is also an executive summary available here.

IICSA also issued a press release: Shame and guilt stop survivors reporting child sexual abuse in religious institutions.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published a research report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions, based on accounts shared by survivors at its Truth Project.

The report includes data on religions with a significant presence in England and Wales, including the Anglican and Catholic Churches, Christian faith communities such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and Methodists, and Islam and Judaism.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Those sexually abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in the same institution.
  • Over half of survivors did not report the abuse due to feelings of shame (37 per cent) and guilt (18 per cent).
  • Half of victims (48 per cent) knew of others being abused by the same perpetrator.
  • One fifth (18 percent) of survivors reported a loss of faith as a consequence of the abuse.

The report also examines institutional failures, with most participants firmly believing others were aware of the perpetrator’s behaviour but did nothing. Sexual abuse was most frequently perpetrated by an individual with an official religious title, such as priest, vicar, imam or elder.

At the Truth Project, survivors are invited to make recommendations for change. Participants told the Inquiry that it needs to address the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious institutions and the assumption that religious figures are automatically moral…

The Church of England issued this press release in response: Statement on IICSA Truth Project report.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has recently published a research report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions, including the Anglican Church.  It is based on accounts shared by survivors at its Truth Project, and its conclusions and findings are disturbing and in many places shocking.

One of the report’s key findings includes that those sexually abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in other institutions. We would urge anyone who wants to report abuse and find support to come forward and we promise they will be heard.

IICSA continues to shine a light on the safeguarding practices of religious institutions, including the Church of England, and we are working constructively with the Inquiry as we approach our wider Church hearing on July 1.  We commend those survivors who have had the courage to come forward to share their experiences to the Inquiry and in particular to the Truth Project, knowing how difficult this would have been.

We welcomed the findings and recommendations published by IICSA this month, on the Peter Ball and Chichester Diocese case studies. This states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors but it failed to do this. It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in both these reports and also strengthen our resolve to make the Church a safe place for all.

Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop

There has been some media coverage of this:

25 Comments

Opinion – 1 June 2019

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Patronage and Power Abuse in the Church

Michael Roberts Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin The Church of England and Creationism.

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Holding the House of Bishops to account – Sara Gillingham’s challenge

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of LLF (Living in love and faith)

Martyn Percy ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really…Give Us a Clear Definition of Marriage?

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity Inclusive, Expanded … He, She … – what language should we use about God in our worship?

49 Comments

An entirely different approach to survivors of abuse

Following the publication of the recent IICSA report on certain aspects of the Church of England (Chichester diocese and Peter Ball), there was very little immediate public response from senior people in the Church of England. This led Andrew Graystone to write a letter a week later to various bishops and some members of the Archbishops’ Council, calling for an entirely different approach to dealing with abuse survivors.  The Bishop of London invited Andrew to spell out what such an approach might entail.

This document is his answer: The Church of England and survivors.

16 Comments

Opinion – 29 May 2019

Helen King sharedconversations Intersex in history

Janet Fife Surviving Church Coming to terms with the Bible

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity My story: 25th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women – to live is to change.

Elaine Bielby Diocese of York Twenty-Five years of women as priests in the Diocese of York
Three of the 39 women who were ordained priest in York Minster in May 1994 write about their memories of the day .

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love I repeat: The Church of England is systemically abusive

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Different perspectives of the CDM

25 Comments

Support for the pastoral guidance on gender transition

We linked recently to reports of a meeting between three Church of England bishops and a delegation representing those who signed a petition some time ago asking the house of bishops to withdraw their guidance on using the existing Affirmation of Baptismal Faith liturgy to affirm trans people in their Christian faith after transition.

The website LGBTQ Faith UK has published a detailed critique of the most recent statement, which you can read here: Episcopally led, synodically governed.

The same website had earlier published a lengthy and detailed critique of the original petition. That can be found here: Why the bishops are right.

Both these analyses by Ann Reddecliffe  are commended for reading in full.

18 Comments

Opinion – 25 May 2019

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Bishops and conservatives meet in secret to reinforce the abuse of LGBTI+ people
[see below for the background to this]

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Photo exhibition celebrates 25 years of female priests
“Images of 12 women from Southwark diocese capture variety of a priest’s work”

Bosco Peters Liturgy Children in Church

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Wittgenstein’s ideas and the Bible. Some reflections
and Communication speak and the House of Bishops

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love A Christian Vision of Seamless Reality

Meg Warner ViaMedia.News Does the Bible Really Say…that Sex Outside of Marriage is Wrong?

37 Comments

Legal issues arising from the suspension of the Bishop of Lincoln

UPDATED

The suspension of the Bishop of Lincoln was reported earlier.

David Lamming has written a detailed analysis of the legal issues arising from this suspension. You can read this document here. (PDF)

He summarises as follows:

Whatever the nature or details of the “information” on which the Archbishop of Canterbury based his decision to suspend Bishop Christopher, in the light of the clear statement that “there has been no allegation that Bishop Christopher has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult”, the legal basis for the suspension is at least doubtful. An appeal to the President of Tribunals that would clarify the legal position would seem to be justified and appropriate.

David is a retired barrister, whose professional interests include ecclesiastical law. He is a member of the House of Laity of the General Synod of the Church of England, elected from the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

UPDATE

Another article has been published on this topic.
Philip Jones has written: Safeguarding and Suspension: The Case of the Bishop of Lincoln.
Do read both articles.

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Bishops meet those who oppose their transgender guidance

Regular readers will recall the petition that was raised urging the bishops to “revise, postpone or withdraw” this guidance. Our previous report is here: Further opposition to the bishops’ guidance on transgender services.

Christian Today now reports: Evangelicals hold talks with Church of England bishops over transgender guidance. The organisers of that letter met with a number of bishops. Subsequently, they have issued a statement, the full text of which is included here: The Church of England’s transgender guidance should be withdrawn  and is copied below the fold.

Update: the headline on the first of those two articles has been amended to read “Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics hold talks…”

The delegation attending the meeting consisted of: Dr Ian Paul, Dr Edward Dowler, Rev Rachel Marszalek, Rev David Baker. The bishops were the bishops of Coventry, Newcastle, and Exeter.

(more…)

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Church announces review into Bishop Whitsey case

The Church of England has today announced an Independent lessons learnt review into Bishop Whitsey case.

His Hon David Pearl has been appointed by the National Safeguarding Team as chair of the independent lessons learnt review into the Whitsey case. The Church supported a police investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey. The allegations dated from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. Bishop Whitsey died in 1987.

The review is expected to be carried out in two phases and will include the case of Gordon Dickenson, once other Church processes have concluded. Dickenson, a former chaplain to Bishop Whitsey, was jailed in March after admitting sexually assaulting a boy in the 1970s.

Commenting on his appointment David Pearl said: “I am committed to ensuring that this Review will be both independent and transparent. The Review will examine all relevant documents and will hear from everyone who wishes to provide evidence to the Review.”…

The Terms of Reference of the Review are also published.

The Diocese of Chester has published this: Victor Whitsey Statement
[Note: this statement is much older and is not in response to today’s announcement.]

Joint statement from Archbishop of York and Bishop of Chester

“We can confirm that we have supported the police on an investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey (pictured right). The allegations date from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. Bishop Whitsey died in 1987.

“We are deeply sorry and apologise to those individuals who have come forward to share their account of abuse by a bishop in the Church of England who was in a position of power and authority.  We appreciate that it is very difficult for individuals to come forward and to give their account. Sexual abuse is a heinous crime – and is an absolute and shameful breach of trust.  We acknowledge that for survivors, the effects of sexual abuse are lifelong.  We are offering pastoral support to all those who have come forward and continue to hold them all in our prayers.

We have supported the police investigation Operation Coverage, which has been comprehensive, and they have informed us that “should Right Reverend Hubert Victor Whitsey have been alive today, then the Police would have spoken to him in relation to 10 of the witness allegations.”

Anyone affected by today’s news should call the CCPAS helpline on 0303 003 11 11 who can offer help and signpost to church-related support and information or alternatively call the NSPCC 0808 800 5000. Anyone with further information on the case should go direct to the police on 101.

The Church will consider what lessons can be learnt from this case and whether any action needs to be taken as a result of what these enquiries have shown.”

 

Page last updated: 17th Oct 2017 11:01 AM
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General Synod Agenda for July

Update: An updated version of this timetable was issued on 14 June 2019.

The Business Committee of General Synod has today published the agenda for the July Group of Sessions in York.

The published information can be read here and is copied in full below the fold.

(more…)

0 Comments

Opinion – 18 May 2019

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Unity – Has it Become a Golden Calf?

Laudable Practice Trad Expressions™: Why High Church is Contemporary

Samuel Keyes The Living Church Tradition for Teens

Jemma Sander-Heys Church Times Life by the sea is not all recreation and run
“Coastal communities face particular challenges, and politicians and churches must tackle them”

ViaMedia.News starts a new series of posts (one a week) on “Does the Bible Really Say….?” with this:
Jonathan Tallon Does the Bible Really Say…Anything at All about Homosexuality as we Understand it Today?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love A philosophy and vision for parish ministry, then and now
and Interior reflections of a priest

85 Comments