Thinking Anglicans

Update on More cover-up allegations against bishops

Updated Monday

A week ago we linked to an Archbishop Cranmer blog with cover-up allegations against bishops.

Since then these articles have appeared.

The first article on a new blog Sea of Complicity: Reflections of CofE Abuse Survivor: CofE & Insurance affiliation

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Clerical abuse survivors step up call for accountability

This morning’s Radio4 Sunday programme carried interviews with Matt Ineson and the Bishop of Oxford (starting at 30 and 38 minutes respectively).

Update

Yim Wyatt and Gavin Drake Church Times Clergy abuse survivor demands bishops resign in York Minster Synod protest
[This also covers the Radio4 interviews.]

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Will Richards
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Will Richards

‘Complex issues surrounding Matthew at the time’ was Steve Croft’s defence on Radio 4 for not believing these allegations in 2013. What he didn’t tell us, as a matter of recorded fact, is that the Diocese of Sheffield had initiated a CDM process against Matt Ineson at that time. For what? Giving food and overnight shelter in his vicarage to a recently released prisoner. Talk about an inconsistent response to clergy discipline. Talk about semantic circumlocution by a bishop.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

This is damning stuff. The Church seems to persist in thinking that we can avoid the standards of probity and transparency others are subjected to – and still lecture individuals and governments on issues of conduct and morals.

And in the ‘Sunday’ programme interviews, Ineson came across as measured and credible, while Bishop Croft just sounded evasive and suave.

Charles Read
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Charles Read

I think it might be wise to wait and see. I did not hear +Stephen as evasive but as knowing a lot more than he could say in an interview. I was once party to not recommending a candidate at the end of their ordination training for ordination. There were many reasons why we as a staff decided thus. The student sold his story to a national newspaper who painted us as victimising the student. We could have defended ourselves only by making public the detailed reasons why we recommended as we did and that would indeed have been to… Read more »

Froghole
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Froghole

I heard the Croft interview this morning en route to a number of churches around the Wash and in the Breckland. Two things astonished me (if I recall the details correctly, having just returned from Norfolk to Kent): (i) Croft said that he did not wish to be drawn into discussing certain points of Ineson’s case because he was concerned about causing Ineson additional distress. Surely what Ineson was wanting was for someone – anyone – to talk with him about his case? (ii) Croft said, I think twice, that there were ‘other issues’ associated with Ineson, which either justified… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

For the avoidance of doubt, my previous post does not imply that there was no abuse in this case or that all the bishops behave in an exemplary manner – just that it is wise to wait as we don’t know the whole story. We have seen too many instances of a rush to judgement.

Anne
Guest
Anne

It is interesting how we all hear different things in the same interview. Although I have no brief at all for the way in which the church hierarchy responds to allegations of abuse, what I took away from the interviews on the Sunday programme yesterday was that Bp Steven is willing to meet with Matthew Ineson. I do hope that this will happen, if Matthew would find that helpful. There is no doubt that the Bishops Matthew mentions need to respond to the allegations; hiding behind the CDM one year rule is not an option. Please General Synod will you… Read more »

Greg Dobson
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Greg Dobson

Why doesn’t Matt Ineson do what Jeffrey John did, and request copies of all emails and other correspondence containing his name? It’s irrelevant whether the C of E is subject to FOI. Matt Ineson is entitled to this under the Data Protection Act. One thing is for certain, it will go some way to disclosing who covered-up, and when.

FrDavidH
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FrDavidH

Bishop Croft uses the hackneyed phrase “there are lessons to be learned” after allegedly failing to act on Matt Ineson’s distressing claims. What precisely is the ‘lesson’ garnered by the bishop when told a man has been raped by a priest?

David Runcorn
Guest

Charles Read – your response is very wise. And I agree with your assessment of +Stephen’s responses in the interview.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

I remain extremely concerned by that interview. It seems to me that Safeguarding is not well served by hiding behind the one year rule. If Bishop Croft believes the public statements of Matt Ineson are untrue, why is it not best for him to say so in plain English?

Will Richards
Guest
Will Richards

@Charles Read, we know what Steve Croft’s “knowing a lot more than he could say in an interview” was all about. He didn’t want to mention it because it would reveal how pathetically petty he had been in bringing a (failed) CDM case against Matthew Ineson. That could have only made him look even less credible than he came across in the interview. I am sorry that you feel unable to name the shocking truth: that Croft failed to act on an abuse allegation by hiding behind the one year rule. There can never be any ‘complex issues’ to justify… Read more »

american piskie
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american piskie

Do dioceses and bishops have formal policies on the management of conflicts of interest? It would be interesting to know how they square that circle: personally I don’t see how it can be done. “We” expect the bishop to act as a pastor, and we expect the bishop to act in a trustee-like way in respect of the largish charitable organisations s/he is (at least partly) responsible for — it would be irresponsible for a trustee to ignore professional advice. We’d have a happier C of E if the assets were vested in independent trustees (perhaps some with real MBAs)… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“Mr Greenwood and Mr Ineson also both said that the C of E needed to hand over all safeguarding investigations to an independent body, to avoid accusations of a cover-up, if for no other reason.”

The 30 York Minster ringers also requested an independent investigation.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

‘I think it might be wise to wait and see. ‘ Charles, you and David Runcorn are right of course. But we all hear (or read) what is said in the context of what has gone before, and how it fits in with other events and experiences. The Church’s all too frequent response to accusations of abuse, or whistle blowing of any sort, has been evasion, siding with the more powerful, and sometimes to cover up. To hear Croft’s interview as evasive in consistent with the findings of the Gibb report; with several other reports before that; and with the… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“Do dioceses and bishops have formal policies on the management of conflicts of interest?”

In my opinion this question could usefully be asked about archbishops, deans, and chapters too.

DBD
Guest

We all know that “mere” priests accused of what these bishops are accused of would be suspended while investigations were ongoing.

Anne
Guest
Anne

Jeremy, you have hit the nail on the head. Bishops, Priests and Deacons all need teaching about conflict of interest as it would seem that most of them simply don’t get it. Thank you very much for raising this point. Janet Fife, I agree with all you say. I, too, have tried to get this topic on the syllabus for ordinands and/or in IME x to y. David Runcorn and Charles Read, thank you for reminding us to remember the wider issue. There is getting to be more and more compelling evidence that Safeguarding should be outsourced to independent people.… Read more »

David Walker
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David Walker

I spy, “We all know”. A rhetorical flourish that usually translates into English as, “I have little or no evidence for what I am about to say, but it would suit my prejudices for it to be true”. The grounds on which a clerk in holy orders can be suspended are available in the CDM rules and guidance. They are pretty restrictive. In my experience a CDM case would need to have been ruled as within time (or an exception granted by the President of Tribunals) and then to have passed the Preliminary Scrutiny stage (where the clerk concerned is… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

To post what I have said and posted elsewhere, because it bears reflection. I have been involved with a Serious Case Review involving both the parish church where I am team rector and the secondary school at which I have been chair of governors and safeguarding governor (now I am neither, but am vice chair of governors and chair of the finance committee of the related Multi-Academy Trust). The events relating to this occurred before I took up my current post, and I was the person who made the first report of something to investigate to our Local Authority Designated… Read more »

Will Richards
Guest
Will Richards

@David Walker’s point about suspension under CDM is helpful. However, he is assuming Matt Ineson was suspended under the CDM. Was he? I have not heard or read that anywhere. Things may be different in Manchester Diocese, but ‘we all know’ (i.e. I have personal acquaintance with) several clergy who have been the subject of CDM complaints for matters that did not involve suspension. To my mind, they were pretty trivial (one was because a poisonous parishioner sent the archdeacon a photo from her phone of the cleric parking in a disabled bay – after 10pm – for a matter… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Anne, thank you! But I was reacting to american piskie, who first raised the subject.

Now Mark Bennet has set forth several aspects of the problem eloquently and precisely.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“Bishops, Priests and Deacons all need teaching about conflict of interest as it would seem that most of them simply don’t get it.” Or, given the string of coverups, they get it just fine, and put the church first. Check out “Mad Priest’s” blog to see just how deep, and far, the rot of corruption goes, and just how ruthless the hierarchy can be. As I’ve said previously here, so long as regulatory power stays in the hierarchy, coverups are inevitable: given the choice, most people in positions of power choose to protect the institution. Bishops are no better than… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“given the choice, most people in positions of power choose to protect the institution”

I think the real conflict of interest is when people in positions of power choose to protect themselves.

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

I’ve come to this rather late, because I didn’t think there was anything I could usefully add. However, I’m struck by the ‘conflict of interest’ dimension that @Jeremy has advanced – and the responses to it. I wonder if, in the end, it all comes back to episcope and a need to ask some fundamental questions about concentrating too much power (for that is what it is) in the hands of the bishops who, by default, have the well-being of the Church as an institution hard-wired into their DNA. We now find ourselves in a new situation that requires a… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Simon R, that is a good point. The New Testament model is that of groups of elders or overseers and of people in leadership working together, rather than of one person in overall charge. But this still runs the risk of the team colluding in the misuse of power, so I think you are right to suggest 3 independent branches. Perhaps diocesan legal advisors ought to be responsible to the Archbishops’ Council, rather than their respective dioceses? And form a college of their own? Certainly the idea of the solidarity of the College of Bishops exerts an unhealthy pressure on… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Very well said, Simon: separation of powers is exactly what’s needed. As you rightly say, bishops are hardwired to protect the institution. Even if they weren’t, as Jeremy rightly says, they’ll protect themselves: either they’ve ordained an abuser, or appointed them, and plenty blame will be heading their way. Asking them to investigate their own shortcomings is an invitation to launch a coverup. Investigaton and arbitration must be separated from the hierarchy, conducted by people with no stake in it, dedicated solely to discovering the truth, protecting the wronged, and holding wrongdoers to account, whether the wrongdoer’s a volunteer, or… Read more »

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

The Alex Carlile report (on the Bishop George Bell case) is likely to be published within the next 2-3 months. Taken with the Moira Gibb report on Bishop Peter Bell, and the allegations made by Matthew Ineson, it seems likely that there will be a major debate on safeguarding at the General Synod in London in February 2018. It is likely, too, that there will be a call for a completely independent process/body (independent of the C of E) to investigate complaints of historic sexual abuse against the clergy (whether still alive or long dead).

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘It is likely, too, that there will be a call for a completely independent process/body (independent of the C of E) to investigate complaints of historic sexual abuse against the clergy (whether still alive or long dead).’

That’s good – but we need an independent body to investigate current complaints & concerns as well as historical ones. Or DSAs need to be made independent of the dioceses they’re working in. If they want to pursue something and their boss wants it left alone, they’re in a very difficult position.