Thinking Anglicans

Sexual harrassment in the Church of England

Harriet Sherwood wrote this article in the Guardian recently: Church of England urged to tackle sexual abuse within its ranks. That article references a letter to the Guardian from Jayne Ozanne published the same day.

Channel 4 News carried an interview with Jayne Ozanne that evening.

This week, Christian Today has published a further article by Jayne Ozanne, I was raped by a CofE priest and I know the system’s broken, and she has also written this letter to the two archbishops asking for them to commission a report on all this that could be debated at General Synod in February 2018.

Rosie Harper has written this at ViaMedia News: Let’s Talk About….(oh no…Let’s Not!)

Some weeks ago, ViaMedia News carried this article by an anonymous writer: A Zero Tolerance Approach to the Weinsteins in the Church?

The Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally has written this: Making the Church Safe for All.

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Stanley MonkhouseJanet FifeLaurence CunningtonFather David Recent comment authors
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Father David
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Father David

When will Lord Carlile’s report be made public?

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Jayne Ozanne is a very brave woman. She speaks for me, and for so many others. Thanks to all who have spoken out on the issue of abuse in the Church – there are some excellent articles above. Bp. Mullally’s piece demonstrates why we need female bishops; it’s the first time I’ve seen a bishop talk intelligently about the use and abuse of power within churches and the Church generally. Where I differ from her is that I believe we really do need to outsource safeguarding and reporting of abuses. Within the Church old habits die hard; cover-up and victim-blaming… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

If I were in the position of having been sexually abused I think I would bypass the Church’s – or any other organisation’s – internal processes entirely, and go straight to the police.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Laurence, if you work for the Church of England that isn’t so easy. The Church has so many ways of making life impossible for you. And of course, a lot of harassment and abuse isn’t at criminal level, though it would be a disciplinary matter in any commercial organisation and would probably result in the offender losing his job. If you are a woman working for the church and a senior member of the clergy is sexually harassing you, there is really hardly anything you can do. And there certainly wasn’t 20 or 30 years ago. Even if the offence… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

Thank you, Janet. I suppose that’s why I included the phrase “I think I would” in my comment. I’m conscious of having almost the full deck of privileges and can see that other people might react differently, and the reasons for that.

I was genuinely shocked by your comment: “If you are a woman working for the church and a senior member of the clergy is sexually harassing you, there is really hardly anything you can do.” I had hoped, it would seem naively, that that position had improved in more recent years.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Laurence, there might be something you could do now, there wasn’t when it happened to me. When I reported the offender to the bishop he said he wasn’t going to do anything – and that he would tell the offender of our conversation. Which made matters very much worse, as you might imagine. Even now, I suspect it would be risky to report, unless you were sure of having a sympathetic archdeacon and bishop. You. only have to read or listen to the stories of Gilo, Jayne Ozanne, and Jeremy Pemberton to know the system is still geared against those… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
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Janet, this is deeply shocking. I am sad to say that I believe you. Whatever happens, whatever structures are in place, whatever a code of practice may say, I fear that it will founder for the lack of heart speaking to, and listening to, heart. That’s the only thing that has ever made me feel that I am being attended to. It’s always the thing I try to do in pastoral situations. I am acutely aware of it having just this minute returned from an excruciatingly sad funeral visit, and wading my way through the second anniversary of my son’s… Read more »