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A response to the Archbishops

Surviving Church has published this: Survivor’s Reply to Archbishops’ pastoral letter.

The author is Janet Fife.

Please read the whole letter.

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An disappointed clericJanet FifeSimon SarmientoJohn RochFr T. Plant Recent comment authors
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Kate
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Kate

Well done Janet.

And I think you are right on the John and Justin bit. Time to dispense with everything other than the name in which we are baptised – isn’t that what is most precious to us? Time to emphasise the equality in Christ rather than the hierarchy.

I hope you get a reply to this. I really do. Please publish it if you do.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Janet Fife’s letter is courageous, candid and perspicacious. Thanks so much.

James Byron
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James Byron

Excellent letter.

I may have given Sentamu the benefit of the doubt on other matters (pending investigations), but there’s no doubt that he put his name to this tin-eared bundle of vacuous platitudes. Survivors need and deserve so much more.

I’m almost certain that both archbishops are hog-tied by the most blood-curdling legal advice, but that’s no excuse for high-handed boilerplate like this. Even within its bounds, they can and must do better.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“I’m almost certain that both archbishops are hog-tied by the most blood-curdling legal advice,”

If they are modifying their pastoral response in any way at all to survivors to keep lawyers or insurers happy, that would be dreadful. We are a church of God, the Spirit and Jesus. For all of us, no matter how senior, our absolute loyalty is to the Trinity, no matter what it might cost.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Gotta say, that was a stonking letter.

David Runcorn
Guest

Appallingly misjudged letter from the Archbishops. A very good letter from Janet – thank you. But I struggle with the mocking tilt at hierarchy and titles. I think they were right to sign themselves as they did. It was a formal letter. They are their titles. We are a hierarchical church and I do not think that is wrong. Formality can be abused though of course. But so can informality. So I think this touches on a wider issue. On the one hand we are lambasting bishops for not properly exercising the (hierarchical) leadership role the national church has appointed… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

1 Corinthians 16;21 “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand” I wonder what Scriptural basis the archbishops see for their use of titles and/or post-nominals when an Apostle is modest enough to forego them? I think Janet was very restrained. She managed to avoid using words like “conceit” and “vanity”. As Janet said, mention of their offices was entirely sufficient. After that, nothing more than Justin and John should be used. Nor is there a contradiction in calling them John and Justin but saying that they have a responsibility to act. That responsibility comes with their offices, not… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Kate Firstly I made clear I thought Janet’s letter was very good. Unlike you I also think it was unrestrained in its direct address to the archbishops actually. But you have missed my point about the NT teaching the church to honour its leaders and make no response to the texts I am referring to. I might also observe that in all but three of the epistles written in Paul’s name he begins by calling himself ‘an Apostle’. I note that in one of the others he calls himself ‘a prisoner’ – which might well be closer to how some… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

I find the titles thing fascinating. In terms of the formularies, I found “Reverend Father in God” in the Ordinal, but I don’t find specific honorifics for Archbishops, though I may have missed something. So the honorifics are something else – and some titles and modes of address are linked closely and historically to the class/honours system, and it is arguable that most of the rest were born in a culture of deference. In his evidence, Justin Welby referred to the discourse of the House of Bishops being changed when people were addressed by name rather than by the name… Read more »

Malcolm
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Malcolm

I agree with comments about hands tied by Lawyers. I would go further and say that Insurers are in the driving seat – or rather the non-driving seat. BUT advisers etc are just that and the Church should be determining its culture in these safeguarding matters even if that means ignoring the advice tendered.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

As a matter of fact I too feel some discomfort at what David calls the ‘mocking’ tone of my letter – though I would prefer to call it ‘teasing.’ But I think my discomfort is due to the deference which is so deeply ingrained in us; even those of us who did not grow up Anglicans. And that deference has specifically been identified as one of the major causes of the Church’s failure to address child abuse. The archbishop of Canterbury himself has called for an end to it. As was pointed out during the IICSA hearings, and has been… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“But you have missed my point about the NT teaching the church to honour its leaders and make no response to the texts I am referring to. I might also observe that in all but three of the epistles written in Paul’s name he begins by calling himself ‘an Apostle’.” I don’t think I have. Nobody is suggesting, I think, that the offices of Archbishop of Canterbury should not be respected. There is benefit in retaining respect for those offices. But an office is distinct to the office holder and when they use +, The Most Reverend and The Right… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Janet – thank you. Yes teasing perhaps says it better. But I share that sense of discomfort (without having lived through what you have had to endure). My dilemma in this context is that I do not think that deference is a bad thing. In fact I think in some ways in our culture we have lost something important. But it is very hard to argue or defend this notion in the present context of the CoE and for good reasons. What might ‘redeemed deference’ look like? btw I have several times said how good your letter is. I am… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Janet Fife, I am inspired by your Grace, courage, and perseverance.

Fr T. Plant
Guest
Fr T. Plant

I do not think that these problems will be resolved by any changes in clerical styles or dress. On the contrary, more is to be expected from those to whom much has been given. Diminishing hierarchy diminishes accountability, and I for one wish society as a whole would revert to the use of titles and surnames in all walks of life. The casual mateyness of addressing everyone by their first name is arguably more likely to lead to blurred boundaries, including sexual ones. Those boundaries if anything need to be more firmly established by distinctions of dress and address –… Read more »

John Roch
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John Roch

I don’t suppose I’m the only one to have received an email from

” Lambeth Palace admin@welbyjplambeth.com

this morning.

Whois shows that this spoof domain was set up on 1 April.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

This email has been very widely distributed to CofE clergy, but not to absolutely everyone. It is fairly clearly not authentic.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I haven’t received it, so perhaps it hasn’t gone to retired clergy. Can you share it with those of us who didn’t get it?

An disappointed cleric
Guest
An disappointed cleric

What a shame that this has gone out to clerics, posing as it does to be from Lambeth Palace – where is the honesty and justice in that? While the comments may be genuine, I cannot trust it someone feels the need to hide behind a falsehood.