Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Child protection in Chichester Diocese

Previous reports on this topic can be found here, and also here.

Last week, these two statements were issued by the Acting Bishop, Mark Sowerby. These relate to recent arrests of clergy.

Pastoral Letter
Media Statement

Also, there were New additions to Safeguarding Review page:

  • Letter from Bishop Mark Sowerby:

I am very glad that we have now published the full text of the Baroness Butler Sloss Report along with its addendum together with the Roger Meekings Report and the baroness’s comments upon it. This is in line with our desire to be open and honest about the cases that have come to light in the Chichester Diocese. I am grateful also to Bishop Paul Butler for the apology he has issued on behalf of the wider Church of England. I should like to underline, once again, the regret we feel in this diocese about past failings and which was expressed in Bishop John and Bishop Wallace’s apology to all the victims. The Chichester Diocese wishes to be transparent about the past and to be rigorous and cooperative in its safeguarding today and into the future.
+Mark Horsham
Acting Bishop of Chichester

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 at 4:00pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

"Acting Bishop of Chichester"? Since when did we have "Acting Bishops"?

Isn't a suffragan bishopric and the delegation from the former diocesan bishop enough?

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Friday, 9 March 2012 at 12:22pm GMT

What former diocesan bishop? John Hind doesn't retire until the end of April.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Friday, 9 March 2012 at 2:31pm GMT

It's all very well to say (in the media statement) 'we....make it clear that the priests arrested do not hold licensed posts', but did they have Permission to Officiate? If so, had they been CRB checked? If so, then the diocese can reasonably disclaim responsibility. If not, there needs to be a debate about clergy with PTO; I hold PTO in two dioceses and have been CRB checked separately in both.

Posted by: peter kettle on Friday, 9 March 2012 at 6:03pm GMT

It's a bit of a mystery here too!

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 9 March 2012 at 7:09pm GMT

The other tragedy here is the paucity of TA comment regarding the plight of the victims, the culture of opacity and the sullied witness to the Christ. Instead, a few chiding remarks on titles and tenure.

It was Jesus who assured such perpetrators of a fate worse than taking a swan dive wearing the latest in pernanent XXXL granite dog-collars!

As measured by comment thread length, the real victims in our midst are those deprived of a groundless claim for matrimonial equivalence.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 9 March 2012 at 9:50pm GMT

The matter of the Acting Bishop is explained in this announcement on the diocesan website.

http://www.diochi.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=about.content&cmid=615

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 March 2012 at 10:59pm GMT

Sorry, but after a thorough re-read. MAKE THE BISHOP OF LEWES RESIGN WITHOUT PENSION!

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 8:41am GMT

@David There is a long and honourable tradition of reluctance to say anything about criminal cases in progress, not least because saying too much can, in fact prejudice a conviction. In this instance, I know nothing of the accused, or the situation, or the child protection measures in place, or the CRB check system used by the diocese, or of the presence or absence of cover-up in the diocese. The time for comment is AFTER a criminal case when facts enter the public arena and discussion can be informed and does not harm either the innocent or the chances of the guilty being convicted.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 9:01am GMT

I am not sure that there can be any real response to this news and the revelations in the various publications other than an ashamed silence. I can't think that anything else would be enlightening to other commentators here or helpful to anyone else. What would David Shepherd have us say about these appalling new revelations of further crimes and Diocesan incompetency? The information about the actions or lack of them by Bishop of Lewes has been known for some time. I happen to agree with David but shouting loud isn't going to change the past or make things better for the victims.

Simon, I think that the Bishop of Chichester's statement has only just appeared, I looked for something yesterday morning and couldn't find anything on the Diocesan Website apart from the description of Mark Sowerby as Acting Bishop. This statement must have been published later in the day, rather odd, especially since the Bishop of Horsham was described on the television news as Acting Bishop of Chichester on Tuesday evening, when commenting on the new developments.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 9:26am GMT

I would hope, DS that everyone on TA is appalled by these allegations/charges, the dreadful effect on the victims, on mission etc.... I once had to deal with a CP issue which impinged a little on this parish, and I know how nasty they are from everyone's point of view. However, one can create a 'me too' culture on lists like this, don't you think, with (justifiable) cries of outrage and sympathy? Do we really need to condemn that which the law of the land, the Churches, civic society and even the Daily Mail have declared abominable? But, I do thing that +Lewes should do the decent thing and resign - though that'd give him more mischief-making time in the world of Christian conservatism, which might not be a good thing?

Posted by: david rowett on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 9:57am GMT

I rarely agree with David Shepherd, but I sympathise with his last post. The key document here is the January 2012 Addendum to the Butler-Sloss report, which I think followed the revelation of the key facts in it (viz., that Roy Cotton continued to take services after 2000) by a local BBC investigating team.

I would hope that several people are examining their consciences here.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 12:48pm GMT

I think my comments are being swallowed again.

ED: Yes it had been, now published.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 12:52pm GMT

Rosemary,

The comments were in respect of the published report and 'apology', not the arrests and on-going investigation.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 3:05pm GMT

Richard,

I appreciate the need to keep a calm head. The disciplinary measures are in place for a purpose.

The complaint is before the Vicar-General's Court. However, I worry that if this is not handled expeditiously, the bishop may be retired.

Clearly, 28 days has elapsed since the complaint was lodged in late November. No word of extension in order to prepare the registrar's written report. No suspension, no Vicar-General's court convened (The Clergy Discipline Rules 2005).

This is a culture of connivance and impunity guaranteed to save reputations and pensions, no less. Only a public outcry will destroy it!

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 4:42pm GMT

David, I fear you might be right. As I say, the revelations of what the Bishop of Lewes knew or did not know have been known for some time, it was on the local BBC Television news at least a year ago. Benn ought to have resigned then but has the hide of a rhinocerous and continues to make a fool of himself (cf his recent endorsement of a book by the odious Stephen Green followed by a lame apology). Can we hear the sound of ranks closing?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 11 March 2012 at 8:49am GMT

Yes I agree - the bishop should have resigned over the first set of revelations. The buck has to stop somewhere.

For us, all we can do is swear that we will take all possible steps to ensure things never, ever slip by on out watch, if we can possibly help it.

I had personal experience of a person whose had in the past escaped prosecution by the narrowest of whiskers, and whose action I had myself seen were inappropriate, and who I had reliable accounts, from the victims, had behaved in sexually explicit ways with under age girls, climbing to a position of prominence in a congregation. He did it by appearing plausible in public. Yes, whistles were then blown - but in a larger community they might not have been. It does take vigilance all the time.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Sunday, 11 March 2012 at 5:08pm GMT
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