Comments: Sexual abuse survivor writes open letter to Justin Welby

Gilo really is a remarkable man. Respect. It will be interesting to see how Welby responds to this.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be a good idea, if the Churches' bit of the national independent enquiry doesn't measure up - and it doesn't look promising.

I am not sure what point 7 refers to. Have we stopped mandatory reporting of institutional abuse? Did we ever have it? And who is Baroness Walmsley?

Posted by Janet Fife at Friday, 3 November 2017 at 11:12am GMT

"Justin Welby has already apologised publicly to Gilo for failing to reply to 17 letters."

Which says it all, really. One could be considered a misfortune, two starts to look like carelessness, seventeen is arrogant contempt.

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 3 November 2017 at 1:15pm GMT

Does anyone else see here echoes of the recent report by James Jones on Hillsborough - reflecting the way in which defensive institutions behave? We can see it in others ...

Posted by Mark Bennet at Friday, 3 November 2017 at 6:17pm GMT

Question from across the pond--does Welby's position give him the power to do all this? And as the letter wants the church to provide millions in support for the lifetime of any and all victims why does #3 say the church doesn't need insurance to pay for it? While sounding high minded, pragmatically it seems more likely to destroy the church through bankruptcy and bad publicity. Publishing the amount each parish had to pay to survivors each year would make all members here become Methodists or Lutherans very quickly.

Posted by Chris H. at Friday, 3 November 2017 at 10:50pm GMT

There are 14 comments on the appointment of the Dean of Peterborough, and only 3 on this post. A sad reflection on our priorities.

Posted by Janet Fife at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 9:15am GMT

I think Gilo's open letter can be summed up in one or two sentences. Please show that the Anglican Church really cares for the victims of sexual abuse within the church. They are far, far more than a marginal inconvenience who can be paid off (or bought off) by insurance companies.

The world is watching; it is also watching parliament, show business and other institutions to see how they deal with this historic scourge. If the church does not respond now with utter integrity, the price to be paid in the future will be enormous. The church has a problem with power and the way it is exercised by its leaders. Sexual abuse of minors is just one (hopefully rare) symptom of a distorted understanding of power that seems endemic in the institution. Let us face up to and talk about all the factors that are involved in the bullying and spiritual and emotional abuse that we find today in so many places within our church.

Posted by Stephen Parsons at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 10:36am GMT

Having been confronted with a very similar situation in The Episcopal Church, I commend Gilo’s determination. Ecclesiastical authorities typically do their utmost to avoid dealing with abuse. And heaven help you if the abuse you experience is not sexual, but instead is spiritual, emotional or relational. In those cases, the rule is no blood, no foul.

Posted by Eric Bonetti at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 12:07pm GMT

Yes, Janet Fife, it is sad. However, many of the Peterborough comments are light-hearted, no bad thing. The Gilo affair is far from light-hearted - maybe this inhibits us a bit. Were I to comment on abuse in the church I would hardly be able to resist writing something intemperate—a dangerous thing to do when it seems that one is guilty until proven innocent. The regrettable facts are that power protects power, and institutions screw individuals. Everything Stephen Parsons says about power is spot-on, though I think that even if the Archbishop were to respond as I would wish (though I doubt he will), it would merely delay rather than prevent the next nail being hammered into the coffin. Anyone who reads the formulaic press releases that accompany new senior appointments—bishops, deans, archdeacons—is left in no doubt of the increasingly Orwellian nature of the institution. If only people would shut up—less is more. Maybe this applies to me too.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 3:18pm GMT

'And as the letter wants the church to provide millions in support for the lifetime of any and all victims...'

Since the letter is written by a named person, it seems an extraordinary slight not to mention his name. Gilo is a real person, and one who has suffered enormously at the hands of the Church - both by the actions of the abuser, and the behaviour of the Church's leaders and representatives since.

Gilo has nowhere mentioned millions, he has merely asked for adequate settlements - and for justice. It really won't do to be more concerned that the Church might fall prey to 'bankruptcy and bad publicity', than for the vulnerable we have mistreated. If that's really the case, we don't deserve to survive.

Posted by Janet Fife at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 4:41pm GMT

Janet. On this matter you (and Gilo) have said all that is to be said. My comments on the Peterborough thread are superficially light hearted but of course are intended to make a serious point. I do not care what interests people I their spare time but I do care, as do you, whether they have tried to do something, even in a small way, to combat sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence, modern slavery, sexism and homophobia. Especially but not only if any of these are perpetrated, tolerated or covered up under the guise of religion.

Posted by Bernard at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 10:58pm GMT

Janet Fire wonders what mandatory reporting, mentioned in Gilo's point 7 refers to.

The Baroness Walmsley, to whom he refers, proposed an amendment to the Serious Crime Act, and then withdrew it following a government promise of consultation. The Bishop of Durham, then the chief Safeguarding bishop, was strongly in favour of mandatory reporting, but he is no longer Safeguarding spokesman The Church's National Safeguarding Panel is less keen and one member, Baroness Howarth, has come out clearly against.

Mandatory Reporting, as understood by Baroness Walmsley, would make it a criminal offence for any person in certain roles (including voluntarily) to fail to report to the authorities if they knew or reasonably suspected, or had cause to reasonably suspect, that abuse or neglect was taking place. Gilo appears to be referring to the Church having at one time been in favour of the proposed law, and now being more ambivalent or opposed.

Gilo seems to me to be asking the Archbishop to champion Mandatory Reporting, or persuade the Church to do so, by reverting to the position articulated by Bishop Butler.

Chris H - no the Archbishop does not have such powers, but following his 7 points, Gilo refers to the Archbishop leading the call for change. Gilo seems to be asking him to use his influence and persuasive skills. And I think you are right, the person in the pew is no more willing to pay for the failures of the clergy, than the person not in the pew. There are some denominations where clergy are under lay supervison, and it was once so here, and then lay members might be held responsible, but the bishops in the C of E have used their own failings as an excuse to abrogate even more powers to themselves.

Posted by T Pott at Sunday, 5 November 2017 at 9:48pm GMT

Thank you, T. Pott, for your clarification. And I like the name Janet Fire, I think I'll keep it!

I'm relieved if the silence of some of you on the subject indicates no lack of concern, but a feeling that comment is inadequate. I have spent some 25 years trying to get various leaders in the Church to take these matters seriously, and have met mostly with a yawning lack of interest - if not a downright refusal to deal with it. They'll have to sooner or later, and sooner is better for all kinds of reasons.

Posted by Janet Fife at Monday, 6 November 2017 at 3:02pm GMT

It would be helpful if we were able to see both sides of the correspondence. Gilo, Jayne Ozanne, ‘Joe’ ‘Michel’ and all others deserve our gratitude, respect and love for persisting in, what is very, very distressing for them as well as for the rest of us, their attempt to get “The Church” to behave as Christ would have us behave. Bravo to you all.

Posted by Anne at Wednesday, 8 November 2017 at 3:46pm GMT
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