Comments: IICSA hearings - Wednesday 21 March

“Nobody can say it is not my fault. It is so absurd,” Archbishop Welby said. “To say, ‘I have heard about a problem but it was someone else’s job to report it’, that is not an acceptable human response, let alone a leadership response."

So how can he not call for the resignation of the Archbishop of York? Or, as the survivors have alleged, do senior figures mouth what they think should be said but are really only mouthing empty words? This is a defining moment now for Welby. If the Archbishop of York hasn't gone by Easter, Welby has no credibility left.

Posted by Kate at Wednesday, 21 March 2018 at 7:40pm GMT

Kate makes a very good point. The Enquiry has heard that a culture of putting the church's reputation above caring for victims has developed in the church, and to this day continues. Several bishops have failed the church and have failed to allow themselves to be answerable to scrutiny.

One of the victims, and indeed the enquiry as a whole, has questioned the usefulness of issuing bland apologies years after the event and no follow up action.

Actions that speaks louder than the words issued to the Enquiry is now needed from the Archbishop. An act of clear unequivocal leadership in defence of the innocent is called for if any credibilty in the Church is to be maintained.

Far more credible than bland far too late apologies would be a statement like this (from the Archbishop of Canterbury) 'We are called to take prompt and immediate action following the devastating evidence laid before the Independent enquiry. We are sorry that some senior officials of the church have been unacceptably reluctant to admit any blame in this. There have been terrible mistakes, we have allowed an unacceptable culture to develop, and some senior leaders have clearly failed the victims and the church. We intend to issue public reprimands.

The Permission to Officiate of Bishop Wallace Ben and Bishop Nicholas Reade is withdrawn with immediate effect, as a neutral act, for the time being, pending confirmation.

We await the results of an enquiry into the actions of the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Oxford into how a recent serious case was handled.' ... and that's just the beginning!

Posted by Dave at Thursday, 22 March 2018 at 9:25am GMT

Archbishop Welby says sexual abuse must be first and foremost about the victims. He is correct and ought to be commended for saying so.

He is correct that 'clericalism' is as an embedded feature of the the church which shares with other institutions a perverse exceptionalism that empowers the culprits and puts the institution ahead of victims.

This impacts variously. Note what the ABC says in his testimony regarding the issue of homophobia and same sex marriage,pages 94 and 95. He talks about the church's historic 'teaching' and what he estimates to be 90% of some 2 billion Christians who continue to support it and how the bible is all many suffering Christians have.

"As late as December -- or was
it January, I can't remember, January 2016 we had a Primates' meeting which was dealing with this issue. We spent three days discussing exactly this. And ended up with the strongest possible condemnation of criminalisation, which was a step that was needed.And so I accept the implicit criticism, and recognise it, and I don't have a good, simple answer to it because it is not a -- it is not a challenge that presents itself with good, simple answers."

One would hope that the connection can be made with 'clericalism' on this point as well. What could be more 'clerical' than the Primates' meetings?

More generally in the church, opponents of full inclusion, especially some bishops, live in a kind of "never never land", walled off in a naive biblicism and unwilling to engage either a sophisticated theology on the one hand or the insights of human sciences on the other. A perverse exceptionalism indeed.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 22 March 2018 at 2:01pm GMT

The Archbishop believes that abusers can be genuinely repentant, and genuinely forgiven, but still never given a second chance. I wonder in his mind how wide he spreads the net for the "abuse" to which this absolutist position applies. Is it just child sexual abuse - or any child abuse - or any sexual abuse - or any abuse? It seems it doesn't apply to spiritual abuse.

He also believes that it is incomprehensible to be aware of abuse and not speak out. Again, one wonders how wide this net is cast. Are we including the Smyth case? Or the institutionalised abuse of LGBT folk?

Posted by John Swanson at Thursday, 22 March 2018 at 7:13pm GMT

Not to do with safeguarding, but the Archbishop said in the course of his evidence:

"In terms of private schooling, I think you would find that that is now a small minority of the bishops and actually has been for many years"

Is that correct? It wasn't my impression but I could be letting my prejudices bias me.

Posted by John Swanson at Thursday, 22 March 2018 at 8:06pm GMT

Kate absolutely nails it in her comment here. When I listened to Welby's line on the 'someone else's job to report it' excuse, for a fleeting moment I wondered if it was a veiled rebuke to his archiepiscopal colleague over the Matthew Ineson case. How very naive of me.

Posted by Marc S at Friday, 23 March 2018 at 8:42am GMT

Mr Swanson, Your impression about privately educated bishops is right and the archbishop's wrong. On 5th September 2014 the Church Times, and Thinking Anglicans, reported that out of 96 bishops surveyed half of them were privately educated.

50%, three and a half years ago, is not a small minority for many years. Perhaps Mr Welby doesn't take the CT, and is too busy to take an interest in his colleagues' backgrounds, but then he could simply have said he had no idea where or whether they were educated so long as they were up to date
with their paperwork.

As for his comments, which, as Kate says, seem applicable to Archbishop Sentamu, perhaps that gentleman could say its easy to avoid saying the wrong thing if you simply ignore victims altogether, as Welby did with Gilo's letters, Them as lives in glass palaces.

To me Welby came across as a headmaster apoplectic at having just found out his prefects have been bullying juniors, ashamed of the school, though in fact he'd known all along and ignored countless letters from the victims.

Like Bishop Warner, and many managers in industry, he suffers from the fact that his colleagues are at best incompetent, but nevertheless he is single handedly turning things round, seemed to be the subtext.

If he'd said he was personally ashamed of ignoring Gilo, I'd respect him for that.

Posted by T Pott at Friday, 23 March 2018 at 3:37pm GMT
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