First, Dr Irene Lancaster wrote in Christian Today Bishop George Bell was a hero who saved Jewish children. It is time his reputation was restored.
Then, Bishop Peter Hancock replied to this with Why the Church insisted on transparency with the George Bell case.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that a letter has been sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury from seven academic historians criticising his comments in response to the Carlile report: Archbishop’s claims against Bishop George Bell ‘irresponsible and dangerous’.
The full text of the letter is copied below the fold.
A further letter has been published in The Times:
Sir, As individuals much involved in the international ecumenical movement for Christian unity, we have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury welcoming the review by Lord Carlile of Berriew of the investigation by the Church of England into allegations of child sexual abuse by the late Bishop George Bell. We believe that in the light of the review Bell’s reputation should now be fully and unreservedly acknowledged and restored by the church.
Bell was a tireless worker for Christian unity and international peace and reconciliation. He belongs as a prophetic figure within the ecumenical movement just as much as he belongs as a bishop in his own church. The way in which the allegations against him were dealt with has shocked people well beyond both the Anglican communion and Britain. There has been a miscarriage of justice for one who himself fought so earnestly for the victims of injustice.
We with many others of different churches all over the world will now expect that the Church of England will acknowledge its responsibility to that wider community of which it is part and renew the respect due to George Bell, to the benefit of Christians everywhere and all who believe in justice and humanity.
Revd Dr Keith Clements, former General Secretary, Conference of European Churches;
Professor Jaakko Rusama, Lutheran Co-Moderator, International Anglican-Lutheran Society;
Professor John Briggs, former member, Executive Committee, World Council of Churches;
Dr Ferdinand Schlingensiepen, Pastor Emeritus, Evangelical Church of Germany, Dusseldorf;
Revd Canon Dr David Thompson, Emeritus Professor of Modern Church History, University of Cambridge;
Dr Guy Carter, Roman Catholic theologian and writer, York, Pennsylvania;
Bob Fy]e, General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland;
David Carter, former secretary, Theology and Unity Group, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland;
John W de Gruchy, Emeritus Professor of Christian Studies, University of Cape Town;
Revd John W Matthews, Senior Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church, Apple Valley, Minnesota;
Dr Jacob Phillips, Theology and Religious Studies Programme Director, St Mary’s University, Twickenham
Both letters are reported on in the Church Times Welby is urged to withdraw George Bell ‘cloud’ statement after Carlile report:
THE Archbishop of Canterbury faces gathering international opposition and criticism over his response to the Carlile review of the Bishop Bell affair.
Two letters — one from seven academic historians, and another from 11 correspondents associated with the wider Church internationally and ecumenically — have been sent to the Archbishop. A third, from a group of theologians, is understood to be in preparation…
Press release from the Church of England
The draft report referred to below is available for download here.
New ideas to secure England’s cathedrals for the future
England’s historic cathedrals are one of the real success stories of the Church in the 21st Century, but should make changes to secure them for the future, a report published today finds.
The paper from the Church of England’s Cathedrals Working Group sets out new ideas on how cathedrals could be governed and funded.
The proposals, emerging from seven months of meetings and discussions, aim to recognise and enhance the vital role that cathedrals play while building a robust framework for the future.
A consultation on the recommendations opens today, seeking views from interested groups.
They range from recommendations on how the structure of Chapter – a cathedral’s traditional governing body – could be reformed to new financial auditing processes.
The Working Group was set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York after a small number of cathedrals highlighted challenges in governance and management.
The working group consulted with people from all parts of the cathedral sector and elsewhere, including charities and wider civil society, to develop the proposals.
At the heart of the recommendations is the retention of Chapter as the governing body of a cathedral, but with a clearer emphasis on its governance role. There would be a separate management function provided by a Senior Executive Team who will oversee day- to-day cathedral operations.
The report also makes proposals on key areas of leadership, financial control, safeguarding, oversight of building projects and stresses the urgency of opening a dialogue with Government about state funding for cathedrals.
Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney and Chair of the Cathedrals Working Group, said: “Cathedrals buck the trends of numerical decline, exert a growing influence in civil society, and demonstrate an effective way of engaging with contemporary culture.
“They are inspirational in their impact on our national life and on the lives of millions of worshippers and visitors each year.
“We hope that the recommendations in our report will encourage a much closer collaboration between cathedral and diocese, dean and bishop and point towards good practice in a cathedral’s wider relationships with the diocese and the national church. The mutuality of these relationships is vital.
“In proposing changes to governance structures and aspects of cathedral operations, we do not wish to inhibit the entrepreneurial flair that has characterised so much that is good about the world of cathedrals nor impose unnecessary red tape.
“However, we are committed to ensure that cathedrals do not get into situations which prevent them from thriving in their role as pioneers in mission and ministry.
“England’s cathedrals are an immense gift to Church and nation, and we hope that our report can help to form a better understanding of how this gift can be nurtured and protected, celebrated and safeguarded long in to the future.”
Adrian Dorber, chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, and Dean of Lichfield, said: “Cathedrals are the nation’s treasures – from protecting invaluable heritage such as Magna Carta and ancient shrines to supporting social enterprises helping the homeless and the vulnerable and offering inspirational daily worship to lift the spirits and providing a place for the nation to come to be healed at times of mourning or national crisis.
“Surely no-one would argue with a fresh look at the way we are run and financed, so we are excited about where this report may take us and look forward to the responses the consultation may bring and the final report.
“Our cathedrals have been here for hundreds of years, vibrant seats of mission, of learning, of heritage and of love, let’s ensure they are here for hundreds more.”
Notes for editors:
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The Church Times reports: Oxfordshire vicar, Tim Davis, guilty of spiritually abusing a teenage boy.
The full text of the tribunal decision is here.
A VICAR in Oxfordshire has been convicted of spiritually abusing a teenage boy, in what is thought to be the first judgment of its kind. The victim was judged to have been put under “unacceptable pressure” during one-to-one Bible-study sessions in his bedroom over a period of 18 months.
The priest, the Revd Timothy Davis, of Christ Church, Abingdon, was found guilty under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) 2003 of “conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority” by a five-strong Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Oxford diocese, chaired by His Honour the Revd Mark Bishop. Their judgment is dated 28 December and was published by the diocese on Monday.
It is thought to be the first CDM tribunal that has found a case to answer over allegations of the abuse of spiritual power and authority. A penalty has not yet been set…
There are also reports in the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers and on the BBC website:
The Church Times also has this: Two-thirds of Christians in new survey say they have been spiritually abused.
The research report mentioned is available in summary form here.
VIa Media News has Are You Suffering From Spiritual Abuse?
Law & Religion UK reports this here: Clerical abuse of spiritual power and authority. There are links to some relevant policy documents.
From this week’s Church Times
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In a society that now functions around the clock, John Cheek looks at churches that are open to people ‘out of hours’: 24-hour parish people
The Corporation’s renewed commitment to religion is welcome — but we will keep asking hard questions, says Jan McFarlane: The BBC has listened; now for action
Charles Clapham pneuma Murder at the Vicarage
David Goodhew The Living Church A theology for Anglican church growth
Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of mission: something old, something new.25 Comments
Updated again Friday
…A letter to bishops of the Anglican SEC on Friday accused them of fostering ‘disquiet and division’ by nominating Canon Anne Dyer, the first female bishop in the SEC who is also strongly in favour of gay marriage, to be bishop of the largely conservative Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney.
Dyer is now being urged to step down from her promotion with clergy protesting her appointment.
Two senior clergy have already quit over the issue and the letter threatens that ‘others are considering similar action’ in a diocese that is already struggling to fill a number of empty posts across its 41 churches…
To read the letter in full, and see the entire list of signatories, go to the original news article.
…The protest letter, seen by Christian Today, is signed by seven stipendiary priests, half the clergy in the struggling northern diocese, which was the only one of the SEC’s seven dioceses to reject the proposals to change its teaching on marriage, as well as several non-ordained senior churchgoers.
It accuses the bishops of being ‘divisive and also disrespectful’ by failing to appoint someone conservative clergy would agree with…
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church has responded to this letter, which can now be more comfortably read from this copy.
Bishop Mark Strange’s reply can be read in full here.
…We have been greatly concerned to receive your letter. We regard it as particularly
regrettable that you have chosen to communicate with us by publicly releasing your
letter and press release without any prior indication to us of your intentions and we are
dismayed at the invidious position in which it places Canon Dyer as the Bishop elect of
the diocese. We deplore that you have sought to subvert the outcome of the canonical
process which led to Canon Dyer’s election. Members of the College are unanimous in
supporting Canon Dyer in her acceptance of election and will continue to support her
throughout her consecration and future episcopal ministry in the diocese…
Do read the whole response.
The Church Times reports this as Scottish Primus accuses protesters against next Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney of ‘subversion’.
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