Thinking Anglicans

Sexual abuse survivors speak out at General Synod

Survivors of sexual abuse in the Church of England are planning to make their presence felt at the General Synod on Saturday of this week, when a presentation on the topic of Safeguarding will take place, followed by an opportunity for synod members to ask questions.

This press release has been issued:

Victims and survivors speak out about their treatment by the Church of England

On Saturday 10th February the Church of England’s General Synod will hear a presentation about the church’s approach to safeguarding. The presentation is intended to prepare synod members for the forthcoming hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). IICSA will turn its focus onto the Church of England beginning on Monday 5th March.

Victims and survivors of abuse within the the church fear that their voices are rarely heard. To address this they have produced a booklet called We Asked for Bread but you gave us Stones (linked below) in which they address the church powerfully and painfully in their own words. The booklet consists entirely of victims’ words, collated with an introduction by victims’ advocate Andrew Graystone. The title is a reference to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:9 “Which of you, if your child asked for bread, would give them a stone.” The booklet will be delivered this week to every member of the General Synod, including every diocesan bishop and archbishop.

Representative victims of church abuse are also inviting the archbishops, bishops and all members of the General Synod to meet them at 9am on Saturday morning at the entrance to Church House, Dean’s Yard, Westminster, and to stand with them for two minutes of silent reflection prior to the safeguarding presentation. By this act they invite synod members to affirm the intention of the church to act justly towards victims of abuse both now and in the future.

A further statement will be issued on behalf of victims at 1pm on Saturday 10th February, following the synod presentation.

Monday 5th – Sunday 11th February 2018 is also Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

For further information please contact Andrew Graystone via

Stones Not Bread

This has already been reported in Christian Today Some serving bishops have been abused, says campaigner in victims booklet sent to CofE synod members.

Earlier this week, there was a report in the Sunday Times about a particular case. The newspaper report is behind a paywall, but the link to it is here: Justin Welby ‘blocked’ payouts to abused pupils.



Evangelical Alliance criticises "spiritual abuse" language

The Evangelical Alliance has issued a report Reviewing the discourse of ‘Spiritual Abuse’. There is a press release about this:

New report is critical of the term ‘Spiritual Abuse’ as well intended, but not fit for purpose.

A new report that highlights the risks associated with adopting the vague and incoherent terminology of ‘Spiritual Abuse’ has been released today by the Evangelical Alliance. The term ‘Spiritual Abuse’ may be well intended, but it is not fit for purpose.

Produced by the Evangelical Alliance Theology Advisory Group (TAG), the report outlines how ‘Spiritual Abuse’ is a seriously problematic term because of its own inherent ambiguity, and because attempts by some to embed it within statutory safeguarding discourse and secular law would be unworkable in practice, potentially discriminatory towards religious communities, and damaging to inter-faith relations…

There is also an Executive Summary available here.

The document references several other pieces of work, including:

All of this is significant in the context of the recently reported Church of England case in the Diocese of Oxford: Priest found guilty of spiritual abuse.

Christian Today has reported the Evangelical Alliance story thus:
Evangelical Alliance rubbishes ‘spiritual abuse’ language: It could ‘criminalise’ conservative teaching on sexuality.

Jayne Ozanne is quoted in that report, responding to the criticism of her paper (linked above). Her full quote in response to the EA criticism is as follows.

“I am deeply perplexed, as I’m sure others will be, as to why the Evangelical Alliance have seen fit to effectively dismiss the concept of Spiritual Abuse, rather than looking to work constructively with victims to create a safer and more caring Church. Their report contains various unfounded claims, which feed the notion that certain parts of the Church are under threat from secular society. Assertions such as “the use of Spiritual Abuse terminology has proliferated in such a way that its further use risks damage to fundamental freedoms of religious thought, expression and assembly” are at best defensive, and at worst scaremongering. In addition, I do not believe my paper has been fairly or accurately characterised and would urge people to read it for themselves.’


Opinion – 3 February 2018

Anna Norman-Walker ViaMedia.News “Spiritual Abuse” – A Pandora’s Box?

Mary Cole Psephizo Valuing people with Down’s Syndrome: a parent’s response

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Active citizenship in the Church of England

Michael Sadgrove Woolgathering in North East England The Report on Cathedrals: Further Thoughts

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Disentangling Christianity and Patriarchy

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Neighbours – Can’t We Just “Walk By” Sometimes (please)?

Two opposing views on the same topic in Church Times:
Steven Croft C of E must make first move across the divide
Andrew Davison An intolerable departure from order