Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Unity – Has it Become a Golden Calf?
Laudable Practice Trad Expressions™: Why High Church is Contemporary
Samuel Keyes The Living Church Tradition for Teens
Jemma Sander-Heys Church Times Life by the sea is not all recreation and run
“Coastal communities face particular challenges, and politicians and churches must tackle them”
ViaMedia.News starts a new series of posts (one a week) on “Does the Bible Really Say….?” with this:
Jonathan Tallon Does the Bible Really Say…Anything at All about Homosexuality as we Understand it Today?
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love A philosophy and vision for parish ministry, then and now
and Interior reflections of a priest
The Church of England’s House of Bishops has issued this statement:
Meeting of the House of Bishops
The House of Bishops met at Bishopthorpe Palace from 15th to 17th May 2019.
Brexit was on the agenda as the bishops discussed recent political developments and prayed for the nation.
The bishops discussed mission and ministry in covenant with the Methodist Church, financial priorities in Church funding over the next three years, and the ministry of confession. The bishops also spent time reviewing progress that has been made by the Living in Love and Faith working group.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s (IICSA) recently published report into the Church of England also received attention from the bishops who have additionally made a statement. [see below]
Elsewhere on the agenda the bishops gave time to the subject of women and men in ministry in the Church of England and mutual flourishing. They discussed the process for discerning how people are called to the ordained ministry.
The House of Bishops also took note of the recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong and anticipated the Lambeth 2020 meeting in Canterbury next summer.
The additional statement referred to above is as follows:
Statement on IICSA report from members of House of Bishops
A statement from members of the House of Bishops in response to The Anglican Church Case Studies IICSA report:
“We write on behalf of the whole House following the publication last week of the IICSA report into the Peter Ball and Chichester Diocese case studies. We recognise that the publication of this report causes most hurt and concern to survivors themselves. It reopens wounds.
“At this week’s meeting of the House of Bishops, Archbishop Justin asked every one of us to read and study the full report in detail and we are absolutely committed to this. The Church has failed survivors and the report is very clear that the Church should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors. We are ashamed of our past failures, have been working for change but recognise the deep cultural change needed takes longer than we would like to achieve.
“We welcome the recommendations.
“The report will now go to the National Safeguarding Steering Group next month so the Church can formulate a detailed response to the findings and recommendations as we approach IICSA’s wider Church hearing in July. The lead bishop for safeguarding has been asked to report back to the House and to General Synod.
“It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report and act upon them”
Bishop Paul Butler
Bishop Christine Hardman
Bishop Peter Hancock
Bishop Sarah Mullally
Updated again Friday evening
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement:
“Following information provided by the police, I have suspended the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson from office, having obtained the consent of the Bishops of Birmingham and Worcester (the two longest serving bishops in the Province of Canterbury). If these matters are found to be proven I consider that the bishop would present a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people. I would like to make it absolutely clear that there has been no allegation that Bishop Christopher has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult. The Bishop of Grimsby, David Court, will take on episcopal leadership of the diocese. It should be noted that suspension is a neutral act and nothing further can be said at this stage while matters are investigated. I ask for prayers for all affected by this matter.”
Commenting today the Bishop of Lincoln said: “I am bewildered by the suspension and will fully cooperate in this matter. For the sake of the diocese and the wider Church I would like this to be investigated as quickly as possible to bring the matter to a swift conclusion.”
The Lincolnshire Police have issued this statement, as reported in local newspapers:
A Lincolnshire Police spokesman said: “We are aware of the decision today of the Archbishop of Canterbury to suspend the Bishop of Lincoln from office and it would not be appropriate for us to comment on that decision.
“The first phase of the Lincolnshire Police Operation Redstone investigation into historic sex abuse cases involving contact resulted in three men being convicted.
“Phase 2 of the investigation is continuing into wider safeguarding issues and management decisions within the diocese. Because it is a live investigation and we do not want to jeopardise the outcome, we do not intend to make any further comment.
“We are committed to ensuring the safeguarding of victims and continue to work with the full co-operation of the Lincoln Diocese.
“There is an absolute multi-agency commitment to a transparent, survivor-focused and diligent investigation of every matter raised with the team. Anyone wanting to make contact in complete confidence can do so to the Diocese Safeguarding Adviser, Debbie Johnson who can be contacted on 01522 504081.”
The Diocese of Lincoln has published the text of an Ad Clerum about this. I recommend reading this in full.
The Lincolnite Bishop of Lincoln suspended
Lincolnshire Live Bishop of Lincoln suspended by Archbishop of Canterbury
Times (£) Bishop suspended in abuse ‘cover-up’
The Lincolnite reports that an additional fourth person is implicated in the cathedral matter: The four senior figures embroiled in the safeguarding scandal at Lincoln Cathedral
Anglican Communion News Service has a full report: Bishop of Lincoln suspended after information received by the Archbishop of Canterbury.67 Comments
The Church Times has
The Episcopal News Service has
The Anglican Communion News Service has:
From a different perspective, there is:
And more links from the GAFCON viewpoint can be found here.
Peter Carrell Anglican Down Under So, who is an Anglican??
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Bishop Faull on Twitter. Message to Survivors?
Marion Clutterbuck Women and the Church Twenty-five years on; reflections on ministry
These are some memories of one of the women from Chichester diocese, who was ordained in 1994
Jon White The Episcopal Café Churches continue to defy demands for accountability22 Comments
The Methodist Church (which covers Great Britain, i.e. England, Scotland and Wales) has published the report of its Marriage and Relationships Task Group 2019, together with a number of ancillary documents.
There is a Media Briefing which is probably the best place to start. Some of this is copied below the fold.
Also there is a Frequently Asked Questions page.
The full report is available as a PDF here.24 Comments
Since October 2015 when the Archbishops’ Council announced that they had paid compensation to the woman given the pseudonym ‘Carol’, who alleged that she had been abused by Bishop George Bell, his defenders have criticised the Church authorities for never once affording the Bishop the presumption of innocence. Now, after the inquiries of Lord Carlile and Timothy Briden, it can be seen that the allegations against Bishop Bell were unfounded in fact.
THE CARLILE REVIEW
The Carlile report, whose conclusions (save as to publicity) the Church accepted, criticised the investigation of Carol’s allegations as a rush to judgment predicated on Bell’s guilt. It concluded that the decision to settle with Carol was indefensibly wrong and that the process completely ignored the Bishop’s reputation and the interests of his surviving family, including his very elderly niece.
The original statement by the Archbishops’ Council in October 2015 claimed that none of the expert independent reports had found reason to doubt Carol’s veracity. But Lord Carlile discovered that the only expert consulted by the Church thought it very likely that Carol’s experience of abuse in her first marriage had affected her recall, and that the possibility of false memories was a real one.
Regrettably Archbishop Welby added his authority to the destruction of Bell’s reputation: on Good Friday 2016, before the Carlile report was completed, he told BBC Radio that the investigation of Carol’s claim had been ‘very thorough’ and the finding of abuse correct on the balance of probabilities. We now know how far from the truth that was.
The Archbishop told Lord Carlile during his inquiry that if there had not been a proper investigation of Carol’s story, the Church would have to apologise. But sadly, when the Carlile report was published in December 2017, he chose not to do so. To the disappointment of Bell’s defenders, he appeared to reject the presumption of innocence; instead he commented that there was still ‘a significant cloud’ left over Bishop Bell’s name without giving any explanation of why he continued to hold that view in the face of Lord Carlile’s conclusions.
THE ‘FRESH INFORMATION’ AND THE BRIDEN PROCESS
The publicity given to the Carlile report appears to have triggered a copy-cat claim by the woman given the name Alison. The Core Safeguarding Group which had been responsible for the shambolic investigation of Carol’s claim now set about trying to substantiate that by Alison. They may well have hoped that the similar facts alleged by Alison would corroborate the discredited Carol. But within weeks the police, to whom the Core Group had reported the matter, closed their enquiries. Next an investigation by a senior retired police officer commissioned by the Church quickly showed that Alison’s evidence was unreliable and incapable of supporting any adverse finding against the Bishop.
Mr Briden reported that her account not only had internal inconsistencies but was also contaminated by her having read Carol’s story, a contamination revealed by her repeating verbatim some of Carol’s words which had been reported in the press. He ended his report by saying that all the allegations against George Bell remitted to him were unfounded.
Many will have hoped that on reading Mr Briden’s report Archbishop Welby would have publicly acknowledged that the cloud of which he had previously spoken had been dissipated. He did not do so.
THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH NOW
The history of the treatment by the Church of England of the reputation of George Bell has become a scandal. It is now the plain duty of the Church of England, nationally and in the Diocese of Chichester, to make amends by working to restore Bishop Bell’s reputation, not least in institutions which were once proud to adopt his name.
We welcome the decision of Canterbury Cathedral to revive a commission to create a statue of Bell and note the expression of ‘delight’ with which the Archbishop of Canterbury has responded. We acknowledge with gratitude the firmness with which the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford have maintained and cherished the chapel there dedicated to Bell’s memory throughout the controversy. We note that the meeting room dedicated to Bishop Bell remains, as before, at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.
It is only in Chichester itself, the place in which Bishop Bell lived and worked for almost thirty years and where his ashes are interred in the cathedral, that any public adoption of his name is now suppressed.
We find the public stance of the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, incomprehensible and indefensible. The Bishop’s ‘Response’ to the Briden Report, published on 24 January 2019 and now promoted on the websites of the diocese and cathedral, only went as far as to acknowledge that ‘Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty’. He added that it could not be ‘safely claimed that the original complainant [i.e. Carol] had been discredited’. This is a most regrettable insinuation that there was, or likely was, substance to Carol’s allegation and hence that Bell was to be suspected of abuse.
The Bishop emphasised the defamatory innuendo by asking ‘those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognise the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion.’ There is, regrettably, no evidence in this response of the Bishop’s commitment to justice or of any compassion towards those who are wrongly accused. His words have been repeated verbatim by the Bishop at Lambeth in response to a Question at the recent session of the General Synod of the church. Indeed, the Bishop even invoked the authority of the House of Bishops in support of this view. So far as we are aware the House has never even discussed the matter.
Such words simply preserve the impression that there was, and remains, a case against Bell. A not dissimilar state of mind was revealed by the Chichester Diocesan Safeguarding Officer when he told the Child Abuse Inquiry in March 2018 that ‘all the indications we have would suggest that the simplest explanation for why someone comes forward to report abuse – because they were abused – is likely to be the correct one’.
As the High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques has pointed out in his report to the Metropolitan Police on allegations against prominent individuals, such an assumption results in an investigation which does not challenge the complainant, tends to disbelieve the suspect and shifts onto the suspect the burden of proof, ignoring any presumption of innocence. It becomes a premise for a miscarriage of justice such as can now be seen to have been inflicted on the reputation of George Bell.
It should be sufficient to observe that like Professor Anthony Maden, Lord Carlile did interview this first complainant. We note Lord Carlile’s statement of 1 February 2019, made to the local campaigner Mr Richard Symonds: ‘The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.’
We are more than conscious that this saga represents a wider pattern in the Church and across society where many other such miscarriages of justice have become notorious. Now it is surely essential that if all the many safeguarding bodies, national and diocesan, are to be retained by the Church of England their work must be placed under real legal discipline and in the hands of officers who observe fully the expectations and rule of law and act without fear or prejudice.
There must never again be any repetition of such a discreditable, indeed disgraceful, performance.
Rodie Garland Church Times Mental health needs communities
“More funding is welcome — but churches still have a part to play”
Marcus Green The Campaign For Equal Marriage in the Church of England Ribs to Go
“the use of Genesis 1 in the discussions about marriage”
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church IICSA on Chichester – some comments
Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity Safeguarding in the Church: have we got a mental block?44 Comments
IICSA has published its report on the Chichester diocese and Peter Ball investigations.
Full Text of Report: Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report
The Church of England has published this: Publication of IICSA report into Anglican Church
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, has today published its report into the Anglican Church based on its case studies last year of the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against the former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball.
The 252-page report makes 5 recommendations about a range of issues. These will now be studied in detail and a full response released at a later date. The Inquiry’s third and final hearing in the Anglican church case study will start on Monday 1 July 2019 and run for two weeks. This will focus on both the Church of England and the Church in Wales in the context of their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse. The Inquiry notes that further recommendations directly relating to the findings in this report will be made following the hearing in July.
The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead bishop for safeguarding, said:
“We thank the Inquiry for the report and note the findings and recommendations which we will now study in full. The report states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors and the Inquiry’s summary recognises that it failed to do this. It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report.
“Whilst the report acknowledges the progress the Church has made in safeguarding, we recognise that our work must continue at pace in order that we can ensure that the Church is as safe as possible for all. We are committed to working to bring in specific changes that will help us better protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual and all other forms of abuse. If anyone is affected by today’s report I would urge them to come forward. Details of how to do this can be found on the Church of England website.
“We are immensely grateful to survivors for their courage in coming forward to IICSA to share their experiences of how they were treated by the Church, knowing how difficult this would have been; their testimonies have made shocking and uncomfortable listening. Since the Archbishop of Canterbury asked for the Church of England to be investigated by IICSA as a matter of priority, we have sought to help the Inquiry in every way that we can and we will now fully consider the report.”
The Church of England has today published two items:
The former is an 84 page report.The working party membership was:
The latter is a 3 page statement signed by William Nye, as Secretary to the House of Bishops. It says, in part:
…In recent decades, churches around the world have begun to face the many ways in which they have failed to keep people safe from abuse and failed to respond well to those who have suffered abuse. Listening to their voices has raised some significant questions about the ‘seal of the confessional’. This became evident, for instance, in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia, and there has been discussion in the UK context as well.
Two situations in particular have been a focus for attention. The first is where the person confesses to sins that include abuse of a child or vulnerable person. Why should the normal duty on a priest to report such information appropriately not apply? The second is where it is claimed that if the person confessing their sins has referred to abuse committed by them or by someone else, that cannot then be repeated in another context, such as a statement to the police. This is simply wrong:the ‘seal of the confessional’ applies to the priest who hears the confession, not tothe person who makes it.
In response to these concerns, the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops of the Church of England commissioned a Working Party on the Seal of the Confessional. It first met in 2015 and completed its report in 2017. As well as examining legal, historical and theological perspectives, it received evidence from survivors of abuse and from clergy who have extensive experience of the ministry of confession.
At present, the ‘seal of the confessional’ is upheld in the Church of England’secclesiastical law. The Working Party did not reach a consensus as to whether this should change. The diversity of view within the Working Party would be reflected more widely in the Church of England. Some Anglicans feel very strongly that the ministry of confession is an integral part of the church’s life of the church, and that its proper practice is inseparable from the unqualified observance of the seal. Some observe from their experiences that the Seal of the Confessional can offer comfort to survivors of abuse who, trusting in the absolute discretion it promises, may confide in a priest for the first time and by so doing find that they are able to unburden themselves and begin the process of healing. Others feel very strongly that the church cannot continue with any aspect of its practice that stops information being passed on which could prevent future abuse or enable past abusers to be brought to justice. The House of Bishops has been giving these issues very careful consideration
The Working Party was, however, unanimous in its recommendations in a number of key areas. One was for improvements to training on the ministry of confession in relation to safeguarding issues, with training itself becoming obligatory for all those ordained as priests, since any priest might be asked to do this. Another was for the appointment of an adviser on the ministry of reconciliation in each diocese who can be a point of reference for training, supervision and advice.
The House of Bishops is fully supportive of these recommendations. Addressing them has required consultation with a number of different groups and individuals. Further information will be given in due course about how the agreedrecommendations of the Working Party’s report will be taken forward.
Jeremy Pemberton Thomson Reuters How will the Church of England respond to heterosexual civil partnerships?
“It isn’t clear if Church of England will agree to bless heterosexual civil partnerships officially, but not homosexual ones”
Edward Siddons interviews Andrew Foreshew-Cain for The Guardian: The rebel priest: ‘Gay people in the church are not going to go away’
“The Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain says his same-sex marriage cost him his ministry. Now he is launching a campaign for the rights of LGBTQ Christians”
Giles Fraser UnHerd Where did the Church’s land go?
“The C of E hasn’t covered itself in glory when it comes to land management”
Rosie Harper and Alan Wilson ViaMedia.News Safeguarding & Survival Systems – Loyalty vs Trust
10 Downing Street has announced that Sarah Bullock, Archdeacon of York in the Diocese of York, is to be the next Bishop of Shrewsbury in the diocese of Lichfield.
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Sarah Ruth Bullock, BA, Archdeacon of York in the Diocese of York, to the Suffragan See of Shrewsbury, in the Diocese of Lichfield, in succession to the Right Reverend Mark Rylands, MA who resigned on 31st July 2018.
Sarah was educated at Surrey University and she trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. She served her title at St Paul, Kersal Moor in the Diocese of Manchester and was ordained Priest in 1994.
Sarah was appointed Priest-in-Charge of St Edmund, Whalley Range in 1998 and later additionally became Priest-in-Charge of St James with St Clement, Moss Side in 1999, before becoming Rector of the joint benefice in 2004. She also held the role of Diocesan Vocations Adviser from 1998 until 2005. Sarah was made an Honorary Canon of Manchester Cathedral in 2007, and took on the additional roles of Bishop’s Adviser for Women’s Ministry in 2009, Borough Dean for the City and Borough of Manchester in 2010 and Area Dean of Hulme in 2012. In 2013, Sarah was appointed Archdeacon of York.
The diocese of Lichfield website carries this story here.8 Comments
10 Downing Street has announced that Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown in the Diocese of Portsmouth, is to be the next Bishop of Stepney in the diocese of London
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown, in the Diocese of Portsmouth to the Suffragan See of Stepney, in the Diocese of London in succession to the Right Reverend Adrian Newman, BSc, MPhil who resigned on 31st December 2018.
The Venerable Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, where she was also Lecturer in English. She trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. She served her title at Kirkby Team Ministry in the diocese of Liverpool, and was ordained Priest in 2001. In 2003, Joanne was appointed Priest-in-Charge of Manor Parish in the diocese of Sheffield with responsibility for Ripon College Cuddesdon’s urban theology placement programme. In 2006, Joanne became Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Residentiary Canon, and in 2008 she took on the additional role of Dean of Women’s Ministry. Joanne became Archdeacon of Portsdown in 2013.
The diocese of London website carries this story here.
10 Downing Street has announced that Canon Dagmar Winter is to be the next Bishop of Huntingdon in the diocese of Ely.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Dagmar Winter, DrTheol, Rector and Lecturer of St Andrew, Hexham, in the Diocese of Newcastle to the Suffragan See of Huntingdon, in the Diocese of Ely, in succession to the Right Reverend David Thomson who resigned on 31st October 2018.
Dagmar was educated at the universities of Aberdeen and Heidelberg and she trained for ministry at Herborn Theological Seminary. She served her title at St Mark, Bromley in the Diocese of Rochester and was ordained Priest in 1997. In 1999, Dagmar was appointed Associate Vicar of St Andrew, Hexham, and Deanery Training Officer, and in 2006 she became Priest-in-Charge of St Bartholomew, Kirkwhelpington with Kirkharle, Kirkheaton, and Cambo, and also held the role of Diocesan Officer for Rural Affairs during this time. She was made an Honorary Canon of Newcastle Cathedral in 2011. Additionally, she has been a member of General Synod since 2005, served as Area Dean of Morpeth between 2011-2013, and has been the Bishop’s Advisor for Women in Ministry since 2012. In 2015, Dagmar took up her current post of Rector and Lecturer of St Andrew, Hexham (Hexham Abbey).
The diocese of Ely website carries this story here.
Here’s a roundup of developments on the issuing of invitations to bishops and spouses.
There have been at least two articles responding to the reports of claims made at the ACC-17 meeting that the matter. of the invitations to Lambeth could not be part of the formal agenda for that meeting:
Andrew Goddard has written a lengthy essay analysing the options open to the archbishop: Ethics and policy for invitations to Lambeth 2020.
The Ontario House of Bishops has released this statement of support for their colleague.
GAFCON has issued A Communiqué from the Gafcon Primates Council.
Concerning Lambeth 2020, it says this:
We were reminded of the words of Jeremiah 6:14, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Last year in Jerusalem our delegates urged us not to attend Lambeth 2020 if godly order in the Communion had not been restored. They respectfully called upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to effect the necessary changes that fell within his power and responsibility.
We have not yet received a response from the Archbishop of Canterbury. We note that, as it currently stands, the conference is to include provinces who continue to violate Lambeth Resolution I.10 thereby putting the conference itself in violation of its own resolution: failing to uphold faithfulness in marriage and legitimising practices incompatible with Scripture. This incoherence further tears the fabric of the Anglican Communion and undermines the foundations for reconciliation.
It also announces an alternative event for those disinclined to come to Canterbury:
Gafcon Bishops Conference 2020
On the one hand, we have no interest in attempting to rival Lambeth 2020. On the other hand, we do not want our bishops to be deprived of faithful fellowship while we wait for order in the Communion to be restored. Therefore, we have decided to call together a meeting of bishops of the Anglican Communion in June of 2020. The conference will be primarily designed for those who will not be attending Lambeth, but all bishops of the Anglican Communion who subscribe to the Jerusalem Declaration and Lambeth Resolution I.10 are invited to join in this time of teaching, worship, and fellowship. We shall meet June 8-14 in Kigali, Rwanda, and be hosted by Archbishop Laurent Mbanda and the Anglican Church of Rwanda.
Apparently without spouses.
There are also several paragraphs describing GAFCON’s view of the currrent situation in various regions of the world.
Lest it be thought that GAFCON is concerned only about sexuality, the following item confirms this is not the case:
Women in the Episcopate
The Primates received the Interim Report of the Task Force on Women in the Episcopate, the result of a four-year comprehensive study, and affirmed its recommendation that “the provinces of Gafcon should retain the historic practice of consecration only of men as bishops until and unless a strong consensus to change emerges after prayer, consultation and continued study of Scripture among the Gafcon fellowship.” We authorised the Task Force to continue this consultation.
UPDATED on 9 May
Continued from here.
Difficulties in the final business session of the meeting are reported by both our regular sources:
Read both accounts to try to understand what happened.
The closing press conference could not be live streamed due to technical difficulties. A recording of it was made, and can be viewed here. However, at present this recording appears to have no sound.
Andrew Atherstone has published his account of the meeting: What really happened at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC 17)?
Do read all of this.24 Comments
Women and the Church Twenty-five years on; reflections on ministry
“Did I have a cure of souls?” — memories of one of the woman who were ordained in the diocese of Winchester on 24 April 1994
Andrew Foreshew-Cain ViaMedia.News Integrity, Compromise & the Church of England
Catherine Haydon A Blaze of Light Always Lent, Never Easter
Damon Rose BBC Stop trying to ‘heal’ me
Ines Hands Church Times Liturgy is an anchor — don’t brush it aside
“Parishes that have dispensed with centuries of tradition need to consider what is being lost”
Church Times ‘Sex is irrelevant to this office’
Fifty years ago this month, it became possible for women to be Readers. Some describe the journey
An open letter has been published by Justin Humphreys, chief executive of the charity now known as thirtyone:eight (formerly Churches Child Protection Advisory Service):
An open letter to the leadership of the Church of England following BBC’s Panorama.
…It has been clear for some time that the past cases review conducted between 2007 and 2010 was flawed in a number of respects. For there to be any confusion or uncertainty about what happened to those cases that were identified, often referred to as the ‘Known Cases Lists’ is also inexcusable. The Panorama program did well to uncover what were clearly points of discomfort for the church hierarchy. For key representatives of the Church to either not be able to respond clearly to questions about the number of cases or be unprepared to do so, calls the management of these cases into serious question and makes one wonder who exactly is in control? The need for transparency and true accountability has never been as needed as it is today.
What is needed within the Church of England (and frankly elsewhere across the wider Church and beyond) is authentic leadership. Leadership that is prepared to lead by example in a proactive exercise of self-reflection that leads to open and honest dialogue (particularly with survivors). Leadership that is not governed, coerced or muzzled by either insurers, lawyers or any other stakeholder that may stand to lose from just exposure and open remorse and repentance. This would be the right thing to do!
We may ask, what (or who) is being served by this ongoing catalogue of failures, missed opportunities and resistance to effective change concerning past, present and future safeguarding matters? It certainly cannot be said that survivors are being well-served. It is also of great concern that the Church itself is being further damaged by a continual denial of the truth and avoidance of any tangible reparation.
If the public at large is ever again to say of the Church that it is a safe place, a haven or even a sanctuary for those who are suffering, the Church must be prepared to be laid bare and be held accountable for those things it has failed to do well. This humility would be the greatest strength of the Church in seeking to deal with this sad catalogue of shame. The time has come for those that stand in the way of what Jesus would so clearly have done to be challenged, held accountable and where needed placed elsewhere – where they have less opportunity to exert their negative influence and to stand in the way of the restoration that is desperately needed…
Do read the whole letter.
Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church has written a second blog, this one is titled: Panorama on C/E. Further reflections. Again it’s worth reading in full, but the concluding paragraph says:
…Panorama indicated to us that control of information is a tactic of power still actively employed by the central Church authorities. The originators of this tactic do not appear to be the bishops themselves but the highly paid Church House officials at the centre of things. Unfortunately for them, their control of the levers of power was all too easy to spot in both the recent television interviews. The interview of Archbishop Welby on Channel 4 was, like that of Bishop Hancock, unconvincing and somewhat contrived. The bishops themselves both had personal integrity and human warmth but nothing could not disguise the fact that they were speaking for someone other than themselves. The Church cannot continue to go down a path of fielding individuals to act as spokesmen for the institution. The public want, as far as possible, to encounter real human beings who can speak for the church. The people of England relate to real people, people who, like them, are living lives of joy mixed with pain. They will never want to identify with a group when they suspect that the information put out is being manipulated and managed before it is shared with them. In short, let bishops be bishops, shepherds of the flock, not puppets being controlled by forces that are invisible and are not necessarily working for the good of all.
The Church Times has published a letter from Andrew Graystone which can be found here (scroll down)
Panorama programme won’t be the last scandal
Sir, — Church leaders, from the Archbishops up, acknowledge that the Church is failing in its care of victims of clergy abuse. But ask them who is responsible for sorting out the mess, and nobody knows. Is it the job of the Archbishops’ Council? or the General Synod? or the National Safeguarding Steering Group? or Lambeth Palace? or the House of Bishops? Or is it, perhaps, a matter for each individual diocese?
Everybody points to someone else. Nobody steps forward. After a decade or more of crisis, which continues to eat away at the Church’s standing in society, there has been a complete failure from those in authority to grasp the issue. One reason that some survivors of church abuse are so painfully vocal is that they are filling a vacuum of leadership on this most crucial of issues for the Church.
Monday’s Panorama, with its focus on the shameful mismanagement of abuse in Lincoln diocese, was entitled Scandal in the Church of England. It could have been made at any point in the past decade, and it could have focused on almost any diocese. Stories will continue to emerge, and the scandal of abuse past and present will continue to undermine the Church’s wider mission, until some individual or body takes responsibility and institutes decisive action.
In the mean time, it is victims of abuse, past and present, who bear the cruelty and pain of the Church’s failure.
Continued from here.
Updated again Friday noon
Further reports by Paul Handley in the Church Times
And more from Mary Frances Schjonberg at Episcopal News Service
Anglican Communion News Service