on Wednesday, 28 August 2019 at 1.05 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Church of England
A group of Church of England bishops has issued an open letter on the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and the need for national reconciliation, notwithstanding the potential prorogation of Parliament.The full text and list of signatories can be found here: Bishops issue open letter on Brexit.
“It is an unexpected privilege to be asked to chair this proposed Citizens’ Forum on Brexit. In the past this kind of gathering has, in many places and in difficult situations, opened the way for careful deliberation if at the right time and genuinely representative.
“I am honoured to be approached and would be willing to accept in principle, subject to some conditions which have not yet been met. The main three are first, and indispensably, that the forum should not be a Trojan horse intended to delay or prevent Brexit in any particular form. That power can only be exercised by the government and MPs in parliament. A forum must be open to all possibilities. Second, that it has cross party support (although its members will not be politicians). Third, the process must have time to be properly organised.
“Jesus Christ is the source of reconciliation and healing for individuals and society. It is obviously right that among many others the churches should contribute to the emergence of a dynamic and united country post-Brexit, however it may be achieved. Every one of us must play the part they can in this task.
“The need for national healing and eventually for a move towards reconciliation is essential, and will take much time, a deep commitment to the common good, and contributions from every source. This Forum is only one of many different efforts being made inside the political world and across the country before and after Brexit. Every effort counts.
“Let us pray for all those in government, parliament and political leadership. Let us pray for the people of this country whose lives will be affected in many ways by the momentous decisions that are made.”
As required by Christ Church’s Statutes, an internal tribunal was convened to consider a complaint raised against the Dean in September 2018. Following a thorough investigation, the tribunal has decided that the charges are not upheld and that there is no cause to remove the Dean as Head of House. However, the tribunal made some criticism of the Dean’s conduct and found that there was one breach of his fiduciary duty.
We can therefore announce that Martyn Percy will resume his duties as Dean of Christ Church, on his return from holiday on 27th August. The complaint process has now concluded.
Following the announcement by Christ Church this evening, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, has issued this statement:
“I am delighted to learn that this matter is now resolved. I look forward to seeing Martyn return to the Cathedral and his duties as Dean of Christ Church. This news will be widely welcomed across the Diocese of Oxford. These have been testing times for all involved, and my prayers are with Martyn and Emma, the Chapter and wider College in the coming months.”
Two items relating to Church of England safeguarding in today’s Church Times.
First a letter from Martin Sewell, which can be accessed here (scroll down to fourth item). Do read the whole letter, what follows is only an extract:
Safeguarding case is not as complex as claimed
Sir Roger Singleton (Letters, 9 August) describes the case of the Revd Matt Ineson as “very complex”. I disagree; it is undoubtedly a serious matter, not least to the parties concerned, but anyone with experience of child-protection trials will know that this dispute presents few difficulties out of the ordinary compared with other cases that principally turn on disputed testimony…
…Mr Ineson undoubtedly disclosed his abuse to the police, his lawyers, and various bishops. All that needs to be resolved is to whom, when, in what terms, what was done with the information, and whether the bishops’ actions met the requisite standards of their office. They are entitled to a presumption of innocence, and proof must be on the balance of probabilities. It really is not that hard.
The prompt resolution of disputes depends on well-developed good practice. Essential requirements are: an agreed comprehensive chronology; an agreed summary of facts not in dispute; an agreed summary of facts in dispute; an agreed summary of issues to be determined; case summaries from either side, identifying any relevant law and guidelines; and a decent index. The skill is all in the preparation of these documents. Once they are in place, most of the judgment writes itself.
I have long argued that the Church needs to employ one or two specialist lawyers to sort these things out. We seem to pay a lot of money to expensive lawyers who advise that these matters are complex. We should invest a little in those who do the majority of this kind of work and for whom it is utterly routine.
Securing a clean and competent review is relatively easy, but the survivors I talk to doubt the Church’s commitment to running a simple and fair fact-finding process. Talk of a learned-lessons review sounds reasonable, but actually represents a deliberately narrow defining of the process, one that excludes the more embarrassing aspects of the case.
If past reviews are anything to go by, any such process will not even result in a free debate of any report at the General Synod and will be quietly consigned into the same oubliette into which past reviews have disappeared without trace or noticeable change.
Speaking to the BBC Sunday programme, Kate Blackwell QC, an expert in such inquiries, described the review as “compromised before it’s even started”. Sir Roger and his team need to go back to the drawing board urgently. The Church still doesn’t get it.
General Synod member for Rochester diocese
Keith Makin, a former director of social services with more than 30 years experience in the social care field, will lead the independent lessons learnt review which will consider the response of the Church of England and its officers to the allegations against John Smyth. Keith has led on a number of serious case reviews and has chaired several local safeguarding partnerships…
There is more detail about Keith Makin, and at the bottom of the release there are links to earlier statements from the church about this case.
The Terms of Reference are over here. There are 9 pages of detail, but it starts this way:
These instructions set out the basis on which the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England commissions Keith Makin (“the Reviewer”) to undertake a review into the Church of England’s handling of allegations relating to the conduct of the late John Smyth QC.
The Review will consider the response of the Church of England and its officers to those allegations, and the response of other organisations, namely Winchester College, the Titus Trust, and the Scripture Union, to the extent that those organisations are willing to co-operate. The approach of those organisation to the Review at the time of its commencement is as follows:
Winchester College. Winchester College has stated that it anticipates that it will cooperate with the Review, providing all relevant information on a voluntary basis, i.e. with the status of an Interested Party rather than a Subject Organisation. In such a capacity, subject to the matter of any live litigation, Winchester College will share its own findings and answer any questions so far as it reasonably can.
The Titus Trust. The Titus Trust has stated that it is restricted in its participation in the review by ongoing legal action and it is not able to engage in the Review until this has been resolved.
The Scripture Union. The Scripture Union has confirmed that it will not participate in the Review.
These instructions are given by the National Safeguarding Team (NST) of the Churchof England, acting on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council. This document should be read alongside, and forms part of, the agreement between the Reviewer and theArchbishops’ Council in relation to this review (“the Agreement”), in particular, provisions relating to confidentiality and data protection…
There has been extensive media coverage of this announcement:
The Church of England has updated its census and deprivation data. The Research and Statistics unit has mapped government statistics onto parish boundaries to produce parish-level census and deprivation information. The data can be downloaded from here and the summary parish census and deprivation statistics can also be explored on the interactive Church of England parish maps.
Significant changes are about to take place in the way that marriages are registered in England and Wales. The changes will affect all clergy in the Church of England and the Church in Wales who conduct marriages. The implementation date has yet to be announced, but it is likely to be before the end of this year. The Faculty Office has issued the following summary of the changes and their implementation.
Marriage Law News
You may already be aware that the way in which marriages are registered is set to change following the passing into law of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 which, as well as providing for opposite-sex couples to be able to enter into civil partnerships, will allow for mother’s names to be included in Marriage Registers as well as/in place of father’s names. It also makes provision for significant changes in the way that marriages are registered.
Representatives of the Faculty Office and the Legal Offices of the Church of England and Church in Wales have been in discussion with the General Register Office (GRO) about the proposed changes which they under pressure from Government Ministers to bring into effect as soon as possible – and despite our collective representations, the GRO are currently proposing to bring in the changes before the end of the year. A number of issues remain to be resolved including the provision of a workable secure system to produce the new documentation and time to train the 20,000+ clergy who are able to conduct weddings in both Churches.
In essence the proposals will replace Marriage Registers and Marriage Certificates (issued at the time of the wedding) with a Marriage Document which will be prepared by the officiating priest before the wedding. At the ceremony, the Marriage Document will be signed by the couple, their witnesses and the officiating priest (in much the same way as the Registers are currently). The significant difference is that the couple will then need to ensure that the Marriage Document is deposited at the local Register Office within 7 days of the date of the wedding and the local Superintendent Registrar will then record the details and issue the couple with a Marriage Certificate (for which there will be a fee). The couple can ask someone to lodge the Marriage Document on their behalf (as in many cases they will, of course, be on honeymoon!) but it is their responsibility, NOT the officiating minister’s responsibility, to ensure that it is done.
As an interim measure, the Marriage Document will be available in a number of formats, including a manual format and a ‘type and print’ facility. The Regulations envisage that eventually there will be a secure online portal to which clergy will require access as there is provision for couples to be reminded by email from the General Register Office if they have not lodged the Document within the required period.
For marriages that currently take place by Superintendent Registrar’s Certificates, the SRC will be replaced by a “Marriage Schedule” which will be produced by the Register Office taking Notice of the Marriage and that Schedule will then be signed by all the parties including the officiating priest once the marriage has taken place and, again, will have to be lodged with the Register Office within 7 days.
Immediately following implementation, the existing marriage register books held in churches will need to be closed. The incumbent, or in a vacancy the Area/Rural Dean, will be responsible for closing the registers by striking through any unused entry spaces. One copy of the register will then need to be returned to the local Superintendent Registrar together with any unused marriage certificate stock. The other copy of the register is to be retained in the church until such time as it is to be deposited in the Diocesan Record Office.
There is a proposal that, in due course there will be a register book for marriages solemnized in Anglican churches in the same way as for baptisms, confirmations and burials. However that will be an internal matter for the CofE and nothing to do with the GRO and it will not be the legal record of marriages, nor will be certificates issued from it. The Legal Office will advise further on this in due course. It is not immediately clear if the Church in Wales has anything similar in mind.
Before the new system goes live, some training will be provided by the GRO. However, it is unlikely that the GRO will have the resources to provide face-to-face training for all clergy and there will need to be a degree of co-operation with the dioceses. The GRO will however provide “awareness” (probably online and by mail-out) and a dedicated helpline available Monday – Saturday as well as a 24 hour emergency line. It is also intended to provide a printed aide-memoire to be placed in the vestry and which will include the emergency numbers and reminder of the new system. As regard training on the new system, it has been agreed that the Diocesan Registrars will be the most appropriate point of contact for the GRO to co-ordinate this.
These changes are significant, both for clergy and the couples, and it is essential that all clergy who conduct marriages are aware of them to ensure that the law is complied with and that couples’ marriages are validly conducted and properly registered. As further details become available we will post details on our website and Church House, Westminster and The Representative Body of the Church in Wales will also communicate the details through the dioceses and any relevant national networks.
The Church of England issued the statement below today. Law and Religion UK have also covered this story here and here; their articles include comments on the timescale for these changes and the law governing them.
Marriage registration changes
The Government plans to introduce a new system of registration for marriages, including church weddings, in England and Wales.
It is anticipated that the new system will replace traditional marriage registers with a new “marriage document” to be signed by the couple at the wedding and lodged with the local register office.
Although no date has been set for implementing the new system, representatives of the Church of England, together with the Church in Wales and the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, have been in discussion with the General Register Office on how it will be introduced.
It is expected that the General Register Office will provide training and information for clergy. Details will be announced as soon as possible.
The Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, the Church of England’s Director of Mission and Public Affairs, said: “We are in close discussions with the General Register Office, who are working hard to ensure that the change in the system of registering marriages is as smooth and seamless as possible.
“I want to reassure clergy and couples planning a marriage that we are absolutely committed to making the new system work within the context of a Church of England marriage service and the GRO has promised to provide training and comprehensive user-friendly information for clergy.
“We are currently in discussion with the GRO about the exact shape that will take and will update clergy as soon as the details have been finalised.
“Although no firm date has yet been set for the introduction of the new system we are aware of the desire to implement it as soon as possible.
“A church wedding is a very special day where unique promises are made before God and in the presence of friends, family and the wider community in a timeless setting, marking the beginning of their married lives together.”
The question of changing the status of Clergy as marriage registrars has not arisen and the situation will remain the same as it is currently.
The Church of England’s Interim Director of Safeguarding, Sir Roger Singleton has written a letter to the Church Times which is published today.
Review of the Devamanikkam case
Sir, — Further to your report “Survivor condemns review’ (News, 2 August), I would like to point out the seriousness with which the Church has taken the issues raised in this very complex case concerning allegations against Trevor Devamanikkam, particularly the harrowing account of abuse given by the Revd Matthew Ineson.
The Church is committed to an independent lessons-learnt review of its handling of this case, and the terms of reference and reviewer are soon to be announced. An initial draft of the terms of reference was sent to Mr Ineson in March, and twice since then.
Last week, I wrote to him again seeking his comments, and hope to meet and discuss this further with him. He also met the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2017, a meeting that was followed up with a personal signed letter of apology.
Lessons-learnt reviews are not statutory inquiries, and, as with any organisation carrying out such a review, the Church is committed to working with all parties linked with the case. I am sorry that Mr Ineson feels that the review will be a sham. I can assure him that it will be carried out in a professional and objective manner, so that lessons can be learnt.
The BBC Radio 4 weekly religious news programme, Sunday, today carried an interview with Matt Ineson. This was followed by an interview with Kate Blackwell QC. You can hear both of these here (go forward 33 minutes). The latter contains very serious criticisms of the Church of England’s handling of safeguarding reviews in general and of this case in particular.
Protocols and practice guidance for the Church of England’s Past Cases Review 2, (PCR2) have been published today. Individuals who wish to make representations to the PCR2 process or who need to come forward with information or make any disclosures regarding church related abuse are encouraged to make direct contact with their diocesan safeguarding adviser. However, recognising that this may not feel safe for those with a lived experience of abuse from within the church, a dedicated telephone helpline – 0800 80 20 20 – operated independently from the church, by the NSPCC, has been set up.
Anyone can use the helpline to provide information or to raise concerns regarding abuse within the Church of England context; whether they are reporting issues relating to children, adults or seeking to whistle blow about poor safeguarding practice. Survivors were not invited to contribute to the 2007-2009 PCR and the Church has wanted to ensure a different, trauma informed approach is taken by PCR2. Listening to survivor voices has helped to shape how this review will be conducted.
The issuing of this guidance is just part of the ongoing scrutiny work around past cases across the Church, and follows a report in 2018 into the original PCR (2007-2009) which revealed shortcomings both in the process and final result.
Seven dioceses were asked to repeat a full Past Cases Review with work already underway based on draft guidance. The final guidance directs all dioceses on steps that must be taken to independently review all outstanding files. PCR2 must be completed by the end of 2020.
The telephone helpline number and details of how to make contact directly with the diocesan safeguarding team will be promoted locally by each diocese
Bishop Mark Sowerby, chair of the PCR2 Management Board said: “It is the aspiration of the Archbishops’ Council that by the end of the PCR2 process, independent review work will have been carried out in every diocese and church institution within both the letter and the spirit of the protocol and practice guidance.
PCR2 is a central part of the church’s proactive approach to identifying where abuse allegations have not been managed appropriately or safely
We are committed to responding well to all survivors of abuse and I pray that the PCR2 is another step to making the Church a safer place for all.”