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Updated Friday morning
Gabriella Swerling at the Telegraph reported last night: Exclusive: Church of England’s child protection director quits after 18 months
The Church of England’s child protection boss has quit after 18 months amid claims that she faces too much resistance from clergy.
Melissa Caslake was appointed as the church’s first permanent Director of Safeguarding in April last year. She will take up a role as Director of Children’s Services with a local authority in the New Year.
However, The Telegraph has spoken to sources who claim that after just over a year and a half in the role, Ms Caslake “wouldn’t be leaving unless she felt that task had become impossible”…
…A source said: “Half of the leadership of the Church of England knows that it needs to change to survive, but the other half feels that survival depends on preventing change at all costs.”
“Melissa Caslake is a dedicated and competent safeguarding professional. She was brought in to reform the church’s safeguarding practice. She wouldn’t be leaving unless she felt that task had become impossible. Perhaps she has discovered what many victims know from bitter experience – that the church is simply too complex, too defensive, and too self-absorbed to face up to its own cruelty…”
…In response to the claims surrounding her departure, she said: “I have been privileged to work with survivors, members of clergy, diocesan and safeguarding professionals and others in the national church and beyond.
“I hope their expertise will continue to be respected and heard. I would like to thank all those who have supported the safeguarding journey so far, and wish the church well as it reflects on how best to implement the IICSA recommendations for the future…”
This morning no official announcement from the Archbishops’ Council has so far appeared, but this afternoon the Church Times has published: C of E safeguarding director resigns.
THE Church of England’s Director of Safeguarding, Melissa Caslake, is resigning after just 18 months in post (News, 12 April 2019), it was announced this week.
Ms Caslake is to take up the post of director of children’s services for Devon County Council…
…A small group of survivors replied on Thursday with a statement wishing her well, saying that she would “leave with respect from many in the survivor community and beyond, for the energy she brought to transforming the Church’s safeguarding, and rescuing a moribund National Safeguarding Team.
“Some have offered legitimate criticism of the controversies over which she nominally presided, but still recognise that she has left a good mark of the changes required for the future. Indeed, she has done more than anyone to change the culture. She ‘got it’. We note that she came from a local authority context and returns to a similar position where she will have clear unambiguous roles, rules, and structures, none of which currently exist within the Church of England in general and Church House in particular.
“Until these are sorted out the position of Director of Safeguarding is virtually impossible to do with integrity, and we don’t blame Melissa for leaving whilst hers is still intact. . . It is crucial that her successor picks up on and carries forward the direction of change and reform. We wish her well.”
The Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, the lead safeguarding bishop, said: “Melissa has brought experience, skills and commitment to her role and I would like to express my personal thanks for her support and leadership within the NST and National Safeguarding Steering Group. . .
“I am conscious that this has been a very demanding and personally costly role, facing challenges from many different directions. Melissa has sought to help the Church to become a safer and healthier place for all and we owe her a real debt of thanks for all her work on our behalf.”
The full text of the statement from survivors mentioned above is as follows:
Melissa Caslake will leave with respect from many in the survivor community and beyond, for the energy she brought to transforming the Church’s safeguarding, and rescuing a moribund National Safeguarding Team. Some have offered legitimate criticism of the controversies over which she nominally presided, but still recognise that she has left a good mark of the changes required for the future. Indeed, she has done more than anyone to change the culture. She “got it”. We note that she came from a Local Authority context and returns to a similar position where she will have clear unambiguous roles, rules, and structures, none of which currently exist within the Church of England in general and Church House in particular. Until these are sorted out the position of Director of Safeguarding is virtually impossible to do with integrity, and we don’t blame Melissa for leaving whilst hers is still intact. We suspect Moses would struggle to reshape the culture and mindset of Church House. We feel Melissa Caslake has done well to survive there for eighteen months. It is crucial that her successor picks up on and carries forward the direction of change and reform. We wish her well.
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The Archbishops of Canterbury and York in a joint letter to all clergy have responded to the pressure for Communion to be administered in both kinds, sharing further guidelines from the Recovery Group of the House of Bishops. These guidelines effectively suggest that Communion may be administered using a form of intinction, though the document does not use that word, instead using the phrase simultaneous administration. This document is not yet available on the Church of England website.
In their covering letter the two archbishops write
The Bishops are involved in working to find an appropriate way to ensure Communion in both kinds is possible. We attach with this letter guidance from a working group who have been commissioned by the House of Bishops. We commend this to you. We hope that what they outline will be helpful for many as we plan what our practice will be over the coming weeks. The House of Bishops is committed to working further on this matter. However, the outcome of their discussions will take some time. The guidance attached is therefore interim and further information will be sent once the work has been done in the new year.
The text of the letter and the guidelines is copied below the fold.
Updated 2 December: A revised version of the covering letter and document has also been circulated. A copy can be found here: Holy-Communion-letter-and-guidance-011220. The original covering letter was undated, and the revised version is dated 1 December. We have updated the copy below with the changes leaving the earlier text in place as well but crossed out
like this, and additions or alterations are highlighted like this.