Thinking Anglicans

IICSA hearings – Friday 16 March


Friday’s transcript is now available here.

Next week’s schedule is published here.

Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA (The archbishop is scheduled to appear on Wednesday)

Media reports and comment:

Church Times
Church must accept past faults, says Chichester diocesan Visitor Robert Bursell QC

‘I don’t recall hearing about Chichester’s problems,’ Lord Carey tells IICSA

Archdeacon tells IICSA: ‘I couldn’t believe a priest would lie to me’

Leader Comment: A shambles is no safeguard

Letter to the Editor from Andrew Graystone Bishops ought to clarify the change in culture on abuse (scroll down for this letter)

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church IICSA – A promise to ‘change the culture’ of the Church?


  • The Archbishops are coming out of this badly.++s George and Rowan don’t present a compelling picture of a well governed church and, I do wish ++Justin, wouldn’t use the term ‘Anglican Church.’

  • In this context, Archbishop Justin is correct in his use of the term “Anglican Church”, as this is used in the formal title of the IICSA investigation, and is defined on its web page.

  • Simon R says:

    @David Pocklington, Justin Welby’s lack of eccelsiological street wisdom is rather too apparent here – as is yours. There is no such thing as an ‘Anglican Church’ which is why @Andrew Lightbown is perfectly correct to question this illiterate usage. If +JW had said ‘The Church of England and The Church in Wales’ in this context, he would have been correct. After all, it could give the impression that the SEC and CofI, as well as other provinces of the Anglican Communion, are the subject of the IICSA, which they are not.

    It rather points up the fact that there is – still – no-one in Lambeth Palace with a sufficiently nuanced theological eye looking over these things before they are released.

  • Jeremy says:

    Of course he would use the phrase “Anglican Church.” The Archbishop wishes there were such a thing, and that he were head of it!

    Perhaps no one has told him that it this phrase reeks of disestablishment.

  • David Lamming says:

    While IICSA should be given full marks for the production of the daily transcript (available to download from about 6 pm each day), the website is both woeful and impenetrable. There is no easy way to find a document, since they are indexed only by the URN allocated to them by the Inquiry. More seriously, witness statements and documents referred to by witnesses (and appended to their statements) are not uploaded in advance, which makes it difficult to follow the oral evidence.

    A prime example is the evidence given on 15th-16th March by Colin Perkins. At the beginning of his evidence last Thursday, counsel to the inquiry, Fiona Scolding QC, asked that Mr Perkins’s three witness statements be “placed upon the website at a convenient and appropriate moment.” (Transcript, 15 March 2018, page 82). That moment should have been no later than when Mr Perkins took the oath, yet now, Sunday lunchtime, 18th March, they are still not available for the public to read.

    An illustration of the need for the statements to be published in advance is in the evidence Colin Perkins gave to the Inquiry about the Carlile report on Friday morning (Transcript, 16 March 2018, pages 1-34). Ms Scolding refers to certain passages in Mr Perkins’s witness statement in which he criticises aspects of Lord Carlile’s review. Those criticisms (at least so far as they appear from the extracts set out and commented on in the transcript) are selective and self-serving. One must ask whether Lord Carlile was done the courtesy of bring provided with a copy of the statement, or even being warned that he would be criticised at a public inquiry where he is not represented. One sentence in Mr Perkins’s evidence is telling: “… it is my job to try and articulate these things from the perspective of the victim.” (Transcript, 16 March 2018, pages 15-16) Where is the necessary objectivity, when Carol is regarded as victim, not complainant? No wonder one of Lord Carlile’s conclusions was “… the clear impression left is that the process was predicated on [Bell’s] guilt of what Carol alleged.” (Carlile Review, para 254(vi), page 65.)

  • I did not suggest that the term the ‘Anglican Church’ was correct, which it clearly is not.

    I stated that this was the term used by the IICSA, whose web site clarifies:” The Inquiry will investigate the nature and extent of, and institutional responses to, child sexual abuse within the Church of England, the Church in Wales and other Anglican churches operating in England and Wales (collectively referred to here as ‘the Anglican Church’)”.

    In the context of the IICSA inquiry, this is the phrase that it has chosen to use, incorrect though it may be.

  • Erika Baker says:

    David Pocklington, but presumably, while IICSA investigates all those churches, Justin Welby can only answer questions about the Church of England.

  • Mark Bennet says:

    In some ways Nicholas Reade sounds naive when he talks about trusting people. But stepping back, the Church of England has a very high-trust structure, and the kind of levels of line management, supervision and accountability found in lower-trust environments would be hugely expensive and complex to implement. Given the resource and change expected at the moment, the future seems to be seen as a modified high-trust environment rather than a medium- or low-trust environment. If the church embodies a high trust environment in its structures and resourcing, it cannot wholly disown what Nicholas Reade said out loud.

    As to the phraseology of the “Anglican Church” – there is colloquial language and there is precise language. The Inquiry seems to understand both whilst being able to distinguish between them. We do not always get to choose what we are called (Acts 11:26)

  • Janet Fife says:

    Mark Bennet, did you watch Bp. Reade’s evidence? Because he was dodging responsibility throughout, the ‘I believe what priests tell me’ just sounded like another evasion.

  • Mark Bennet says:

    Janet Fife – I followed some of it. I wasn’t trying to justify what he said at all. But there is no point in saying “we don’t just trust people like that any more” without creating and resourcing the structure, systems and culture which are necessary to make a real change.

    The Church cannot, in other words say “that was just Nicholas Reade (and/or a few others/one diocese)” or “that was then and this is now” and use either the person or the past as a scapegoat in an attempt to avoid necessary action now.

  • Janet I’m with Mark on this one. I felt this was someone very trusting who did not know what to do with the actual world he found himself in. He sounded very innocent. I do not think that is evasion. He was very honest and transparent.

  • Kate says:

    ‘But there is no point in saying “we don’t just trust people like that any more” without creating and resourcing the structure, systems and culture which are necessary to make a real change.’

    That’s a fair comment but, what we have seen, is that senior people like the Archbishop of York have acted as though thoroughly resourced structures, systems and cultures are in place, assuming that they can ignore a concern in the belief that someone else will backstop it. There is disjoin in that attitude which has obvious risks.

  • Janet Fife says:

    Mark, I agree that the Church needs to resource safeguarding and the processing of complaints much more extensively. That should get precedence over all these shiny new top-down programmes bishops and archbishops seem to be so fond of. But resources won’t change the culture – that will need a clearout of many current personnel and some radical new appointments.

    David, I didn’t actually see the part of Reade’s evidence where he said he trusts what priests tell him. I did see, however, a fair bit of his evidence where he was evasive and belligerent, and seemed outraged at being called to account for his actions in office. The lawyer pressed him quite hard about whether he didn’t think he had a duty as a citizen; about conscience, etc., and he was consistently evasive. She put one question – about why he hadn’t told the police about abuse which had been admitted by the abuser – at least twice and she never got a real answer. Just, in effect, ‘not me, guv. I was just obeying orders.’ People were tried at Nuremberg for obeying orders.

    I don’t know whether the ‘I believe what priests tell me’ remark was earlier or later than the bits I watched. It would be interesting to know whether his attitude changed, and in which direction.

  • Janet – I have scrolled through the transcript of +Reade’s evidence and can find nowhere that warrants words like ‘evasive and belligerent or outraged’. That is not his character apart from anything else. Rather I find him humble, rather innocent and unaware, with hindsight. He admits as much – ‘I was completely wrong; totally and utterly wrong; perhaps naive.’
    The passage about trust ….
    ‘I take priests at their word. I know I’ve had
    to change my view, but, I mean, you know, priests are
    part of the College of Presbyters. They are yoked to
    their bishop. The idea of a priest telling lies to the
    bishop, I mean, just horrifies me – horrifies me.
    However, I mean, I’m afraid I did learn that this had

  • Malcolm Dixon says:

    Thank you, David, for your generous view of +Reade’s evidence. As a matter of interest, do you take a similar view of the evidence given by +Benn?

  • Malcolm – I might add I do not think I was generous to +Reade. It is very embarrassing.

  • Malcolm – my first response to you has not appeared. I replied ‘No! Absolutely not.’ That these are two very contrasting characters is very clear from the transcripts and elsewhere. But both are accountable.

  • Malcolm Dixon says:

    Thank you David for answering my question. I am indeed relieved to hear that you do not see +Benn in the same light.

    I am not sure what you find very embarrassing, but if it was my impertinent question, then I apologise sincerely. I don’t know if your view of +Reade is generous in absolute terms, but it is certainly much more generous than most other comments on his evidence, in this and an earlier thread, which were almost universally scathing.

    You may well be right that his approach stems from naivete and innocence, rather than the belligerent evasion of responsibility, which is how I would characterise +Benn’s evidence. But I fear that the inquiry will find both approaches equally reprehensible.

    There is a certain irony in the surname of the leading QC for the inquiry. When it comes to the findings, I fear it will not be a case of mere scolding, but of disastrous and irreversible reputational damage. Jesu mercy!

  • Malcolm. What I found embarrassing was +Reade’s testimony (among others). There was nothing generous in my quoting his comments as I did. I did not find you impertinent in any way, but thank you for your concern. I think we agree in the midst of this appallingly painful and shameful stuff.

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