The Church Times carried a report recently: Synod should welcome bishops’ safeguarding letter.
A LETTER from the bishops of the diocese of Blackburn, which warned that the Church’s mission was “fatally undermined” by the abuse crisis (News, 21 June), should be formally welcomed by the General Synod, two lay members have suggested.
A motion commending its “victim-centred approach” as a “suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission” has been proposed by Martin Sewell, of the diocese of Rochester, and David Lamming, of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.
They are seeking the permission of the Archbishops to introduce this motion at the meeting in York next month, when the Business Committee submits report on the first day.
This week, they noted that the letter from Blackburn had been welcomed by a number of survivors, including Jo Kind, who addressed the Synod last year (News, 7 July 2018).
“In recent times, we have sought a general debate on a safeguarding theme. Presentations and questions are not the same thing,” they said.
Their suggested motion offered “an opportunity to enable the Church to embrace the important themes of repentance, listening with humility, and pastoral care”.
The archbishops have today rejected this proposal. Below you will find the text of the proposed motion and the text of the reply sent by the Bishop at Lambeth. Note that the proposal was not to debate the IICSA report at all but only the four page pastoral letter from the Blackburn senior clergy.
“This Synod welcome the terms of the Diocese of Blackburn ‘Ad Clerum’ letter dated 17th June 2019, reflecting
on the IICSA report, dated May 2019, on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball, and commend its victim-centred approach to all in authority within the Church as a suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission.”
From: Tim Thornton
Date: 2 July 2019
To: Martin Sewell, David Lamming
Subject: Proposal to ask permission to introduce a motion
Dear Martin and David
Thank you for the e mail you have sent to both the Presidents letting them know about your intention to ask permission to introduce a motion at the Synod in York.
I am writing to let you know that both the Presidents have considered your idea carefully and both feel it is not appropriate at this time and so will refuse you the permission you seek.
Of course your motion is an important one and the matters you raise are crucial for our life as a Church. However as you both know the IICSA hearing is taking place at the same time as the York session and many of the key people in the NST and others (including the Bishop of Bath and Wells) are focussed on responding to the inquiry and listening carefully to the survivors and all who are giving evidence over this fortnight.
It is also the case that the Interim Report has only recently been published and the NSSG has even more recently sent in its response to the recommendations. The Presidents do think it is right to allow some more time for people to read those reports and consider their views and reactions to the important and difficult material contained in the report. It is also important to allow the present hearing to take its course before we have a debate on these matters on the floor of Synod.
There are of course questions and space being given to Safeguarding on the Sunday of this session so there will be opportunity for voices to be heard.
I understand this will not be the answer you would like but I hope you can understand the Presidents have given your question thought and do not think that this particular session is the right time to allow for the proper preparation and the availability for all who would and should be there to take part in any such debate.