Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Chester criticised for not reporting a paedophile priest

The Telegraph reported on 13 March: Longest serving Church of England bishop faces calls to resign after court hears he knew about paedophile priest.

The longest-serving bishop in the Church of England is facing calls to resign after it emerged he knew about a paedophile priest in his diocese and did nothing.

The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Peter Forster, found out Rev Gordon Dickenson had become embroiled in a child abuse scandal decades earlier when the retired vicar wrote a letter about the affair in 2009.

Dickenson was convicted earlier this month of eight counts of sexual assault after pleading guilty to abusing a boy during the 1970s inside a church hall and even his vicarage.

But ten years ago, Dickenson had written to the Diocese of Chester which was conducting a review of past abuse cases admitting he been accused of the abuse during the 1970s and had promised the then Bishop of Chester he would “never do it again”.

Despite this admission, Bishop Forster failed to pass on the letter to the police or order an internal church inquiry…

Another report from the local Cheshire newspaper is here: Former Warrington vicar jailed for sexually abusing teenage boy.

…This case came to light in 2017 after Cheshire Constabulary published a report into the findings of an investigation into allegations of non-recent sexual abuse made against a former Bishop of Chester.

Operation Coverage focused on allegations made against the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s…

The Church Times reported:Diocese apologises as abuser pleads guilty.

The Diocese of Chester issued this statement on 15 March:

A statement from the Diocese of Chester in response to the sentencing of retired priest, Gordon Dickenson, who was jailed for a total of 27 months during a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court on 15 March 2019.

We can confirm that retired priest, Gordon Dickenson, has been sentenced and jailed for a total of 27 months during a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court. He had previously pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual activity with a child. This refers to his time as Vicar of Christ Church, Latchford, in 1973 and 1974.

We offer an unreserved apology to the survivor who has shown bravery and courage to share his experiences with the police and we acknowledge how difficult and distressing this must have been for him.

The Diocese has provided full co-operation with the police throughout the current investigation and anyone affected by today’s news should contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.

It has been reported that Gordon Dickenson wrote a letter to the Diocese, dated 2009, in which he admitted he had been accused of abuse during the 1970s.

The Diocese wishes to apologise for not acting on this information in 2009 and acknowledges that, had it done so, the police may have brought a prosecution against Gordon Dickenson sooner.

An independent review will be conducted into the handling of the case to identify where any failures in procedures arose, and what lessons can be learned.

On the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme this morning, Meg Munn chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel, was interviewed about this matter. You can hear what she said here, from about 27.5 minutes in, or in this extract over here.

Martin Sewell has referred to this matter in an article published at Surviving Church: Too important to care about child sexual abuse? Problems for Church and State. Concerning Bishop Forster, he writes in part:

…In both cases, plainly those exercising misjudgement are not bad people. I constantly remind readers that the context of the time must be factored in.  However, the time for this to be an excuse allowing us to continue, simply apologising, undertaking a “learned lesson review’ and moving on, has surely passed. That scenario has been played out too many times in too many places. Victims need to see more robust responses either from the individuals concerned or from the relevant institutions.

Until such public figures pay a price, either through voluntarily resignation, through the withdrawal of honours conferred upon them, or through being shunned by the court of public opinion, we shall continue to have a culture of minimisation and cover-up. Hitherto the only ones who have paid a price for these matters coming into the public domain are the victims who have to revisit their history of pain, humiliation, anger and all the tragedies within their personal lives that go with this.

If the Establishment, secular or faith, is to retain any credibility, it is time for its members to grasp the personal responsibility that such cases require. Great reputation and personal advantage goes with public status: with great privilege goes great responsibility. Respect for both victims betrayed and the institutions served requires no more feet shuffling but bold moral acceptance of consequence through principled resignation…

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Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“I constantly remind readers that the context of the time must be factored in.” That in 2009, a senior cleric in the church of England regarded child abuse as something to be hushed up, or something trivial enough that it need not be worried about, provided the perpetrator said he wouldn’t do it again? Two. Thousand. And. Nine? Ten years ago? And it allowed an admitted abuser to continue working in churches until 2014, five years ago? Sorry, that doesn’t pass the most basic of “oh, he’s a good man but a little naive” test. It’s implausible enough that George… Read more »

John Scrivener
Guest
John Scrivener

To be fair it was not Bishop Forster but his predecessor Bishop Whitsey to whom the perpetrator gave the assurance that he ‘would not do it again’ – ie at the time of the assaults. And it seems he didn’t.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Thank you for restoring some balance to the discussion. We have simply no idea how the 2009 letter was handled by the Diocese at the time. Chronology is important in these matters, and is sometimes distorted by inadequate media reporting and carelessness in making comments. That has equally been true about Bishop Bell and John Smyth.

But the Chester Diocese statement indicates that there is to be an Internal Review, so we should know more in due course, and perhaps people should defer passing personal judgements and refrain from making calls for resignation.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“But the Chester Diocese statement indicates that there is to be an Internal Review”

No-one takes “internal reviews” seriously, not even the people claiming to carry them out. It means “nothing will be done”. If organisations think they can suppress discussion with an “internal review”, they will do so. It means “we were right, so there”.

In other news, we don’t trust the police to investigate themselves either, as the long-drawn out disaster of Hillsborough proves. Why should, or would, we trust a diocese any more than a police force?

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

There can be no comparison with Hillsborough – the Diocese has already made an unqualified apology. It was Bishop Whitsey who accepted Gordon Dickenson’s assurances in the 1970s without further action. The involvement (or possibly non-involvement) of Bishop Forster personally when the letter arrived in 2009 is pure conjecture at present.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Meg Munn, Chair of the C of E National Safeguarding Panel, was interviewed on the Sunday Programme (BBC Radio 4) and said Bp. Forster should consider resigning. It’s still on iPlayer.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Where I am at present, away from home, I can’t access that interview. But it seems to me that a number of people are assuming as facts what may only be possibilities. Does Meg Munn know that Bishop Forster personally saw the 2009 letter? Has she taken on board that it was the previous bishop – 45 years earlier – who permitted Dickenson to remain in ministry? Did Dickenson pose a threat in 2009 when he was 79 years of age and (one assumes) retired? He has now been convicted and imprisoned at the age of 89. I have wondered… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

I can’t help feeling the Church’s Safeguarding Team are a bunch of amateurs who, however well-intentioned they may be, are doing more harm than good in territory well outside their expertise. Slater & Gordon’s Richard Scorer put this more succinctly in March last year at the IICSA: “…this is not simply an issue of attitude but of competence too. This is a point which has been made powerfully by Martin Sewell, who is both a lay member of the General Synod and a retired child protection lawyer. He points out that diocesan staff are typically trained in theology and Canon… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

1) The Telegraph report indicates that Bp. Peter did see the letter. In any case he was ultimately responsible for Chester’s Past Cases Review in which it featured.
2) I don’t think this is relevant.
3) In 2009 Dickenson had PTO and was functioning as a priest with the Church’s authority. He continued to do so. Age does not necessarily stop an abuser being a threat – but in any case victims are damaged by their abuser continuing to minister with the Church’s blessing.
4) Meg Munn is very highly qualified and seems to know what she is doing.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

(1) I have read and re-read the Telegraph article by Tim Wyatt dated 13th July, and I cannot find it stated that Bishop Forster did see the letter, but no matter for reasons to which I refer below. (2) This starkly demonstrates how opinions can differ. I consider it highly relevant. (3) This, possibly, is the question the Diocese has to answer – by the standards of 2009, not 20019. (4) I applauded the appointment of Meg Munn when some other contributors on TA were very cynical. Yes, she is highly qualified, but hasn’t she potentially disqualified herself from chairing… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“And it seems he didn’t.”

So you argue that a reasonable policy for a bishop to pursue is, if there are credible accusations of child abuse, to ask the alleged perpetrator if they plan to do it again and, assuming that the answer is negative, then do nothing more? Do you think that would stand up to scrutiny today?

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Firstly, these events occurred at least 45 years ago and, as has already been pointed out, Bishop Forster was not the Bishop of Chester then so that the criticism that you make cannot be laid at his door. It’s the all-important matter of chronology and taking proper care to identify the right people. And, yet again, we don’t know what happened in 2009, and jumping to conclusions which may prove to be incorrect doesn’t help matters.

John Scrivener
Guest
John Scrivener

No it wouldn’t today, but as someone said we need to consider the context – in this case the early seventies. I got an interesting sidelight on this recently when reading the Hansard Commons debate on the Sexual Offences Bill 1967. An MP called Shepherd complains that the Church is redeploying clergymen who have been convicted of offences against minors – ‘I went to see the Archbishop [Ramsey] and he very strongly maintained the right of the Church to do this . . . but my feeling in the matter is that the interest of the young child is paramount,… Read more »

William Fisher
Guest
William Fisher

Although it isn’t directly relevant to this discussion, it is nonetheless of interest to note that, when complaining that the Church of England “re-employs clergymen in parish duties who have been convicted of offences against young persons”, Mr Shepherd added “This is not true of the Free Church or, I understand, of the Roman Catholic Church.” (Hansard, Vol. 724, Debate on the Sexual Offences Bill, 11 February 1966)

John Scrivener
Guest
John Scrivener

Yes, he does – though St John Stevas, a Roman Catholic layman, defends the Archbishop. Shepherd also speaks of the Scouts being worried about the policy. What I found striking about the whole passage was that Shepherd seems easily to have found out that this was what the Church was doing, and that Ramsey, far from denying it, ‘very strongly maintained’ that it was right, and was then backed by other speakers to whom Shepherd gave way. So this wasn’t a hole-in-corner matter. It was no doubt expressive of the idea of giving the repentant sinner a second chance, but… Read more »

peter - Peter Gross
Guest
peter - Peter Gross

“However, the time for this to be an excuse allowing us to continue, simply apologising, undertaking a ‘learned lesson review’ and moving on, has surely passed. That scenario has been played out too many times in too many places. Victims need to see more robust responses either from the individuals concerned or from the relevant institutions.”

Is there a reason you left out the crucial sentences above that follow your quoted statement?

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

If the Bishop of Chester Peter Forster – one of the few Bishops in the House of Lords who has spoken out against the Bishop Bell injustice – “is facing calls to resign after it emerged he knew about a paedophile priest in his diocese and did nothing”, then the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby must surely face calls to resign for his ‘inaction’ in the John Smyth case.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I am certainly no fan of Justin Welby, but the worst accusation in Welby’s case was that he was in the same organisation as Smythe and should have known and done something. But in 1982 he was a young man, not a bishop, not even ordained, and he was not formally (or informally, or even morally beyond “it takes a village”) responsible for safeguarding of young people. There were many other people in the same position as Welby was towards Smythe (ie, part of the same organisation), and all of them carry the same measure of responsibility for not stopping… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Guest
Martin Sewell

To be strictly accurate, whilst you correctly point out that Archbishop Justin was a young person at the Iwerne Camps and there is no suggestion I have ever heard that he knew anything untoward was happening at the time, that is not “ the worst “ allegation.

I record without comment or endorsement that some victims complain that he took insufficient action when the first victim came forward and wrote in 2012/3. Few would deny that the Church has been insufficiently urgent in its investigation of the Smyth allegations.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“some victims complain that he took insufficient action when the first victim came forward and wrote in 2012/3”

OK, thanks, I didn’t know that.

As with the Pell case, as with the Ball cases, as with Watergate: no matter how bad the original scandal, it’s the cover-up that kills you. One might think that after seeing the effect on both the Catholic and Anglican churches of a generation or more of coverups, the senior leadership would realise that their only option is complete transparency.

Rev Peter Milligan
Guest
Rev Peter Milligan

With the support of the Bishop of Chester who needs critics!

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“Here’s another question. Is Peter Forster being ‘hounded’ by the Church in the same way that ++George Carey, and Martyn Percy, are being ‘hounded’, on the basis of their support for George Bell? If not, why are not Stephen Croft (Bp of Oxford, formerly of Sheffield) and ++John Sentamu not being similarly called on to resign, for exactly the same reason as in the Peter Forster case – i.e. of not having passed on information to the police regarding child sexual abuse by a priest in their jurisdiction? There seems to be one rule for all clergy and church officials… Read more »

Rev Peter Milligan
Guest
Rev Peter Milligan

Just ‘cos you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

No-one is being paranoid here, Rev Milligan – nor making light of a serious issue. Realpolitik is alive and well in the cloisters of power.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘why are not Stephen Croft (Bp of Oxford, formerly of Sheffield) and ++John Sentamu not being similarly called on to resign, for exactly the same reason as in the Peter Forster case – i.e. of not having passed on information to the police regarding child sexual abuse by a priest in their jurisdiction?’ There have been calls for them to resign, but they haven’t received the publicity. And Matthew Ineson’s CDMs against them were dismissed. I think I’m right in saying that Abp Welby had a hand in that too.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“I knew about #### ##### in 1989 and in 1991 within the ########## Diocese. I tried to report this in connection with the rumours about his ### who was not convicted until ten years later.
As a retired HMI and Ofsted registered Inspector, am I going to be accused of failing to go to the police with this information?

~ ‘GB’

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

While a number of bishops have not retired in office because they have gone on to do other things (for example, David Conner, Graeme Knowles and Jonathan Frost to Crown deaneries, Stephen Sykes and Rowan Williams back to academia, Mark Rylands back to parish ministry, Humphrey Southern to principal of a TEI), the only bishop to have resigned in living memory (other than for these and/or personal reasons) was, I believe, Colin Buchanan in 1989 when Bishop of Aston. His memoire Taking the Long View records the event but with few details. He had hosted Desmond Tutu in Birmingham and… Read more »

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

Graeme Knowles (formerly Bishop of Sodor and Man) resigned as Dean of St Paul’s in 2011 as a response to criticism of the Cathedral’s handling of the ‘Occupy’ protest camp outside the Cathedral. He then became (and still is) an Assistant Bishop in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, served as Acting Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral 2017-18, and is currently chairman of the DAC. Another bishop resigning to return to academia is Tom Wright. David Conner served as Bishop to the Armed Forces from 2001 to 2009 while also Dean of Windsor – a post to which he… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

The Cathedral’s response to the Occupy camp, especially initially, was shoddy in my opinion. It appeared to take the side of Power, Money, Establishment. Given the way that Jesus identified with the poor and the ordinary, it’s reaction seemed to be cold (perhaps out of concern of alienating its backers in the City) and it really lacked imagination. The Occupy community was at first not at all hostile to the Cathedral. We wanted to build bridges, we looked for alliance, solidarity, welcome. I felt at the time, and I still do, that the imaginative thing to do would have been… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

If they have not done so, can I please urge people to read the ‘Church Times’ article, linked above, “Diocese apologises as abuser pleads guilty”. This is, I think, a more reliable account of events in the context of the 2009 letter and when it was handed to the police.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Up to a point. The Telegraph story claims the bishop knew in 2009 and did nothing, in direct language. The Church Times article is rather vaguer, and uses a lot of rather passive language to suggest that the diocese received a letter they did nothing about and no-one actually took cognisance of, but once asked by the police a decade later they were able to easily put their hand to. I’m not sure which is worse, actually: the former implies toleration of a child abuser in ministry (the offender was still occasionally preaching), the latter implies that the diocese has… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Oh, dear. Would someone tell Martin about the typo in the third quoted paragraph?

ED: fixed on this copy.

Kate
Guest
Kate

We have seen the ill-treatment of others
and have not gone to their aid;
Lord, be merciful:

All forgive us our sin.

We have condoned evil and dishonesty
and failed to strive for justice;
Lord, be merciful:

All forgive us our sin.

* * *

We have seen the ill-treatment of others
and have not gone to their aid;

All: we shall organise an independent review

We have condoned evil and dishonesty
and failed to strive for justice;

All: we shall organise an independent review

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“The longest-serving bishop in the Church of England [Peter Forster] is facing calls to resign…”

It may be enlightening to know exactly who is calling on Bishop Peter Forster to resign.

It may also be enlightening to diacover that no-one exactly knows who is calling on Bishop Peter Forster to resign.

robert marshall
Guest
robert marshall

It may be after the telegraph piece but the interview with Meg Munn names 2 people who are calling for Forster’s resignation.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Meg Munn, Chair of the C of E’s Safeguarding Panel, for one.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I have only just seen these posts. On TA a thread can become disjointed with replies to earlier posts appearing all over the place. I have just replied to Janet Fife, asking a series of questions, not necessarily expecting her to know the answers. I am afraid I am getting a sense of a witch-hunt by people who haven’t done their homework properly. I hope I am wrong about the witch-hunt. The ‘confused’ chronology is already apparent. To repeat my earlier post, there will have to be very strong grounds and evidence for people, particularly Meg Munn in her role,… Read more »

robert marshall
Guest
robert marshall

Meg Munn has done precisely that – so presumably you’re accepting that there is strong evidence that she has seen! You seem to keep restating “‘confused’ chronology” would you like to be more explicit as to what you think the confusion is?

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I don’t make any assumptions about what Meg Munn has seen or knows that we do not. She might be justified; conversely she may have made an error of judgement. She did qualify her stance by saying that Bishop Forster should “consider” resignation. The confusion is between the events of (circa) 1974 and what happened in 2009 – all set out above in posts from me, John Scrivener and Richard Symonds. In particular, Mr Scrivener’s two posts merit further careful reading to provide a more balanced picture and, indeed, in his first post clarifying that it wasn’t Bishop Forster at… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

I don’t agree with Mr Wateridge that we should “refrain from further comment”.

But I do agree with him when he says:

“there will have to be very strong grounds and evidence for people…to say publicly that Bishop Forster should consider resigning”

Archbishop Welby please note – especially regarding his predecessor Lord Carey.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Meg Munn – ‘Church Safeguarder’ – calls for the resignation of the Bishop of Chester – ‘Bell Defender’. Ummmmm……

Susannah Clark
Guest

Forgive me, and I’m not trying to be rude, but I don’t understand what point you’re making. I’m not well informed on the subject of safeguarding in the Church of England.

Rev Peter Milligan
Guest
Rev Peter Milligan

This slur against Meg Munn, chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel, suggests that the defense of Bishop Bell was not about the possibility of his innocence but mostly about protecting the powerful against the responsibilities of safeguarding.
It’s the same old, same old. There are always those ready to speak up for powerful men especially against those uppity women who dare question them, whether its Carol or Meg.
Isn’t time we got back to thinking on this site.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“This slur against Meg Munn…suggests that the defense of Bishop Bell was not about the possibility of his innocence… Isn’t time we got back to thinking on this site” – Rev Milligan

Rev Milligan, there is no “slur against Meg Munn”, but there is criticism of her – which is legitimate and justified.

“Thinking” is easy enough – especially on this site – but thinking clearly (& for oneself) is not so easy. In fact, it is extremely difficult – especially when the thinker has little to no grasp of the facts of the Bishop Bell case.

Bill Broadhead
Guest
Bill Broadhead

Surely, the issue is quite simple. Someone, anyone, makes a complaint against Peter Forster under the CDM. It can’t be ruled ‘out of time’ because it has only just come to light publicly, and couldn’t have been dealt with any earlier due to the police investigation and judicial process. Is the Dean of the Arches prepared to be pilloried in the court of public opinion by being seen to collude with a cover-up over child abuse at a time when (I am reliably informed) the chair of the NST is demanding that all – yes, that’s right, ALL – cases… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I seem to be a lone voice here. Do we really want to subject a senior C of E Bishop near to retirement to that procedure. Why can’t everyone wait for the result of the Internal Inquiry? Clearly the Diocese will realise that it has to be complete and credible.

I won’t comment further.

JayKay8
Guest
JayKay8

With reference to the culture of the time, I made a complaint in 2009 against the former Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, in effect for turning a blind eye to abuse; he did this simply by refusing to open copies of sworn statements that had been sent to him. The Bishop had acknowledged that he “received, and placed in safe keeping, the sealed envelope”. John Rees, the provincial registrar, assessed my complaint and concluded that I was legally entitled to make it but that “the complaint is of no, or not sufficient substance to justify being taken further”. Rowan Williams… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

This is a church which thinks mission is about ordinary (probably lay) Joe and Jane having conversations with their friends.

Is calling for an internal review in these circumstances mission-focused? I really don’t think so. Which affects more people? How the diocese and bishop act, or Joe down the pub?

Adrian
Guest
Adrian

I recall that Diocesan Safeguarding Advisors and Archdeacons have roles to play in the making of complaints under the CDM. I don’t recall whether failing to do so is a disciplinary offense for them, I don’t remember anything in the CDM Rules or Code of Practice, despite bishops having a duty to do so.

Dave
Guest
Dave

I’m confused! “Despite this admission, Bishop Forster failed to pass on the letter to the police or order an internal church inquiry…” So in 2009 Bishop Forster knew and failed to pass on the letter – and since then Chester Diocese has known and failed to act? Surely its not just about 2009 but the fact that the diocese has failed to act since. During all the investigations going on in recent years in the Church of England Chester Diocese has had this information and failed to act? The letter was never passed on to the police – it ‘came… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

There’s much to be confused about because it’s made confusing by people who should know better.

Before fingers of blame are firmly pointed at yet another scapegoat, we might do well to re-read the link kindly sent by Janet Fife in one of her earlier posts on this thread:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/06/dear-archbishop-canterbury-can-look-mirror-honestly-say-did/

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I may have given you the wrong link. This link is the Telegraph article on the Gordon Dickenson/Peter Forster case. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/03/13/longest-serving-church-england-bishop-faces-calls-resign-court/

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

I find it totally out of order the Telegraph has not yet provided a counterbalance to their article on March 13 2019 [“Longest serving Church of England bishop faces calls to resign after court hears he knew about paedophile priest” by Tim Wyatt]. The least the Telegraph could have done was to have made a reference to their article on Feb 6 2017 [“Dear Archbishop of Canterbury: Can you look yourself in the mirror and honestly say you did everything you could to expose John Smyth?” – Open Letter by ‘W’]. Obfuscation appears to be rife as the Bishop Bell… Read more »

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

I’m perplexed by the idea that 2009 is a long time ago in child protection. 2009 is post-Soham, long after scandals about the cover up of abuse in the RCC broke. I was teaching in 2009 and the advice is the same as it has been ever since – if someone makes a disclosure of abuse then you report it, having reassured the person disclosing that they’ve done the right thing in telling you. If senior bishops failed survivors of abuse because they didn’t follow basic child protection guidance known to every 22 year old newly qualified teacher and their… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“I’m perplexed by the idea that 2009 is a long time ago in child protection” Quite. It’s bad enough when elderly clerics attempt the argument that in the 1980s it didn’t occur them that there was any harm in having sex with children, or that people who did so might be regarded as in any way a danger. Perhaps the demands of preaching to full churches occupied too much of their time to allow them opportunity to ponder child abuse (“I was not much interested in it”, as George Pell said). But by 2009? It’s simply not credible that anyone… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Bishop Peter Forster said today in a speech in the House of Lords chamber that he is soon to retire North of the Border to Scotland. He will reach the statutory retirement age of 70 on the 16th March 2020, so not long to go now.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I can’t see the internal review producing its report before then, can you?

Simon Bravery
Guest
Simon Bravery

Join the discussion…Is the statutory age of retirement still 70? I thought bishops could now go on to 75.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Archbishop Randal Davidson continued in post until he was 80 but that wouldn’t be allowed nowadays, although his present day successor as Dean of Windsor is still in harness and David Connor was born in 1947. The current Bishop of Hereford has surpassed the age of 70 but has announced the date of his retirement and the Archbishop of York has gained special permission from H M the Queen to continue for another year after reaching three score years and ten.

Richard
Guest
Richard

The Dean of Windsor is dean of a Royal Peculiar which surely gives him special privileges. I imagine he serves at the Queen’s pleasure.

Peter Owen
Admin

I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that no diocesan or suffragan bishop has the right to continue in office beyond the age of 70. If the Bishop of Chester holds his post under Common Tenure then the Archbishop (in this case York) can give him an extension of up to five years beyond 70. See this Guidance. But the intention is that this should only be done when the pastoral needs of the diocese require it. But the Bishop of Chester was appointed before the introduction of Common Tenure, so the above only apples to him if… Read more »