THE Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed plans for a statue of the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, to be completed and installed in Canterbury Cathedral, hours after apologising for the Church’s botched handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against the Bishop.
Plans for the statue were halted in 2015, after a woman known as “Carol” alleged that Bishop Bell, a former Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, had sexually abused her in the 1940s, when she was nine…
THE blackening of George Bell‘s name would not have happened had there been a confidentiality clause governing the payment made to “Carol”, who accused him of sexual abuse, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said on Monday.
Dr Warner was addressing supporters of Bishop Bell at the Rebuilding Bridges conference, held at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, to which supporters wish to see the name “George Bell House” restored…
The resolutions which the Bell Society has promoted for some time are these:
Archbishop Justin Welby to apologise for his “significant cloud” remark concerning Bishop Bell
Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, to invite Barbara Whitley, Bishop Bell’s niece, for a face-to-face meeting. (She has already requested such a meeting.)
Chichester Cathedral’s Dean and Chapter to restore the name of 4 Canon Lane to George Bell House
Chichester Cathedral’s Chancellor and Canon Librarian, the Rev’d Dr Anthony Cane, to permit the reinstatement of Bishop Bell’s portrait and plaque
Chichester Cathedral’s Dean, the Very Rev’d Stephen Waine, to correct page 37 of the Cathedral Guide: Society and Faith
The General Synod to undertake a Full Debate at the earliest opportunity, regarding the serious implications arising from Lord Carlile’s Report
It will be interesting to see if Questions asked at General Synod next week produce any further answers.
THE House of Bishops’ decision to offer transsexual people a way to recognise and celebrate their transition in church should be welcomed, not retracted under the pressure of a “fear-mongering and ungracious response” from conservative Christians.
This is the view expressed by 599 lay people and clerics, including a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, in a letter to the Church Times this week.
“We write in support of the guidance provided by the House of Bishops to help those wishing to celebrate their gender transition,” the letter says, before thanking the group that is co-ordinating the Bishops’ sexuality project, Living in Love and Faith (LLF). This includes the Revd Dr Christian Beardsley, a transgender priest who resigned last week (News, Comment, 1 February).
The letter continues: “It is right and proper that the Church should make a loving pastoral response to trans people who are looking for a way to recognise and celebrate their transition in church, and surely the use of the affirmation of baptismal vows is a powerful statement of faith.”
On Friday, in the House of Lords, three Labour peers proposed an amendment to the Civil Partnership, Marriage and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill which would remove the clergy exemption in relation to same-sex marriage. This amendment was later withdrawn after the Government stated that it could not support it.
The exact wording of the amendment was as follows:
2: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause–
“Removal of exemption for clergy under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
(1) The Secretary of State must make regulations to amend the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 to remove the exemption for members of the clergy to solemnize the marriage of a same sex couple.(2) Regulations under this section must be in force by the end of the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.”
The episode was reported by both the Anglican Communion News Service and The Church of England in Parliament:
The second batch of papers for this month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod have been released. I have updated my list of these papers here. There is also a press release about some of the items on the agenda which I have copied below.
A TRANSGENDER priest, the Revd Dr Christina Beardsley, has pulled out of the group that is co-ordinating the House of Bishops‘ sexuality project, Living in Love and Faith (LLF).
In an article in this week’s Church Times, she argues that not enough attention is being paid to the experiences of LGBTI+ churchpeople. And she questions the neutral stance that the LLF process has been taking: “There’s an assumption that LLF is handling equally valid views about sex and gender on which we can, in the end, agree to disagree.”
The report quotes reactions from both Dr Eeva John and the Bishop of Coventry:
The co-ordinating group was surprised and saddened by her departure, the project’s enabling officer, Dr Eeva John, said on Tuesday. She felt that the group had “always been very aware of how deeply personal and painful these matters have been”, and attempted to listen to people without skirting round issues, “but we do that imperfectly”.
She disputed the contention that not enough weight was being given to LGBTI+ voices. As part of the wider participation, which will be fed into the LLF process in the coming weeks, Dr John had held interviews with 22 individuals, 15 of them LGBTIA+, including five transsexual people.
There were eight openly LGBTI+ people in the LLF working groups, 12 if the Pastoral Advisory Group was included. Dr Beardsley would be replaced, she said. “We’re going to find another trans person. We need that voice.
“The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the co-ordinating group, said on Tuesday that LLF was not simply about balancing different views. “We cannot regard it as impossible in a Christian community to enable people to understand each other’s heartfelt perspectives; and it is our hope that, in a deeper understanding, there will develop a greater level of respect between those who hold differing views — and a greater possibility of assessing the validity of those views and whether they fall into the Christian spectrum.”
The newspaper also carries a lengthy Comment article by Dr Beardsley, which deserves to be read in full.
…Deciding to leave has been hard. I have loved and been loved by the other members. I admire and respect them, and know that they are doing their best, though with their hands tied by the constraints of “the Church’s current teaching”. Praying together as a group has brought us close.
But the moment came. At our meeting in the second week of January, two triggers, in quick succession, brought matters to a head. An LGBTI+ person known to me was demonised. It was as if a mask had suddenly dropped.
Shortly afterwards, the principle of “no talking about us without us” was diluted, yet again, in relation to someone else I know. It was all too much.
My concerns about process, however, have existed for months. I can list these under three headings beginning with the letter “p”: power, parish, and practical theology…
…The open letter, which has been signed online by members of the clergy and laity, is being circulated by critics of the guidance, including the conservative Evangelical organisation the Church Society (full text below). It is understood that the letter was intended to be made public in the week before the General Synod’s sessions next month.
Everyone should be welcomed in churches, the letter says, but “we do not believe that the Guidance is the right way to do this, since it raises some significant issues for the Church’s belief and practice.”
It continues: “The House of Bishops previously stated that no new liturgy would be offered. The title of ‘gender transition services’, the focus on the use of a person’s new name, the use of oil and water contrary to previous rubrics in Common Worship, and the description in the later explanatory note confirming that this service is to be used to ‘mark gender transition’ amount to the offering of a new liturgy, since existing wording is now being put to a new purpose…”
This statement was issued by Church of England (as reported in the Sunday Times):
“The bishops will give the letter their serious consideration, especially in the context of the preparation of a major new set of teaching and learning resources on identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality, ‘Living in Love and Faith’, which will be published next year.
“Transgender matters will be covered in those resources and the pastoral guidance does not pre-empt the work of the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ process. The guidance is not a restatement or a new statement on matters relating to gender, nor does it change the Church of England’s teaching.”
Two of those involved in organising this petition have written about it:
The agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod (released yesterday) includes an addition to the original timetable, this motion from the two archbishops:
That this Synod, knowing through the experiences of parishes across the country that social divisions feel more entrenched and intractable than for many years, and concerned at the divisions within the major political parties which are stifling the emergence of a hopeful and viable vision for the common good in our communities:
(a) call upon every diocese and parish regularly to hold in prayer their local MPs and politicians and the members of Her Majesty’s Government and civil servants, seeking God’s strength and wisdom for the responsibilities they bear;
(b) reaffirm the Christian commitment to putting the voices of the poor and marginalised at the heart of the nation’s concerns; and
(c) call upon the nation’s leaders, drawing on Christian hope and reconciliation, to work together for that common good at this time of division.
The debate will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 23 February, the closing day of the Synod meeting.
General Synod to debate call for reconciliation for divided nation
The UK’s political leaders should draw on “Christian hope and reconciliation” to help steer the country through a time of seemingly “entrenched and intractable” divisions, according to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
The call comes in the text of a special motion on the state of the nation, tabled by the two archbishops, to be debated by the Church of England’s General Synod, which meets in London next month.
It speaks of divisions within the major political parties and calls for every parish and diocese to pray regularly for their local MPs, other politicians, the Government and civil servants.
The timetable for February’s meeting of Synod had been amended to make time for the special debate.
Update (1 February) Links to the second batch of papers have been added
The first batch of papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online. The remaining papers will be issued on 1 February and I will add links when these become available.
Papers in numerical order with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration are listed below the fold. Synod meets from Wednesday 20 to Saturday 23 February in London.
The Agenda is here and the Report by the Business Committee (Guide to the February 2019 group of sessions) is here.
A ruling by Timothy Briden, a senior ecclesiastical lawyer, relating to fresh information received about the late Bishop George Bell, has been published today. Mr Briden was appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to make an independent assessment of the evidence that had been brought before the core group, the Church’s response to any safeguarding situation…
…The core group took the view that there were no safeguarding issues arising out of the fresh information and Mr Briden concluded that the allegations presented to him were unfounded.
I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell. The reputation of Bishop Bell is significant, and I am clear that his memory and the work he did is of as much importance to the Church today as it was in the past. I recognise this has been an extremely difficult period for all concerned and I apologise equally to all those who have come forward and shared stories of abuse where we have not responded well.
An allegation against the late Bishop George Bell, originally brought in 1995, was made again in 2013 in the context of a growing awareness of how institutions respond to safeguarding cases. A review carried out by Lord Carlile into how the Church of England handled the case concerning Bishop Bell made a significant number of recommendations, and the Church of England accepted almost all of these.
At the end of 2017 several people came forward with further, fresh information following the Carlile review, and after a thorough, independent investigation, nothing of substance has been added to what has previously been alleged. A statement from the National Safeguarding Team explains the processes involved in reaching this latest decision more fully…
…The Carlile report, and this subsequent investigation, have however shown how much we have had to learn about dealing with cases from the distant past. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has already questioned the Church over its response to the Bishop Bell case and the review by Lord Carlile. We expect that their report on our two hearings – to be published later this year – will address further the complex issues that have been raised and will result in a more informed, confident and sensitive handling of allegations of abuse in the future. We have learned much about what makes for better process and continue to do so.
In particular, we have learned that the boundaries of doubt and certainty have to be stated with great care, that the dead and those who are related to them have a right to be represented, and that there must be a balanced assessment of the extent to which it would be in the public interest to announce the details of any allegation.
It became obvious that a more thorough investigation must be made before any public announcement can be considered and that the level of investigation typically undertaken for settlement of a civil claim is not adequate to justify an announcement. It is now clear that if an announcement about any other person is to be made, it must not imply certainty when we cannot be certain. We have also now understood much more besides, in particular about the trust that people place in us and their legitimate expectations of us as guardians of the inheritance of faith.
We recognise the hurt that has been done to all who have been directly involved, including the family of George Bell and those who continue to respect his achievements, as a result of the areas where we have fallen short. We apologise profoundly and sincerely for our shortcomings in this regard. The responsibility for this is a shared one, as are the lessons learnt from it…
on Sunday, 20 January 2019 at 12.23 pm by Peter Owen
categorised as Church of England
Church of England parishes are required to prepare a new electoral roll before this year’s Annual Parochial Church Meetings. The CofE’s Parish Resources website has published the following advice on the effect of the GDPR on the electoral roll.
GDPR and Preparation of Electoral Roll 2019
We are aware that GDPR has raised some concerns regarding the renewal of the Electoral Roll. As the law currently stands, there is no need to amend the electoral roll forms, consent is not required. An informative note explaining the legal bases will be added to the forms in due course but the legal position is not dependent on this note.
The Church of England’s GDPR Team have produced guidance to clarify these issues (link below). They have also produced an electoral roll Privacy Notice which explains the GDPR issues for those individuals applying to the electoral roll. You should publish this on your website and/or give it to people who request an application form.
IICSA held another “preliminary hearing” on 15 January. “Preliminary” in relation to the further two weeks of hearings planned for 1 to 12 July. The transcript from yesterday can be read here. Most of it is taken up with the Counsel to the Inquiry setting out her plans for July. At the outset she said:
The purpose of today’s hearing is to provide an update on the work that the inquiry has been carrying out since the hearings in July 2018, and to discuss the necessary preparations for the hearing to commence in July 2019.
I will deal with this in the following order:
Firstly, the broad themes and approaches to the national church hearing as the investigation team currently envisages them.
Secondly, how the inquiry has dealt with, and will be dealing with, the material received in the investigation and how such will be disclosed.
Thirdly, the requests made for statements pursuant to rule 9 of the Inquiry Rules, and when these will be ready for calculation.
Fourthly, hearing dates and any next steps. And lastly, any other business.
In what follows, I intend to explain what the inquiry has been doing and where we are now and set out what is going to happen over the next four months.
In addition to her statement, two legal representatives of groups of abuse survivors also made statements. Scroll down to page 8 of the PDF to read these. David Greenwood makes extensive reference to the case of Matt Ineson.
Bishop Peter Hancock, lead safeguarding bishop for the Church of England said:
“We welcome the comments today from Fiona Scolding QC* on the wider church hearing scheduled for July which outlined the focus of the Inquiry.
We fully support the emphasis on the present and future of safeguarding in the Church of England which will help with our commitment to make the Church a safer place for all. Miss Scolding QC said the Inquiry will be looking at whether changes being implemented by the Church of England are relevant and purposeful. I believe this part of the Inquiry will be critical in helping us ensure that our safeguarding work is effective and rigorous and that survivors’ and victims’ views are heard.
We continue to be committed to working closely with the Inquiry in a constructive and transparent way.”
*Fiona Scolding is the counsel to IICSA for the investigation into the Anglican Church in England and Wales.
IICSA has also published a number of the written closing submissions made at the conclusion of the Peter Ball hearings in July last year. Here are links to some of them, which readers may find interesting despite their length.
Last month, during its regular December meeting, the House of Bishops published new guidance on how an existing rite, for the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith, could be used to enable transgender adults to mark their transition.
This was a direct response to a vote of the General Synod in 2017 calling for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in the Church and requesting the House of Bishops to consider whether nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.
The guidance now commended by the House seeks to fulfil that remit.
The House decided that no special or new liturgy should be prepared for this purpose. Instead, it decided that existing liturgy could be used, and has provided guidance for clergy on how they could use it in this context, should they wish to do so.
The pastoral guidance is not intended as a restatement or a new statement on matters relating to gender. The guidance makes no change to the Church’s teaching. Next year the Church of England will publish a major new set of teaching and learning resources on identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality, “Living in Love and Faith”. Transgender will be among the matters covered in those resources. The pastoral guidance does not pre-empt the work of the “Living in Love and Faith” process.
What the House produced is guidance, not a new set of rules. It should be read alongside existing Notes on the use of the texts. It commends and encourages the use of An Affirmation of Baptismal Faith for the purpose of a transgender adult wishing to reaffirm their Christian faith and mark their transition; but there is no obligation on anyone to offer the rite in this or any other context. Any priest who feels unable to offer this rite in this context is free not to do so. They should find appropriate ways to offer welcome and pastoral care, as they would to all people.
MORE than 100 clerics in the diocese of Oxford have written to criticise their bishops’ approach to LGBTI+ people. A letter released on Monday warns that, if the bishops cannot affirm traditional teaching, many of the signatories will consider seeking alternative oversight.
The letter, signed by 104 serving clerics in the diocese, questions whether people in same-sex relationships should be ordained, or receive communion.
The letter addresses the diocese’s four bishops: “We would ask them to recognise the seriousness of the difference between us: advocacy of same-sex sexual intimacy is either an expression of the love of God or it creates an obstacle to people entering the kingdom of God. It cannot be both. The situation is serious.”
The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Richard Frith has announced he is to retire in the autumn. His public ministry will end with a service at Hereford Cathedral on Saturday 23 November at 11am. The diocesan press release is here.
on Friday, 4 January 2019 at 5.10 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Church of England
Today’s Church Times features a lengthy interview in which the Editor, Paul Handley discusses Living in Love and Faithwith the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth and Dr Eeva John, the project’s enabling officer.
THE group commissioned by the Archbishops to look into sexuality will not pronounce on the rights or wrongs of same-sex marriage. But neither is it engaged merely on a mapping exercise of the different views that exist, or burying the issue in the long grass.
“Perhaps what we’re doing has never been done before,” the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, said shortly before Christmas, speaking in his office in Coventry. Dr Cocksworth chairs the co-ordinating group that oversees the 40-odd scholars working in thematic teams covering theology, history, biblical studies, and science…
Sir, — The fuss over the pastoral guidance in relation to transgendered people is being overdone (Letters, 21/28 December).
Nearly 20 years ago, the House of Bishops received the recommendation from a working party chaired by the then Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, that being transgendered should not in principle be an impediment to being considered for ordination. There was a full debate in the House. Individual bishops might decline to sponsor candidates, but the overall mind of the House was clear.
Many important questions arise over the attitudes in modern society towards serious questions of human and sexual identity, but the principle of the welcome to transgendered people in the life of the Church was settled some time ago.
The other responses on that page are also worth reading.
But Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the Gafcon Primates Council, is unlikely to heed Dr Forster’s advice. In his Chairman’s Epiphany Letter, he writes:
…In the Church of England, just before Christmas, this process reached the point where its bishops took the unprecedented step of giving official guidance for what they described as ‘services to help transgender people mark their transition’ and it will be incorporated into ‘Common Worship’ (a range of services authorised by General Synod).
The guidance states that ‘the House of Bishops commends the rite of Affirmation of Baptismal Faith as the central feature of any service to recognize liturgically a person’s gender transition’. A form of service which is intended to mark a renewed commitment to Christ and the new life we receive through him is instead used to celebrate an identity which contradicts our God-given identity as male and female (as affirmed by Jesus himself in Matthew 19:4) and is still controversial even in secular society.
Although Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998 did not directly address gender transition, by taking this step, the Church of England is rejecting biblical authority in a similar way to TEC and other revisionist Provinces which have permitted same sex marriage…
PCCs, Diocesan Boards of Finance, and religious communities are now required by the House of Bishops to report any “serious incidents” — safeguarding and non-safeguarding — to the Charity Commission, under new guidance published this week.
As part of the move, the C of E will start compiling national safeguarding statistics for the first time…
The guidance from the Church of England is in these four documents.
There is a press release from the Church of England, which is copied below.
New guidance on reporting serious incidents, approved by the Charity Commission
The Church of England has published today new House of Bishops’ guidance on reporting safeguarding and other Serious Incidents to the Charity Commission. This is the first time the Church of England has produced Charity Commission approved guidance.
The Charity Commission updated its guidance on Serious Incident Reporting in October 2018, with a particular focus on the reporting of safeguarding Serious Incidents following recent high-profile incidents in the charity sector. All PCCs and DBFs and most Religious Communities are charities and their trustees (eg PCC members, DBF directors) are required to report any Serious Incidents – both safeguarding and non-safeguarding – to the Charity Commission. (more…)
Queen approves nomination of Suffragan Bishop of Jarrow The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Sarah Elizabeth Clark.
Published 20 December 2018
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Sarah Elizabeth Clark, BA, MA, MBA, Archdeacon of Nottingham, in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, to the Suffragan See of Jarrow, in the Diocese of Durham in succession to the Right Reverend Mark Watts Bryant, BA, who resigned on the 8th October 2018.
The Dioceses of Durham and of Southwell and Nottingham have also announced the appointment.
Queen approves nomination of Bishop of Derby
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Elizabeth (Libby) Jane Holden Lane for election as Bishop of Derby.
Published 18 December 2018
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Elizabeth (Libby) Jane Holden Lane, MA (Oxon), Suffragan Bishop of Stockport, for election as Bishop of Derby in succession to The Right Reverend Alastair Llewellyn John Redfern, MA, PhD, following his resignation on the 31st August 2018.
The Business Committee of General Synod has today published the timetable for the February 2019 Group of Sessions in London. The timetable can be downloaded here and an abbreviated version can be found below the fold.