Thinking Anglicans

Lord Carey’s PTO is reinstated

Updated Tuesday

The Diocese of Oxford has issued this announcement:

The Bishop of Oxford has reinstated Permission to Officiate (PTO) for Lord Carey, who has issued the following statement.

“Following helpful and friendly discussions with the Bishop of Oxford, I am pleased to say that my Permission to Officiate has been reinstated.

My PTO was withdrawn last year on June 17th, when the independent Learning Lessons Case Review into the late John Smyth QC referred information comprising two letters to the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England. The letters gave rise to concerns that, when I was Principal of Trinity College Bristol in 1983/4, I had received a report concerning John Smyth’s evil conduct in the early 1980s without disclosing these concerns to the appropriate authorities. At that time Smyth attended the college for a short period of part-time study.

An NST core group was set up and the conclusion to their investigation was that I had seen the report. They also concluded that as a result of this investigation and further training that I have recently undertaken, they believe I do not pose a safeguarding risk.

I welcome this latter conclusion. However, I respectfully disagree with their judgement. I have no memory at all of John Smyth at Trinity College Bristol.

Let me say firmly that I condemn utterly the crimes of Smyth, and the damage he did to the lives of young people. I am fully committed to placing those who have survived abuse at the centre of our safe practices, thoughts and prayers, and to acknowledge how dreadful such abuse is and how lifelong the impact of such abuse.

Over the past few years, I have spent an immense amount of time focusing intensively on safeguarding through working closely with two Inquiries into Peter Ball, including the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and through undertaking specialised safeguarding training.

This year I have made a report to the NST of a disclosure I received about non recent clerical sexual abuse. I am strongly of the view that training in safeguarding is a vital tool to overcoming failures to protect children and vulnerable adults.

I am very willing to meet with survivors of John Smyth if they wish to meet with me.”

The Rt Rev. and the Rt Hon. the Lord Carey of Clifton

If you are affected
If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the themes raised on this page and want to talk to someone independently please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or email

Other support services are also available.

Notes for editors:

A planned independent review into the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late John Smyth QC is currently underway. In the course of that review, new information came to light in June 2020 regarding Lord Carey, which was passed by the reviewers to the National Safeguarding Team for their attention, as per the agreed Terms of Reference for the review.

A Core Group was formed, according to House of Bishops Guidance. The Core Group concluded that the concern, as outlined in Lord Carey’s statement above, is substantiated. This conclusion was also communicated to the Review team, which is expected to report in full during 2021.

However, the Core Group also concluded that if Lord Carey were made aware of a safeguarding concern, an allegation of abuse or a disclosure today, that he would report it to the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor and the police or statutory authorities.


Telegraph  Lord Carey free to minister again as he condemns child sex abuse

Church Times Lord Carey’s PTO reinstated

Janet Fife on Surviving Church A Fag End in the Gutter: The Case against George Carey
This contain a good deal of additional detail about the evidence submitted to the NST, and is well worth reading in full.


February General Synod postponed

The meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod planned for the end of February has been postponed, although there will be an informal online meeting on 27 February. Details are in today’s press release.

Synod to discuss challenges facing the Church and world amid coronavirus lockdown

General Synod is to hold a special online meeting next month examining challenges facing the Church and world in light of the coronavirus pandemic followed by a formal session in the spring, as a result of the current lockdown restrictions.

Members will discuss questions including the future shape of the Church in the wake of Covid-19, independent oversight of safeguarding and proposals by a Commission of the Church of England towards addressing the Housing Crisis at a meeting held entirely remotely on February 27.

Legislation and other business which can only be addressed in a formal session will be discussed slightly later – expected to be from April 23 to April 24. The two meetings will replace the planned group of sessions which would have taken place from February 26 to March 1.

The decision was taken by the officers of Synod – the Archbishops, Prolocutors of Canterbury and York of the House of Clergy, and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity with the support of the Chair of the General Synod Business Committee.

It was taken in order to follow the Government’s call for people to stay at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The Officers of General Synod agreed that Synod chairs and the staff needed to manage formal proceedings should not be required to travel or gather together at the moment.

The decision to hold an extra meeting means Synod will be able to discuss vital questions facing the church and society in February and still address legislative business in the spring, without having to delay discussions to the July group of sessions.

Synod will also have an opportunity to engage in detail with the recently published Living in Love and Faith resources on human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage later in the year.

The Revd Canon Simon Butler, Prolocutor of Canterbury, said: “Clearly the Covid-19 situation needs to improve before we can ask staff and chairs of Synod to gather together or travel anywhere safely.

“What matters most is that we do the essential business we need to in the coming months and we all can hope that this will be much safer after Easter.”

Canon Dr Jamie Harrison, Chair of the House of Laity, said: “Deciding to change the focus of what we can achieve through a virtual Synod has not been easy.

“However, as a medical doctor, I am acutely aware of the need to keep us all safe, not least when I think about our excellent Synod staff and chairs.”

The Revd Canon Sue Booys, Chair of the General Synod Business Committee, said: “The February meeting will be focusing on looking ahead to the aftermath of the pandemic and how the Church can help our communities recover.

“I look forward to a formal session at the end of April when we can address some key remaining legislative business prior to July.”


House of Bishops – 19 January 2021

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops – Tuesday 19th of January 2021

The House of Bishops met for its first meeting in 2021 on Tuesday 19th January via Zoom.

The bishops began with discussion and an acknowledgment of the ongoing seriousness of the pandemic, the rising death toll and the ongoing difficulty, sadness and loss faced by many. As a House and in breakout groups, the bishops continued to be mindful of the damage Covid-19 continues to wreak in our communities but expressed hope that the vaccines now being rolled out offer light at the end of this tunnel.

The House then turned its attention to the current and multi-year post-Covid environment, with broad discussion over the potential long-term impact of Covid-19 in a number of key areas. The House recognised the opportunities afforded by new kinds of engagement through the internet while regretting that many communities could not meet physically or in familiar ways, while underscoring the importance of Holy Communion for individuals and churches.

The bishops welcomed the creative, innovative ways ministers were finding to extend the Church’s outreach by streaming worship online and by developing other ways of building community online. The House affirmed it would be premature to make decisions on the eucharist in a digital medium and the administration and reception of Holy Communion, particularly in a time of national pandemic and resolved to undertake further theological and liturgical study and discussion on these issues over the coming months.

In the afternoon, the House was updated by the Bishop of London in her role as Chair of the Recovery Group. Bishop Sarah addressed the impact of Covid-19 over the Christmas season and the Church’s ongoing participation in the current national vaccination programme. She also reaffirmed that throughout the pandemic, churches will continue to work with other faith communities, local groups and volunteers to support their communities and local health providers. The House also heard that while many churches have decided to offer digital services only for the time being, while others are continuing to remain open in a Covid-secure way for individual prayer and public worship. The circumstances in each place will inform a local decision.

The House then received updates from the Chair of each of the Emerging Church workstreams: From the Bishop of Manchester in his capacity as Chair of the Coordinating group, the Archbishop of York as Chair of the Vision and Strategy workstream, The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich as Chair of the Transforming Effectiveness workstream (whose purpose is to make the operations of the National Church Institutions more effective) and the Bishops of Leeds as Chair of the Governance Review Group. The Governance Review Group plans to publish a consultation document which will suggest a number of options for future governance models and will consult widely.

The House then received an update on the Resourcing Ministerial Formation Review outlining the process so far, and how this fits within the wider vision emerging for the Church of England and the current challenges facing the Church. The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich addressed the House which took note and agreed on the direction of travel of the report, with preliminary recommendations expected by Summer 2021 and final recommendations later in the year.

The House was then informed on progress towards independent oversight for Safeguarding, further to the House’s December discussion of this issue. Further engagement on this issue, including importantly with survivors of abuse, will take place in the coming weeks. The House heard from the Acting Director of Safeguarding, as well as the Director of Mission and Public Affairs who responded to questions from the House. The House was informed that the Interim Support Scheme has progressed well since it began actively dealing with cases in October 2020. The scheme has been developed collaboratively by the NST with important inputs from Legal and Finance, and, most importantly, survivor voices.

The Bishop of Rochester then spoke to the House regarding the Implementation and Dialogue Group Report. The House agreed for the Report to be considered further at a subsequent meeting.


Christ Church Oxford to act on complaint against Dean

Updated again Wednesday
See previous item.

press release from Christ Church

Further statement in response to media interest
12 January 2021

Christ Church’s Governing Body and Cathedral Chapter have decided to take forward internal disciplinary proceedings, following a complaint that was reported in October 2020. These proceedings are part of Christ Church’s HR procedures for dealing with employment issues, as set out in its Statutes.

We fully recognise that this has been an extremely distressing time for each of the parties involved, exacerbated by high levels of media interest and the strong feelings the case has generated. It is now crucial that this internal disciplinary matter is left to be resolved, formally and properly, through the correct procedures, which will include the appointment of an external, independent chair. These procedures exist to protect all of our staff, students and congregants, and Christ Church as a whole, in equal measure.


Archbishop Cranmer has already published a further article on this: Martyn Percy is a ‘sex pest’: Christ Church Oxford in new attempt to oust the Dean
This contains much information about the letter from the Reverend Jonathan Aitken to the Chapter, mentioned here earlier, but also it reproduces the reply to him from the Reverend Canon Graham Ward. The whole article is worth reading.

The Church Times has now (Wednesday) published Dean of Christ Church faces new attempt to remove him from office. This contains a good deal of additional information about the internal disciplinary process to date, and what may happen in the future, and also summarises the status of the separate Clergy Discipline Measure action which is, apparently, proceeding in parallel.


Christ Church Oxford to consider new tribunal action against Dean

We reported on 19 November 2020 A new complaint about the Dean of Christ Church.

Since then we have also linked to several comment articles published on Surviving Church  and Archbishop Cranmer relating to this, in particular (and in reverse date order) on 9 January, 2 January, and 9 December. Some of the linked articles contain fragments of information about developments in this case.

Today and yesterday, two news articles have appeared in mainstream media, both unfortunately behind paywalls, but here are the links, with their headlines, anyway:

Telegraph Camilla Turner Dean of Christ Church faces fresh attempt to be ousted

Times Andrew Billen Oxford college accused of ‘toxic’ bid to paint dean Martyn Percy as a sex pest

Both Christ Church and the Oxford diocese have issued statements (full texts copied below)

The Christ Church statement contains no reference to this incident still being treated as a Safeguarding matter, contrary to earlier reports. The Diocesan statement confirms that a CDM action is still proceeding.  TA understands that Oxford diocesan officials, including the bishop, have recused themselves from participation in that action.

The Telegraph reports:

The College’s governing body and the chapter of the cathedral are due to vote on Monday on whether Dr Percy should be taken to an internal tribunal that could see him removed from office. This… follows an alleged incident which took place in Christ Church cathedral in October, where it is claimed that he stroked a woman’s hair and complimented her on her appearance.

The Times article includes this:

Few in the Church of England have voiced their concerns about a complicated affair over which the church has little say. Many, including the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, appear satisfied that Christ Church has acted responsibly over the latest complaint.

But Rev [Angela] Tilby told The Times: “The difference this time is that the patient machinations of those on the cathedral chapter who have consistently plotted against the dean have now borne fruit with other cathedral clergy apparently actively working for his sacking on the grounds of him being a ‘sex pest’. The mixture of malevolence and naivety is toxic and extremely disturbing in an institution supposedly dedicated to education, learning and holiness.”

Christ Church confirmed yesterday that the governing body would review its investigator’s report alongside the advice of an independent QC.

Both news reports mention that Jonathan Aitken has written to the Cathedral Chapter about the latest developments. In his letter he explains that if the Chapter endorses the Governing Body’s action (expected on Monday) to proceed with a new tribunal, he will seek a Judicial Review in the High Court. and outlines the legal and financial risks involved, both for the Chapter and its individual members. He also makes three suggestions for alternative courses of action by the Chapter.



Peerage for Sentamu

We reported in October on the coverage in the press asking why the recently retired Archbishop of York had not been given a peerage. The Prime Minister’s office has today released a list of Political Peerages 2020, and Dr Sentamu is included in the Crossbench section of the list. Despite the title of the press release, the crossbench nominations are for public service.


St Helen’s Bishopsgate announces “broken partnership” with House of Bishops

St Helen’s Bishopsgate has issued the following statement:


Date 16 December 2020


St Helen’s Bishopsgate, following much prayer and reflection, has announced a state of broken partnership with the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

St Helen’s and many other churches have over a prolonged period called for and prayed for Bishops, as the denomination’s senior leaders, to uphold their vows to teach what the Bible says, including in the area of sex and marriage, and to deny false teaching and practice. Instead the House of Bishops is divided on sex and marriage; its official orthodox doctrine is expressly undermined by how some bishops speak and act, and by the failure to speak and act of many others. This has resulted in a muddled message and confusion for churchgoers across England. Despite their consecration vows, Bishops have overseen the appointment to influential leadership positions of people who openly advocate change to the Church of England’s doctrine and/or forms of service, and Bishops have permitted alternative services and events that do not uphold the Church of England’s stated doctrinal position on sexual ethics.

Seven years ago the House of Bishops published the Pilling Report which called for ‘facilitated discussions’ on sexuality. Earlier this month the House of Bishops published the Living in Love and Faith book, course, and library of resources which call for yet further discussion. Living in Love and Faith demonstrates the division in the House of Bishops with some sections setting out the orthodox biblical teaching but others erroneous alternative views. The overall effect suggests that the clear biblical teaching on sex and marriage is not clear. The House of Bishops is responsible for upholding biblical doctrine in the Church of England. Whilst St Helen’s is encouraged by the faithful work of some involved in the LLF project, the clarity and consistency of the bible’s teaching on sex and marriage is in marked contrast to the House of Bishops’ muddled message.

In good conscience, St Helen’s is no longer able to remain in gospel partnership with the House of Bishops until they again speak and act consistently in accordance with the plain reading and plain teaching of scripture on sex and marriage, as recognised by the church down the centuries.

The loving summons of the Lord Jesus to ‘repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand’ leads his followers into a life of rich fulfilment that stretches into eternity. Thus, when Church of England bishops depart from proclaiming and defending clear biblical teaching, it is not just a breach of the Canons of the Church of England, but more seriously it is unloving and painful to the many people within the Church of England who want to live faithful and sacrificial lives following Jesus, and it risks causing others to stray from the way of salvation revealed in the scriptures.

St Helen’s has a deep love and concern for those in the church who experience same-sex attraction, and seeks to provide support and care for such men and women in our own congregations. Sadly when Church of England leaders contradict or fail to promote the clear teaching of scripture in the area of sexual ethics, they are heard by our and other congregations to say that scripture does not matter and the personal obedience of committed Christians desiring to be faithful to Jesus’ teaching does not matter.

St Helen’s, like the great majority of Anglicans around the world, believes that scripture clearly and consistently teaches that it is God’s good plan that the only loving and God-honouring place for sexual practice is within the marriage of one man and one woman, and that this is a matter of primary biblical importance. It is not merely a ‘secondary matter’ over which faithful Christian disciples can ‘agree to disagree’, rather it is a matter of the authority of God’s word to which all disciples of Jesus Christ should seek to submit (and not reword).

Tracey, a member of St Helen’s who knew she was gay when she was 12, lived an active gay lifestyle in her twenties until she became a Christian a few years ago.

She says, “Now that I’m a Christian it doesn’t mean that I have become straight. I’ve always been attracted to girls. The thing that helped me was understanding that temptation and sin were different things. I have a choice: I can either honour God with my actions or dishonour him.”

She continues, “I find it upsetting when Christians take different bits of the Bible and say, I’ll go with this and not that, as it was quite clear to me what the Bible taught on homosexuality. There is a cost and it is tricky, but holding onto the truths in the Bible, I choose to honour Jesus. I have a wonderful church family who are incredibly supportive.”

St Helen’s is not leaving the Church of England and will remain a member of its Deanery and Diocesan structures for the most part. However St Helen’s will be withdrawing from those activities which indicate full spiritual partnership. This is likely to include the selection and recommendation of people going forward for ordination, as well as planting new Church of England churches. We have been in regular communication with both the current Bishop of London and her predecessor about our developing concerns. We are grateful that the Bishop of London has, in response, proposed working with St Helen’s to assess how the potential consequences of broken partnership could be addressed.

William Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s says, “The House of Bishops has responsibility for spiritual leadership in the Church of England-teaching the truth, correcting error and exercising discipline. Their failure of leadership over many years is responsible for the confusion that the Church of England now finds itself in. By contrast the Bible’s teaching is clear, authoritative and loving as is the historic doctrine of the Church of England. Sadly, therefore, we find that although authentically Anglican, we are not, for the time being, in gospel partnership with the House of Bishops. We feel obliged to take this step to differentiate ourselves visibly from the House of Bishops.”

He continues, “We are grateful for the ongoing faithful ministry of the Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, who is not himself a voting member of the House of Bishops but has repeatedly and faithfully raised these concerns about departure from the Scriptures. Rod will review me annually in my role as Rector of St Helen’s, with input from the churchwardens and other members of the team at St Helen’s. We will also continue to pray for the leadership of the Church of England and for the House of Bishops, especially that they will stand strong in the orthodox truths and have the confidence to be unashamed in preaching the gospel as set out in scripture – the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, no matter how counter-cultural it may seem to contemporary society.”

Many local church leaders, from different Anglican churches across the country, share similar concerns to those expressed by St Helen’s. We wish to support and remain in full partnership with these likeminded churches, who seek to teach the good news of Jesus with faithfulness and compassion and provide on-going care, love and support for those within their congregations experiencing same-sex attraction.


For more information, please see and/or contact


General Synod February/March 2021

The Church of England General Synod next meets from Friday 26 February to Monday 1 March 2021. The draft timetable for the meeting was published today, and is copied below the fold.



The Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani will be the next Bishop of Chelmsford

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Chelmsford: 17 December 2020

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Gulnar (Guli) Francis-Dehqani BA MA PhD, Suffragan Bishop of Loughborough, for election as Bishop of Chelmsford.

Published 17 December 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Gulnar (Guli) Francis-Dehqani BA MA PhD, Suffragan Bishop of Loughborough, for election as Bishop of Chelmsford, in succession to the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell following his appointment as Archbishop of York.


Guli was born and raised in Iran and her faith was nurtured in the tiny and much persecuted Christian community there. Her father was Bishop in Iran and her brother was murdered subsequent to the Iranian Revolution. He is commemorated in the Chapel of the Modern Martyrs at Canterbury Cathedral. Guli and her family were forced into exile.

Now a UK Citizen, Guli was educated at Nottingham University and Bristol University and trained for ministry at The South East Institute for Theological Education. She served her title at Mortlake with East Sheen, in the Diocese of Southwark and was ordained priest in 1999. She also has a doctorate in theology on cross cultural mission.

In 2002, Guli was appointed Chaplain of the Royal Academy of Music and St Marylebone Church of England School, in the Diocese of London. In 2009, she took up the role of Inter-faith Liaison Research Assistant at the University of Northampton and in 2011 was appointed Curate Training Officer, in the Diocese of Peterborough.

In 2017, Guli took up her current role as Bishop of Loughborough, in the Diocese of Leicester.

She is married to Canon Lee Francis-Dehqani, also ordained, and they have three children, one at university and twins at school.

There is more on the Chelmsford diocesan website.


Safeguarding: Durham diocese publishes Granville Gibson report

The Diocese of Durham has today published the report by Dr Stephanie Hill into the case of convicted sexual abuser Granville Gibson, formerly the Archdeacon of Auckland.

Statement by Bishop Paul Butler which explains why the report, completed in 2017, has been delayed in publication until now.

The full text of the report is here: Independent Report into the case of George Granville Gibson.

The diocesan responses to the recommendations in the report are tabulated here.


House of Bishops Meeting, December 2020

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops Meeting, December 2020 via Zoom

The House of Bishops met for a scheduled two-day meeting on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 December 2020 via Zoom

The two-day meeting is customary for the House at year end, with the House approving items to feature on the agenda for February Synod.

Amongst the key issues covered were discussion and updates on the Emerging Church workstreams, Safeguarding (particularly independent oversight), updates from Ministry and further developments related to the reform of the Clergy Disciplinary Measure (CDM).

The Bishop of London gave an update to the House regarding the on-going situation with regards to COVID-19 in her role as Chair of the Recovery Group. In her update, she addressed the impact of COVID-19 in preparation for the Christmas season and the possibility of future restrictions over the coming months. She noted that every effort has been made to ensure that Christmas church services are held safely and in compliance with the law and that churchgoers can be assured of this. The House was reminded that throughout the pandemic, churches have worked with other faith communities, local groups and volunteers to support their communities and local health providers. The Bishop of London confirmed that this work will continue as the nation recovers from the pandemic but noted that we are not yet through the crisis and urged caution and care to all in the community.

The House was updated by the Bishop of Manchester in his capacity as Chair of the Coordinating group of the Emerging Church Workstreams. This was followed by discussion of a Perspectives paper outlining how dioceses individually, and the Church as whole, are responding in the short and medium terms to the challenges of COVID-19. The paper reviewed the impact of the pandemic and the changes dioceses are making to their mission and ministry plans, as regards finances, people and buildings. The house broke into groups to discuss the issues raised in the paper.

The conversation continued in the second day, when breakout groups reported on their discussions. The focus of the feedback and the discussions was how resources should be directed to where they will have the most impact, how national strategies should relate to diocesan strategies and where resources should be maximised for longer term transformation. The House also reviewed how bishops can work collaboratively to respond to the changing picture at ground level.

The Bishop of Leeds addressed the House in this capacity as Chair of the Governance Review Group and was joined by the Bishop of Willesden, who is a member of the group. A progress report was presented the House in line with the Group’s terms of reference which tasks the Group with reviewing the effectiveness of the existing governance structures and process across the national functions of the Church of England. The House noted the report and agreed to the direction of travel for phase two of the Group’s work. The Governance Review Group plan to publish a consultation document which will suggest a number of options for future governance models and will consult widely on them with all relevant stakeholders.

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich then spoke to the House regarding the work of the Transforming Effectiveness workstream, whose purpose is to make the operations of the National Church Institutions more effective to enable the Church of England to better serve God’s mission.

The Bishop of Huddersfield (Lead Bishop for Safeguarding) introduced Melissa Caslake, Director of Safeguarding to speak to the House with contributions also from Meg Munn, the Secretary General and the Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Panel. In addition to a progress update on the interim support scheme following the recent ICSA report and recommendations and last month’s Synod debate, the House agreed in principle to interim arrangements to provide for independent oversight and scrutiny in the immediate future.

The Bishop of Huddersfield thanked Melissa Caslake for her contribution over the last 18 months prior to her forthcoming departure in January next year. He gave his personal thanks for her support and leadership within the National Safeguarding Team (NST) and National Safeguarding Steering Group. During her tenure, Melissa led and worked with colleagues towards the creation of new independent structures for the oversight of safeguarding and has helped the Church to become a safer and healthier place for all.

The Bishop at Lambeth updated the House on the progress to date on Clergy Disciplinary Measure (CDM) reform. The House noted the direction of travel of CDM reform, which will also take into account recent IICSA recommendations. Feedback was given by the House on three proposals with further discussion to form part of a wider consultation process, prior to proposals being put forward to General Synod.

The Bishop of Chester gave a short presentation to the House on the Revised Formation Framework for Ordained Ministry. The Ministry Council has overseen this process on behalf of the House which began in September 2019, with the purpose of renewing the Formation Framework which is used to assess the suitability of ordinands to be an ordained and to assess the suitability of curates to be moved to a new post. The House gave its blessings to the work of Ministry Council on the framework and noted the protocol which has been devised to enable good practice in withdrawing ordinands from training.

The House also engaged in a discussion regarding Brexit. The House considered the current situation and the impact of the various future scenarios on churches and communities across the country. The Bishops in the House of Lords will continue to contribute to discussions in the House of Lords on this matter.

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Independent oversight of safeguarding proposed

The Church of England has today issued this press release:

Update on NST independent oversight
The Archbishops’ Council has voted unanimously that a proposal on interim independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team is to be put in place before February Synod (2021) to pave the way for full independent oversight, by February Synod 2022. Both the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops have already endorsed the principle of independence for the Church’s safeguarding work.

The House of Bishops also discussed this at its meeting today supporting the direction of travel for these proposals while noting the importance of engaging with dioceses. The interim oversight model would include the creation of a new safeguarding board with a majority of entirely independent members, including a Chair, who would have delegated responsibility for the oversight of the NST, to ensure independence of scrutiny and feedback. The Board could then help determine the approach to implementing full independent oversight which will include proposed structural changes for closer working with and oversight of diocesan safeguarding officers, particularly on casework, as outlined in the IICSA recommendations.  The detailed arrangements for this, and the resulting allocation of responsibilities, will need to be worked out fully through this process of consultation.

Consultation with survivor representatives has made it very clear that they want to see independent oversight for all cases, not just national ones. This particularly reflects the first IICSA recommendation. There will  be full consultation with survivor groups and with dioceses as detailed proposals are drawn up.  The Archbishops’ Council noted the importance of how the principle of independence is worked out in relation to dioceses and of ensuring input and feedback from parishes and PCCs. There will be a more detailed timeline in place by February Synod for the following 12 months as this work is progressed. The Council agreed the importance of increased resources to ensure this structure is in place by February Synod.

The Council also unanimously endorsed the setting up and funding of the Interim Support Scheme for survivors.


Dean of St Albans to move to Anglican Chaplaincy in Paris

The Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, has accepted a post as Associate Chaplain at St George’s Anglican Church in Paris, after seventeen years at St Albans Cathedral. St George’s is an Anglican Church of the Diocese in Europe.

More details here and here.


Bishop of Portsmouth to retire

The Rt Revd Christopher Foster announced today that he will retire as Bishop of Portsmouth in April 2021.


Clergy Discipline Measure revision

The Church of England’s CDM Working Group published a progress report last Friday. The group proposes that there should be a new measure rather than revision of the current measure. It also proposes a number of interim changes that do not require primary legislation. Consultation meetings are being held this week and next; details of how to join are in the report.

The accompanying press release is copied below the fold.

Also on Friday the Ecclesiastical Law Society announced a further public consultation on the Measure. Responses, to be submitted by 20 December 2020, are welcome from non-members.



CofE National Director of Safeguarding resigns

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.

Friday morning update

An official announcement has at last appeared and can be read here: National safeguarding director takes up new role. It is copied in full below the fold. (more…)


Further advice from the Archbishops on Holy Communion and its distribution

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.



Living in Love and Faith – statement by the Bishops of London and Coventry

Press release from the Church of England

Living in Love and Faith: Learning together with our different experiences and theological understandings

A statement from Bishop Sarah Mullally (Chair of the Next Steps Group) and Bishop Christopher Cocksworth (Chair of the LLF Coordinating Group).

Specific and harmful targeting of some of the individuals who have courageously shared their stories as part of LLF is wrong and not in the spirit of LLF and the Pastoral Principles commended by the House of Bishops. Personal insults and attacks are contrary to the respect, love, grace, kindness and compassion to which we are all called.

We are profoundly grateful to each person who has taken the path of sharing their story publicly for the Living in Love and Faith project. They enrich our learning and invite us to acknowledge the diversity found in the Church today. They are to be received with openness.

Engaging with the LLF resources is enriching and, at different points for different people, challenging. Questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage are deeply personal with real-life consequences. It is vital that our ongoing conversations and processes of learning and discernment take place in as safe a way as possible.

The LLF process of learning together with our different lived experiences and theological understandings is challenging and will not succeed without respect, love, grace, kindness and compassion.


General Synod – day 3

The Church of England’s General Synod meets virtually from 1300 on Monday until 1530 today. The papers are available here.

Video recording of the day’s proceedings

Order paper 4 – details of the morning’s business

Order paper 5 – details of the afternoon’s business

The main item of business in the morning was a presentation and debate on Safeguarding (GS 2184). There is an official press release reporting on this: Unanimous Synod support for IICSA report.

This was followed by final approval of a new Diocesan Boards of Education Mesure: Diocesan Boards of Education Measure approved by General Synod.

Reports from members and the press

Stephen Lynas Who’s sorry now?

Andrew Nunn ‘Wearing thin’

Church Times Synod votes unanimously to accept IICSA recommendations


Bishop of Dorchester

Press release from Number 10
There is more detail on the Oxford diocesan website.

Suffragan Bishop of Dorchester: 24 November 2020

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Gavin Andrew Collins MA to the Suffragan See of Dorchester.

Published 24 November 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Gavin Andrew Collins MA, Archdeacon of the Meon, in the diocese of Portsmouth to the Suffragan See of Dorchester, in the diocese of Oxford, in succession to the Right Reverend Colin William Fletcher OBE who resigned on 16 November 2020.

Gavin was educated in Law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and worked as a solicitor in the City of London, before training for ministry at Trinity College Bristol. He served his title at St Barnabas, Cambridge, in the diocese of Ely and was ordained Priest in 1998.

In 2002, Gavin was appointed Vicar at Christ Church, Chorleywood, in the diocese of St Albans and, from 2006, he additionally served as Rural Dean of Rickmansworth.

In 2011, Gavin took up his current role as Archdeacon of The Meon in the diocese of Portsmouth.

Gavin is married to Christina, who is a Health Visitor, and they have three young adult children.