Thinking Anglicans

Questions about the Teaching Document

Colin Coward has published an article titled  Ten questions about the House of Bishops Teaching Document.

In this he refers to GS Misc 1158, published in June 2017,  Next Steps in Human Sexuality, which was the subject of a presentation at the 2017 July General Synod sessions in York.   A more up-to-date list of members of the various groups can be found here.

See our two articles from last year on GS Misc 1158

Our recent article about the presentations planned at York this year is here.

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General Synod agenda – press reports

Updated Friday afternoon

Madeleine Davies Church Times Canons most critical in response to cathedrals consultation

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of England sexuality debate off the cards until 2020
‘Michael Curry effect’: Church of England opens up congregations to black-majority pastors

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Church of England bishops will call on Theresa May to surrender Britain’s nuclear deterrent

Update

Madeleine Davies Church Times General Synod discussions to go nuclear in York

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Beyond Inclusion

OneBodyOneFaith published this on 5 June:

We’re delighted that this film, funded by our supporters and members and featuring John Bell and Nick Bundock, has now been completed and can be viewed on our YouTube channel. As you’ll probably recall, the film arose out of John hearing about Nick’s church’s response to Lizzie Lowe’s death, and the films are a conversation between the two of them, with ideas for reflection by church groups.

Please share the films and encourage others to do so too; we want them to reach the widest possible audience because we believe they have the potential to help people move on in their journey of understanding, and to make real change. If you need more resources for study and reflection, check out some of the books in our online shop – or get in touch and we can help you identify people to talk to, speakers and other sources of support, reflecting your particular context.

Today is Lizzie’s 18th birthday. Her parents Kevin and Hilary appear briefly in the film. Notwithstanding the remarkable transformation of their church following her death, would still give anything to have their daughter back. Please remember them, and Lizzie’s siblings and many friends, today.

Part one of the film is here.
Part two is here
. Do be sure to watch both parts.

And then consider this question: So – how’s the ‘radical Christian inclusion’ coming along then?

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Safeguarding debate at General Synod

On Saturday morning, 7 July, following Morning Worship and a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York, the synod will consider the topic of Safeguarding. There will be a presentation, followed by questions, followed by a debate. However, the relevant document, GS 2092 will not be published until Friday 22 June but we do now know the wording of the motion that will be proposed. It is highly likely to attract numerous amendments.

SAFEGUARDING (GS 2092)

7 Presentation under SO 107.

Note: The Business Committee has determined under SO 107(3) that this presentation should include an opportunity for questions.

8 The Bishop of Bath and Wells to move:

That this Synod, recognising that safeguarding is at the heart of Christian mission and the urgent need for the Church of England to continue to become a safer place for all and a refuge for those who suffer abuse in any context:

(a) endorse the priorities for action outlined in the report (GS 2092); and

(b) call on the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to ensure that the plan of action is implemented as a matter of priority.

GS Misc 1192 Summary of decisions by the House of Bishops and Delegated Committees, contains brief reports of various meetings that have considered Safeguarding. The relevant extracts are copied below the fold. I have changed the order of the meetings to put them in chronological order.

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General Synod and Sexuality on Saturday afternoon

The Business Committee report GS 2091 contains the following:

Arrangements for the Saturday afternoon

25. The Business Committee has agreed that on Saturday afternoon the Synod will not be in session. Instead, members will be invited to attend a choice of seminars intended to update members on various important areas of work and to encourage our participation in the development of them.

26. The seminars will cover the developing work of the House of Bishops Teaching Document on Human Sexuality, the Pastoral Advisory Group, Digital Evangelism, the Evangelism Task Group and the Environmental Working Group, as well as Children and Young People. Each seminar will be 1 hour long and will take place 3 times on a rotating basis in order to allow those members who wish to attend up to three different seminars. There will also be workshops available on a number of these topics. Full details of these opportunities are set out in GS Misc 1188. This conference style session will be introduced at the end of the Saturday morning session by the Chair of the BC and some of those leading the different workstreams.

27. After due consideration, the Business Committee has come to a mind that the various PMMs and DSMs relating to the matters which are intended to be addressed by the proposed House of Bishops Teaching Document on Human Sexuality will not be scheduled for debate until that document has been published. This decision was taken on the understanding that the work on the Teaching Document will be completed by 2020. In addition, there has been an understanding that from the inception of the project there will be regular opportunities for members of the General Synod to engage with that work, as it develops at each group of sessions. This process of engagement begins with the seminars arranged for the Saturday afternoon of the July group of sessions.

The details of the arrangements for the Saturday afternoon are contained in GS Misc 1198.

The programme for the afternoon comprises

  • four separate seminars and three workshops relating to the four strands of work contributing to the Episcopal Teaching Document on human identity, sexuality and marriage;
  • a seminar on the work of the Pastoral Advisory Group
  • a seminar on mission among children and young people;
  • a seminar on the Church’s environment programme
  • a seminar on digital evangelism; and
  • a seminar on the work of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group

The nine seminars will each run three times during the afternoon, for an hour, at 2.30 pm, 4.15 pm and 6.00 pm.

The three workshops are described as follows:

…organised so that you can visit them at your own pace and in your own time throughout Saturday afternoon. Each workshop space will have information about aspects of the work of the Teaching Document and offer ways in which you can participate in shaping its work.

One or more members of the Co-ordinating Group for the Teaching Document will be available to respond to your questions and tell you more about the work of the group. These workshops are as much for the benefit of the Teaching Document as to inform you about the project..

There is a lot more detail in GS Misc 1188.

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General Synod papers published

The Church of England has issued the press release below about papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod.

See the previous article for my list of papers.

New links between Church of England and black-majority churches
14/06/2018

Church of England congregations will be able to share mission and ministry with a range of churches in their area more easily under plans due to receive final approval by the General Synod next month.

A long-anticipated overhaul of rules underpinning ecumenical relations is expected to open the way for parishes to take part in joint worship with more churches than previously possible.

For the first time this will include churches without a large national structure – something which will particularly affect newer independent evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic groups including many black-led churches.

The move – part of a drive to simplify ecclesiastical law – is among several significant legislative changes being considered at Synod which meets in York from July 6-10.

Dr Joe Aldred of Churches Together in England, who serves as an Ecumenical Representative for Pentecostals on General Synod and is a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy, welcomed the change.

He said: “This is a great moment for relations between the Church of England and Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations and congregations, including many black-led churches, as we share the task of building the Kingdom of God in this country.

“In working together and worshipping together our churches have the potential to transform their neighbourhoods.

“The shape and style of the Church in England has changed considerably over the years and this legislation reflects the new reality on the ground.

“Through the work of the Pentecostal Presidency in Churches Together in England, I have seen just what is possible by strengthening relationships, engaging in prayer and mission together and I hope and pray this change in legislation will mean we can do even more together.”

In one of the most broad-ranging agendas in recent years, Synod will also discuss national and international issues from nuclear proliferation and responses to climate change to the future of the NHS.

There will be a major debate on the Church of England’s work on safeguarding and Synod will be asked to endorse the priorities for action outlined in the report (GS 2092) to be published with the second set of papers next week.

Synod will also have an opportunity for a detailed update on progress on the episcopal teaching document on human sexuality and marriage and to engage with those working on it through a series of seminars and workshops.

The document, due to be completed in 2020, will be entitled Living in Love and Faith: Christian teaching and learning about human sexuality and marriage.

Synod papers published today also include the final report of the Church of England’s Cathedrals Working Group which sets out new ideas to help secure the cathedrals for the future.

Further details on the Cathedrals Working Group report are set out in a separate press release.

Notes to editors

A full set of papers from the first circulation is available here. A second circulation will follow and will be available on Friday June 22.

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July General Synod – online papers

Update Links to almost all the papers are now (22 June) available and have been added below.
Update Remaining links added (5 July)
Update All papers are available to download via Dropbox

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 22 June 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 Friday 6 to Tuesday 10 July 2018 in York.

Timetable
GS 2090 Agenda

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Lessons learned from the Mawer report on the See of Sheffield

Updated Friday

press release from the Archbishops’ Council
Lessons for the National Church Institutions following Independent Reviewer’s report on Sheffield

Following the publication of Sir Philip Mawer’s independent review into the nomination to the See of Sheffield, William Nye, Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, has published a ‘lessons learned’ review in response to Sir Philip’s fourth recommendation.

He said: “I would like to add my thanks to that of the Archbishops to Sir Philip for his review, and in particular for suggesting that I review the lessons to be learned for the National Church Institutions from the handling of the process after Bishop Philip North’s nomination.

“Having done this, I hope that my suggestions for a way forward will ensure that those nominated to a see, as well as the dioceses in question, will be better supported by the National Church Institutions both before and after the announcement.

“We have already put this learning into practice and have reaped the benefit of this in the announcement of the new Bishop of London last December and the new Bishop of Bristol in May.

“We will continue to learn from each nomination, keeping to our commitment to mutual flourishing in every process.”

The full text of the review is available here.

Notes

Sir Philip’s report can be found here.

The House of Bishops response to Sir Philip’s report can be found here.

Update

Forward in Faith has issued this press release: Nomination to the See of Sheffield: Lessons Learned

…Like Mr Nye, we look forward to news of the progress of the Implementation and Dialogue Group in carrying out its task of remedying this lack of education about the Five Guiding Principles and the 2014 settlement more generally. We hope that, when the next traditional catholic is nominated to a diocesan see, the fruit of its work will be seen in much more generous responses within and beyond the diocese concerned.

The House of Bishops’ Declaration also said, ‘It will be important that senior leadership roles within dioceses continue to be filled by people from across the range of traditions.’ The non-implementation of this commitment over the last four years suggests that educational work might usefully begin within the House of Bishops itself.

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More reporting on the Bishop of Maidstone's letter

Updated again Tuesday afternoon

The reply from the Bishop of Maidstone to the Diocese of Lichfield ad clerum continues to get coverage.

We first reported this in our roundup of 6 June, which included a link to Colin Coward’s Open Letter to Archbishops Justin and Sentamu re: +Maidstone.

Since then:

Savi Hensman wrote about this at Ekklesia Bishop’s call to deny communion defies church on LGBTI welcome.

David Ison wrote about this at ViaMedia News Welcome, Disorder & Hypocrisy in the Church of England.

The Church Times reported David Ison’s article: Dean of St Paul’s enters debate on Lichfield’s ‘inclusion’ letter.

The Times (£) reported Gays and unmarried lovers should repent, bishop insists.

The Sunday Times (£) reported Gay Christians ‘being forced out’ by evangelical churches.

And Colin Coward has written a second article: A bishop authorised to discriminate against LGBTI people.

Updates

catholicity and covenant How +Maidstone gets ‘worthy reception’ wrong

Colin Coward has written The Archbishop of York refers matters to the Pastoral Advisory Group.

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Abuse survivors respond to safeguarding liturgy resources

We linked previously to the resources published by the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England, Towards a Safer Church.

Today the Church Times has a news report: Survivors of clerical abuse object to C of E safeguarding liturgy guide.

SURVIVORS of clerical sex abuse have criticised the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England, saying that the safeguarding liturgy guide that it published last week had not been informed or approved by survivors, as had been claimed (News, 1 June).

The liturgy guide, Towards a Safer Church: Some liturgical resources, states that, while most of the Bible readings, prayers, hymns, and set liturgy were already in general use, the texts had been supplemented by new material, including prayers suggested by survivors.

An accompanying blog written by the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, said that the content had been “chosen in consultation with survivors”…

The article then refers to a letter, which can – and should – be read in full here, from eight survivors (scroll down to fourth item).

Sir, — We are survivors of physical and sexual abuse by office-holders in the Church. Our abusers include bishops, a dean, an archdeacon, several parish clergy, and at least one Reader. We are just a few of the scores of victim survivors who are forced to struggle for justice against the deaf and intransigent hierarchy of the Church.

Last week, one more example was added. The Liturgical Commission published a set of resources (“Safeguarding liturgy for survivors is published”, News, 31 May), which, it said, had been “chosen in consultation with survivors”. This was not true, as the compilers presumably knew.

One of our number, Graham Wilmer, who reviewed the collection, is very unhappy that his comments about it have been taken out of context and used without his permission in the launch material. No other survivors appear to have been consulted. MACSAS, the organisation for Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, was not approached; nor was the collection seen or approved by those survivors who sit on the National Safeguarding Panel — the only national Church of England body with representative victims of abuse…

In the news report, the Bishop of Hereford, vice-chair of the Liturgical Commission, responds:

…“We apologise if survivors on the National Safeguarding Panel feel that they were not adequately consulted,” he said.

“The resources were referenced at the April meeting, and one survivor representative on the group — along with survivors from other parts of Church life — had been consulted in depth, and he commended them at that meeting.

“Our prayer is that they will be used by all those involved in safeguarding as part of our commitment to make our churches a safer place for all. As a commission, we are committed to reviewing and supplementing these resources as their use becomes more widespread.”

One of the survivors, Janet Fife has written two articles at Surviving Church which analyse the perceived failings of these resources in much more detail.

‘Towards a Safer Church’ Part 1 by Janet Fife

Towards a Safer Church A Critique Part 2 by Janet Fife

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Towards a Safer Church: Liturgical Resources

On Friday, the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England published “safeguarding resources, for use in churches across the country, including Bible readings, prayers and suggested hymns, chosen in consultation with survivors” under the title Towards a Safer Church: Liturgical Resources.

There is a press release here, and the liturgical resources are available in PDF format here

The Chair of the Liturgical Commission, Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, in an introduction to the resources has written:

The Church needs to be at the vanguard of fostering a change of culture across society. Safeguarding is at the forefront of public consciousness and the Church needs to embody best practice in safeguarding in our network of parishes, schools and chaplaincies as part of our commitment to excellence in pastoral care.

Many of these resources are already being used widely across our churches, but we thought it would be helpful to gather them into one place for ease of access. Collectively they are neither the first word nor the last word on this subject, but they are offered in the hope that by God’s grace the Church may become a safer place where everyone is valued.

Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport, has also written about the resources here

The resources have been compiled by the Liturgical Commission and staff, in consultation with survivors, who have themselves suggested some of the resources, with the aim providing prayers and other resources for various occasions. This includes use with survivors and others directly affected, as well as events such as the commissioning of safeguarding officers in parishes and dioceses. Most of the material had been previously published (including commended and authorized liturgical texts), but it has been brought together in one place so that it is easier to find and to use.

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Safeguarding and the Seal of the Confessional

Updated see below the fold

Following on from a Facebook discussion initiated yesterday by Robin Ward and a blog article at Archbishop Cranmer there have been several mainstream media reports of the guidance issued by the Diocese of Canterbury relating to this topic.

The original guidance which was published in 2015, so not a new development, can be found here. The relevant section is on page 33.

The contentious wording is this:

Any priest hearing a confession, regularly or otherwise, must say prior to hearing that confession the following statement of confidentiality and safeguarding:

“If you touch on any matter in your confession that raises a concern about the wellbeing or safeguarding of another person or yourself, I am duty bound to pass that information on to the relevant agencies, which means that I am unable to keep such information confidential.”

The diocese issued a clarification yesterday in response to media queries: Confession & safeguarding.

“Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults must be our highest priority and is at the heart of all our responsibilities,” said Julian Hills, Diocesan Secretary. “While there have been only a tiny number of criminal cases in which the seal of the confession has been in issue, it is unclear whether a criminal court would favour the responsibility to protect someone from abuse or the requirement of a priest to maintain confidentiality. The decision to issue this guidance arose out of a genuine situation where, during confession, a penitent shared with a priest information about ongoing abuse. In this case, the legal and moral position of the priest was called into question. It was therefore felt by the Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group that clergy must have clear guidance on how to manage situations where the seal of confession may be brought into conflict with their safeguarding responsibilities.

“This guidance has not – as some have claimed – ‘abolished the Seal of the Confessional.’ Rather, it is intended to advise the penitent not to divulge in confession something which would legally compromise the position of the priest – and therefore require that priest to choose between their responsibility to protect someone from harm and the usual requirement of confidentiality.

“The guidance was drafted in early 2015, after seeking independent legal advice and in consultation with the then Acting Head of Delivery for the National Safeguarding Team. We understand that this issue is being considered nationally and that it is due to be discussed by the House of Bishops in December.”

Media reports:

Archbishop Cranmer CofE: ‘Come and confess your sins, but we might have to report you to the police’

Church Times Our confessional guidance is not uncanonical, Canterbury diocese says

Christian Today Church accused of breaking canon law by ordering priests to report abuse heard in confession box

Telegraph Christians told not to confess sex abuse secrets to Church of England clergy because they will tell the police

The Times (£) Don’t report abuse during confession, Church warns

This topic has been discussed extensively on Thinking Anglicans in recent years. Here are links to our previous articles:

  • Tuesday, 28 October 2014 Seal of the Confessional. Note that links to CofE documents in that post are broken, because of the way in which that website was rebuilt last year. The key document, GS Misc 1085 has now moved to here.

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Truro diocese publishes Jeremy Dowling case review

The Diocese of Truro has published this report:

A case review concerning Jeremy Dowling, his selection and employment within the Diocese of Truro

…The key findings of the review are:

  • The diocese failed to instigate an independent investigation upon people within the diocese becoming aware of allegations of child abuse made against Jeremy Dowling.
  • There was an unacceptable reliance within the diocese on, and probably misunderstanding of, the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to proceed with a prosecution.
  • There was ongoing knowledge of the situation among senior figures in the diocese well into the 1980s.
  • In line with national policy and requirements the diocese has developed child protection and safeguarding policies. This has progressed and developed through the decades to the current situation overseen by the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel which has significant external membership.
  • Current processes are robust and well thought-out but need continual monitoring and promotion. Senior post-holders in the diocese understand their roles and responsibilities and know how to respond to any allegation of abuse they receive.

The report makes six recommendations, all of which have been accepted by the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel. The panel also made a further recommendation of its own which has been accepted by the Bishop’s Diocesan Council (See Appendix 3 of the report).

The full text of the report is available here.

There has been some media coverage:

BBC Bishops ‘ignored’ Jeremy Dowling child sex abuse

Guardian Four bishops failed to act over abuse by synod member, review finds

Cornwall Live Church knew about allegations before Cornish preacher went on to abuse boys, investigation reveals

There has also been a critical analysis by a survivor of sexual abuse: A review of the Dowling Review by Gilo which includes this:

…But there is another much more glaring omission. There is no mention of any survivors. They are invisible. Presumably they experienced the cover-ups and failure of appropriate response. Some may have tried to raise awareness as they watched Dowling rise up the diocesan ladder. But their experience and any insights on how the diocese responded to them – is totally absent. This omission is disturbing. It suggests a remit very purposefully constructed to withhold information whilst giving out carefully selected information. I imagine Dr Thompson cannot be blamed. But perhaps he should have asked Nigel Druce of the Diocesan Safeguarding Panel why such a wafer-thin remit. Why are the primary voices, the voices of survivors, not being invited to offer any insights to this diocese? Dr Andy Thompson is a leading lay figure in the diocese and on the Bishop’s Council in the diocese. I can’t help thinking a more independent and experienced reviewer would have spotted this obvious hole immediately…

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Bishop of Norwich to retire

The Bishop on Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, has announced that he will be retiring early next year.

Bishop of Norwich announces retirement

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General Synod Agenda for July

The Business Committee of General Synod has today published the agenda for the July Group of Sessions in York.

The published information can be read here and is copied in full below the fold.

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Report from May House of Bishops

The Report from the May meeting of the House of Bishops of the Church of England was released today. The text is copied belw the fold.

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Church of England opposes end to civil partnerships

The British government has reported that previous consultations on the future of civil partnerships were inconclusive. It has therefore issued this: The Future Operation of Civil Partnership: Gathering Further Information.

This raises the possibility of opening civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples or of abolishing civil partnerships for the future. Here’s how the document begins:

  1. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enabled same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship by registering a civil partnership at a time when marriage for same-sex couples was not available. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 allowed same-sex couples to enter a marriage from 29 March 2014, or convert their civil partnership into a marriage from 10 December 2014.
  2. The Government has consulted twice on the continued operation of civil partnerships: in 2012 during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, and again in 2014. In those consultations, we invited views on three possible options; whether civil partnerships should be:
    – abolished
    – closed to new registrations
    – extended to allow opposite-sex couples to register a civil partnership
  3. Taken together, there was no consensus about how civil partnerships should change. Due to the lack of available evidence in support of any of the above options, and the lack of consensus on a particular change, the Government decided not to make any changes to civil partnerships at the time.
  4. This policy paper sets out how the Government will gather additional information. When this work is completed, the Government should have the information it needs to bring forward proposals for the future of civil partnerships.

The Church Times reports (scroll down) that:

Support for civil partnerships. Civil partnerships should not be abolished, the Church’s Director of Mission and Public Affairs, the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown said this week, after the Government’s Equalities Office suggested that their future was uncertain.

In a paper published last week, the Office says that, if demand for civil partnerships remains low, “this might suggest that same-sex couples no longer see this as a relevant way of recognising their relationships, and that the Government should consider abolishing or phasing out civil partnerships entirely.”

There were 890 civil partnerships registered in 2016 in England and Wales, down from an average of 6305 from 2007 to 2013. The paper says that, by September 2019, a “proportionate amount of evidence” will have been gathered to enable the Office “to be confident in the ongoing level of demand”.

“We believe that Civil Partnerships still have a place, including for some Christian LGBTI couples who see them as a way of gaining legal recognition of their relationship,” Dr Brown said. “We hope [they] will remain an option.”

We recently published an article reporting on how civil partnerships had been viewed in 2007: Civil Partnerships: a look back at 2007.

Michael Sadgrove has drawn attention to an even earlier article we published, in 2006: civil partnerships: another bishop’s view.

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Bishops and Safeguarding

There are two items in today’s Church Times that relate to this subject.

Letter to the editor (scroll down)
The House of Bishops and abuse survivors

From Mr Andrew Graystone

Sir, — At the General Synod in February, the House of Bishops once again promised a “new culture” in the way that the Church relates to victims of its abuse (News, 16 February). Since then, there has been no indication of what that new culture might look like, or how or when it will be realised. Indeed, since February there has been minimal contact between the bishops and victims.

The suggestion in a private letter that the National Safeguarding Team is “in the process of developing the terms of reference for a Working Group on Cultural Change” caused hearty laughter among weary victims.

When pressed, individual bishops have dropped hints that “something is being worked out” and will be revealed in due course. This is inadequate for at least two reasons.

The first is that it fails to recognise that the climate of nods and winks, secrecy, and fixing things up in private, is precisely the environment in which abuse thrives. Bishops working things out behind closed doors is the problem; it cannot also be the solution.

The second is that the bishops have yet to face the fact that they are neither qualified nor equipped to fix the Church’s problems in this area. By definition, many have risen to the top through abusive cultures. They are unable to recognise their own privilege and are unwilling to admit their own victimhood. They are horses trying to muck out their own stable.

Until the Bishops admit their inadequacy in this area and call on victims and independent experts to advise, all they will succeed in doing is spreading the muck around.

ANDREW GRAYSTONE
17 Rushford Avenue
Manchester M19 2HG

And there is a brief news item headed Welby ‘will take no further action’ against Croft over abuse case (scroll down)

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has declined to discipline the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, over alleged failings to handle properly a disclosure of abuse. The Revd Matthew Ineson, who says that he was raped while a child by another cleric, the late Trevor Devamanikkam (News, 16 March), made a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure against Dr Croft. Mr Ineson said that Dr Croft did not take any action after being told about the alleged abuse. Mr Ineson said that he had received a letter from Archbishop Welby which said that he “will take no further action”. The Archbishop said, however, that he would ensure that Dr Croft undertook further safeguarding training and understood his responsibilities as a diocesan bishop. Mr Ineson said that he was prepar­ing to appeal against Archbishop Welby’s decision not to discipline Dr Croft.

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Bishop of Huntingdon to retire

David Thomson, the suffragan Bishop of Huntingdon in the Diocese of Ely, has announced that he will retire in autumn 2018.

Retirement Announcement: The Rt Revd Dr David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon

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Lichfield diocese seeks to welcome LGBT+ people

The four bishops of the Diocese of Lichfield have issued an ad clerum letter on this subject.

Here is the press release: Welcoming and honouring LGBT+ people

The bishops of Lichfield Diocese are calling for a Church where LGBT+ people feel welcomed and honoured.

In a letter sent to all clergy and lay ministers in the diocese, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave; the Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Geoff Annas; the Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Clive Gregory; and the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, emphasise that “everyone has a place at the table.”

The letter updates clergy on discussions underway in the national Church on the ‘radical Christian inclusion’ called for by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and draws attention to the work being done on a major new Teaching Document…

Here is the full text of the letter: To all clergy and licensed lay ministers in the Diocese of Lichfield. Part of this is copied below the fold. But do read the entire letter.

There was also an earlier press release: ‘Safe Space’ for LGBT Christians

OneBodyOneFaith has issued a statement: OneBody welcomes letter from Lichfield bishops.

Tracey Byrne said:

“…Much of what the bishops say, shouldn’t really need saying, but sadly it does. Only this week we heard from a gay couple in another part of the country whose vicar has told them they can’t serve on any church committee, and we know too of couples whose vicar has refused to baptise their children. The kind of intrusive and abusive questioning of individuals condemned in the letter really does happen. People feel ashamed, hurt and confused when they encounter this kind of behaviour from people in positions of power and authority. It’s an affront to the gospel, and deeply damaging of individuals.”

Peter Leonard said:

“It’s my hope that the work being undertaken by Lichfield diocese, and this clear statement, will send a very strong signal – to LGBT+ people that they’re welcomed and valued on equal terms with our brothers and sisters. And to those who seek to treat us as a problem, to harm and dismiss us and deny our gifts and callings – that their behaviour will no longer be tolerated. What we need to see now is other bishops issuing similar guidance. But this first step by Lichfield is very much welcomed.”

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