We linked on 7 August to a critique of the April 2021 amendments to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 Code of Practice written by Gavin Drake.
More recently, Rosie Dawson wrote about this for The Living Church: Church of England Code Silences Victims, Critics Say (some additional links added).
…”These were significant amendments ,” retired barrister and Synod member David Lamming told TLC. “It’s unfortunate that they were overlooked at Synod because they seem to me to go beyond what the measure authorises, which is that the guidance applies only to those who exercise functions within the CDM process.”
The timing of the amendments has led several commentators to conclude that they were drafted in direct response to concerns about the publicity surrounding a CDM complaint brought against the dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Rev. Martyn Percy, in November last year. In May 2021 the President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin, effectively dismissed the case, ruling that it would be disproportionate to refer the matter to a tribunal.
The complaint against the dean came within the context of a long-running, very public and very acrimonious dispute between him and the college and cathedral chapter. Supporters on both sides have engaged in briefing a voracious media. A dedicated website keeps Dean Percy’s supporters abreast of every twist and turn in the saga.
“It is rarely a good idea to legislate from the circumstances of a single case as, appears to have been done here,” says Martin Sewell, a retired Child Protection lawyer and General Synod Candidate. While he believes the motivation behind the changes to the code of practice may have been well-intentioned, he says the effects run contrary to free speech and natural justice. “Much speculative gossip about the circumstances ensued about the nature of the case against Dean Percy. I don’t think it was wrong to have refuted such gossip in careful terms.”
The Church of England would not be drawn on the Percy affair in relation to the changes to the Code of Practice, but said that there had been number of recent cases in which details of complaints under the Clergy Discipline Measure had been made public, causing significant distress and upset for those concerned.
One priest who has fallen afoul of the new rules is the Rev. Robert Thompson, vicar of St. Mary and St James in West Hampstead, London, who announced on Twitter in April that he was subject to a CDM for online bullying. In the adjudication he later received, he was reprimanded for “weaponizing” social media and forbidden from disclosing any further details of the case, including the outcome.
“Robert got the result of his CDM and was told there was no case to answer,” says his friend and fellow priest, the Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain, “but he was also told that he couldn’t share that news with anyone. And the instruction was couched in terms of a threat. It should really be up to Robert what he wants to share. He didn’t tweet anything that identified the complainant. The whole thing just smacks of an attempt to silence people within a system which everyone admits is broken.”
In a statement the Church of England said the update to the code was “simply to underline the expectation of confidentiality in clergy discipline cases, while they are ongoing. It said the Clergy Discipline Commission would respond to Drake’s concerns in due course…
The speeches concerning the Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure from the Bishop of Blackburn, Lord Cormack, and Lord Lexden are all worth reading. However, I draw you attention to this exchange between Lord Lexden and the Bishop:
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cormack referred at the start of his powerful remarks to the passion and anger that he felt because of some recent events. I feel very deep passion and anger, as I shall explain.
I have had the honour of serving on the Ecclesiastical Committee for a few years, but I am afraid I cannot continue my membership of it. I can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex abuse allegations. Doubts about the Church’s capacity to devise a fair and just system for dealing with accusations of sex abuse laid against its clergy have long been simmering in my mind, not least because of the terrible way in which the reputation of the great George Bell, to whom my noble friend referred, was damaged–and damaged so unfairly. But worry and concern have now given place to total despair; my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.
Long ago I was briefly close, perhaps for no longer than a single summer, to a witty and clever Cambridge contemporary. He was a classicist who became a lecturer at Exeter University and later took holy orders. His name was Alan Griffin. In November last year, the Reverend Dr Alan Griffin committed suicide. After the end of the inquest into his death in early July this year, the coroner wrote a detailed report on the way that the Church had investigated his suspected sexual misconduct. She revealed that when he died, the Church’s investigation had been going on for over a year. The coroner stated that
“he could not cope with an investigation into his conduct, the detail of and the source for which he had never been told”–
I repeat, the detail and source for which he had never been told.
Worse, when the coroner probed the evidence against him, she found it was non-existent. There was, she said,
“no complainant, no witness and no accuser”.
The Church had acted on the basis of mere gossip and innuendo. Could there be a clearer example of the denial of natural justice?
And how did the Church carry out its investigation during the year in which Alan Griffin was kept in ignorance of the so-called accusations against him? The coroner states:
“nobody took responsibility for steering the direction of the process from start to finish and for making coherent, reasoned, evidence based decisions”.
And so the scene was set for a terrible tragedy.
The last element of the Church’s behaviour in this case which I want the House to note is very serious indeed. The coroner records that submissions
“on behalf of the Church of England … urged me not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations.”
This is not from some shady organisation or business with suspect moral standards, but from our country’s established Church. These are the circumstances that led to the death of a friend of mine from long ago, and that is why my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been broken.
Could the right reverend Prelate comment on the quotation from the coroner’s report that I read out at the end? The Church of England seeking to interfere with the content of a coroner’s report in order to diminish the extent of the criticism it would sustain: is that not utterly reprehensible?
It is reprehensible and unacceptable. One of the big issues has been the whole matter of cover-up and trying to silence voices. That is a very clear example and should never, ever be repeated. I will report that back to the national safeguarding team and others. We are in the business not of covering up but of being transparent and open, so that these things can be brought to light and people can learn from them. It is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.
The report of the Governance Review working group (49 pages) has been published here. There is a press release about this, copied below the fold.
The Church Times has extensive coverage:
The Telegraph had this report by Gabriella Swerling on Tuesday evening (which has still not appeared in the CofE daily media digest): Church of England reveals huge overhaul of governance, as parishioners warn of ‘coup’38 Comments
The nomination period for this year’s elections to General Synod has closed. Dioceses are now required to post candidates’ election addresses on their websites before sending out voting papers. Some of these have already appeared, and the remainder should be available by the end of the week. I am compiling a list of links to all the addresses, which you can find here. I will update this during the coming week. So far as I am aware there is no similar requirement for the special constituencies.
I am also compiling a list of the members of the new synod here.
Additions and corrections to either list can be emailed to me here.8 Comments
This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.
The Church of England’s General Synod is meeting from today (9 July) to next Monday.
Official press releases
A shortage of clergy would really limit us – we need more vocations, that’s my prayer’ – Archbishop of York’s address to Synod
National Investing Bodies report climate change progress to General Synod
Lord Boateng named as new Chair of Archbishops’ Racial Justice Commission
Racial Justice Officers: Statement by Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, Bishop David Walker and Canon John Spence
Archbishop of York’s address to Synod on Vision and Strategy
Synod Officers condemn “disgraceful” racism following Euro 2020 final
Official record of business done
Business Done Friday 9 July
Business Done Saturday 10 July (AM)
Business Done Saturday 10 July (PM)
Business Done Sunday 11 July (PM)
Business Done Monday 12 July (AM)
Business Done Monday 12 July (PM)
preview of the business: This could be the last time…
Friday’s business: I just stay home the whole day long, and think of you…
Saturday’s business: Money don’t get everything, it’s true
Sunday’s business: Oh, won’t you stay just a little bit longer?
Monday’s business: Still crazy after all these years
Tim Hind reports for the Open Synod Group.
Helen King Handing on the baton?
Sheffield trauma will not be revisited, Synod hears
Clarification: not 10,000 but 20,000; not a strategy but a vision
‘Shock’ on C of E taskforce at refusal of funding for diocesan racial-justice officers
Clergy are a limiting factor, says York … the lack of them
Church is entering a season of action on safeguarding, says Gibbs
Investors are doing their bit to fight climate change, says Minghella
‘Will we need a sick note?’ Synod struggles over voter-not-present proposals
Parliament to fix communion clause just in time for Synod elections
Synod hears about the pain of pastoral reorganisation
Parish clergy are at the heart of any new strategy, Archbishop of York insists
Church must address abuse of women priests on social media, says Bishop of London
Other press reports
Synod will be debating replacing the Clergy Discipline Measure on Sunday afternoon. The Sheldon Hub has published this: General Synod July 2021 – out of the frying pan into the fire?
[Users of the General Synod app should note that this debate and some other items have been omitted from the timetable.]
The Questions and Answers for this coming weekend’s meeting of General Synod are now available. Question Time is on Friday evening. As usual the questions and answers will be taken as read and the allocated time in the agenda devoted to supplementaries.
There is a list of members who have indicated that they wish to ask supplementary questions here.21 Comments
Papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod are now available online. There is a list (with links and a note of the day sheduled for their debate) in numerical order below the fold.2 Comments
Next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod will now be held remotely via Zoom. This has necessitated some changes to the timetable; the amended version is online and is copied below the fold.
The following press release explains the change.
July Synod to take place online
The annual July meeting of the Church of England General Synod, due to take place in London, will now be held online following the Government decision to delay the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions for a month.
Synod’s Business Committee examined alternatives including a hybrid meeting or reduced attendance to comply with restrictions but has reluctantly concluded that the only viable option is to hold the group of sessions from July 9 to 12 remotely.
As a result, the timetable for the event has been slimmed down slightly, with some items better suited to a face-to-face meeting postponed and some extra screen breaks introduced.
In a letter to Synod members, the Clerk to the Synod Dr Jacqui Philips, said: “The Committee gave careful consideration to all options, including an in-person meeting, a hybrid meeting and a remote meeting.
“The Committee took legal advice regarding the ongoing restrictions and considered the health and safety options for a physical, socially-distanced meeting in Church House Westminster.
“Having done so, the Committee very reluctantly concluded that the only safe and deliverable option for next month is for Synod to meet on a remote basis.”
Updated 10 July 2021
The Church of England has published a series of documents about the conduct of the elections to General Synod that will take place this summer, starting very shortly after the close of the July group of sessions. Although much of this is aimed at those conducting the elections, the documents will be of wider interest.
Not included in these documents are the numbers of proctors (clergy) and laity to be elected by dioceses, but they can be found in GS 2203.
There is also some information aimed at those considering standing for election.
An error was discovered in the calculations of the numbers of proctors and laity included in GS 2203. These numbers were updated and approved by General Synod on 10 July and can be found in GS 2214.6 Comments
Updated 17 June 2021 – This Synod meeting will now be held online. Details and a revised timetable are in my post here.
The timetable for July’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod in London was published today, and is copied below.
Synod members have been sent a copy of the timetable with the following attached note.
Please see attached an outline Synod timetable for July 2021, which has been agreed by the Business Committee for a physical meeting of the General Synod in Church House, Westminster in the expectation that no legal restrictions would in place at the time (in line with the anticipated Government Covid-19 plans as per COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Summary) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)). The Committee has further decided that a hybrid session of Synod will not be practically possible in July though is open to the possibility in the future (should resources be in place to enable it).
GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2021 OUTLINE TIMETABLE
Friday 9 July
12.30 pm – 7.15 pm
12.30 pm Opening worship
Introduction and welcomes
Business Committee Report
Racial Justice Commission – presentation
Implementing the Recommendations of “Responsible Representation” (GS 2202)
Climate Change presentation
Appointment of Body to oversee next stage of Anglican-Methodist Covenant
*6.00 pm Question Time
7.15 pm Close of Business
Saturday 10 July
9.00 am – 12.45 pm
9.00 am Opening worship and Bible Study
Joint Presentation by the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners on their Annual Reports
2022 Archbishops’ Council Budget and Apportionment
Leeds DSM: Wealth Gap
2.00 pm – 5.20 pm
2.00 pm 57th Standing Orders Committee Report (synodical processes for legislative business etc.)
Bereavement and Funerals during the Pandemic – Presentation
4.00 pm (approx.) Adjournment
*5.00 pm Living in Love and Faith: Passing the baton presentation
Informal items not forming part of the Agenda
4.00 pm – 5.00 pm Discussion panel – Clergy Discipline and the Nature of Ordained Public Ministry
5.30 pm – 7.00 pm Living in Love and Faith Group work, including closing worship
Sunday 11 July
2.00 pm – 7.15 pm
2.00 pm Opening worship
Special Agenda I: Draft Legislative Reform (Church Commissioners) Order
• Chair of AC Finance Committee
• AC’s Auditors
Mutuality in Finance
Responding to the Housing Crisis: What is the role of the Church?
7.15 pm Close of Business
Monday 12 July
9.00 am – 1.00 pm
9.00 am Opening worship
Special Agenda I: Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2021
Special Agenda I: Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution 2021
Vision and Strategy
2.00 pm – 7.15 pm
2.00 pm Report from the Implementation and Dialogue Group
PMM: The Five Guiding Principles
The Nature of Ordained Public Ministry – presentation
Proposals for legislation to replace the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
Special Agenda I: Approval of form of electronic service register under Canon F 12
Special Agenda I: Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 2021 (consequential amendment to regulations under Canon B12) Regulations
7.15 pm Close of Business
Tuesday 13 July
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
9.00 am Opening Worship
Report of the Review of Clergy Remuneration
A review of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011
Amendments to Standing Orders for elections to CNC
1.45 pm – 4.15 pm
1.45 pm Special Agenda I: Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation 2021
*3.15pm Service of Holy Communion
*4.15pm Prorogation and Dissolution
Church of England Funded Pension Scheme Rules 2021,
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2021,
Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2021,
and some amendments to the Standing Orders
* not later than
Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Tuesday 29 June30 Comments
Updated Wednesday 26 May
News 25th May 2021:
Major research paper published
and Sheldon steps down from campaign to replace CDM
A devastating systematic analysis of data from the Sheldon/Aston research survey. This paper explores the deeply troubling territory around the edges of the CDM. The painful testimonies are a hard read but these are voices that need your ears. Anyone in ministry can get caught up in this, often through no fault of their own.
We hope it will impassion you to become part of an unstoppable movement for constructive change.
That movement for change will no longer involve Sheldon’s leadership.
We are stepping back now. We have given it heart and soul for several years and much has been achieved. Now we are in danger of over-stretching ‘real world’ Sheldon. Sheldon has generously funded this project in direct cash (£35,000), but in many ways the time and emotional energy has been much more costly. We don’t put a monetary value on our time, but time spent on ProjectCDM is time not spent with people in need or on other necessary projects. We have attended many meetings, written papers, collaborated with researchers, contributed to consultations by others and built networks. There has probably been some vicarious trauma in the mix. Bringing to light such deep-rooted pain has generated significant additional correspondence and pastoral need from those directly harmed by the CDM.
The church can look away but can no longer say it didn’t know. A complaint against a caring professional in a public role should be treated as a pastoral emergency. Clergy urgently need a system for handling complaints and allegations of misconduct against them that is swift, proportionate, easy to understand, presumes innocence unless or until found guilty, and is applied without fear or favour. It needs to be rooted in gathering of robust factual evidence and prioritise restoring relationships wherever possible. The administration of the process must itself be properly accountable. Reputations of institutions matter, but those of individuals are far more vulnerable in this context. A year after the bishops agreed that CDM should be replaced we have no evidence that the NCIs have a handle on any of this. This press release was published on 17th May but we have no idea whether the proposals considered relate to the heavily criticised Lambeth proposals of December 2020 or have already pivoted towards the ELS model. The lack of transparency is itself deeply problematic.
Do read the whole text of the Sheldon announcement here.
The Church Times has two items:
General Synod: July meeting to take place in London
The University of York, which hosts the annual July group of sessions of the General Synod, has taken the decision to cancel all events on its campus this summer as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.
Arrangements are therefore being made for the Synod scheduled for July 9 – 13 to take place at Church House, London, during the same dates.
It will be the first full in-person Synod for 18 months. Although it is expected that the final stages of the Government’s ‘reopening’ roadmap will have been passed by that time, Synod staff will ensure that all necessary health and safety arrangements are in place for everyone attending.
A timetable for the group of sessions will be finalised by the Business Committee later this month and the full agenda and papers will be published on the Synod App and the Synod web page on Friday June 25.1 Comment
Updated Sunday and Tuesday and 8 May
Today’s session started at 9.30 pm and a live video stream is available here.
Order Paper II – the morning’s business
Order Paper III – the afternoon’s business
Andrew Nunn writes about some of the business: Responsible representation.
Stephen Lynas summarises the day’s business: So sad to watch good love go bad.
Business Done – the official summary of both days’ business.0 Comments
Updated Friday, Saturday, Sunday
The Church of England’s General Synod meets today (23 April) and tomorrow. The agenda and papers are here.
Today’s session starts at 12.30 pm and a live video stream will be available here.
Order Paper 1 – the day’s business
There are two previews of the business by Synod members.
Reports on the day’s business
Archbishop of York’s Presidential Address to General Synod
Andrew Nunn A moving beginning
The Guardian Archbishop of York commits C of E to racial justice after ‘sobering’ week
Episcopal News Service Bishop tells Church of England’s General Synod to speak out against persecution of religious believers and atheists
Church Times Archbishop of York: How I was saved by Grace
Church Times Action, not words, needed to protect freedom of religion or belief
Business Done 23 April 2021 – the official summary of the day’s business.0 Comments
The questions, and answers, for this week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available here. Supplementary questions will be taken on Friday at 6.00 pm.
The timetable has been revised again to add a presidential address. This version is here.16 Comments
The Papers for this month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online.
Papers with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration are listed below the fold. Synod meets virtually on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 April. They can be downloaded as two zip files.
Synod members reading this might like to note that the deadline for the submission of questions is 12 noon on Tuesday 13 April 2021.1 Comment
The draft timetable for April’s virtual meeting of the Church of England General Synod was published today, and is copied below.
GENERAL SYNOD: APRIL 2021
Friday 23 April
12.30 pm – 7.00 pm
12.30 pm – 12.45 pm Opening worship
Introductions and welcomes
12.45 pm – 1.15 pm Business Committee Report
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
1.15 pm – 2.45 pm Draft Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure – Revision Stage
2.45 pm – 3.05 pm Adjournment/screen break
3.05 pm – 4.05 pm International Religious Freedom
4.05 pm – 4.45 pm Report of the Standing Orders Committee
4.45 pm – 5.00 pm Adjournment/screen break
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
5.00 pm – 5.45 pm Draft Legislative Reform (Church of England Pensions) Order
*5.45 pm – 7.00 pm Question Time
Saturday 24 April
9.15 am – 12.30 pm
9.15 am – 9.30 am Opening worship
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
9.30 am – 10.30 am Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules 2021
10.30 am – 10.55 am Appointment of the Chair of the Pensions Board
Appointment of the Chair of the Dioceses Commission
10.55 am – 11.15am Adjournment/screen break
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
11.15 am – 12.30 pm Draft Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure – Final Drafting and Final Approval
1.30 pm – 5.00 pm
1.30 pm – 2.45 pm Responsible Representation: Crown Nominations Commission Elections Review Group Report
2.45 pm – 3.00 pm General Synod elections 2020: allocation of seats Amendment Resolution
3.00 pm – 3.20 pm Adjournment/screen break
3.20 pm – 4.05 pm Safeguarding
4.05 pm – 4.30 pm Farewells
4.30pm – 5.00pm Deemed business
*5.00 pm Prorogation
Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order 2020
some of the proposed amendments of the Standing Orders
* not later than
Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk
Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Tuesday 13 April
Robert Hammond has been elected as chair of the General Synod Business Committee. The count was on Friday last week and the voting figures are available here.8 Comments
Updated Monday evening
Archbishops’ message: Don’t be unkind to the Church or each other
Church’s vision is for more front-line ministry, not less, Archbishop of York tells Synod members
Synod members hear significant changes planned for church safeguarding
This is the right moment to act, housing commissioners tell Synod
Press release from the Church of England
Report on housing crisis ‘challenge to the soul’ of the Church of England – Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of York General Synod Address on progress of Vision and Strategy – February 2021
Stephen Lynas bathwellschap I can’t see nobody…
There is a recording of the whole day’s session on YouTube here.13 Comments
Updated Saturday morning
The February 2021 General Synod Questions (and answers) have been published. These are written answers only as there will be no opportunity for supplementary questions at the informal meeting of Synod on Saturday.
The papers for the meeting are online here; they include these.
Stephen Lynas previews today’s meeting on his bathwellschap blog: We don’t talk any more.
You can watch General Synod live here.0 Comments