Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church vs Martyn Percy

Updated Tuesday

Martin Sewell and David Lamming issued a letter to fellow members of the CofE General Synod, which was published by Archbishop Cranmer on 19 June: Martyn Percy: Synod challenges Christ Church abuse of CofE safeguarding process.

Peter Adams, another General Synod member, responded to that letter on reconciliationtalk.org on 28 June: When a safeguarding referral is made no amount of special pleading should change that.

Today, Archbishop Cranmer has published a further article, which contains a very detailed response from Martin Sewell to Peter Adams: Christ Church vs Martyn Percy: a conspiracy of lawyers, divine PR, and the purgatory of CofE Safeguarding. That letter will also be sent to all General Synod members ahead of the online “meeting” planned for next Saturday. As “Archbishop Cranmer” writes:

Members of Synod should read both letters and ask themselves three questions:

1) Am I prepared to publicly defend the Church of England’s conduct in this ?
2) Would I wish myself or someone I care for to be subject to such processes?
3) What exactly am I going to do about this?

TA readers are encouraged to read all these letters in full.

Update

Surviving Church has published A guide to the situation at Christ Church Oxford. Which is subtitled Trying to make sense of what is going on.

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

1) Am I prepared to publicly defend the Church of England’s conduct in this?
 
No
 
2) Would I wish myself or someone I care for to be subject to such processes?
 
No
 
3) What exactly am I going to do about this?
 
“Sometimes a disruptive challenge is the only right thing to do” ~ Martin Sewell

Charles Read
Charles Read
3 months ago

I have still not received anything about this. Has the first letter gone to all synod members? I have tabled a question on this at synod. I am sure I am not the only one!

Anne Foreman
Anne Foreman
3 months ago
Reply to  Charles Read

Charles – As a member of G Synod too, I’ve not received any letter. Anne Foreman

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
3 months ago
Reply to  Charles Read

Hi Charles
 
i am locked down in France without my members index
email me and you shall have it

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Sewell

Martin
as a member of General Synod, I too have not received any communication about this

Charles Read
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Sewell

Someone has to be locked down in France! I’ve seen the letters here now so I have got the gist of it – thanks for taking this on and running with it. Not the C of E’s finest hour…

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
3 months ago

As a Christian and a Past Anglican reading the whole Christ Church episode, I personally feel that I should make this a matter of prayer for the Dean and for Christ Church, that God’s truth, Justice , Mercy Compassion and the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ would Conquer in this whole area. It is far from anything we would call edifying and I think the Devil is very much at work in all that is going on here. I cannot help feeling that given the fact that a Cathedral is the Mother Church of a Diocese, there needs to… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal

I confess myself intrigued as to what transpired in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway to warrant such a warning. One wonders what our dear +Kevin has let himself in for in allowing himself to be translated hence.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
3 months ago

Ps to comment previously
the last sentence of my comment should read “we must all pray about this situation” rather than “Pay” please forgive readers my grammatical howler here!
Jonathan

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

*Can I add that now that that the Charity Commissioners have referred the case to mediation I would, as a mediator myself, suggest it is in the best interest of all involved to cease the clamour from the sidelines, “ says Peter Adams before embarking on a long letter doing exactly that. That aside, the more substantive point is that Peter says that Martin Sewell is asking for special pleading and that is always wrong.. Peter recognises that the Christ Church situation is a complicated edge case. I therefore think the suggestion that Synod should review whether the NST should… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate: Responding to just one point in your comment, it is little more than a week since these words from the Christ Church Statutes, were quoted verbatim specifically in reply to you:   From Statute I 5. : “The Dean and Chapter shall have, in respect of such things and persons, all the powers now vested in them, or ordinarily vested in the Dean and Chapter of a Cathedral Church, subject only to the provision of Statute IV.” Statute IV states: “The Cathedral is the College Chapel of the House and the Cathedral of the Diocese of Oxford, and the… Read more »

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

I said, policies, not Statutes but, whatever. If the rules are independently set by a third party then to my mind NST has no jurisdiction. They can’t claim authority when they want it while at other times claiming they don’t have authority. That simply isn’t credible.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate: The NST’s jurisdiction arises under the Bishops’ Safeguarding Guidance. It’s all been set out and explained in detail on earlier threads. We have no say in the matter. This will just have to take its course.

NJW
NJW
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Surely, the NST do have a locus (of at least some kind) as Christ Church is an Anglican Foundation established by statute with the Crown as Visitor? As such it is just as much a part of the Church of England as any other part (parishes, cathedrals, schools, colleges, universities and religious communities all being legally distinct entities which form a part of ‘The Church of England’). I know that it is always treated differently in cathedral legislation, as a function of it having its own separate foundation, but it is still a Church of England foundation with an educational… Read more »

Kate
Kate
3 months ago
Reply to  NJW

NJW can I refer you to Martin Sewell’s second letter. It certainly isn’t clear that the NST has jurisdiction.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate

This is William Nye’s answer to General Synod Question 91:
 
Mr William Nye to reply as Secretary General:
A: The clergy of any peculiars other than Royal Peculiars are subject to the ordinary disciplinary processes of the Church including the provisions of the Clergy Discipline Measure. Christ Church, Oxford is not a Royal Peculiar. I apologise for the error in my evidence to IICSA. I have written to the Inquiry to correct my evidence and to apologise for the error.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
3 months ago
Reply to  NJW

It is very unclear, the relationship has never been litigated and the standard textbook does not address the issue. If the Dean is under his local Bishop’s authority, it opens another can of worms about how that due process was not followed.

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/expenditure_on_the_matter_of_the#outgoing-1035710

Readers might be interested to know that someone (not me) is seeking under FoI the total cost of the action against the Dean

To save you looking, the response so far has been to claim confidentiality.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Dear Christ Church, Oxford,   a) What is the amount of money spent by Christ Church on the action against the Dean , including legal fees, tribunal costs , expert advice ( legal and otherwise) , Public Relations expenditure, and any other related spend.   b) How was this expenditure authorised?   Please provide minutes of meetings referring to this expenditure.   As House Members we are concerned that our (and others) donations to the college have been mis-spent, and that given the fact that Christ Church has charitable status , this expenditure is in breach of charity commission rules… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
3 months ago

That the CofE’s safeguarding efforts can be hijacked, or weaponised in other disputes, is hardly news.
It’s a shame that it took this long for Synod members to ask serious questions about why such weaponisation takes place and how it can be prevented in the future.
That said, in this instance, the questions being raised are truly damning.
Does the CofE understand that it is being judged, and found wanting?

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy

Does the CofE understand that it is being judged, and found wanting?
 
The evidence suggests the answer is ‘no’ and ‘no’, if by ‘the CofE’ we take that as ‘those at the top’. Alternatively ‘they’ are aware but not bothered, or not bothered enough to do something, let alone have a thought to what that something should be. Whither the Church of 2% of England, fiddling while Canterbury and York burn.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

A small cabal of powerful and controlling Establishment hierarchs within the Church of England are clearly “bothered” by this. But they are simply hoping [I will avoid the word ‘praying’] this crisis will be dwarfed by a new crisis – manufactured or otherwise – which will be used to divert and distract. This age-old ‘waiting-game’ tactic works almost every time within Establishment power circles.
 
George Orwell’s last-known published words come to mind:
 
“Don’t let it happen. It depends on you”

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

Security of tenure for bishops and archbishops is so strong that there is a tendency for office holders to feel immunised against any and all problems. If bishops were subject to re-election like Synod, we would see a much more responsive Church of England.

ACI
ACI
3 months ago

I do not mean this to be taken as arch, but is 2% a bit high? Clearly, and for a lot of different reasons unrelated to Christ Church messes, this is a time of reckoning.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
3 months ago
Reply to  ACI

is 2% a bit high?
Possibly- stats heh.
Source: CofE Mission Stats 2018, table 12:
‘Worshipping Community’ 2% of population; ‘Usual Sunday Attendance’ 1.2%, Hereford 2.3% highest, Salisbury 2.0%, (#2) Birmingham, Chelmsford and Durham 0.8% (joint lowest).

Froghole
Froghole
3 months ago

You mention the very low attendance in Durham. This is not new, and was arguably attributable originally to the superimposition of a large proletarian population upon a parochial structure designed for a thinly inhabited region with low returns to agriculture. In the 1851 religious census, it was found that just 8.4% of the population attended Anglican services. As Robert Lee has remarked: “A committee of the House of Lords, appointed in 1858 to inquire into the state of ‘spiritual destitution’ in mining districts, reported that the counties of Northumberland and Durham were worse provided with church accommodation than any other… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
3 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Thank you Froghole for your socio-historical explanations/excuses for the situations in three dioceses. However, ACI is closer to recognising my greater point- ALL dioceses are far from being the Church of, in or for England; but who cares, after all it’s not about ‘bums on seats’ …
Time to move on … nothing to see here … noting General Synod ( which must be a high % of the CofE Worshipping Community), getting to grips with matters on Saturday.

ACI
ACI
3 months ago

Thanks. Both WC and USA show a very difficult situation for a “Church of England.”

Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

Regardless of who is to blame for the vilification of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Church of England and the Anglican Churches around the world are being subject to adverse criticism about what seems to be the work of a entity within the C. of E. that is dealing unfairly with one of its clergy members on an issue that demands accountability to ensure that justice is served. This is a complicated issue that can only be solved when all parties admit to their involvement in a matter that ought never to have occasioned the expenditure of so… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

The latest comments here have strayed very far from the subject. May I strongly commend to TA readers Stephen Parsons’ excellent article “A guide to the situation at Christ Church Oxford”, linked above. He freely admits that he cannot provide all the answers (how refreshing), but it’s the best analysis of its length of this fraught problem.

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