Thinking Anglicans

Church of England Safeguarding: weekly roundup 16 October

A collection of material published in the past week related to Church of England safeguarding. See also additional items in our Opinion articles last Wednesday and  tomorrow.

BBC Radio 4 had this  Sunday programme interview including survivors and the Archbishop of York. The item starts 13 minutes into the programme.

The same radio station had a programme in its Moral Maze series, titled The Moral Authority of Organised Religion.

The Telegraph had a surprising item: Church of England’s ‘Safe Spaces’ helpline labelled ‘unsafe’ by abuse survivors

Today the Church Times has many relevant items, including:

The Church of England announced the terms of reference for the PCR2 Reference Group for National Church Institutions and Archbishops. Here is a direct link to the actual Terms of reference.

Parliamentary Questions to the Second Church Estates Commissioner included some on this topic.

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Kate
Kate
5 days ago

It is very hard to believe that Stephen Cottrell is sincere as he went ahead with his translation to York despite having to apologise for his personal failure to follow through on safeguarding allegations. Can he really not see that for the Church of England to stand any chance of regaining credibility that senior figures have to be beyond reproach? Even what he says though is lily-livered. Rather than more “words aren’t enough” while doing nothing he could be saying things like: “The Church of England should never pay for reputation management. If we make mistakes we should be honest… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
5 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Sadly, the Archbishop’s script – as with all C of E media news releases – has to be checked and corrected by ‘reputation managers’. The services of Luther Pendragon, and the like, need to be terminated if the Church [and its archbishops and bishops] want to salvage any moral integrity they have left.

Last edited 5 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
David Lamming
David Lamming
5 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Two comments, if I may: (1) I really think those who post ad hominem comments critical of others who they name, in this instance effectively accusing Archbishop Stephen of insincerity (albeit using the weasel words “It is very hard to believe…”) should not hide behind a cloak of anonymity by identifying themselves by using just a Christian name. (2) In any event, Kate’s comment does not accord with the experience of Janet Fife (a ‘survivor’ and one of the two editors of Letters to a Broken Church) who had a zoom conversation with ++Stephen earlier this week. Writing about it… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
5 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Archbishop Cottrell’s sincerity is not being called into question, but what is being called into question is his ability to change anything, because when it comes to the crunch he will ‘tow the party line’ and do what he is told by those at the top of the Church hierarchy – and beyond it. Take, for example, the Bishop Bell debacle. The Archbishop of York, on behalf of the Church, could admit wrongdoing and clear the name of the wartime Bishop of Chichester – but he will not because the Church hierarchy will not allow him to do so. In… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
David Lamming
David Lamming
4 days ago

Richard, I am sorry to have to disagree with you on a number of the points you make in these comments: (1) Clearly, Kate is calling into question Archbishop Stephen’s sincerity by her above comment: hence my reply. (2) Re Bishop George Bell and the House of Lords debate on 30 June 2016. This was on a motion by Lord Lexden to “take note of the case for introducing statutory guidelines relating to the investigation of cases of historical child sex abuse“—a debate that I attended as an observer and during which cases relating to others in addition to Bishop… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

David, a few comments about what you say: [2] “Stephen Cottrell’s role as the ‘duty bishop’ that week was to respond to the debate on behalf of the Church. It is true that he said that the core group “did have the benefit of legal advice”, but the fact that the ‘investigation’ by the core group was so comprehensively trashed by Lord Carlile (including criticising the legal advice) is not, I suggest, a basis for castigating Archbishop Stephen” I am not castigating Stephen Cottrell’s for what he said in 2016, I am castigating him [and his fellow Archbishop] for the… Read more »

Kieran
Kieran
5 days ago
Reply to  Kate

But Kate, surely Stephen Cottrell has enacted your first recommendation — being honest about a failure, not hiding behind spin, and being transparent about what happens next. That seems pretty credible to me.

Kate
Kate
5 days ago
Reply to  Kieran

Stephen might be brilliant personally. Enough people have praised him in various TA posts that I suspect he is one of the good ones. But my position is that doesn’t matter: his translation to York embodies and advertises that failure to deal fully with a safeguarding allegation (sufficient that he apologised for his actions) is not something that the Church of England bothers about. That’s a quite separate point to his personal qualities. It means that other people can say, “Why should I bother following procedures? It didn’t affect the Archbishop of York, so clearly it’s not really important.”. I… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
5 days ago
Reply to  Kate

None of us is beyond reproach. We’ll be left with no bishops at all.
“Use every man according to his desert and who should ‘scape whipping?”

John Wallace
John Wallace
5 days ago
Reply to  Toby Forward

Thank you, Toby, for your Hamlet quote. My underlining comes from a hymn that we often sing on Saints’ Days: ‘To frail earthen vessels and things of no worth, entrusted his riches that aye shall endure.’ There is NO excuse for safeguarding failures, but we must acknowledge human fraility even among bishops. It was Donald Rumsfeld who talked about ‘the unknown unknowns.’ I feel for those who have not appreciated the significance of safeguarding. When I was working in the ’90s, a psychiatrist who supported our management team suggested that a girl had been sexually abuse within her family. This… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
4 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, on your argument Peter would not have been the disciple on whom Christ built his Church, because he had denied Jesus. Paul would not have been an apostle, because he had persecuted Christians. James and John wouldn’t either, because they had sought their own promotion and called for hellfire to rain down on villages. People make mistakes. All the apostles named above learned from their mistakes, became more effective, and were kept humble – because of their sins and errors, not despite them. My sense is that Stephen Cottrell sincerely wants the C of E to do better at… Read more »

Kate
Kate
4 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Janet, that’s a very strong argument but James, John and Paul switched sides and that’s very different.

Peter is a better basis for a counterargument to my view. I need some time to think it through.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
4 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Paul was converted after persecuting Christians, but James and John were disciples when they displayed vengeful and self-seeking behaviour. They did not ‘switch sides’, they merely learned and grew in grace. So may any of us, even bishops. ‘O Thou, who alone workest great marvels, pour down upon our bishops…the healthful spirit of the grace.’

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
5 days ago

I’m going to repeat a post I put rather too belatedly alongside the ABC’s statement last week. Which is to ask Kate – and perhaps others – what she wants? Yes – ++Stephen made a mistake while he was in transit between Reading and Chelmsford. A mistake he has admitted publicly and apologized for. And, let’s not forget, the incident in question was one about which he did speak to colleagues about the actions that should be taken – it is not as if he ignored the issue completely. It did not get documented properly, and for this he has… Read more »

Kate
Kate
4 days ago

He absolutely should never have accepted York and should resign. (And no diocesan should take the post if they too are compromised.) Just as Philip North was right not to take Sheffield..

In fact, I think Philip might be an ideal candidate for York having demonstrated that he does put the good of the church ahead of personal advancement. Philip could very convincingly tell the bishops that it is time to clean house and put the church first.

Last edited 4 days ago by Kate
Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
4 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I think that is a very curious interpretation of the events around the See of Sheffield. And it is a first, I suspect, to see advocacy on TA for a bishop who will not admit theologically that he believes women can be priests (let alone ordain one as such) to become an archbishop and metropolitan.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 days ago

There is a clear, critical need for resignations at the top of the Church hierarchy. Justin Welby would be the most obvious candidate because, in the eyes of most people, the ‘buck stops’ with the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the disgraceful smearing of Bishop Bell, Archbishop Welby presided over an ecclesiastical catalogue of arrogance, ignorance and incompetence which has led to a gross miscarriage of justice. It is an ongoing disgrace, there are others, which has been going on for more than five years on his ‘watch’. I can’t see an end to this disgrace until Archbishop Welby resigns –… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Kate
Kate
4 days ago

Oh, I very much agree that we need a new Archbishop of Canterbury too.
.
The problem, as alluded to by Dominic, is that the CNC seems to have a very strong establishment bias and it is hard to see them appointing the great reformer CofE needs.

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

“The problem…is that the CNC [Crown Nominations Committee] seems to have a very strong establishment bias…” Wow, that comment – if probed further – would uncover a ‘can of worms’ which few would even dare to acknowledge, let alone open. I think Ralph Waldo Emerson got it about right over 150 years ago: “The King sends the Dean and Canons a congé d’élire, or leave to elect, but also sends them the name of the person whom they are to elect. They go into the Cathedral, chant and pray; and after these invocations invariably find that the dictates of the Holy… Read more »

Last edited 3 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Kate
Kate
3 days ago

I recall that the morning meeting of the Queen’s private secretaries is colloquially termed “morning prayers” and that the Dean and Canons would “pray” to the monarch for a congé d’élire. I am a staunch monarchist but the overloading (to borrow a term from computer science) of the verb to pray is still somewhat disconcerting.

John U.K.
John U.K.
3 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Not sure how praying the monarch for something is overloading the verb? To pray someone for something surely simply means to ask someone earnestly for something?

Kate
Kate
3 days ago
Reply to  John U.K.

I think maybe my use of the verb `overload’ is unfamiliar to you but when the point becomes meet, probably best left

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
3 days ago

Thank you for that wonderful quote Richard. I vaguely remember that there was an attempt to abolish the whole process of electing bishops in the early 80s. I think the time has probably come. Having said that I quite like the practice of the Archbishop giving his charge to the Bishop at the confirmation of election.

Covid 19 has seen virtual confirmation of Election and Homage. Perhaps it will provide the catalyst for a more streamlined system.

Confused Sussex
Confused Sussex
3 days ago

Not sure that much that has been discussed here gets us further forward. The report set out clear clear steps that need to be taken to learn from past safeguarding failures and some progress may be being made.

Simply calling for the resignation of the current Archbishops gets us nowhere unless there are obviously better candidates for the job – which i do not see

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 days ago

Just because better candidates for a job are not immediately obvious is an extremely bad reason for someone to stay in that job – if the conduct of that someone justifies resignation.

Kate
Kate
3 days ago

To suggest that the archbishops shouldn’t be asked to resign because there is no explicit recommendation that they do, misunderstands that the report couldn’t make such a recommendation.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
3 days ago

Given that Archbishop Justin has been so ham fisted during his time at Canterbury, it is depressing to read that you think there is no better candidate. Admittedly the present college of bishops are a monochrome bunch, but surely amongst those of whom Caroline Boddington and the CNC have thus far overlooked must be a woman or man with the grace, godliness and leadership ability who could replace Archbishop Justin.

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