Thinking Anglicans

House of Bishops Meeting – Wednesday 17 March 2021

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops Meeting – Wednesday 17 March 2021
17/03/2021

The House of Bishops met on Wednesday March 17 2021 remotely via Zoom.

The House engaged further with a number of issues including reviewing the work to date of the Governance Review Group and a consideration of the draft report and recommendations of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Task Group.

The Bishop of Manchester, in his capacity as Chair of the Coordinating Group of the Emerging Church Groups, updated the House on the revised Terms of Reference of the Committee and the workstreams that are feeding into the work of the Coordinating Group.

This was followed by an update from the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich who updated the House on the ongoing work of the Transforming Effectiveness workstream which is looking at how resources are best deployed across the Church.

The Bishop of Leeds then addressed the House in his capacity as Chair of the Governance Review Group. The Governance Group is reviewing the shape of the national governance structures and functions of the Church of England and is tasked with suggesting possible changes to simplify and improve the functioning and effectiveness of those structures.

The House considered (in regional groups and in plenary) the work the Governance Review Group had done to date. A final report from the Governance Review Group will be presented to the Co-Ordinating Group in the summer and further discussion and implementation planning will follow in the autumn.

The House was then addressed by the Bishop of London in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group who updated the House about the work of the Group and how the Church will respond to the various phases of the planned relaxation of the lockdown. The Bishop of London also spoke to plans for 23rd March and the One Minute Reflection to mark one year of lockdown measures.

The House was then given an update (up to the end of February) by the interim Director of Safeguarding on establishing an independent oversight structure for national safeguarding.

The House then held its first discussion on the draft report of the Archbishops’ Anti -Racism Task Force which will be publishing its report on 22nd April. The House was invited to consider the working draft of the Report and to give its views about the suggested implementation timetable and details of the Racial Justice Commission. The House was addressed by Revd. Arun Arora and Revd. Sonia Barron, authors of the draft report.

The House broke out into groups to discuss the draft with Archbishop of Canterbury speaking to the report in the final plenary session and suggesting some ways forward on the draft recommendations. The House noted the draft report and agreed to relay feedback from the meeting to the report’s authors.

The meeting concluded with a blessing by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Janet Fife
Janet Fife
3 months ago

It’s good to see more a little more information in this report about topics discussed – but ‘Transforming Effectiveness workstream’? ‘Coordinating Group of the Emerging Church Groups’? What’s all that about?

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Indeed. How much more “effective” we might be if we could cut the jargon and Americanised business speak. It is so uninspiring. Could we have a Plain English “work stream” please?

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Shamus
3 months ago

Americanised business speak? Sorry, this stuff is being happily generated in your own church culture. Blue Ribbon stuff.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Shamus
3 months ago

Actually, how much more effective if the updates from the workstreams were sent out by email rather than tying people up In a meeting for hours.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kate
Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Transforming Effectiveness is a group led by the Bishop of Eds and Ips looking at duplication, subsidiarity, whether the National Church needs to do all the things it does, what could be better carried out locally, whether we need to do some things at all. It’s a natural concomitant of the simplification process. Emerging Church is all the work being done under the aegis of the Archbishop of York’s group on Vision and Strategy. https://www.churchofengland.org/about/leadership-and-governance/emerging-church-england

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
3 months ago

Am I the only one struck by the irony that the C of E has a complex national initiative dressed up in impenetrable civil-service-speak to work out how to make things simpler?

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

“Yes, I mean no, Minister.”

English Athena
English Athena
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
3 months ago

Thank you!

Michael
Michael
3 months ago

Nothing about restoring communion in both kinds to the laity. Nothing about continued rubber stamping of cancellation of public worship. No interest in ensuring that laity will not be locked out of communion on Easter Day for the second consecutive year. When will the rubber stamping stop? This year? Some time next year? As for the reference to lockdown measures beginning on 23rd March. Lockdown of the entire Church of England was already in place by that date. Many lay people have not been in church since 15th March 2020 and have since that date been deliberately denied communion. Perhaps… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
3 months ago

Perhaps it’s the way that the press release is worded but it comes across as unbelievably dreary. They must need an awful lot of coffee to get through it all. These ‘work streams’ have been going on for years in one guise or another; I often wonder if they ever set themselves any criteria for success?

Michael
Michael
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
3 months ago

Father Dean – unbelievably dreary just about sums it up. I also wonder whether there are any criteria for success. The Church Times today happens to have a number of articles which show how bishops are immoveable. i THE Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, made “significant errors of judgement” when he wrote a character reference for the Revd Robert Bailey, a former parish priest in his diocese who has since been convicted of the sexual abuse of two under-13s in the 2010s…The following October, Bailey, 71, was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison at… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Michael
3 months ago

Michael I don’t take the Church Times anymore as the subscription is quite expensive. I gather it’s pages and pages of advertisements for jobs that people are not really interested in doing! As to Bishop Newcome I’m not surprised that he’s had little more than a slap on the wrist. A more significant sanction would have been for him to write a handwritten letter to the girls parents apologising for being so crass and thoughtless. As to your communion I’m afraid that the sacraments are out of fashion at the moment which is very hard for those of us who… Read more »

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
3 months ago

It may be just me but what exactly is it that +Carlisle has done wrong? I know that he wrote ‘a character reference’ for a priest who formerly served in his diocese, who was at the time being tried for and has subsequently been convicted of child abuse. I understand a character reference to be a balanced assessment of a person’s character, the good, the bad and the ugly. On that basis there is nobody for whom I could not write a character reference if I were asked to do so. I haven’t seen the reference that +Carlisle wrote, so… Read more »

Michael
Michael
Reply to  Filigree Jones
3 months ago

Filigree Jones – If it is of no great moment that a bishop should provide someone with a reference – someone who had been charged with serious sexual offences against two under-13s – then why is the Carey-Ball incident still causing difficulties some thirty years later? There is an unfortunate impression that the bishop of Carlisle did not ask enough probing questions until it was too late and then he withdrew the reference. I was witness to a similar situation some 20 years ago in the local community. A well known clergyman arrived from another diocese, to stay with the… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Filigree Jones
3 months ago

I agree. Such a reference might also indicate useful information such as a possible suicide risk of the defendant, or family circumstances. The only thing I can see that Newcome has possibly done wrong, is not to sufficiently consider the effect on the victims of his providing such a reference. And that begs the question of how much support he had provided to those victims, and whether he had taken the trouble to visit them if that’s what they wanted.

Without that information it isn’t possible, in my view, to judge whether or not he handled this matter well.

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Thanks, Janet. I must admit that this has been puzzling me. I’m assuming +Carlisle didn’t provide pastoral support to the victims or visit them.The offending took place after the priest in question had moved to another diocese. I hope, but I don’t know, that the victims received appropriate pastoral support in that diocese. It’s not clear to me that +Carlisle should have contacted them too. It would be really helpful to understand exactly what, from the point of view of the National Safeguarding Team, +Carlisle did that he should not have done. He has accepted a rebuke which presumably both… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Filigree Jones
3 months ago

Filigree you make a very good point about the pastoral care of offenders. There must however have been misconduct on the part of Bishop Newcome for him to have been rebuked by the Archbishop of York, who presumably was fully apprised of the matter.

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
3 months ago

Thanks, Dean. Yes, there must have been and, yes, presumably he was. It’s the rest of us that are in the dark. What’s missing is the ‘lessons learned’ part of the exercise. I hope the National Safeguarding Team will speedily issue some guidance regarding the circumstances in which it is, or is not, permissible to write a character reference. It’s alarming to feel that any of us could be publicly rebuked for something so seemingly routine and innocuous.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Filigree Jones
3 months ago

Filigree, along with Janet Fife I agree with your comments. I, too, find it difficult to see, objectively, what Bishop James did in providing a character reference for Robert Bailey that required a ‘safeguarding’ intervention by an NST core group and a rebuke, albeit informal, from Archbishop Stephen. (Informal, since a formal rebuke would have required the bishop to have been the subject of a formal complaint and determination under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.) . Clearly, like others who have commented, I don’t know the full circumstances that led to Bishop James providing the reference. The report in the… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by David Lamming
Michael
Michael
Reply to  David Lamming
3 months ago

So a bishop gives a paedophile priest a character reference in order for the paedophile priest (being of previous good character) to receive a less harsh sentence. That is sickening. If the bishop subsequently claims ignorance of the extent of the paedophile priest’s offending, is it now the case that pleading ignorance is an acceptable defence. I am obviously not a lawyer, but I see no mitigation when a child rapist is convicted. Using mitigation on behalf of paedophiles so they get a lesser sentence is also sickening. As for using the example of Welby-Bell, I will leave it to… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Michael
3 months ago

I very much doubt that I would have given a reference in this case, but none of us has enough information to judge. We don’t know, for instance, whether the reference was given with a view to mitigating the sentence, or to provide background information. Bailey’s offences, though serious and very damaging to the two children concerned, were not as serious as child rape – but where are clergy to draw the line? What would render us subject to disciplinary processes? Providing a reference for a paedophile? a burglar? a mother who has stolen food for her hungry children? If… Read more »

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Just wondering whether David Lamming as a member of General Synod is in a position to ask for some guidance about this. I had thought that the NST only became involved where a person was thought to pose an actual risk of harm to others, either directly through their own actions or indirectly through neglecting to follow correct procedures. If writing a character reference potentially ticks one of those boxes and could result in a rebuke that remains on file then I agree with you, Janet, we need to be very sure we know what the parameters are. My nervousness… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Lamming
3 months ago

I am unfamiliar with the status of an informal rebuke, but the Diocese of Carlisle statement indicates that it “will remain on file”.

https://www.carlislediocese.org.uk/news/2020/10/12/statement-rev-robert-bailey/

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Apologies. I copied the original Diocesan statement of October 2020, although this should assist with earlier questions.
For the following link, which is the one I intended to include, I had to go to an American website. They sometimes seem better informed than we. I hope it works this time.

https://anglican.ink/author/press-release/

Michael
Michael
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Next Monday the vicar of Aberavon will be sentenced for possession of indecent images of children, admitting after arrest that he had an interest in young boys. Did the bishop of Llandaff give him a character reference? Apparently not. When the vicar of Ilmington (diocese of Coventry) was convicted in December 2019 of possessing tens of thousands of indecent images (including Category A) there was no reference from the bishop of Coventry. From the Stratford Herald: Judge Sylvia de Bertodano observed: “These are very young children, going down to about one year old… Naomi Perry, defending, said: “What is not… Read more »

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Michael
3 months ago

Would it not be helpful for the survey to ask what the Body and Blood of Christ means: Real Presence vs Memorial? That probably informs the responses reported above.

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