on Monday, 12 June 2023 at 5.07 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Church of England, Safeguarding
The website House of Survivors has today published this open letter:
Open Letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
Re: Notice of Complaint re Mr. William Nye LVO
Bloody Brilliant!! Thank you!
God bless those with courage to write this. I am reminded of Tony Benn:
“• What power have you got?
• Where did you get it from?
• In whose interests do you use it?
• To whom are you accountable?
• How do we get rid of you?”
I think these questions, if applied to this case, would get some very interesting answers.
It also has to be asked whether the office of secretary general should be abolished. Under Scott and Pattinson the position was perhaps very largely auxiliary, but since the wings of the Commissioners were clipped and Archbishops’ Council was created, it has attained much more power, under Mawer, Fittall and Nye. So much so, that the secretary general is almost the ‘universal spider’ in the centre of the bureaucratic web, akin to the cabinet secretary being concurrently head of the home civil service, and having effective control of much patronage. However, a number of members of Archbishops’ Council do not… Read more »
Devastating . . . again.
Absolutely superb, and brilliantly written, if I may say so. Even if, as we all suspect, it will lead to nothing but hand wringing from those who claim not to have the power they have always had, and use when it suits them, shining a very bright light on what goes on in the shadows has to be a good, and prophetic, thing to do. Whilst I do not in any way wish to negate or dilute the serious nature of the allegations raised against named individuals in the letter, I think the impact of the entourage of ‘advisers’ is… Read more »
This isn’t from the House of Survivors, they’re just hosting the letter. It’s by an anonymous person.
That is correct.
House of Survivors are not the originators of this letter. We were invited to host it.
We are however aware that a more specific letter of complaint is currently being prepared evidencing some of the issues raised in this letter. The second letter will also be addressed to both Archbishops, and sent to the media.
My first thought was that the splendid, carefully crafted, open letter required a wider audience. I was relieved to see, on checking its website, the original recipients were the Archbishops, the House of Survivors and General Synod. I am pleased that another letter is being prepared. EVERY member of Synod finally needs to come up to speed, demonstrate basic competency, take responsibility and acquaint themselves with knowledge of the catalogue of gigantic failures, the despicable shortcomings with dire consequences and acknowledge the severe injustices caused to victims/survivors within the Church. Synod has to understand the need for transparency in all… Read more »
I wonder if this will be picked up by the mainstream media?
I think in any Christian denomination, it is a right and thoroughly Holy and Christian to call out the Abuse of Power and authority. I think in this letter we have exhibited before us all Christ is very much at work in this , he is cleansing his Temple. We need to support such action with our ongoing prayers. I will certainly keep this matter in my ongoing prayers, that the Justice and Righteousness of God will prevail in this whole matter. To allow this sort of behaviour to perpetuate in the Church of God, is a very serious Sin… Read more »
The phrase “agenda and theatre of General Synod” sticks out. Having sat through many General Synod sessions myself, the extent of stage management would make President Xi blush. William Nye sits in the back row of the politburo pulling the strings and scripting the responses like some latter day Wizard of Oz. But for those who can now watch Synod online rather than having to sit through the ‘live’ performance, the camera can catch really good shots of Nye and both the Archbishops whispering to each other. But thanks to our Deaf Church chaplains and the Synod Sign Language Interpreters,… Read more »
That’s very interesting. Do you know, and can you tell us, the content of some of these whispered exchanges?
Spot on, Kit. The problem isn’t about power per se. It’s about how it’s used, in this case by the ‘universal spider’, as Froghole dubs William Nye. His deliberate actions not only do tremendous harm to survivors of ecclesiastical abuse, but to the capacity of the Church Commissioners, bishops and others to deliver on the Church’s promises such as the redress fund. General Synod is held in contempt using complete control of the agenda (the Business Committee is just as ineffectual as GS itself), questions from GS members and the answers to them. Mr Nye’s biggest target is none other… Read more »
“Consistently acting against safeguarding victims, survivors and complainants if he deems this to be in the better interests of the church, bishops and/or himself (as he sees it), whom he purports to represent.” The letter is damning in its allegations against Mr. Nye. If the allegations are are true, then Mr. Nye conflates the better interests of the CofE with his own self-interest. In a hierarchical structure, there is often one person though whom everything flows before reaching the upper rungs. But Mr. Nye appears to have gathered far too much power to himself. The question is whether the Archbishops… Read more »
I think the archbishops must know that Mr Nye has too much power. And I wonder if, just possibly, they would be glad to be given a reason and a method for curtailing a malign influence.
I have learned an enormous amount about the internal governance of the C of E from this thread – thank- you especially to Froghole – most of this is news to the ordinary person in a pew who naively assumed the two Archbishops are ‘in charge’ . The frustration of ‘Name and Address Supplied ‘ is palpable and unsurprising given that any complaints or requests for an independent safeguarding system and enquiries seem to disappear into the ether no sooner have they been uttered . However I was very interested by Peterpi’s comment this morning, as I had been wondering… Read more »
Susanna, Froghole’s comparison is useful and illuminating because, in my view, all large-scale institutions — corporate, governmental, non-profit, religious — have bureaucracies in place to carry out the needs of those institutions. Such bureaucracies do indeed provide convenient excuses, when such are desired, as to why no action has been taken or is slow in coming. The Church, and its multitudinous branches, may claim to be the bride of Christ and influenced by the Holy Spirit, but human beings, with all their brilliance and flaws, are running the show. As much as I like the reference to He Who Must… Read more »
Many thanks, but there will be others who are far better informed than I am. However, one of the things that has become apparent to me over the years is that the Church is effectively a confederation (perhaps a loose confederation) of disparate trusts. Most are tiny, but a few are very large and may exert suasion over the rest. The history of the Church over the 20th century was informed large by the need to make all these trusts cohere more effectively, not least to realise economies of scale as finances became more attenuated. There was an appreciation during… Read more »
Susanna, your last paragraph. Is it all down to governance structures?
Could the constitutional experts advise me. What is the process under current C of E procedures and legislation whereby the two archbishops could start some form of formal investigation process relating to William Nye? Does an appropriate process actually exist in the current legislation?
Whilst I support the letter, I would be concerned if the focus was only on the person. William Nye. The problem is much deeper, and is created by the governance structure of a church that contains such unaccountable roles, whether ordained or lay.
If we changed the person, but did not change the governance structure, the risk is that such behaviour would continue.
Maungy Vicar’s post is spot on when he quotes Tony Benn. Four of Tony’s five questions are all about structure and governance.
I agree with this.
I also have reservations about a complaint focused upon an individual being circulated so widely. We recognise that ministers can be distressed if they feel a complaint is overwhelming: whatever the merits of the complaint (and I prefer not to comment) against William Nye, we should remember that he is a person too, deserving of care, and a public pile-on isn’t a particularly Christian approach.
Thanks Kate, but for the avoidance of doubt, I also think William Nye has a case to answer.
We need to investigate both personal behaviour and governance structures, and understand how one influences the other, and not simply look at one factor in isolation.
Thank you Kate. I concur. While the complaint itself may well be important and necessary (I don’t know), for the person involved to be traduced so strongly and publicly doesn’t feel right to me at this stage in proceedings. He becomes a kind of stage-show and pantomime villain. The heart of the problems are likely to be institutional more than personal. Of course, they are definitely personal for survivors, but we should be under no illusions: safeguarding problems in the Church of England extend far beyond one individual.
Indeed, and to concentrate on one person – and to make that person a lightning rod for wider institutional failures – arguably lets the institution as a whole off the hook. It is all too convenient. The failure is arguably a collective one, but (structuralist as I am) I think that it is underwritten by imperfectly formed institutions. The system fails because its structures propel failure. In this instance, I think that the key to the failure is perhaps a want of proper accountability. Again, we come back to the metaphor of cogs spinning independently of each other. Although the… Read more »
I agree. I have no personal knowledge of Mr Nye, and he may be as much at fault as the letter claims. But I’m uneasy about this kind of public shaming, even though it may be thoroughly deserved. No one is independent of the structures and culture within which they operate, for good or ill.
I agree with these latter posts that we need to be very careful about making such strident ad hominem remarks and I regard the House of Survivors’ (HoS) sponsored letter as unnecessarily intemperate, shrill and graceless (and plain wrong in places). My last term on General Synod coincided with William Nye’s appointment to the role of Secretary General in late 2015, so I got to know him a bit, but was myself less active in the 2015-2021 Synod and never served on the Archbishops’ Council. I knew his two predecessors (the role was created in 1999 when the Archbishops’ Council was created)… Read more »
I agree with much that you say Anthony, but one clarification on control of the agenda at Synod and the Business Committee. BC “settles” the agenda (that’s the word from Standing Orders), it does not control it. They do not have the power to commission items of business, but pull together the agenda from potential items that come to them from a variety of sources (requests from NCIs, Diocesan Synod Motions, Private Members Motions, legislation, etc.)
You’re right of course, but I’d like to see the Business Committee flexing its muscles (if it has any) more on behalf of backbench synod members. The Presidents must be told what’s what.
I always try to be the advocate for due process. I cannot know all the evidence upon which the complaint herein relies: the Secretary may, for all I know be wholly innocent, partly innocent, or fully culpable. What I do say is that he entitled to a presumption of innocence ( he who asserts must prove ) and to be judged by a fair and transparent process in which all can have confidence. The very worst outcome all round would be a bodged process in which he exits the process either as scapegoat or with some people tainting an “… Read more »
Whilst I would normally agree with views expressed by Anthony Archer, I fear expecting survivors, victims and complainants of safeguarding failures and abuse to make their case to the House of Bishops would be akin to appealing to some meeting of the Commonwealth leaders to end Apartheid. The Commonwealth leaders could mandate, lobby, boycott and protest. But their options on action were limited. Nobody should condone personal attacks. However, Mr Nye has a key role in the lives of many victims, and huge powers over them. That is just a fact. It is well known that his treatment of them… Read more »