Thinking Anglicans

ISB controversy episode 11

Continued from episode 10 Updated 24 July

1. The Church Times has a detailed account of the Sunday afternoon session: General Synod digest: Survivor and Archbishops’ Council present on safeguarding chaos.

2. Premier Christianity Newscast: Tim Wyatt has a whole podcast (1 hour) devoted to the ISB story: Safeguarding in crisis in the Church of EnglandHe includes interviews with Andrew Graystone,  Gavin Drake, Jasvinder Sanghera, Jamie Harrison, Ian Paul.

3. Alexis Jay and John O’Brien will develop new proposals for the Independent Safeguarding Board.  See press release from Alexis Jay and another press release from the Church of England: Welcome for Professor Alexis Jay.

From the former, Professor Jay said:

“When I was Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I heard at first hand of the devasting effects of abuse within the Church of England, and of the failures, often repeated, to prevent it from occurring. I was very clear in my recommendations that safeguarding in the Church would require genuine independence in order to be fully effective. I have been just as clear with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the Archbishop of York that this programme of work must be entirely independent of the Church too for it to succeed.

I would like to assure everyone that I mean what I say. My team will not include anyone employed by the church, nor will we hold meetings or conduct any business on church premises. I have explained that if I detect any attempt to interfere with or to hinder my work, I will withdraw from this programme of work immediately.

I also wish to make clear that my work will be fair, impartial, objective and rigorous. One of my first tasks will be to hear the views of victims and survivors of church abuse, and to listen to those involved in safeguarding at all levels of the church across England. I look forward to hearing their experiences and using this process to inform the recommendations I will make to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

4. Media reports on this development:

5. There is a letter (scroll down) in the Church Times today, signed by 14 General Synod members, and titled (by the CT) Synod: safeguarding, procedures, and governance. The letter has also been published on Twitter, see here.

6. The Religion Media Centre held a briefing yesterday, now available on YouTube, titled Is the Church of England ungovernable? About half of this is devoted to Safeguarding/ISB.

7. The Church Times has this report on 24 July: Put us first, survivors tell Archbishops’ Council after Professor Jay’s appointment. It includes this quote from a Church House spokesperson:

 “We are aware that the former ISB members had promised to undertake a small number of reviews and look into particular complaints.

“We are proposing to have a package where survivors, if they want to continue in this way, can choose from a variety of possibilities to look at their review or complaint.

“We recognise that the current uncertainty is causing anxiety for survivors, but it is important that proposals are developed that can command their confidence. Conversations are taking place and we expect to make details available later this month.”

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Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
10 months ago

Today I was watching on livestream a recording of the Installation Mass of the New Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle Bishop Stephen Wright and during this Mass Bishop Stephen did something that has never been done at the Episcopal Installation of New Roman Catholic Diocesan Bishops, he invited Survivors to come forward, whom he had personally invited to this Mass and invited them to tie coloured Ribbons to the Episcopal Chair, which will remain there as permanent reminder in his ministry to put survivors first and he also invited a Survivor to come forward to the Lectern before… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
10 months ago

Not long ago Stephen Wright was PP of Burton on Trent while I was Vicar. His words were considered, his demeanour encouraging, and his approach to ministry totally pastoral. Hexham and Newcastle has a good man.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

Surely the appointment of Alexis Jay and John O’Brien has to be the best news from the C of E for a considerable time.

Martyn
Martyn
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

The press release from Baroness Jay is very strong, and in places quite menacing to towards the Archbishops’ Council. The press release states Alexis Jay won’t tolerate any attempt to interfere by Archbishops’ Council (AC) or CHW/LamPal staff. Lucy Duckworth’s quote states this is the “last chance” for the CofE to comply with IICSA, which it has so far not done. Jay has stated her first task is to engage with victims and survivors. If she’s lobbied by senior CofE leaders, she’ll resign. Crucially, she is also going to publish her report and not the AC. There are only two… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

: )

The Archbishops’ Council sought to control the ISB.

The Archbishops’ Council sought to control the discourse at General Synod.

The Archbishops’ Council sought to control their own agenda.

The ISB imploded under their watch in a monumental train crash. The independent Members declined to be controlled.

The Archbishops’ Council ‘lost the floor’ at General Synod and lost control of the narrative they tried to present.

The Archbishops’ Council will now lose control of the future agenda when it comes to safeguarding and survivors.

And that’s right, because ‘independence’ means ‘independence’.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

Yes, but I think there is a caveat. Why couldn’t these appointments have been made alongside retaining Steve Reeves and Jasvinder Sanghera under the end of their contracts in December? They could have just replaced Meg Munn. That would have provided continuity to survivors.

So, while these are thoroughly positive appointments, they cast yet more shade on the dubious way the independent ISB members were treated.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Kate
10 months ago

A good question to which I obviously cannot offer any answer.

The significance of the appointment, regardless of how, when or by whom it was made, is surely Professor Jay’s status as the former chair of IICSA which recommended statutory regulation.

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
10 months ago

As a TEC member, I am very hesitant about being part of the discussion of the CofE safeguarding issues. But I don’t remember any mention in this discussion the role of insurers or other entities with ultimate financial responsibility here. I don’t have a lot of personal experience on the TEC side, either (and am certainly willing to be corrected by anyone who has more knowledge than I do). But I have been told that what got the safeguarding ball rolling in TEC was The Church Insurance Company, which is affiliated with the Church Pension Group, which in turn is… Read more »

Rosalind R
Rosalind R
Reply to  dr.primrose
9 months ago

IICSA brought into the light the way that Ecclesiastical Insurance seemed to have brought pressure on the C of E to limit support for survivors. As with all of this, no one seems to know /be willing to say exactly what went on.
https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/19-july/news/uk/iicsa-reprimands-ecclesiastical-over-earlier-advice-to-c-of-e-and-evidence-to-inquiry

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
10 months ago

“My team will not include anyone employed by the church”

My hope is that this includes anyone who the AC see as ‘independent’, bringing to mind their spinning of Meg Munn’s appointment to the ISB as an ‘independent’ person. I trust Professor Jay on this, but I do not trust the AC not to try and inveigle someone onto the team. Although, as Professor Jay has indicated, I’m sure the sparks will fly if they do.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
10 months ago

And what about the sacked members of the ISB? They must hold a huge amount of essential background information as to how we got where we are, but will they be excluded as former employees or contractors?

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
9 months ago

Of course Professor Jay will want to talk to the former members of the ISB (all of them). Her comments on survivors as a key part of what is needed are encouraging, and she and her colleague will have the experience of IICSA engaging with survivors to understand the complexities and importance of what is involved. It may take time, but I am hopeful that it may be done well. The big question is the fight for resources. One of the critiques of the ISB is that it was expensive. Jesus on the cross puts expense into context and shows… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
10 months ago

What odds that AC will be able to resist trying to interfere with or obstruct Jay? Even if AC manage that there is no guarantee AC will accept or implement Jay’s eventual report & way forward without their own “expert” input & amendments.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Francis James
10 months ago

Martyn’s comment above is relevant. The C of E would be at risk of statutory regulation. I would have thought that Professor Jay’s position as former chair of the IICSA is pretty impregnable and why this appointment is so significant. It seems there would be little doubt that the government would listen to her and act accordingly.

Susannah Clark
9 months ago

I hope that the group who have announced they plan to review Standing Orders in Synod will also reflect on the travesty that is possible (via the 67% rule for changing doctrine) whereby a group hypothetically as small as 34% can hold the rest of the Church hostage by blocking change that the majority may believe in.

That is not democratic.

Last edited 9 months ago by Susannah Clark
Tim
Tim
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

.. no it’s not democratic. and deliberately so. The point is a change in doctrine will have impacts for decades or even centuries. So shouldn’t happen if it is only “just” agreed by this synod and maybe in another 5 years the majority felt different. It’s designed to make it very unlikely that the church will flip doctrine every few years – and only do it when there is a very good reason. Also it’s plausible a doctrine change may mean some people can no longer in good conscience stay in the church. Maybe that’s for the best…. but the… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Tim
9 months ago

People argue that against a second Scottish independence referendum. I don’t buy it. Democracy is democracy. If people change their minds, that is their prerogative in a democracy. You look at the information. You reflect. You pray. You make your judgments. Otherwise, by your reasoning, democratic will can be blocked by a smaller minority of people holding everyone else hostage… maybe ad infinitum. The Will of Synod can be thwarted by the anti-democratic principle that currently exists. In votes of great import in the House of Commons, decisions are made by simple majority. And then we all have to live… Read more »

Tim
Tim
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Well you may want to be in a church like that – but that’s not how it is. And I don’t think it should be… Anyway synod reps aren’t that democratic, votes are based on Deanery Synod Members- and numbers of those are skewed towards am over representation of smaller churches. If you want to change the church into a simple majority rules (i know someone making the argument that it general synod members should be voted directly by anyone on electoral roll and dispense with filtering via deanery synod members) – if you want to change ok…then it’s your… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Tim
9 months ago

I share the view of some others that the representatives at General Synod should be elected by *everyone* who is on an electoral roll, because I believe that way the moderate centre of most people in the pews (rather than parties of fanatics) would get more direct say. As regard your argument that if (say on the doctrine of marriage) a majority voted to allow gay sex and marriage, then the minority would leave the Church of England… …well it’s the same if the conservative view is upheld: that puts the socially liberal Christians in exactly the same position, so… Read more »

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