Thinking Anglicans

More Christ Church shenanigans

Surviving Church has published a lengthy analysis of the recently reported development involving the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England: The Martyn Percy affair … a proper case for official Church involvement?

Here’s an extract (but do read the whole article):

…But more disturbingly, I have heard on good authority and am aware that others have also heard, that at a recent Governing Board of the college, one of the senior college figures boasted to the Trustees “the wily Censors have made sure they complained to the right part of the National Safeguarding Team”. If true, both ends of that statement are extraordinary. I don’t know if the NST are aware of this. I don’t imagine so. There would be an outcry across the Church if the NST had been complicit in their own ugly appropriation. It would raise questions about who is controlling different bits of this structure, and in particular who is pulling the strings of the “right part” of the National Safeguarding Team. I suspect Synod members would throw their hands up in horror and ask: how the hell does one rescue a Church’s national safeguarding so far down a road of ethical dysfunctionality?

But this core group sets an interesting precedent. Quite a few Church of England Bishops have been accused of safeguarding failings, cover up, poor response or no response towards survivors, gaslighting, blanking and fogging, dishonesty – yet how many have had core groups convened about them by the National Safeguarding Team? It would now seem that a complaint from a single source against a senior church officer is no longer time-limited, but will result in the formation of a core group on which the complainant can be personally represented. The person under investigation will presumably be asked to step aside from safeguarding responsibilities during the investigation. Although the circumstances in which this has come about are ugly and point to church officialdom targeting a well-known critic – the situation has unexpected potential for survivors. There are a significant number of survivors who have credible and legitimate claims that serving bishops have mishandled disclosures of abuse or have been dishonest in their response. We might welcome the opportunity to have core groups established, and to have complaints acted upon at last. I suspect the number of bishops who could feasibly be asked to stand down through such action might be surprising…

And then there’s another weird development, reported exclusively (so far) by Archbishop CranmerChrist Church dons launch new attack on the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics and Public Life.

Again, you need to read the whole article, but here’s a taster

…a few weeks ago Professor Biggar received a letter from the College’s lawyers on behalf of the Governing Body, demanding that the McDonald Centre remove all references to Christ Church from its website, including the Centre’s logo, which has the appearance of the famous Tom Tower. The request was effectively to sever all association between the McDonald Centre and Christ Church.

It is curious, after more than a decade of harmonious scholarship and manifest fraternal accord, that that the Governing Body or ‘Censors’ of Christ Church would seek suddenly to censor this academic relationship. Curious, that is, until you consider that Nigel Biggar has been vocal and very public in his defence of Dean Martyn Percy, who is currently being bullied out of his job by a faction of Censors. Having failed to tarnish him with “conduct of an immoral, scandalous or disgraceful nature“, they have now turned for assistance to the Church of England to try and oust him for “a consistent lack of moral compass“…

Update 11 June

The Telegraph now also has a report on this, Row escalates between Christ Church Dean and dons as Oxford college tries to distance itself from McDonald Centre.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
20 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Neil J
Neil J
3 months ago

What’s fascinating about this one is how it overrides the usual liberal-conservative divide. I guess Profs Biggar and Percy would generally be considered to be on different sides theologically, but one’s support for the other leads to both being assaulted. Perhaps Cranmer’s characterisation of the secular-sacred divide is right in this case; or perhaps the Censors and Christ Church GB just can’t bear not getting their way?

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I am not in any position to express a view on what has taken place here, but offer for TA readers’ consideration the following factual extracts from Lord Carlile’s Report in the case of Bishop George Bell:   [B] SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS, LESSONS TO BE LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS … 19. My recommendations are as follows. 20. Core Groups are necessary for the scrutiny of cases, not least in order to ensure that decisions are taken consistently. Each such group should have one person nominated at the beginning as Chair who is expected to chair all meetings throughout. Groups should be… Read more »

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

The Church of England has apparently established a major investigation into a figure outside the House of Bishops based on allegations which appear to be very similar to those made against some bishops but which have been swept under the carpet. If that is really the case then the whole House of Bishops ought to be deeply ashamed.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
3 months ago

Thought experiment – what if the Visitor (The Queen) has just been holding off until she can appoint a recently retired Archbishop to the “enquiry” team (“enquiry” being whatever the correct term is for the Visitor instituting an investigation at Christ Church, which seems to have its own version of the English language as well as its own idiosyncratic time) … ?? I wouldn’t dare suggest this is likely, but anything is possible … and the potential for poison to spread is significant – both in the University and the Diocese (I am an incumbent in the Diocese of Oxford)

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Bennet

It’s a Visitation, and If it were to happen, doubtless the Queen would appoint a Commissary. It would not be a “team” if by that you are referring to the Core Group.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
3 months ago

Of course, but terminology varies at Christ Church for various purposes (and also sometimes with royal involvement), and I didn’t read the statutes/founding documents to check. Two commissaries were appointed for the Chichester visitation. Here, with the split foundation between educational/religious purposes two or three would be indicated – hard for one to carry all the expertise and experience and legal also likely required. I am not sure where you got the idea I might be referring to a core group from. The thing is such a mess that any commissaries would have to carry real weight – a retired… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Bennet

A misunderstanding. Very simply, I thought that your mentioning the “team” was a reference to the Core Group which is the whole subject of the latest development involving the Dean and arguably needing to be reformed in the light of the deficiencies in its constitution – the Church having accepted the principle recommended by Lord Carlile that both parties are to be represented on the Group (please see my my post above which drew attention to this).   The position and powers of the Visitor are set out in Statute XXXVI – far too long to copy here in full,… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
3 months ago

No offence taken, just trying not to trip up over words. Christ Church has its idiosyncrasies eg its timekeeping. And thanks for the quotation from the statutes. It would be interesting if someone who knows about these things could write about the implied powers of the Visitor. There are all sorts of loose comments about who might be able to intervene – it would be interesting to know who might actually have the power to change anything: to give enforceable directions rather than advice, for example. And whether the existence of the Visitor in any way constrains the powers of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Bennet

With Simon Sarmiento’s permission, here are two more clauses, 4 and 5, from Statute XXXVI   “4. Inquiries by the Visitor The Governing Body shall, as often as it may be required to do so, answer in writing concerning any matter as to which the Visitor may deem it expedient to inquire for the purpose of ascertaining whether the Statutes in force for the time being are duly observed. The Dean and Chapter or the Dean and Canons shall in like manner, and for the like purpose, answer any such inquiry as to themselves, the exercise of their reserved powers,… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago

Perhaps the Censors could be urged to divert their attention towards Oriel? No riper case for removal from a lofty perch could be found than Cecil Rhodes at the college.

primroseleague
primroseleague
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

the Censors of Christ Church have no jurisdiction over Oriel…

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago
Reply to  primroseleague

Try telling that to the crowd outside!

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

Christ Church would do well to heed the words of Nelson Mandela:
 
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
 
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/cecil-rhodes-nelson-mandela-chris-patten_uk_5ee091a1c5b67abf79bc7dac?ncid=news-aol

John
John
3 months ago

Why, in particular, Christ Church? It has nothing to do with what is going on at Oriel College — neither authority nor responsibility. And what is going on with respect to an internal matter for Oriel, has noting at all to do with what this discussion is supposedly about — namely the actions of some of the dons at Christ Church with respect to its dean.

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

My chosen quote from Mandela was directed at ‘Students’ of Christ Church – not Oriel

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago

If I might add a comment in support of your quote. The Mandela-Rhodes Trust sets an example to the Students of how they should reconsider their approach to the McDonald Centre.   Camilla Tominey’s report in the paper edition of yesterday’s Telegraph is titled: ‘Trouble at top of Oxford’s Tom Tower as dean and dons lock horns‘. She goes on to quote a source close to Ms Elder: “This precedes the issue with Martyn Percy. The centre’s logo resembles Oxford’s Tom Tower – yet it is not a part of Christ Church and never has been. Prof Biggar has been… Read more »

John
John
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

You might as well suggest the officials of Trinity College Cambridge should intervene with Oriel, or officers of Bristol University or the leaders of one of the Inns of Court. None of which have any jurisdiction, any more than the disciplinary officers of Christ Church. You might argue that officials of the University of Oxford should intervene, though I doubt they have any authority in this either. If the members of that crowd are members of the university, I doubt they are confused about whose responsibility the statue is — not least because it was a major subject of discussion… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago
Reply to  John

Points well made. I heard Chris Patten on the radio this morning, refusing to take sides. As the last Governer of Hong Kong, they’re going to erect a statue of him in Beijing, he said. After Bristol, it seems that no historical figure escapes the iconoclasts’ attention now, even Gladstone I hear. The question is whether we can judge them all by the standards of the present day, and if so, whether that justifies removing their effigies.   I agree with the sentiment of Nelson Mandela about education, which means diversity of opinion. But it seems as though our universities… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
3 months ago

In 1922 Sir Winston Churchill said that after all the disruption of the Great War the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone were once again taking centre stage Yet, after all, was not their quarrel deeper than the transient issues of the War. The pandemic is much less serious than the Great War, but again we see the dreaming spires of Oxford and their, to me, petty quarrels resuning centre stage.

20
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x