Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 22 August 2018

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity New Wine United (2): LGBT Issues – “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted …”

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer CofE clergyman tells suicidal sex-abuse victim to “crawl back under a stone”, and that he “probably enjoyed” it

Marcus Green The Possibility of Difference flagging up issues of pride

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Tim ChestertonBernard SilvermanJames ByronDavid LammingJayKay8 Recent comment authors
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JayKay8
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JayKay8

The “I wish survivors would crawl back from under the stone…” comment is just part of a spectrum of secondary abuse experienced by victims and survivors. Whilst Bishops and other church leaders continue to make misleading statements, withhold documents, obfuscate or simply ignore victims, the fact that these sorts of statements are made to victims in private is hardly surprising. I think what is important is that all clergy and people in the pews wake up to this!

Colin Coward
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Colin Coward

Father Richard Peers, an openly gay man, says we need to accept that we are all sexually disordered. This statement, above much else that he says in his blog, I hear quite frequently and radically disagree with. I am not sexually disordered. After 10 years of therapy in a number of different contexts, I have no doubt that I am somewhat normally sexually ordered. I just happen to be gay and that’s my ‘normal’. Where did this idea that the whole human race is sexually disordered come from? From the same stable as ‘we are all sinners’, I suspect. Both… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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‘Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us, that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Amen’. Wacky Pentecostal theology? No – mainstream Canadian Anglican liturgy. Week by week (day… Read more »

David Lamming
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David Lamming

Tim: Not just in Canada. The wording of the alternative prayer of confession in the C of E’s ‘Common Worship’ Holy Communion service (Order One)—now the standard C of E liturgy, and with more than a nod to Micah 6.8—is very similar (page 169): “Most merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed, We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. In your mercy, forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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Beautiful prayer David! My wife and I fly to the UK tomorrow and we will be worshiping there the next three Sundays, so maybe we’ll get to use it. I love the nod to Micah 6.8!

David Emmott
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David Emmott

I don’t know if Richard Peers is following these comments or ready to reply. However I’m somewhat disconcerted by Colin’s dismissal of the view that ‘we are all sinners’. I would have thought that was uncontroversial Christian orthodoxy. That is not the same as claiming that we are essentially depraved; it’s simply admitting that as human beings we frequently fail to love as we are called to do. Our love is always less than 100% perfect and hence we always ‘miss the mark’ (as I was taught was the definition of sin). I suspect that Fr Richard means something similar… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

“However I’m somewhat disconcerted by Colin’s dismissal of the view that ‘we are all sinners’. I would have thought that was uncontroversial Christian orthodoxy.” It may be standard Christian theology, but it’s amazing how often “we are all sinners” is thrown in the face of GLBT people. I’ve had conservative Christians tell me online that Christian shopkeepers shouldn’t refuse service to GLBT people, but instead should remind them that “we are all sinners” and offer to teach them about the saving power of Jesus. More than a decade ago, a reporter asked the president of the United States his view… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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I haven’t yet discerned whether Father Richard Peers is an Anglo-Catholic who does/doesn’t agree with the ordination of women. Could he inform us outright? However, Fr. Richard certainly seems ‘liberal’ enough to attend ‘New Wine’ so he cannot be too strait-laced! I do appreciate his story of what went on at the N.W. meeting, and it is good to be informed that a scheduled Speaker was able to discuss the Church’s reluctance to accept LGBTI people as ‘equal partners’ in mission.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Ron, if you read Richard’s blog you will very quickly discover his support for the ordination of women.

David Emmott
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David Emmott

Just because some people distort the gospel to fit their own prejudice, is even more reason to insist on using it properly. And a ‘Christian’ message that suggests only some of us need to repent (‘I have strong views; you are bigoted; he/she is beyond the pale’) is surely what Jesus attacks in his parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

I’ve never heard any discussion of heterosexual behaviour start with ‘well we’re all sinners’. I think that’s telling.

‘What do you think of William and Kate’s marriage?’ Well we’re all sinners…’

While ‘we are all sinners’ may indeed be uncontroversial Christian orthodoxy, context is all.

Victoriana
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Victoriana

Absolutely. Yes, quite. Thankyou Fr Andrew for putting so well what I’ve struggled to articulate at all!

Victoriana
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Victoriana

I couldn’t agree more with you on both points, Colin. Especially given a recent Fr Peers blog entry describing rituals to mark his long-term relationship with his (presumably by now?) spouse or civil partner.

It’s not simply disordered, it’s a very deep cognitive dissonance.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Martin Sewell should simply publish the entire “under the stone” piece, with the name and address of the sender included. It’s possible that there is a breach of confidence action in publishing it, and it’s possible there is a copyright action: let the author sue if he wishes. It would be a civil action with many possible defences and Sewell would have no problems in crowd-sourcing the money required to robustly defend it. It would obviously not be in any way defamatory. This would, of course, render the author unemployable whatever the outcome of any action, but that would be… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

If you read the IICSA reports you’ll see many examples where no action was taken against perpetrators of abuse because the victims said they did not want to “press charges”. The writer of the “under the stone” piece is being abusive and it’s not good enough to make excuses. I would have thought that the right action was to make a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure. Writing this kind of thing seems to be definitely to be conduct unbecoming of a clerk in holy orders.

JayKay8
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JayKay8

I have received a response from a diocesan bishop within the past 12 months that I think calls for a CDM complaint to be made against that bishop. The NST know that I stated the bishop withheld documents, contrary to HoB safeguarding policies, but as far as I am aware they are not instigating disciplinary proceedings against the bishop, which I understand is within their powers. Based on previous experience of making a CDM complaint against a bishop, and of reading about Matt Ineson’s experience, I see little point in expending my time and energy to make this complaint since… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

There is a clear need for a fully independent Clergy Complaints procedure.

James Byron
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James Byron

Couldn’t agree more. Given the string of coverups — going right to the top of the CoE — the evidence is overwhelming that bishops can’t be trusted with discipline. It’s structural as much as it’s personal: even if a bishop wants to do the right thing, the conflict of interest is awesome (not that this absolves anyone of responsibility). Putting the organization first is an evil that bedevils all institutions. I’ve previously gone further than saying that the disciplinary process should be made independent, to suggesting something like France’s juge d’instruction, a trained lawyer with sweeping powers to pursue complaints,… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

It’s not (just) to do with whether bishops can or cannot be trusted. I’m surprised that they don’t themselves see how an independent complaints/discipline process would free them up to do what I imagine they would prefer to do with their time and energy. James is right: currently their various loyalties present irreconcilable conflicts of interest. We’ve seen the same self-regulation issue with the police, with parliamentary expenses, and so on. Perhaps the bishops who read this blog will comment? Of course the details would have to be worked out, but the principle is a clear one.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I echo the comments of others here: setting aside my personal feelings about this horrific comment, triggering a lawsuit wouldn’t help anyone, least of all the survivor.

We don’t know what’s happened since it was sent, if there’s been further contact, or even an unreserved apology. Neither do we know what lay behind such appalling words. The survivor deserves all the support possible, but must be the one in control of the response.

JayKay8
Guest
JayKay8

Survivors STILL receive similar versions, although superficially more polite, to this comment from bishops and others in positions of church leadership. Sadly, the shocking attitudes revealed at IICSA towards victims are still alive and well.
I agree with Savi that they should be picked up and dealt with as they certainly are pastorally damaging behaviour – but the problem is that the senior leadership is unaccountable so dangerous attitudes and a dysfunctional system remain.

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

There is no excuse for the ‘under the stone’ letter but I suspect the author may be grappling with his own demons, which should have been picked up and dealt with rather than allowing them to spill out into such pastorally damaging behaviour. Surely the aim is to call out the injustice, express solidarity with the survivor and prevent such things from happening rather than to destroy an individual (as opposed to disciplining him, if the recipient allows this to be shared with diocesan authorities, which I hope will happen) while leaving dangerous attitudes and a dysfunctional system in place?

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

IO, if Martin Sewell were to publish the email he would (presumably) run the risk of outing the survivor, who may not wish to be outed. He is right to be guided by the survivor’s wishes in this matter.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

While all of us feel outraged by it, as JayKay8 points out above, this ‘statement’ was made in private. The resolution one would hope for would be an unconditional apology from the author. The point isn’t really material, but I can’t see any issues of copyright here. ‘Dave’ is the owner of the email, not the author, nor Martin Sewell. I can’t envisage anyone in this situation embarking on any litigation – the least therapeutic form of resolution when successful, and devastating when unsuccessful.