Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 22 December 2018

Luke Miller Archdeacon of London Happy Anniversary

Cally Hammond Church Times Dear tokens of my passion
“Four years ago, Cally Hammond was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was Christmas.”

The Anglican Communion News Service has compiled a list of Christmas messages from Anglican Primates.

Jonathan Draper Modern Church ’tis the season

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau The meaning of the Magnificat

Sandra Palmer St Chrysostom’s Church News and Views The Ox and the Ass – inclusive nativities

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Open Letter to Meg Munn on Safeguarding
… in response to Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel First reflections…

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Michael Mulhernpeterpi -- Peter GrossMatthew HoweyMatthewRichard W. Symonds Recent comment authors
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Richard W. Symonds
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Whilst I fully commend the Open Letter by Stephen Parsons to the NSP Chair, I am still deeply concerned his definition of “survivor” does not appear to include those clergy – and others – who have been falsely and wrongfully accused of sexual abuse.

‘Safeguarding’ must also include survivors of false/wrongful accusations, if injustices and healing are to be fully and genuinely addressed by the Church.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

I am a member of the clergy, potentially vulnerable to false accusations – and false accusations are horrible things to deal with – proving a negative is undeniably difficult, and the processes for clearing oneself are not robust. Indeed, when I was in Chelmsford Diocese I played a material part in promoting a motion up to General Synod to review the CDM process, which is still not fit for purpose. But that is in some ways a very different thing from what is experienced by survivors of abuse – several abusers have been “cleared” by church processes, but found to… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“Othering” is a term which we all need to fully understand because it’s a trap we can all too easily fall into – not just the Church.

I found this article helpful in gaining a better understanding of the term. Here’s hoping it might be helpful to you too:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/nov/08/us-vs-them-the-sinister-techniques-of-othering-and-how-to-avoid-them

Kate
Guest
Kate

I have experienced being falsely accused of something. It was deeply, deeply horrible and scary. But to suggest that being falsely accused is in any way equivalent to surviving sexual abuse is naive and very definitely wrong.

False and erroneous accusations can be disruptive, turn lives upside down and have permanent impact on reputations even if disproved. I don’t doubt the potential seriousness of false or erroneous accusations. But sexual abuse can leave debilitating and lifelong psychological scars. It is vastly different.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Kate, of course the trauma of being sexually abused and the trauma of being falsely accused of sexual abuse is “vastly different”, but it is still trauma. And both come under the umbrella of ‘safeguarding’ and the abuse of power within the Church. As Stephen Parsons says himself: “My perspective on the current sexual abuse issue is to see it primarily as the extreme expression of dysfunctional church dynamics. To put it another way, I believe that we should see sexual abuse of children and vulnerable people as being at one end of a continuum of power abuse in the… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

You said ‘I am still deeply concerned his definition of “survivor” does not appear to include those clergy – and others – who have been falsely and wrongfully accused of sexual abuse.’ That very clearly equivocted those surviving abuse with those against whom false accusations are made. By the way, when is an accusation false rather than merely not upheld? Nor, I suggest do unproven accusations necessarily come under the safeguarding umbrella and is not the flip side of the same coin. It is only a safeguarding matter if the accusation is shown to be ill-intentioned and have a bullying… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Kate, do you think there is a responsibility to protect and safeguard clergy – as well as others – from genuinely false or wrongful allegations of sexual abuse?

If you think so, then I would suggest that protection comes under the Safeguarding ‘umbrella’.

If not the Safeguarding ‘umbrella’, what other ‘umbrella’ of protection is there for falsely or wrongfully accused clergy – or others?

The Bishop Bell case is just one of many in this regard.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Dec 20 2018 House of Lords Hansard https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-12-20/debates/189A5C42-659D-49B0-92B5-BBD73DB05C0D/IndependentInquiryIntoChildSexualAbuse?highlight=lexden#contribution-56A837D2-89E7-4E7A-99AF-1130BBFFE45B  3.48 pm Lord Lexden (Con) My Lords, one of the great merits of this most welcome debate, for which we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is that it helps to focus attention again on a serious issue with which, like the noble Lord and other participants in this debate, I have been much preoccupied in the last few years. It is one that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will need to bear carefully in mind as it goes about its work, for reasons that we have already… Read more »

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

” Whenever somebody goes hungry, that is contrary to God’s intentions. For Jews this belief was limited by the idea that Jews were a chosen race. ” I say Mr. Clatworthy is WRONG. His entire column is way too simplistic. But this couplet is beyond the pale. In my opinion, it is written from preconceived, stereotyped notions of Jews started by St. John’s gospel and continuing to this day. Mr. Clatworthy has no proof whatsoever that Jews throughout history are any less concerned about human rights than Christians have been. Where was this alleged concern for the rights of all… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Peter Pi, you are exactly right. Apparently, Mr. Clatworthy has never really read the Old Testament, especially the following: Do not mistreat or abuse foreigners who live among you. Remember, you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 22:21) Do not oppress a foreign resident, since you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9) You must not defraud your neighbor or rob him. You must not withhold until morning the wages due a hired hand. (Leviticus 19:13) When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not oppress… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Pat O’Neill, Thank you. SOME Christian people like to portray the “Old Testament God” and the “New Testament God”, usually unfavorably for the latter, without recognizing a) it’s the same God, and b) the Old Testament (Jewish Scriptures) was written by dozens of people over hundreds of years of time, each with their own perspective (no writer was merely a human typewriter for God, their viewpoint will always edit the revelation they received) and IMO, shows evolution in its approach to God and humanity as a whole. Not to mention the whole “Old” vs “New (and improved?)” dynamic, which is… Read more »

Matthew
Guest

Sorry but could I suggest that you have oversimplified things from the other side. Mr Clatworthy says that the concept of the chosen race has limited the idea of universal human rights, not that it has eliminated it altogether. You have quoted selectively from the Jewish Scriptures, and ignored the texts which make a clear distinction between the rights of foreigners and those of fellow Israelites e.g. For example: ‘As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Peter Pi-Peter Gross; I had not intended to read Mr. Clatworthy’s article; but after reading your post I gave it a glance–‘glance’ rather than ‘read’ being the operative word. On first glance,it appears to lack an appreciation for complexity. A couple of things: (1) The Song of Mary, as any number of NT scholars point out, owes a lot to the Song of Hanna in the Hebrew Scriptures. (2) The Christian church need not look beyond its own limited institutional and cultural horizon if it wants to look for an inability of organized religion engage human rights seriously and… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Thank you.

John Wallace
Guest
John Wallace

Surely we should see the Song of Mary (agreeing that it echoes Hammah) as a manifesto of the liberation that the Gospel brings. The amazing thing about the Gospel that I believe, preach and with much more difficulty try to live is that it overthrows earthly values and hierarchies. Would that this message were more clearly proclaimed in our more significant pulpits. For me – and I’m sure there are those who will disagree – it puts the selfishness and inward looking of Brexit and the arrogance of Trump where it belongs. Best wishes for a peaceful and blessed Christmas… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I largely agree with you. However, we should be careful before labelling Brexiters as ‘selfish and inward looking’. In many cases it’s the ‘selfish and inward looking’ attitudes of the better off that led people to a desperate vote for something, anything, to change. This analysis from the Times a few days ago makes the point: ‘There is a reason why immigration splits the nation (Philip Aldrick writes). It benefits well-off Britons while those on lower incomes struggle to see any gains. Studies show that high-skilled migrants, with whom the wealthy are more likely to interact, improve productivity and raise… Read more »

rjb
Guest
rjb

“Mr. Clatworthy has no proof whatsoever that Jews throughout history are any less concerned about human rights than Christians have been.” I’m not sure where ‘human rights’ come into it – human rights being (basically) a twentieth-century phenomenon, and the idea of natural rights (arguably) dating from no earlier than the fourteenth century in European thought. For most of its history, I really think the Church has not been very worried about ‘human rights,’ except in a narrowly-defined legal sense. But surely this is the poverty of liberalism: the need to translate everything into the (necessarily adversarial) language of ‘rights’.… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Christianity will forever have to carry guilt for its complicity in the Shoah. “Obviously, I think Christianity is best, because I am a Christian. I could hardly believe otherwise.” How interesting. I’m a Christian. I prefer to think in more critical terms. What could be a more egregious example of the denial of human rights than crucifixion? It being a form of punishment, for example, used by the Romans to demean and terrorize the Jewish population in colonized territory. One wonders if the at times berserk connection between large sectors of Christianity and various kinds of state sponsored violence and… Read more »

Matthew
Guest

“Moreover, I’m sceptical of vague appeals to universal moral beliefs. Except in a rather trivial sense, I don’t think such universal moral convictions really exist. I’m not really sure what it means to talk about ‘morality’ outside of a specific moral and cultural tradition.” I think that the modern concept of universal human rights is vitally important and not at all trivial. It is an attempt to define some things which are absolutely wrong, regardless of cultural and social location. To take the paradigmatic example, we need to be able to say that the Holocaust was absolutely wrong, not that… Read more »

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

I simply think it is wrong to assume that Jews are any less concerned about people going hungry than Christians are. On a different subject, at the same time in the USA that Christian abolitionists were fighting to bring freedom and dignity to black slaves, other Christians were upholding slavery And I am tired of certain Christians continuing to see Jews through the lens of stereotyped assumptions about Jews from certain Christian supersessionist interpretations of Jewish Scripture (Old Testament) and the biased view of Pharisees as portrayed in the Gospels. The idea of a tribal God dominating Jewish Scriptures is… Read more »

Matthew Howey
Guest

Sorry I still think that you have been harsh in Mr Clatworthy’s assessment of Jewish faith and Scriptures, he does seem to recognise there are both universalist and particularist strands in Judaism, and I don’t think he’s unreasonable to say that the universalist concept of human rights can be limited by the particularist strand of the Jewish people as being specially favoured by God. However, what makes the article painfully one-sided is Mr Clatworthy doesn’t mention the particularist limitation within Christianity itself – specifically the problem of Christian exclusivism, salvation only through Christ or only through the Church. I believe… Read more »

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

Thank you, and I agree with your well-written succinct assessment.
This is a generalization, but I think no large group of people is immune from particularist tendencies, including Jews and Christians.
I refuse to imagine an all-wise and all-merciful God so narrow-minded that S/He will offer salvation, however people define it, to one group, and tells everyone else to literally go to Hell.
How many people have suffered at wars, literal and spiritual, because some people felt they have the True Religion and are going to Heaven — and everyone else doesn’t and isn’t?

Michael Mulhern
Guest
Michael Mulhern

Re the Christmas Messages from the Anglican Primates. Full marks to Ireland, not only for doing this ecumenically, and emphasizing the importance of Christian leaders speaking with one voice across a politically contentious border; but also because it addresses the most pressing political and social crisis in Ireland at this moment. In sharp contrast, Justin Welby resorts to platitudes and generalities, and – predictably – fails to address the root causes of the divisive tribalism inherent in English society. Even the English monarch managed to acknowledge the malaise gripping her country in her Christmas message.