Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 23 May 2020

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back….to Power Games & Inequality
The Guardian reports on this as Synod member attacks Church of England’s ‘self-obsession’ in pandemic

Zoë Ettinger Insider Inside 19 of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world
The photographs are also available here.

Tom Wright Church Times Don’t let the weak go to the wall again
“Society needs wise, statesmanlike leadership — not a mad rush back to profiteering”

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of ‘new vision,’ status, money and prayer.

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau When lockdown ends, what will ‘normal’ be like?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Iwerne Camps. All Change?

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Zooming Along

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Kate
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Kate

I wept reading the Meg Munn piece because it is all about whitewash. She says repeatedly that reviews are only about learning lessons, not to change decisions or apportion blame. Quite apart from the issue of justice and redress for survivors which is clearly excluded the even more appalling conclusion is that she is advertising that decision makers are free to act poorly, even capriciously secure in the knowledge that any review will not review their decisions or criticise them merely set out how things could be done better in future. It is at best a charter for administrative misfeasance,… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

At the risk, Kate, of being accused of starting a mutual admiration society, I agree totally. I thought about making this point, but felt that I’d touched upon it in my Pravda/Supreme Soviet remark about the bishops’ meeting. And I repeat – what about the bishop of Lincoln. Is that business outside Munn’s remit?

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

This information comes from ‘Private Eye’. The C of E ‘National Safeguarding Team’ has set up a core group investigating further allegations against Martyn Percy. According to Private Eye Martyn Percy is not a member of the core group and has been asked to stand down while it deliberates. This is alongside yet a further Christ Church internal inquiry dealing with the same subject. People must draw their own conclusions from this limited information at its face value, but I assume the National Safeguarding Team to be the same body as the National Safeguarding Panel chaired by Meg Munn. If… Read more »

Alan Wilson
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Alan Wilson

No, Rowland, NSP is different to NST, and NSSG, and NSWG. Archbishops’ Council, House of Bishops and Lambeth all their own angles, too. It shows what a complex mess there is in Church England safeguarding. In researching the book I co-authored on the subject it struck me continually how the Churches who fared best were those (like the Church in Denmark) that simply adhered to the law and rules set by others, and those that fared least well were those, like the Church of England that tried to devise in-house procedures to contain and manage the problem and ended up… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Many thanks, Dr Wilson! Since you mention the alphabet soup, one of the things that I feel must come out of this crisis is a significant rationalisation of Church administration. At the moment we have 41 petty fiefdoms, each of which with its own safeguarding team, overlain by a central bureaucracy which to some extent duplicates the work done by the dioceses. These diocesan fiefdoms are a relic of the pre-modern concept of the bishop-as-baron with his/her own retinue. The multiplicity of safeguarding teams inevitably leads to highly variable outcomes, and I have seen much comment on Surviving Church and… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Thank you for the clarification. I’m not sure whether apology is due to Meg Munn. If it is, I offer it here. I do recall that at the time of her appointment I was one of the people who was supportive and hopeful, but I wasn’t aware of the C of E’s baffling safeguarding structure – truly a house of many mansions, if that is not too disrespectful.

M Evans
Guest
M Evans

I was hoping TA would pick up on the Private Eye article because it’s deeply worrying. National SG seems to make up its own rules and procedures as it goes along. This looks like trying to conduct a disciplinary process by another route, and one which is far less accountable.

Simon Sarmiento
Admin

I was aware of the Private Eye material, but have been holding back in the expectation that other material relating to the latest shenanigans at Christ Church would appear. I expect they will do so shortly.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Rosie Harper’s piece is on the nail (the Grauniad’s article doesn’t do it justice), as are many of the comments. Rosie writes “The trust of the people in a National Church, already horribly compromised by its internal moral failure to treat LGBTI+ people, women or abuse survivors honourably is gone forever”. In my experience of over 50 years of ministry as musician and cleric, the trust of most people outside the dwindling faithful went decades ago. The loss has accelerated IMO partly as a result of (a) the shift from regard for the mystical and transcendent God to regard for… Read more »

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

If trust in the church is as compromised as this, that doesn’t explain why I, and many other parish clergy, have had phone calls out of the blue from people seeking support for themselves, or for their vulnerable relatives who live in our parish. Knowing nobody else local to turn to for support, many people have approached the church, and specifically the CofE, for support. I know this doesn’t fit the standard TA narrative, but many churches find that trust is built primarily by a local track record through face to face and community relationships.

John Wallace
Guest
John Wallace

Rosie Harper hits the nail on the head about the unreality of the elite and our ‘leaders’. A simple example: our church school is physically quite small. If it has to reopen in part, more space will be needed for physical distancing. So we thought we would offer space in church for groups. A query to the diocese led to a long legalistic diatribe about risk, insurance etc – a real jobsworth answer. After all, the whole school comes into church on a regular basis and we run schools’ activities for primary schools in the town for 5 days a… Read more »

David Exham
Guest
David Exham

What possible justification does the Titus Trust make for its policy of providing camps only for pupils from independent schools (see its web site)? This is hardly in line with New Testament theology where Paul speaks of breaking down dividing walls; or see the whole of Philemon. The policy hardly makes coherent sense in a world in which young people move between the independent and the state systems for different stages of their education. This year you can come to our camp, but next year, when you have moved from an independent school to a state sixth form college, you… Read more »

Neil j
Guest
Neil j

David Exham, very easily. While the original rationale probably was more elitist, now it’s a recognition of practical differences. In many boarding schools the length of the day and week and physical remoteness of many schools makes any church attendance very hard. So any pupil wanting to explore Christian faith, or wanting to bring a friend to explore has to do it through school, so TT camps support a year round work in schools. Summer camp is an extension of that. Most state school pupils will easily be able to join a church youth group, and through that a CYFA… Read more »

David Exham
Guest
David Exham

Neil J, thank you for your response. However, I am not sure to what extent you are familiar with boarding schools today. I spent 35 years working in them, the last 11 years as Headmaster, so I have some experience! The majority of boarding schools are not physically remote: the four I worked in were embedded in a city, a town and then two villages. Chapel—which is also a church—attendance was very straightforward, not least because it was mandatory! There was a chaplain available all day, every day. So a young person who wanted to explore Christian faith had every… Read more »

Neil j
Guest
Neil j

Thanks David, I am a boarding school chaplain at the moment, so at least familiar with mine. All you say is true, which emphasises that for these pupils spiritual engagement has to happen in school, not church. I don’t consider my chapel to be church, or to replace church, but we do the best we can. TT is a great help to me both through the year and to those pupils who go in the summer. Kate, it’s certainly an argument that christian parents should be far more interested in the spiritual provision the school offers than in academic, sporting… Read more »

David Exham
Guest
David Exham

Thanks Neil, and it is good to know I am corresponding with someone who also knows boarding schools! Why do you consider your chapel not to be church? This must depend on how you define church—there are a lot of possibilities—but a school is a community, especially a boarding school, and if the community is gathered together to experience worship does that not constitute church? I appreciate the major difference when worship is compulsory. Two other things can be considered. First, in most schools, there are voluntary services and opportunities for Christian fellowship and support, as well as services when… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Isn’t that an argument, Neil, that Christian parents shouldn’t send their children to such schools in the first place if they so significantly hamper church attendance?

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

An ex-boyfriend of mine described his time at a prestigious Scottish boarding school as “being put into care” and lamented that there were huge chunks of his childhood that his parents knew nothing about. I can just about see that these boys needed love and pastoral care in the summer holidays, but it seems that the men, often priests running the Bash camps gave them a scorpion instead and in some cases thrashed their backsides until they bled. My ex is an urbane, affable and self assured man; all the qualities his parents had presumably paid handsomely for, but at… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I believe Prince Charles had something of a rough time at a prestigious Scottish boarding school. Thank goodness corporal punishment has been abolished in all UK schools eliminating at least some sexual abuse of children being perpetrated under a false guise of ‘punishment’. Unless I have missed something, there is no evidence of priests having thrashed Iwerne campers. It hasn’t been established with any certainty that John Smyth was a lay reader – at any rate if he was, the records are missing! – nor was he a priest. My questions about people remembering him preaching in churches in the… Read more »

Dexter Bracey
Guest
Dexter Bracey

John Smyth was a Reader in the diocese of Winchester, and is reported to have served in the parish of Christ Church, Winchester. Let’s not be confused by the Archbishop of Canterbury ‘forgetting’ that Smyth was even Anglican.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

When those claims were made about two or three years ago, it was asserted here on TA (not by me) that the diocese had no record of his claimed Readership. At that time I suggested that there would be people, whether at Christ Church or elsewhere, who would surely remember him and, equally, there should have been records in service registers. Nothing came of that. If you, or others, are able to provide some definite confirmation of the facts, that would clarify matters and resolve the doubts, but I note you use the word “reported” which rather suggests that you… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Jonathan Fletcher is a priest, and he also engaged in forms of corporal punishment with those he was mentoring – though nowhere near as severe as Smyth’s beatings.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Winchester Diocesan Directory for 1981 has the following entry under ‘Lay Readers’: Smyth, J.J., MA. Orchard House, Morestead, Winchester. Winchester, Christ Church. Tel. Twyford 713438

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Thank you. That information wasn’t forthcoming when I raised the matter on TA two/ three years ago when someone here said that the diocese had no record. I’m even more puzzled by the address. I know Morestead intimately, and feel certain that it is not the location of the infamous garden shed. I believe Smyth resigned from the Titus Trust in 1982, but have not looked at any sources recently to establish a reliable chronology. One hopes that Keith Makin’s report when it becomes available (we hope next year), will solve some of the existing puzzles about when and where… Read more »

Dexter Bracey
Guest
Dexter Bracey

I have no personal knowledge of Smyth, but it has been clearly recorded at various stages that he served as a reader in Winchester – a quick google search will reveal how often that has been reported. I don’t really understand why you are surprised that no-one will come forward and say that they remember Smyth serving in that way – after all, looking the other way and pretending to know nothing has rather been the C of E’s standard response to this whole saga.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Thank you. I had seen assertions but, until now, no evidence. And as one with local knowledge, the details revealed with Janet’s answer have raised further issues. As stated above, I am hoping that Keith Makin’s report will give us a true and cogent account of what happened, both at Iwerne and Winchester. I did meet Smyth once, in court at Winchester before he became a QC. He struck me as a competent lawyer, but decidedly cool and aloof. I never encountered him at Christ Church, Winchester on the very few occasions I attended there in the 1970s/ 80s.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Apologies! I should have read more carefully. You said “the men, often priests … and in some cases thrashed” etc., so I have to accept that at least one, possibly two, men who were non-priests did what you say.

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

Thank you for your apology Rowland

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Reading Canon Rosie Harper from afar, I gather the C of E hierarchy will continue to be under the microscope for its odd priorities during the pandemic lockdown. Melanie McDonagh has an article in The Tablet about the Church contributing to its own redundance. McDonagh references an earlier article on the same subject and with a similar view by The Times’ Matthew Parris. McDonagh’s analysis is structural. She adds the Catholic Church into the frame and moves from the bungling over Covid to the church in Bosnia where Cardinal Puljic celebrated mass in remembrance of Nazi collaborators (Ustasa) and the… Read more »

Brenda
Guest
Brenda

I wonder if Rosie’s blog will be discussed at the next meeting of Nobody’s Friends, the bishops’ exclusive dining club?

Father David
Guest
Father David

Rosie Harper longs for a “leaner, healthier” church in future. Didn’t Runcie all those decades ago hope for a leaner, fitter church? One thing is certain that the Post-Covid Church will be nothing like the Pre-Covid Church. As the Prime Minister leads the attack on obesity, so the Church of the future will most certainly be leaner but whether it will be fitter and healthier remains to be seen.

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

What a strange assortment of cathedrals from the Insider. I can probably think of 19 more beautiful ones in England alone!

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Indeed. We must be thankful that St Paul’s (London) and Salisbury at least made the cut, although the photograph of Salisbury hardly does it full justice. .

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

‘Could it be that titles such as ‘The Most,’ ‘The Right’ ‘The Very’ and ‘The Venerable’ should be dispensed with? ‘ A very tentative way of putting it, Andrew. Of course they should. As should Reverend. No-one is entitled to any more reverence than the smallest and humblest child of God. If titles have any place within the church (and it’s worth a debate) then ‘Father’ or ‘Mother’ for priests is all we need. But Christian names should be all we need. Or simply a description of function such as Priest or Bishop.

Kate
Guest
Kate

The plurality of titles to indicate ecclesiastical rank is wrong because the origin is really to indicate social rank but a single title to indicate those actively engaged in ordained ministry might be reasonable; however because of the instruction in Matthew 23:0 to “…not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven” it should not be Father.

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

When I was born I had a mother and a man who Kate says I shouldn’t call my Father. What’s wrong with your Dad being your Father?

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

I agree. The various titles have meaning, but it is lost on most people and the Press frequently get in a muddle when they use the terms. Also, they often use the term, ‘Reverend’ as a noun (e.g. “The Reverend said…”) failing to recognise that it is an adjective, and the correct way of referring to a priest or deacon (after first identifying him or her as “The Revd John/Jane Jones) is Mr Jones or Miss/Mrs Jones. [They also get judges muddled, confusing High Court judges (who wear red robes in the Crown Court): “Mr/Mrs Justice X; and circuit judges… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
Guest
Graeme Buttery

Kate, are you restricting the prohibition to clerical titles, or male parents and the ,longest serving MP as well? And don’t me started on Master, Rabbi, teacher or instructor (depending on which translation you are using). Speaking personally, I find Father or Mother, if that is your tradition, to be a relationship to aspire to, not an honorific meant to big the priest up.

Graeme Buttery

Kate
Guest
Kate

If you wish to call someone else Father that is between you and your conscience but nobody should style themselves Father X because that then forces those who understand Matthew 23:9 to be simply put to choose between following their conscience or risk causing offence by declining to call someone Father.

Graeme Buttery
Guest
Graeme Buttery

If I were to feel offended by not being called Father, then perhaps I should seek another path in life. When introducing myself I always say Father Graeme, but then add “call me whatever you are comfortable with.” On most occasions they call me Father, but it doesn’t worry me. I suspect it is adiaphora anyway.

Graeme

Richard
Guest
Richard

It’s “wrong”?… or not to your liking? Title and post nominal initials abound in our society. It identifies who the individual is: in academia, in government, in the military. Some flout their title, some prefer that it not be used. Generally, I think we can understand that titles show respect for the office held, not for the personal achievement of the individual. (I do, however, believe that it’s not wrong to acknowledge hard work and study.) Many who don’t want to call a priest father probably don’t want there to be priests at all.

Evan McWilliams
Guest
Evan McWilliams

I always find it amusing when my Protestant compatriots bring this up as there was no organised Christian priesthood in the first century- certainly not with a tradition of calling anyone ‘father’- and it can’t possibly be what Jesus was talking about. That would be remarkably specific foresight, even for the Lord incarnate.

Father David
Guest
Father David

I’m always amazed that those who quote Matthew 23: 8 ad nausium seem to have no trouble in referring to Santa as “Father Christmas”

Evan McWilliams
Guest
Evan McWilliams

Personally, I quite like a good title. And the more obscure, the better. Drab egalitarianism is for the propagators of ‘newspeak’ and ‘doublethink’, the communist dictators, and the faceless bureaucrats. That’s not a world I want to live in. As to whether we honour the person or the office, that is another matter entirely.

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

You forgot to mention Quakers in your list of drab egalitarians.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

When I was growing up in the US, the honorific for Episcopal clergy (in my low-church diocese) was “Mr.” and Episcopalians were almost obnoxiously proud that their clergy were not a “Rev.”

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I’m generally in agreement with your comment David. My preference as a priest, archdeacon, and latter a canon, (a preference I worked at), was to be called Rod, the name I was baptized with (well OK it was Roderick; but I digress). Notwithstanding, people still have their accents. One deals with perceptions. As for Matthew 23:9, raised here by others, Joachim Jeremias ( NT Theology) notes: ” Jesus regarded ‘abba as a sacred word….He is thinking of …the custom of addressing distinguished people, especially older men as ‘abba. The disciples are not to do this, because that would be a… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I’m all for “Father” as the favoured clerical title.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I think ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ are both problematic titles for priests, because they put the clergy in a position of superiority over the laity. They carry the danger of infantilising parishioners (Father knows best) and imply obedience. They also increase the danger of the clergy being objects of transference, which may be especially problematic for the many people who have had difficult (or absent) relationships with their parents. I always ask people to call me Janet, but like Rod I generally sign myself ‘The Rev’ when writing to newspapers, and for the same reasons he does. However, I’ll put the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Janet, “…when writing to newspapers … I’ll put the title into brackets.” I have done that as well. I’ve also included the abbreviation for retired i.e. (The Rev. Canon Rod Gillis, ret’d). Commentators may be interested in this article on the subject written in 2017 by Presbyterian lay person for National Catholic Reporter. (link).

https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/small-c-catholic/maybe-its-time-reconsider-calling-priests-father

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

That is a much better argument against the title than the literalist one that Kate quotes. But it would also apply to calling God ‘Father’. Just as God transcends human experience of fatherhood (or motherhood), so should a priest model father/motherhood, though that can only be an ideal to strive for. If anyone writes to a newspaper and his/her occupation is relevant to the subject, surely they would mention that in the context of the letter. If it’s not, there is no reason to refer to it even by means of a signature. Another feudal practice I’d be glad to… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

OK several different points: 1. The Lord’s Prayer uses the phrase Father as our term of respect for the Lord. So, although there were no priests in 1st Century Palestine, I do believe that Matthew 23:9 refers to the term of respect we use for our Lord, whatever that might be but which, in this time and place, is the word Father. 2. Father of the House and Father Christmas are compound titles and totally different to Father. And nobody addresses anyone as Dear Father of the House because it would be Dear [Sir] Peter. 3. As to whether a… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

Is the compound Father in God acceptable for a bishop?

I wonder if brackets around The Rev. makes any difference. And what do the brackets mean? Just kidding? Formerly? Only sometimes? Soon-to-be? Not officially? Don’t-you-forget-it! ?

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

I have never called a bishop ‘Father in God’, and I also try to avoid calling God ‘Father’. Re. brackets for ‘The Rev’), to me they indicate the title is incidental not essential. Others may see it differently, of course.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

This has excited a lot of interest. Firstly “Reverend” (always preceded by “The”) is a title, and not a synonym for ‘revered’ or ‘reverenced’, which should dispose of that objection.

Crockford’s Clerical Directory has an online page “How to address the Clergy” (accessible free of charge: crockford.org.UK) which provides no less than 36 examples of the proper address in different situations for ordained C of E clergy. ‘Father’ is considered an acceptable choice if that is how the priest concerned wishes to be addressed.

Father David
Guest
Father David

For those who oppose the use of the word Father when addressing the clergy would they support altering the wording in the Book of Common Prayer? The Ordering of Deacons and Priests begin with these words “Reverend Father in God” and The Consecration of Bishops includes the phrase “Most reverend Father in God”.

Kate
Guest
Kate

The Book of Common Prayer definitely shouldn’t use gendered terms for clergy quite apart from other considerations.

John Scrivener
Guest
John Scrivener

I remember being struck by Anthony Kenny’s remark about usage at the English College in Rome in the 1950s: ‘the College had carefully preserved a number of traditions which exhibited its antiquity. The priests in the College, for instance, were always called ‘Mister’, never ‘Father’: that was what secular priests had been called when the College was founded, and no one was going to kowtow to the vulgar nineteenth-century innovation of using ‘Father’ in imitation of the religious orders’. ( A Path from Rome, p.52.)

David Exham
Guest
David Exham

Dear Heaven; hundreds of people are dying of the corona virus, there is real concern that the economy of the country may collapse, people are isolated, alone, desperate about their financial position, unable to be with their families, afraid, and we have little idea of how we shall get out of this situation, and this site is hosting–reluctantly, I suspect–a discussion about how to address the clergy! Listen to yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, reverend or otherwise, and try to recover some sense of proportion.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I think most of us are fully aware of those matters, may be experiencing some of them as well, and not in any position to do anything to change things. Your censure might be more appropriately addressed to people who have flouted the self-isolating rules and those in government who have shamefully condoned this.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

It’s at times like these that one needs a laugh. This discussion has provided it. One can often rely on bishops for this purpose, but at present they generate the hollow laughter of incipient despair.

Ian
Guest
Ian

I agree Stanley. We need a laugh at times like this when government advisors test their eyesight by going for a 30 mile drive with his child in the back.
So back to the laugh. I am reminded of the devout catholic mother complaining about the high church vicar: “Fancy calling him father, and him with a wife and three children!”
May have been ‘ Merrily on High’ May have been ‘Bless me Father’ It made me laugh anyway.

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Since most of us are sitting at home (unless we live within 30 miles of Barnard Castle) and feeling pretty helpless about the crisis around us, we have the choice between praying fervently on our knees 24/7, getting angry at every incoherent word that emerges from Downing Street, or thinking up witty variations on the SpecSavers advert. So I think we can be forgiven a little diversion into Anglican eccentricities. Though if we do have to be serious, I suggest that the way we address the clergy might have a lot to say about how we relate to each other… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Thank you, my point exactly. Today I complete ten weeks in “solitary“ in response to the PM‘s pronouncements on 17th March, then official ‘shielding’ instructions by telephone on 2nd April, shortly followed by sealed orders by email. I admit to being outraged by the cavalier contempt shown to people who have conscientiously followed the ‘rules’ (carefully disguised as ‘guidance’ rather than regulations) and the sheer brass-neck from Downing Street defending the indefensible. Sorry, if I over-reacted or didn’t see any humour. But the inimitable Archdruid Eileen provides that in her Beaker Folk blog on 23rd May – worth a look… Read more »