Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 24 April 2021

Archbishop Cranmer One Church of England diocese has spent £500,000 on 20 Non-Disclosure Agreements

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Bishop to the Archbishops opposed to equality of LGBTIQ+ people

David Wilbourne Church Times Bigger platoon at Bishopthorpe
“News of further appointments to the Archbishop of York’s staff has prompted David Wilbourne to recall his time as John Habgood’s chaplain”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Open Letter to +Emma of Penrith

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Susannah Clark
5 months ago

Re. the Non-Disclosure Agreements mentioned on the ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ website, may I ask: was ‘Carol’ who reported abuse by Bishop Bell subjected to a non-disclosure agreement?
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Also, if any of you can provide me with a contact for ‘Carol’ (of course, I would never approach her directly in the first instance) I should really appreciate a private correspondence with you. You can find contact details on my whispered love website.
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Thank you.

Last edited 5 months ago by Susannah Clark
David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Susannah Clark
5 months ago

Susannah – There was no NDA in the Bishop of Chichester’s agreement to settle Carol’s claim, though Lord Carlile considered there should have been one in circumstances on the basis that it would have been legitimate to settle the claim without admission of liability having regard to standard ‘litigation risks’: see the Carlile Review (15 December 2017) paragraphs 52 and 262-268. As you know, Lord Carlile was highly critical of the investigation (or lack thereof) by the core group. Hence his paragraph 268: “I regard this as a case, perhaps a relatively rare one, in which steps should and could… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Susannah Clark
5 months ago

I think it’s worth mentioning, in view of the somewhat blanket condemnation of NDAs in the Cranmer article (and by the Archbishop) that the Courts can, and do, sometimes make anonymity orders in civil proceedings where there are special grounds to justify this. Such cases will be exceptional, and the Court of Appeal has set out clear criteria which must be met before making such an order. The NDAs referred to by Cranmer are (I assume) in the context of claims settlements negotiated without litigation, but an NDA can be embodied in a court order and in my work (admittedly… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

RE: Archbishop Cranmer One Church of England diocese has spent £500,000 on 20 Non-Disclosure Agreements

It is my understanding that ‘Carol’ – who alleged being abused as a child by the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell – was NOT subject to a legal Non-Disclosure Agreement [NDA] or ‘Confidentiality Clause’. If she was, then she would have been in breach of it by appearing on the BBC in 2015/16 and providing an ‘exclusive’ to the Brighton Argus .

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

Since, if there was an NDA you wouldn’t know the terms, I think “would” should be qualified in your statement as “would probably”.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Kate
5 months ago

That is a ‘red herring’ Kate. To repeat: it is my understanding that ‘Carol’ was NOT subject to a Non-Disclosure Agreement or Confidentiality Clause.

This is beyond regrettable in my view – as it has contributed to a monstrous injustice regarding Bishop Bell which has lasted for more than five years.

The Church hierarchy should be charged with the attempted murder of a Bishop’s reputation.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

If a living Archbishop praises a dead Bishop for his “great achievements” whilst simultaneously character assassinating him with a “significant cloud” accusation, that is a particularly cruel form of abuse – and should be recognised as such.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
5 months ago

Lord Habgood’s comment to David Wilbourne that clergy who only work a 10-hour day ‘have 14 hours to eat and sleep’ is very revealing. I hope that Habgood counted prayer, meditation, wide reading (including a daily newspaper), etc as work, rather than banning them from clergy life. But did he never take exercise, indulge a hobby, or help out with household chores? Did he assume all his clergy had servants (aka wives) to do the shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, gardening, household accounts, and admin?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

I once saw him at a travelling Fair one Sunday afternoon in a Durham Village riding with his family on the dodgem cars. I think this was classified as leisure.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

I’m glad he could unbend that much. But his remark to David Wilbourne about the hours he expected clergy in his diocese to work, did not allow for them to attend to the necessities of life.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

When I was at Westcott House it was impressed upon us that only in exceptional circumstances should we work for more than two of the three sessions each day. The Principal Michael Roberts was clear that unless we looked after our own well-being we would be of little use to the parish. Most of us were single and most of those also identified as LGBTQ, so I think he had in mind the need to run the parsonage single handed too. In chapter I was always a little sceptical when clergy tried to outdo each other about the number of… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago

That’s a much more sensible and humane approach.

In addition, there’s some good pastoral and relational work goes on when you bump into parishioners in the shops, at the hairdresser, and while walking your dog. And if you have no hobbies, what do you talk to people about? There are few who want to wade into a theological discussion on first acquaintance. Small talk is invaluable, and it’s made up of the minutiae of ordinary life.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

I absolutely agree with that, Janet. When my younger colleagues ask me how I’ve made it through 40+ years in full time ministry, my first reply is always “I refuse to overwork.” And I also really agree with your point about hobbies. I’m a folk musician and spend a lot of my free time (in pre-Covid days!) hanging out and playing music with other folk musicians, most of whom are not churchgoers. Those friendships are deep and life-giving, and have also given me countless opportunities to be what I hope is a good representative of Christ in the non-Christian world.… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago

I’ve never understood the concept of ‘sessions’ in the working day. As one friend of mine puts it, I’m running a parish not a swimming pool.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
5 months ago

However you organize it, the reality is that the work of a priest is like the work of a parent – it’s never done. No matter how many hours you work, there will always be more you could do. That being the case, put a cap on your hours (averaging it out over a month so that if you have a heavy week you can balance it out with a light week), and go home while you still have some energy left for family, friends, and the other parts of your life.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
5 months ago

Very simple morning, afternoon and evening. There were some PCC meetings I’d never dream of facing without the afternoon off to go for a walk or a swim. As Froghole comments there are some clergy who engage in frenetic activity but achieve very little. The Statistics for Mission would indicate that to be the case. If I came across one of my old ladies looking world weary in Morrison’s I would stand and chat and then offer her a lift home rather than her have to wait for the bus. I found a metaphorical arm around the shoulder did so… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago

This is an excellent point, as usual, Fr. Dean. Also, what matters is presumably not so much the hours, as whether the work is useful and/or effective. When speaking with clergy I have been impressed (and not in a good way) by how much of their timetables are given over to administration (including in relation to church schools, so few of whose pupils and parents attend Church of England services). Surely every hour spent on pastoral work that yields spiritual ‘fruit’ (whether or not in the form of attendance at services) is worth x number of hours of mostly pointless… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Froghole
5 months ago

My parish has a building and maintenance committee. Maintenance of the building is their responsibility, under the overall direction of wardens and vestry. I very rarely have to get involved. However, a certain amount of administration is inevitable if you are the pastor of a parish. It seems to me that the best way of dealing with it is to get better at it, so you know how to delegate and how to prioritize. One of the most effective younger clergy I know was well aware of his limitations in this area, so he asked for help from a coach.… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
5 months ago

I’m very pleased that you are able to have an effective building and maintenance committee. I don’t know how large your parish is, or how many people you have to draw on in your congregation. However, there are plenty of English parishes which struggle to find people with the skills and confidence to undertake such responsibilities, which is why these things often end up as the incumbent’s responsibility. I notice a trend amongst some wealthier parishes now to employ ‘Operations Managers’ to deal with such practical matters, but most parishes would not have the funds to employ such a person.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
4 months ago

The members of a building and maintenance committee need not have the skills or expertise to do the work themselves; they merely have to have the time to observe and make decisions on what work needs to be done, research the personnel to do it, and present proposals to the PCC and incumbent.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Pat ONeill
4 months ago

You make it all sound so easy. Are you suggesting that dealing with these matters, making the proposals and obtaining estimates etc does not require skill or confidence?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
4 months ago

Our average Sunday attendance is around 80. Note that the words ‘parish’ and ‘congregation’ tend to be synonymous in North America, except in multi-point parishes (I’ve served in them too).

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Froghole
5 months ago

One of the problems with managing the workload is the constant interruptions at a vicarage. The phone and the doorbell go all the time, so both ‘time off’ and essential preparation and admin time get disrupted. Inevitably that means that you’re often reactive rather than proactive, and that however well you try to plan your workday it doesn’t work out like that. On one occasion I had a 20 minute gap between a primary school assembly and a difficult funeral, and took a coffee into the back garden while I regrouped and changed gear. I was interrupted by a parishioner… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

And that, Janet, is one of the reasons I am dismayed by Dr Ineson’s appointment. What the archbishops need to hear and to be continually confronted by is the wisdom of someone with substantial pastoral experience in “ordinary” parishes, someone who knows what it’s like on the ground and who has enough emotional intelligence to analyse the underlying forces at work. Dr Ineson has no parish experience apart from a job-share curacy in wealthy suburban Sheffield/Peak District. Neither ABY nor ABC has much either, and that was long enough ago to mean that since then the demands of both parish… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

The new Bishop of Lynn announced today has had only the briefest flirtation with parish ministry too.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Janet Fife
4 months ago

My experience of having a parish office in a previous post is that it is not necessarily the solution it’s promised to be. Firstly, an office can become a hub where people gather and things pile up for you: you pop in to do a quick job and then lose most of the morning as you get swamped by all that is waiting for you. Secondly, parish offices which are staffed certain hours of the week aren’t that useful when funeral directors need a quick response to a request for a date and time: I find it much easier to… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
4 months ago

I had a young lady ‘phone me on Good Friday to arrange ‘away’ Banns. When I invited her to phone me back on Easter Tuesday she threatened me with a complaint to the Bishop so I gave her his telephone number, explained that his office wouldn’t be open until er … Easter Tuesday and bid her good day.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Janet Fife
4 months ago

I’m chuckling about that – because of Covid ‘work at home’ guidelines, my office for the past twelve months has been the tiny back bedroom in our three bedroomed house (we don’t have rectories in our diocese, so this is my own personal house, and it doesn’t have a dedicated office/study), and the official parish phone number for most people in our congregation has become my personal cell phone number!

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Froghole
5 months ago

So many clergy forget that they are deacons as well as priests and neglect their diaconal responsibilities in favour of as you say management issues. You rightly point out that the diocesan machines generate a lot of futile work that is best ‘overlooked’. With ever increasing benefices and clergy spread ever more thinly they need to have the courage to focus on the important work of priest and deacon and leave the routine humdrum to others.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago

Yes I was urged to do the three session day except I never felt the day divided neatly into three like that – both when I was single and even more when I had a family. Four sessions worked better. The time from the end of school to after supper was vital family time. We tried to put a cap on the number of evening meetings in a week too.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Janet Fife
4 months ago

Fascinating though this little diversion into clergy working hours has been, we seem to have missed the essential question that David Wilbourne was asking: how many Marthas do our bishops need? And I want to know why the Church Commissioners keep paying for more and more of them even as parishes are seeing their staffing cut.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
4 months ago

Dexter, the common denominator with all of the senior clergy is that they deploy psychological defence mechanisms, principally those of denial and displacement. Nonetheless however well defended they are they can’t ignore a balance sheet in the red and clergy vacancies going unfilled for years. The additional support staff are there to cushion them from the realities that even their defence mechanisms nowadays can’t protect them from. We can poke fun, and rightly so, but at a deep level they really believe that a £90k companion or Associate Archdeacon Transition Enablers will make all the difference. These additional roles are… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

Fr Dean. “the common denominator with all of the senior clergy is that they deploy psychological defence mechanisms, principally those of denial and displacement.’ Folk like us then? We are, after all, the pool they are fished from.  

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  David Runcorn
4 months ago

David, Every human being uses defence mechanisms to some extent some of the time. The CofE senior clergy seem to be fully defended almost all of the time. They persist with all these silly initiatives against all the evidence that they are having no impact on the rate of the Church’s decline.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago

I wonder if this is the Diocese of Lincoln, my parents parish newsletter this weekend is outlining deep cuts to the stipendiary ministry in Lincolnshire. The diocesan briefing paper is unambiguous: if you don’t/can’t pay you won’t get. Apparently they’ve been running a £3m deficit for several years. Whichever diocese this is has spent an average of £25,000 per person they have sent on their way, which is surprisingly low. I’m not sure why they need NDA clauses though as a transparent redundancy programme would be a more honest approach to the CofE’s decline.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago

It is low. My concern is that vulnerable people could have been pressured into accepting a low settlement then can’t even talk about what happened.

Last edited 5 months ago by Kate
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago

Father Dean and Kate: Inevitably working to an average can be misleading. There will be variations between isolated acts and prolonged abuse, but people tend (understandably) to expect more than what, in reality, the courts customarily award. The C of E (and its insurers) are unlikely to adopt a more generous policy than the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority ‘tariff’ which for sexual assault or rape is ”up to £11,000”. That will no doubt surprise some readers. Larger awards will involve exceptional circumstances, repeated and long-term abuse, but £22,000 is the maximum on the CICA tariff. On this basis, an average… Read more »

Marian Birch
Marian Birch
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

I understand it may be the Diocese of Winchester

MKD
MKD
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

I am not sure where Fr Dean’s parents may be, but the challenge facing the Diocese of Lincoln is less of making clergy redundant, than of very uneven distributions of posts – with significant numbers of vacant benefices that could not, and cannot be filled. With the predicted level of retirements over the coming five years, there will be a significant shortfall of clergy in the diocese, and until COVID caused something of a cash-flow crisis the emphasis was on trying to recruit to fill posts. However, the demography of clergy retirement and the challenge in recruiting means that ministry… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 months ago

I read Colin Coward’s piece and a question comes to mind. Was +Emma selected in part because of her views on same sex marriage either now, or earlier when appointed to the Lambeth Conference committee? Alternatively, were people who might have fought for same sex spouses to be included overlooked for the position?

Kate
Kate
5 months ago

PS for those who haven’t noticed – +Emma has herself left a comment on Stephen Parsons’ blog post.

Father Ron Smith
5 months ago

With further reference to Colin Coward’s piece – about the new ‘Bishop at Lambeth’ – such a title (for us out-liers of the Anglican Communion in the South Pacific) would seem to suggest residency at Lambeth Palace. Is not the Archbishop of Canterbury the resident bishop? If not, perhaps this archiepiscopal palace could be sold – in order to fund the appointment of sufficent parish clergy for the Church of England’s mission to the nation! Another possibility might be for this building to become the sole Administration Centre for the Church of England, where all the Bishops could gather to… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
5 months ago

Many thanks for this! It used to be the case that diocesan administration was undertaken from palaces by bishops and their domestic chaplains (or ‘scarves’). Whilst most episcopal palaces have been sold off or converted to other uses, bishops still retain their residences, and each diocese will also have its own office (sometimes a rather elaborate complex, though some of these have also been rationalised recently: think, for instance, of the sale of the Oxford diocese’s custom-built premises at North Hinksey for £2m and their move to the more banal environment of the Langford Locks business park in Kidlington). The… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
5 months ago

The problem with confidentiality agreements (hereinafter CAs) in contracts between large, well-lawyered enterprises the Church of England on the one hand, and private individuals perhaps represented by their local solicitor at best on the other, is that they are clear examples of deliberate intimidation. They are presented to the individual as scary, heavy legal instruments where the merest breath of a breach, by the most strained construction, will result in prison and bankruptcy at the snap of the counter-party’s fingers. In reality, actually enforcing such confidentiality agreements is very difficult. In order to obtain injunctive relief (ie, “stop doing that,… Read more »

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