Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 25 January 2020

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley The Beaker Folk Issue a Pamphlet About Civil Partnerships

Andrew Wilson NewsThump Church of England challenges Roman Catholicism in bid to be Christianity’s moral mafia

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of ministerial training; what did full time training do for anyone?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Reflections on the life of Bishop Peter Ball
This refers to a Church Times letter by Colin Buchanan; it is the second one here.

Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News Restoring Trust….In Church and State

Paper and String Church The Cliff Face

34
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
11 Comment threads
23 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
18 Comment authors
David RuncornStanley MonkhouseMarkGuestJanet Fife Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Colin Buchanan’s letter to the Church Times is not available to anyone without a subscription. Could someone please summarise what the letter says?

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

From the Rt Revd Dr Colin Buchanan Sir, — Your editorial (17 January) commented appropriately upon what the BBC documentary Exposed: The Church’s darkest secret had unearthed about the double life of Bishop Peter Ball and some other Chichester clergy in the 1980s. The documentary, however, had omitted a major element in the story which the Gibb report had also ignored and the independent investigation had addressed only in part. As you, too, did not mention what Exposed had omitted, I raise now the crucial question how Peter Ball ever became Bishop of Gloucester in 1992. There were at least… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

It was a scandal that he was translated to Gloucester. Not to mention Eric Kemp making him Bishop of Lewes. A middle ranking civil servant (later knighted) gave partial advice to the Prime Minister of the day. Many knew of Ball’s sexual proclivities years before living in a community with young men. The origins go back to George Bell accepting him for ordination in the first place.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Paper and String Church I wept on reading “The Cliff Face”. My 13-year ministry ended with retirement and was marred by the death of a son, but Paper Priest speaks for me. I have written about some of this before, but in short, and in no particular order: • Why do some clergy find getting a sabbatical so difficult when bishops are frequently away on jollies? • The demands of institution, parishioners and local community are irreconcilable. • Are diocesan bishops aware of the demands made in their name that are dumped by their apparatchiks on parish clergy? • Do… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Stanley Monkhouse. Can you please give us an actual example of a Bishop on a ‘jolly’ so we know what you are referring too? Thank you.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

There is so much raw pain in Stanley’s comment. David, can you think of nothing to say other than to ask him to justify the bit about bishops’ jollies?

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Janet I have expressed empathy with Mr Monkhouse on a number of occasions here when he has shared from his own pain. That has not changed. But this particular comment did not read to me as personal to him in that sense and could instead be read as quite a mocking comment about the work of Bishops. I asked for clarification not justification.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I think specific and detailed criticism of leaders is to be expected, and I do that myself. But what grates is general slurs against the bishops, the majority of whom are hard-working Christians. I think it was reasonable, when they’re charged with going off on ‘jollies’, to ask – well what for example? David is a temperate voice here on Thinking Anglicans, which is very much needed, and is on record expressing care.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Susannah: I don’t know whether it still happens, but at one time more than one Anglican bishop was to be found lecturing on Swan Hellenic cruises. They certainly can’t be considered diocesan duties. Without asking him, I suspect that this might be the kind of activity which Father Stanley had in mind.

Both you and David Runcorn seem to miss the valid point made by Janet Fife about the general tenor of Father Stanley’s post.

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

I assume Fr Stanley means that a “jolly” is a Sabbatical – something which ordinary clergy find difficult to it to be given. A topical example of someone being on a jolly is the retiring bishop of Repton.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

So an example of a ‘jolly’ is someone who comes to a place where they must seek a new ministry context having worked faithfully for five years in the shadow of cancer?

FrDavid H
Guest
FrDavid H

I don’t think having time off for cancer treatment – for which I have the utmost sympathy – can be described as a ‘Sabbatical’. Everyone deserves time off in such circumstances.

Richard
Guest
Richard

Steven Croft is currently on sabbatical. Once again, Colin Fletcher is acting Bishop of Oxford.

Guest
Guest
Guest

I think Colin Fletcher may have been Acting Bishop of Oxford longer in total than many an appointed one

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Visits to link dioceses in the Anglican Communion? Attendance in the House of Lords in excess of duty weeks? Neither is remotely demanding, which is not to say they are not properly part of the role.

Will Richards
Guest
Will Richards

As always a penetrating analysis by Stephen Parsons – not least his references to Robin Catford. Not only did Catford, as the Appointments Secretary at Number 10 (evidenced by IICSA documentation), push Ball for Gloucester with an anti-liberal agenda; it is more than conceivable that he played a significant hand in pushing Carey over Habgood a couple of years earlier, with a similar anti-liberal agenda. A quiet word with Mrs T, assuring her that the politically naive Carey would concentrate on ‘spiritual’ matters and not spearhead any rigorous analysis of her economic philosophy and its impact on the vulnerable, must… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

Peter, anyone putting their trust in the current hierarchy is riding for a fall. Survivors of clerical abuse who were naive enough to trust the bishops have been cruelly treated. As members of the LGBTQI community we’ve been repeatedly told by the bishops that we are substandard Christians, our desires and relationships inferior; no amount of hand-wringing from the bishops and the Synod is going to make me trust them. They occasionally brush a few crumbs off the table onto the floor for us to fight over. I understand that you’re having to oversee a radical cut back in the… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Stephen Parsons describe a desire within himself to understand the psychological processes behind these are stories of abuse in the church; both the processes behind people like Ball becoming an abuser, and the processes explaining why the church as an institution has handled the story so appallingly. Has anybody considered the issue of “boarding school syndrome”? This in not simply suggesting that many people concerned had been to British boarding schools and were networked together within possibly inappropriate mechanisms of mutual influence, although this may have happened. “Boarding school syndrome” is a complex set of psychological syndromes defined by Joy… Read more »

John Duncan
Guest
John Duncan

Absolutely. And it’s interesting in that context that Stephen Parsons in his article queries as to whether Peter Ball might have suffered from a “disrupted maturing process.” The latest thinking around boarding school syndrome puts it in the category of “developmental trauma”. This, normally applied to early boarding, describes then particular trauma of a child who is removed from his family, and has to learn very suddenly to fend for himself in an institution that is unlikely to offer any emotional support. This is, of course, offers nothing like a full explanation of Peter Ball’s pathology, but is perhaps a… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

John, thanks for the post, but for me the key thing about boarding school syndrome if that does not only apply to abusers like Ball or Smyth. It affects a much wider nexus of people. If about 6% of UK children are boarders, and these children come from the upper echelons of society, then over 50% of senior leadership within journalism, the church, law, the civil service, and politics might be filled by people whose decision-making processes are distorted by the emotional damage of their school experiences. The problem is that the rest of us are so used to being… Read more »

John Duncan
Guest
John Duncan

Yes, I agree with everything you say. That is what I meant when I said ‘as well as the church’s response to it.’

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Not quite all the Church’s senior officers went to boarding school. George Carey is from a working class background and went to state school, though he was evacuated (along with his siblings) for a while during the war. I wonder how many of the older bishops were evacuated? It was a very disruptive and sometimes damaging experience for much of that generation of all classes. My aunt, for instance, never got over it.

Roy Williamson (Bradford and Southwark, retired) didn’t go to boarding school either. There are probably others.

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Janet, thank you. I agree with your thoughtful comment that whilst not all of the church’s senior officers went to boarding school they may have gone through other experiences which had a similar influence on their development in early life. The other factor to bear in mind is that boarding school pupils may make up such a high percentage of the membership of some UK institutions that their values, culture, and assumptions dominate the entire institutional membership, wherever they went to school. This is Nick Duffell’s main argument – applied mainly to the UK Houses of Parliament. In my own… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Yes, you are right. The few outliers will be subsumed into behaving like the rest of them, because ‘that’s how things are done’. It’s one reason it’s unfair to expect female bishops to be very different until there are a significant number of them.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Noting quite a number of female bishops disowning the recent Declaration from the House of Bishops re same sex sex.

Ann Reddecliffe
Guest

I really liked Archdruid Eileen’s pamphlet so much more than the one by the House of Bishops. It had much better theology and it was funny.

John swanson
Guest
John swanson

Stephen Parsons, perceptive as ever, flirts with an issue lurking just beneath the surface of our considerations. Taking Ball as an example of abusers in general: was he an evil and manipulative secular man who cynically chose the church as a means to his abuse, or was he a Priest and a Bishop who exercised both valid (and in Parsons’ word, “charismatic”) ministry and also appalling abuse? One of the church’s official utterances referred to him as a “so-called” Bishop. That seems to me too easy. It smacks of saying the evil he did was never really from within the… Read more »

Fr John Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Harris-White

Andrew Lightbown thank you for your thoughts . Your final words sum it up for me. Training is essential, but without formation it is a cold job training exercise which will not last the years of ones ministry. Formation gives depth, rooted in the liturgy, and growth in the Spirit.

I am grateful for going away from my home countryside to a northern college, and being challenged day by day.

58 years on , I still thank God for my time resident in a theological college.

FR John Emlyn

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

‘Paper and String’ is a deeply painful read. I add my prayers that something healing and new many emerge out of this by God’s grace. Like others here it brought back personal memories. For ten years into a ministry I too came to the cliff face. I left ministry (and faith) for several years, was on the edge of a breakdown and, for a brief while, possibly suicidal. I travelled for a while, lived on the kindness of friends, dish washed and temped around. That life, faith and ministry found new beginning I owe to a small number key people… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

I am not, and have never been clergy, but I’ve lost all faith in the Church. I don’t see it *ever* being a truly world-transforming organization. It is too deeply invested (infected?) with the status quo.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

I gather The Cliff Face has been widely read. In this diocese it has been proposed that in order to improve clergy morale (at least it acknowledges that it needs improving), clergy should be required to have a regular “counselling” (my term) session in which they can open their hearts. The people that are proposed as listeners are either the Rural/Area Dean or the lay chair. What do you think of that, girls and boys? I can’t imagine anything less acceptable. What planet do the proposers live on? As a colleague said, given the propensity for clergy to like trains,… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Stanley Monkhouse. Interesting. It would be helpful to know which diocese you are referring to as I would like to hear more in relation to work I am doing here in my own diocese. You say “counselling” is your term for what they are offering. What is their ‘official’ name for it? Thanks.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Following on from Andrew Lightbown’s post, I see that according to the information pack for prospective archdeacons of Doncaster, the diocese of Sheffield is in the process of culling its paid clergy. There are now 92.5 posts but only 75 planned for 2029. I guess other dioceses will embark on similar schemes, so I wonder (1) how do training numbers tie in with this? (2) are students currently training for stipendiary ministry aware of the implications?