Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 3 July 2019

Duncan Forbes Christian Today What Christians shouldn’t say in response to an abuse story

Carrie Pemberton Ford Women and the Church The Fall of the Berlin Wall, GPS and the Ordination of Women: the liberation of the Church of England? 25 years and counting

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Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Duncan Forbes is right and helpful, but there is a very difficult zone in the “who says what” arena – people who say “my life was in a mess and this person helped me” or even “I don’t think I would be alive today without their help”. I appreciate that this may be part of “grooming” – but for vulnerable people who have reached a better place somehow there is a need to see the reality of their journey against the truth that there has been abuse of others (and I have encountered this circumstance, so this is not theoretical).… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Actually I think Forbes is wrong on both his first two points. Suggesting that we shouldn’t pray for someone is an abomination. He says it, quite obviously, because he wants alleged abusers to be seen as irredeemably monstrous who have done no good – his second point. We are all sinners. For instance, I have flown for leisure. My lifestyle (probably past) was complicit in the global warming which has caused, and will continue to cause, desparate situations for many people. Am I less of a sinner than an abuser just because my “victims” are out of sight ot because… Read more »

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Kate, I think you have misread this. Duncan Forbes does not say that we should not pray for abusers. He is concerned about what we publicly communicate. To pray for perpetrators (as well as for the victims and survivors) is one thing, to respond to revelations of abuse with “Let’s pray for this fallen leader!” is another. The piece is all about how we subtly frame the narrative by what we say, not about whether perpetrators are irredeemably lost or whether or not they have done good or whether or not we should pray for them. Still, Mark Bennet’s distinction… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Dear Kate I think the issue being raised is not with who is prayed for, but what is said and led and made visible and whether it creates improper attempts at moral equivalence or privileges people like us, making others invisible. On the whole, the need for prayer for a fallen leader is obvious and visible, whereas the names of the victims may not even be known. The good done to me is obvious to me, but is not morally equivalent to the damage done to the victims. Saying and leading in the wrong way hides the whole truth. Having… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

But then isn’t the imperative to pray more for victims rather than less for the alleged abusers? And, as Richard Simmons so often points out, even in civil terms an alleged abuser is innocent until proven guilty so, at the outset at least, prayers should be for someone who has been falsely accused if they claim to be innocent. It seems to me that the way to square the circle is for one person to lead the prayers for the alleged victims and someone else to lead the prayers for the accused. Ideally I suggest that the Church does so… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

No – it is to help people who aren’t inclined to pray for the victims (or false accusers, as they may see them) to include these people in their prayers and not to forget them or merely be angry with them or see them as betraying the cause (all of which do actually happen). The dynamics of communities are very often to rally round the people they know. In one case I know about there is still a lot of feeling on the side of a person who has been convicted and sent to prison and disbelief about the allegations… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Carrie Pemberton Ford states that the fall of the Berlin Wall was in 1987. This is a strange mistake to make, as it is extremely well documented that the opening of the Wall took place on 9 November 1989 – see http://www.chronik-der-mauer.de/en/chronicle/#anchoryear1989 One hopes that she has checked the rest of her article rather more carefully.