Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 6 February 2021

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Constitution of Marriage: Consensus-Copula

Ed Henderson Church Times CDM reform must reduce harm to clergy mental health
“Some who are subject to complaints become suicidal… A new disciplinary process should prioritise their well-being”

Simon Dawson has written two articles about the Living in Love and Faith process
Learning from the Underside of History (long essay)
The Silent Centre Ground (short essay)

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Archbishops and Bishops

Giles Fraser UnHerd We’ll have to shut some empty churches
“To save its poorer parishes the C of E needs to slash its middle management”

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News LLF – Has There Been a Murder?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Lincoln Affair – some comments

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Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago

With respect to Giles Fraser’s piece, I note that there has been mounting criticism of the Church, particularly on the traditionalist right of the political spectrum (since most of the centre and left is utterly indifferent to the Church), and that this has elided with the wider critique of the growth of managerialism which has been doing the rounds for most of the past decade. The authorities are therefore facing a revolt by a section of the laity, and by some of the clergy: this might have accounted for the particularly barbed response by Mr Nye to the recent Spectator… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

Re: Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Lincoln Affair – some comments

If there is any truth to the analysis by Stephen Parsons, the problem lies in the underlying structural flaws of the “private investigative process” [eg CDM’s and Core Groups] – an obsolete, abusive and cruel system so broken and ‘not fit for purpose’ that it can never deliver justice, healing or reconciliation.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

Readers should scroll down to the letter about Christ Church, Oxford, to find this reference.

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
4 months ago

More than twenty-five years ago, I was the personnel adviser to senior management in gross misconduct disciplinary cases in a High Street bank. Aside from straightforward cases of theft by cashiers there were cases involving complex fraud and sexual/racial harassment that required thorough investigation. At all times, the bank was conscious that during the period of suspension from duty, the accused employee was under immense stress and could also be a suicide risk whether or not they were guilty of the allegations. It astonishes me that cases such as that involving the Bishop of Lincoln are allowed to drag on… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Laurence Cunnington
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
4 months ago

From such information as has been made public, the Bishop’s suspension was made pursuant to CDM section 37 (1)(e) which has statutory force. There are possible grounds to suggest that the suspension was unlawful. One cannot make that assertion categorically, but the subject was gone into in great detail here at the time: see TA 16th and 24th May 2019, and David Lamming’s paper on the latter date, all accessible from the TA Archives link. But, of course, you are right to point out the pastoral shortcomings, irrespective of the issue whether the Bishop should not have been suspended at… Read more »

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
4 months ago

Sadly Laurence about the same time, I was suspended with all 49 of my colleagues as a result of a totally unfounded abuse allegation in a children’s home. No support supplied by the County Council. We sorted out our own via the Unions and we held Union meetings in church! Personally I and my wife were supported by our clergy and the Vicar went public from the pulpit to rubbish the accusations. We were vindicated after a very expensive inquiry which the Council was forced to initiate.
It is sad that the church’s procedures are still in the dark ages.

Fr Dean Henley
Fr Dean Henley
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
4 months ago

The common thread in all these debacles is the Archbishop. The latest issue of Private Eye outlines his involvement in safeguarding blunders whilst he was at Liverpool Cathedral. From Stephen Parsons’s article it seems that he’s blundered in the case of the Bishop of Lincoln’s suspension. It’s almost as though he has a reverse Midas effect in that everything he touches turns to dross, but why is he allowed to cling on to office? History shows that archbishops of Canterbury like to have hosted at least one Lambeth Conference but who knows when the next one might take place. Only… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fr Dean Henley
4 months ago

The Archbishop is protected by the same power systems which protect the Queen – and future King. It would require a revolution in thinking – especially political and theological thinking – to remove such an ‘untouchable’.

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Michael
Michael
Reply to  Fr Dean Henley
4 months ago

debacle and Welby appear too often in the same sentence. Rod Liddle’s waspish take on the Church of England in the Sunday Times today: For almost the entire population our established church has become a complete irrelevance, a pitiable institution forever cringing before the most fashionable progressive causes and presided over by a man of such sodden vapidity that I feel an urge to wring him out and hang him up to dry every time I see him. The numbers of people with any investment in the CofE are now plummeting at an even greater speed than they were before… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Michael
4 months ago

It is understandable that Michael continues to be upset about the closure of Church buildings during the pandemic. I can’t accept, however, that Church decline has been caused solely by a virus. It’s been reported that Justin Welby vowed to mention the name “Jesus Christ” in every media interview he gives. He creates the impression of someone who always insists on talking about his faith at a dinner party. It causes embarrassment in polite company, The vacuous religion he offers is no match for savvy media folks, the likes of Richard Dawkins and anyone who can see that the simplistic… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

I’m with you Fr David H in your distaste for the anti-intellectual sky pixie nonsense that flies in the face of life as it is lived by those not institutionalised by the sect, who surround themselves only by those of like mind. A particular barrier for me is the “infinite generosity of God”. I am privileged compared to most, and I see around me people dealing with poverty, homelessness, addictions, harassment, child prostitution, people trafficking – to say nothing of the faceless inhumanity of dealing with such as utilities and banks and the managerialism of institutions generally. I wonder what… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

Losing a son must be unimaginably terrible, Fr Stanley. Being told how good God is can only rub salt in the wounds.(I’m aware the Welbys lost a child). Again, I can only imagine the anger thousands of people feel after losing a relative to Covid. Being reminded by the Archbishops of the Easter hope rings rather hollow. It’s as if the CofE exists in a movie where bad things can happen – but we can smile and play the guitar because it all has a happy ending . For some people, the movie is horrible and it doesn’t end well.… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

Thanks FrDavid H. I mentioned Hugh’s death (aged 38, heart stopped in sleep, nothing suspicious) not to elicit sympathy but to align myself with the vast majority of the population who have not found themselves manipulated into the cultic Jesus-freakery of easy answers to life’s outrageous fortunes. I’ve discovered too that my clerical colleagues simply refuse to engage in any serious discussion about such issues, instead resorting to sanctimonious and po-faced platitudes or to evasion, even occasionally trivialising “humour”. I can’t imagine that they are any good whatsoever to a grieving family.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

I find myself increasingly drawn to the psalms( “ My God, My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” “ Out of the depths have I cried to thee.”) which counteract a Pollyanna, rose- tinted spectacles view of reality.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Simon Bravery
4 months ago

Claus Westermann in his Praise and Lament in the Psalms remarks on the absence of lament or complaint in our worship: “Something must be amiss if praise of God has a place in Christian worship but lamentation does not. Praise can retain its authenticity and naturalness only in polarity with lamentation.”  Unless it is a BCP funeral, rather than the Sentences I give lament its voice by opening with a psalm. Both John 11, ‘I am the resurrection and the life…’ and Romans 8, ‘I am convinced that neither death, nor life …will be able to separate us from the love… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Michael
4 months ago

The Church appears to have become little more than a politico-religious business corporation, management-driven by an ethos of PR, economics and money. It’s desperately sad to see this spiritual decline.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

Who is ‘The Church’? When I look at parishes I know and have known, I just don’t see “little more than a politico-religious business corporation etc”. I see communities of people, trying to engage with wider communities in the locality around the church, and trying to live out the call of Jesus Christ. Until the pandemic struck and, I believe, after it recedes these local church communities will see faithful people, contributing to their towns and villages, befriending the lonely, visiting the sick, helping the elderly, running people to hospital, comforting the bereaved, running playgroups, supporting people overseas in pitiful… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
4 months ago

I’m about to publish a separate article on this topic, would be glad if comments about it could there, rather than here.

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
4 months ago

Giles Fraser’s piece interests me, coming from the Church of Ireland (and I would welcome Stanley Monkhouse’s reflections on this – not least as a corrective to any tendency to perceive that the grass is greener – 40 shades greener, perhaps – on the other side of the Irish Sea!). About 40 years ago, the CofI undertook a radical, root and branch lopping of its parochial and diocesan structures. In short (and being very superficial with the detail) it closed churches, created ‘Unions’ of parishes (especially in the Republic where it is very much the minority church) and merged dioceses.… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
4 months ago

Many thanks. I will defer to Prof. Monkhouse, who has kindly provided me with much information about the CofI. However, the rationalisation of the CofI commenced long before the 1970s. Take, for example, the diocese of Kilfenora, which has not had a separate identity since 1661, and was one of the smallest in Ireland, comprising the baronies of Burren and Corcomroe in north co. Clare. It totalled 20 parishes with several dependent churches: (i) Glenarcha in Rathorney; (ii) Temple Cronan, Crunane and Glanculmkil in Carran; and (iii) Toomullin in Killilagh. Every single one of these churches, bar the cathedral in… Read more »

Ryan Donaldson
Ryan Donaldson
Reply to  Froghole
4 months ago

‘Outside NI, Dublin and its dormitories, the future looks fairly bleak’ Really? In that case, Froghole, you need to get yourself into the rural heartland of Ireland and see how well the CofI is doing. In the Diocese of Cork, for example (civil population 540K) there are over 13,000 people on CofI electoral rolls. Most dioceses of the CofI would give their high teeth for that percentage of population! It’s also instructive that, with the demographics Michael Mulhern has provided, the Sunday attendance figures in the CofI (while not huge compared to the RC figures) have remained steady and constant… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Ryan Donaldson
4 months ago

I posted my responses to Michael Mulhern before I read this. It’s good to hear that things are pretty healthy in Cork, Cloyne and Ross. It’s worth pointing out that coastal and tourist areas have always been more broadminded and liberal than inland areas. It’s worth noting that many C of I people in CCR have moved there from elsewhere: Europe, UK, US. It’s worth a brief survey of Crockfords to see that there is a healthy influx to the C of I in the Republic of clergy trained in other Anglican churches, and that more than a few settle… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
dr.primrose
dr.primrose
Reply to  Ryan Donaldson
4 months ago

I was part of a group of Episcopalians touring Ireland several years ago. We attended a weekday service at the cathedral in Cork and were very warmly welcomed by the dean and the bishop. (They were forewarned were were coming.) The welcoming hospitality was so overwhelming as to be almost embarrassing (including specially laid out tea and biscuits) and it took so long that the tour director became quite agitated that we were getting behind schedule. Truly one of the highlights of the entire tour.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
4 months ago

My experience of the Church of Ireland (other than visiting churches and the Dublin cathedrals) was for a service of Matins at St Iberius’ Church Wexford, about a quarter of a century ago. A friend and I were made very welcome, the service and music were like a second-home to two C of E organists, but I especially remember a powerful sermon with exposition of scripture, and the warmth extended to us after the service. A quick search on Google confirms that the church is flourishing, and a recent ecumenical event indicates that the relationship with the local RC church… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
4 months ago

Church of Ireland PART 1 Thank you, Michael M. I shall defer to Froghole on matters historical, and if anyone wants more information I can put them in touch with Dublin academics – email me stanleymonkhouse at gmail dot com. In no particular order, here are my thoughts based on experience as a C of I layman and musician for 16 years in and around Dublin, and as Rector of Maryborough (Portlaoise) for three. My personal experience is thus of the C of I in the Republic. The C of I has been traditionally regarded as high in doctrine and… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
4 months ago

Church of Ireland PART 2 The administrative arrangements are as much as Michael Mulhern says. The Bishop of Cashel etc (six dioceses in all) covers the whole south east of Ireland (for area, think Derby, Leicester, Lichfield combined) has one secretary and that’s all. The treasurer is a Kilkenny accountant, the legal adviser a Waterford solicitor and archdeacons and registrar are parish clergy.  Clergy are paid more handsomely there than here with generous expense allocations. They are paid even more generously in the Sterling area. Stipends are administered centrally from Dublin which receives funds from the dioceses, which in turn… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
4 months ago

Church of Ireland PART 3 – FINAL When I first went to Ireland in 1988 (Catholic Ireland intact but creaking) the C of I had some adolescents and young adults. In the rural areas it functioned as a marriage bureau where Protestant farmers could find a good woman to enable the farm to keep going – in every sense – and who could do the sandwiches and traybakes. It was interesting to watch all this fall apart. Young C of I women with qualifications, more articulate than the men, many well paid as C of I school teachers, the increasing… Read more »

Paul Kennington
Paul Kennington
4 months ago

If Philip Jones is right and same-sex copula does not actually exist, then that makes it much easier to tell our bishops that we’re celibate.

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Reply to  Paul Kennington
4 months ago

This document surely belongs in the “There’ll Always Be an England” file, given the continued stress on the copula as somehow “constitutive” when — as the document itself admits in citing various sources distinguishing between “voidable” and “void” — it can only be seen as somehow “affirmative” of a marriage that already exists in full — just as the liturgy declares in no uncertain terms: consent, vows, joining of hands, exchange of ring, all serving fully to “constitute” the marriage. What is done within that marriage follows and consummates, but does not constitute, the marriage. Interestingly, a look at Hebrew,… Read more »

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
Reply to  Tobias Stanislas Haller
4 months ago

I remember this issue coming up awhile back. In the U.S., marriage law is a matter for each state. In most states, the lack of consummation is an issue of voidability, not voidness. And one has generally a fairly limited time — usually about a year after the marriage — to seek to void the marriage on that ground. Otherwise, the ground is waived. More importantly, I found Jones’s article utterly without pastoral sense. There is no notion whatsoever that real, live human people are involved here. He might as well have been discussing whether chasubles are, or are not,… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago

I was interested to read that the Church of Ireland can afford to pay its clergy more handsomely than in England. Could it have anything to do with the apparently superfluous layers of middle management Giles Fraser describes, which seem to have been more effectively streamlined in Ireland? The merging of Henrician and Victorian dioceses into something along the lines of the pre-Reformation super-dioceses would continue a trend started in Leeds. Such a proposal would need to be accompanied by radical restructuring of administrative offices. Hereford and Worcester would make an ideal match, and the old diocese of Coventry &… Read more »

Jane Thomas
Jane Thomas
Reply to  Andrew
4 months ago

Beware of citing Leeds as an example of a good direction of travel, Andrew. It’s got more bishops than its three predecessor dioceses – and one of its episcopal areas has barely changed its senior staff since 2014 which makes taking a ‘new broom’ to an existing culture of lethargy almost impossible. Up here, we call it ‘Sentamu’s Folly’ (he was determined to force the merger even in the face of opposition from at least one diocesan synod). My take is that the economies of scale have been very slow to emerge (we’ve still got too many diocesan advisors and… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Jane Thomas
4 months ago

Thanks Jane. Would a better sense of identity and economies of scale be achieved by merging the three old Yorkshire dioceses into one, with the Minster as focal point? Across the Pennines, you could combine Chester, Liverpool, Manchester and Blackburn.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Andrew
4 months ago

It’s not the central C of I that pays parish clergy: it’s the parishioners (via central office). It’s the fall off in numbers attending, outside a few big towns and the second-home-tourist-expat-coastal areas like west Cork, that is likely to bring about change. I don’t know about bishops, but they are by no means badly off and I’m told they have luxurious expenses allocations – much like Jesus!

Gerard
Gerard
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

I always enjoy Stanley Monkhouse’s contributions, with their fusion of wit, wisdom and compassion. But, as a current active worshipper in the Church of Ireland (when public health regulations allow) in a rural area of the Republic, I am wondering whether his take is just a little outdated? Certainly, much of the legacy he describes is around in some places, but much less pronounced these days. The tribal loyalties of Catholic and Protestant in the Republic have been hugely diluted over the past couple of decades – not least through inter-marriage. Ireland’s enthusiastic support for equal marriage and abortion on… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Gerard
4 months ago

Portlaoise not Portarlington. Immigration presents wonderful opportunities for refreshment and reinvigoration in the C of I. But it would require “old” C of I families to welcome them, nurture them and free up seats on Select Vestries so that they too could play a part in governance. I found no evidence whatsoever of that in Portlaoise where I did my best to serve and nurture a wide variety of immigrant Anglicans, mainly of Nigerian stock. I wrote factually of my experience. My last word on this topic is that the C of I in the prosperous and welcoming Irish Riviera… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Gerard
4 months ago

Thanks Gerard for your perspective from the Republic. Perhaps someone might comment on the situation in NI. I was interested to learn there are openly GAFCON supporting bishops in the N and I believe some have imported evangelical clergy from England.

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