Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 8 August 2018

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity A Parable of Radical Inclusion: the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer John Smyth tortured Christian boys at Iwerne – where’s the CofE inquiry?

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau New Directions for the Church 10: offer hope

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Peter Ball, Vicky Beeching, and Lizzy Lowe: lessons about abusive Christianity

 

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Anne Lee
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Anne Lee

Although I greatly appreciate Martin Sewell’s comments and am very glad he is on General Synod and able, therefore, to present them in that forum, we all of us need to be very careful about the vocabulary we use. His headline says “JS tortured Christian boys at Iwerne”: as far as I am aware there is no evidence at all that he did this. They may have been boys who went to Iwerne, but as far as we know his abusive behaviour did not happen at the camps and it is wrong and unhelpful to suggest it did. There is… Read more »

Bernard
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Bernard

I beg to differ a little. While the abuse did not take place at Iwerne itself, nor were the victims, as far as we know, “boys” but rather young men, the pervasive influence that the camps run by Smyth and associates have had on many people in the current Church of England leadership means that there needs to be an inquiry completely independent of the General Synod. Furthermore such an inquiry needs to cover questions that are unlikely to be of interest to the police. There are not only direct questions about what happened, and who knew about it at… Read more »

David Lamming
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David Lamming

Martin does not write the headline for his posts. They are the responsibility of the editor of the Archbishop Cranmer blog. As Martin states in para 3 of his post, the abuse occurred in Smyth’s garden shed. The Ruston report makes very disturbing reading, to put it mildly. The question now, 36 years on, is what can or should be done. As Martin points out, it is not strictly a C of E matter. However, finding a way of enabling those victims who wish to express their feelings and how the abuse affected them (no doubt not all will) would… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

We discussed the issue of consent in this specific context in some detail on TA, I think last year, and the point was made then that minors, persons under the age of 18, do not have legal capacity to consent to being beaten. Some, possibly most, of these victims were minors. The former power of school teachers, ostensibly acting in loco parentis, to administer ‘reasonable’ corporal punishment on pupils is a totally different scenario. That has now been abolished. From my own experience I can say that the power was grossly abused in my C of E primary school (and… Read more »

Martin Sewell
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Martin Sewell

Hi Anne, can I record that the headline was not mine. I am rubbish at writing headlines which need to catch attention and respond to google searches. My early efforts tended to contain obscure references or bad jokes ( not on this subject) . That said the piece makes clear that the vast majority of the beatings occurred in Smyth’s garden shed. My information is that there may have been the odd incident at Iwerne. Iwerne as the context is appropriate. Two things. This scandal is reduced not one jot by a headline. The abuse had many components – physical… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

For those particularly concerned about the Bishop Bell issue – and its ramifications for the wider issues under discussion – this Telegraoh letter by Lord Lexden yesterday (Wed) might be of interest: ‘Sir – Will “the wrongs done to the name of George Bell” (Charles Moore, Notebook, July 30) ever be corrected by the Church of England authorities who committed them nearly three years ago on the strength of a single, uncorroborated allegation by “a victim”, as they described her, against a great man who died 60 years ago? ‘They brushed aside the withering criticism of their conduct by Lord… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

I think there should be an enquiry. But I understand the title to be incorrect. The beatings did not happen at Iwerne camps.

Mother Hubbard
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Mother Hubbard

I am depressed by the theology of Richard Peers. Holding up Walsingham as a shinning example of “radical inclusion” is not even a bad joke. It is an insult. His conclusion is even worse: for him children learn that “adults can hurt each other tremendously, and yet still love one another”. This is quite wrong, people who love each other do NOT hurt each other. Rather, they will do anything to take the pain upon themselves. That is what Jesus did – he took the sin & pain upon himself. God in Jesus hurt for us. Hurting others is abuse,… Read more »

Cathy
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Cathy

Thank you Mother Hubbard for making this point better than I could have done. I refuse to go to Walsingham for the reasons you have outlined.
As for anyone holding it up as an example …kyrie eleison

David Emmott
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David Emmott

On the other hand, I give thanks for people like Richard Peers who actively seek out fellow-Christians with whom they disagree, and engage with them, grateful to recognise and celebrate common ground. ‘Liberals’ have been very ready to accuse ‘conservatives’ (especially on the hot button issues of the ordination of women and same-sex relationships) of retreating into a ghetto. If so-called ‘liberal’ and ‘inclusive’ Christians are happy to be liberal and inclusive towards those with whom they agree, but keep at arms length those others, how real (or Christian) is that? In moments of exasperation I have often thought that… Read more »

Mother Hubbard
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Mother Hubbard

Thank you for your vote of support. I have led pilgrimage to Walsingham, and been totally open & honest about its history & theology, spirituality, accommodation etc.The fact is that every male priest bar those relatively few ordained by women can experience the best of both worlds if they so choose (cf. R Peers), and they all have a choice in the matter – except a very small number of those ordained by a female bishop and therefore tainted. Not a single female priest does have any choice. They are not equal partners in negotiation.

David Emmott
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David Emmott

‘Not a single female priest does have any choice. They are not equal partners in negotiation.’ Of course. And it is very sad and makes me and very many others frustrated and angry. But that is no reason for those who are able to have a foot in both camps not to make the most of that, for the benefit of the whole church. And while as a male priest it is not for me to judge, and only women like Mother Hubbard can really comment, I do get an impression that the bigotry and misogyny of only a few… Read more »

Howard
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Howard

A thoughtful post. However the test of belief is not what different people claim, but what the scripture says. For example in John 14 Jesus says that those who love Him obey His teaching, and “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” In this way there will be liberals and conservatives who call interpret some of the parables talents. In other cases there will be no possibility of interpretation and the scripture holistically is clear. Romans 14:1 clear… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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“Same sex relationships is clearly not a disputable matter since it is only ever excluded and condemned…” I happen to agree with you that the Bible makes condemnatory comments about man-man sexual relationships. However, the Bible may or may not be correct about that. A large majority of people in this country affirm and accept gay and lesbian relationships (because they are decent, caring, kind and lovely). Probably more than half the members of the Church of England now share that view. So it is demonstrably a disputed matter. It comes down to how you read the Bible, and many… Read more »

Simon Bravery
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Simon Bravery

Christopher, I would be a little wary about assuming that parents naturally wanted to draw a line under things for the sake of their sons’ wellbeing. It is not clear how much they knew. Their sons may not have told them everything. They do not appear to have seen the report. If I had a child who subjected to such behaviour I could only draw a line under it when the perpetrator was sentenced to a substantial prison term.

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

But Jesus did hurt other people didn’t he? Didn’t the necessary claims of the kingdom and the call to conversation leave people conflicted and struggling. His anger at times surely wounded – but flowed from love. This is not a view on Walsingham but it is misleading to say that real love does not or cannot hurt. There are wounds of love. And love must be willing to wound.

Mother Hubbard
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Mother Hubbard

How the Man who was God puts us on the Cross. I am looking forward to your next book and the hundreds of others on the theme.

David Emmott
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David Emmott

Mother Hubbard: ‘people who love each other do NOT hurt each other.’ ??? You must come from a perfect family then. I know from my own experience that I hurt those whom I love frequently, and since I am closer to them, probably more deeply than I do others who are less close. It happens all the time, because we are human.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Generally I think that “people who love each other do not hurt each other” is idealistic at best, and is too simple a view of human nature and emotion. Perhaps relatedly, the money changers in the Temple might have a view on whether Jesus ever abused anyone. “And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen.” Translations differ as to whether Jesus directed his whip at people. And the translations that suggest he did, do not say whether the whip drew any human blood, because (iiuc) the Greek does not… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I love Fr.Richar Peers’ revelation of the ‘wisdom’ of youth at the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham. One wonders when these young people will actually begin to question the insularity of the Shrine’s Guardians who still do not permit a woman to preside at a Walsingham Mass Celebration. This is my one worry about the ethos of this remarkable place of witness to the ‘priesthood’ of Christ’s Mother, who, in her womb, brought forth the presence of the Jesus that other women are forbidden to emulate in a celebration of the Mass. “Ave Maria, Gratia plena… Read more »

David Emmott
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David Emmott

I suspect it won’t take long. Just as younger generations of evangelicals can’t understand the homophobia of their seniors, the young people such as Fr Richard accompanied – especially those who know first hand the ministry of women priests – will challenge any misogyny at Walsingham.

Mother Hubbard
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Mother Hubbard

… and their disillusion will be all the greater…

Anne Lee
Guest
Anne Lee

I have
heard that John Smyth has just died of a heart attack. My heart bleeds for JS victims/survivors.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Is that true or a hoax?

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The death of John Smyth moves this case into a different league, whereby his victims cannot achieve the kind of closure that comes from perpetrators facing justice. Our thoughts and prayers are with all his victims, those who were abused by him in the UK and those who were later abused, especially in Zimbabwe, including the family of Guide Nyachuru, found drowned in the pool of Ruzawi School, the venue for Smyth’s look-alike Iwerne Camps in Marondera, where some years earlier I had taught as a supernumerary in 1972. I agree with Martin Sewell, perhaps reinforced by news of Smyth’s… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

There seems to be no recognition here (given that (1) abuse happened far away and had nothing to do with the camps, (2) was seen as abhorrent when uncovered, (3) counselling was offered to all and taken up I think by only one? (4) parents naturally wanted to draw a line under things for their sons’ wellbeing, (5) John Smyth was asked to leave the country, no less) that actually in speaking of the trustees we are talking of particularly good men of admirable character. Some are even describing the camps in toto as ‘notorious’ (but they ran since the… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Christopher Shell what planet are you on? We have been having the discussion about how abuse affects the reputation of ‘otherwise good people’ for ages in other cases. While some of the media reporting of Smyth has been very inaccurate, such as implying the abuse happened at the camps, the fact is that some trustees knew what was happening and did nothing except to put Smyth on a plane to Africa. Look at the statement from some of Smyth’ victims to see why this is still so scandalous.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Charles, how would you address the point that, while the situation is really bad, media awareness would always make it far worse? In different ways – vulture-like muckraking, obsessive detail, unnecessary repetition, never allowing closure, feeding the human nature that loves gossip, danger of encouraging a victim mentality. Go to an average magazine stand and it will be almost undeniable that gossip is actually the thing that human beings are most interested in. Or the second point that at this date a high proportion of independent schools used corporal punishment (not to mention the culture of the army into which… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

And I used the word ‘perpetrator’ far too loosely, as there was only one perpetrator – all others involved were taken in by him. ‘Survivor’ is a better word than the rather hope-free ‘victim’.