Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 9 December 2020

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Whited sepulchres and Integrity

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News LLF: Please Break the Silence, Bishops

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Honest to God and the Salvation Theology of LLF

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Martyn Percy cleared again: CofE safeguarding goes from tragedy to farce
(Warning, the picture at this link may cause distress.)

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Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

A commenter on Martin Sewell’s site validly points out that the procedures for Melissa Caslake’s appointment for such an important position at Devon County Council are unlikely to have involved less than four months. Obviously, and properly, things were kept under wraps by all parties. It’s fair to assume that references for the Devon job would have included one from the C of E, which, accordingly, was on notice that her replacement was potentially going to arise.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

But is it fair to assume? Melissa Caslake might have requested that no approach be made for a reference from her current employer.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Allan Sheath
7 months ago

Agreed that is possible, and better not to speculate further.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

Just FYI Rowland, it is not “Martin Sewell’s site”. The editor of the Archbishop Cranmer blog is Adrian Hilton: Martin’s article today about Martyn Percy and Melissa Caslake’s move to a post in Devon is a guest post.

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
7 months ago

May I suggest you add a ‘trigger warning’ in relation to the Archbishop Cranmer/Martin Sewell article as it has a banner picture of a person hanging.

Last edited 7 months ago by Laurence Cunnington
John S
John S
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
7 months ago

That picture struck me as inappropriate anyway. My first fleeting thought was that it must have been something created by Martyn Percy’s tormentors to further attack his mental health. In an article that said quite a bit about suicide, and worryingly hinted at considerably more, I might have expected more sensitivity.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  John S
7 months ago

Please note that the picture is the responsibility of the blog editor, not Martin.

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  John S
7 months ago

I agree, unlikely to be a helpful image for anyone.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  John S
7 months ago

Even worse, if you have experienced, as I have, photographs of a hanged child where there was no warning that the file contained such material. Irrespective of whose responsibility it was for doing so, I thought inclusion of this ‘image’ was in particularly bad taste.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  John S
7 months ago

I agree that the image is very disturbing. However, protests should be directed to Adrian Hilton, the blog editor, rather than Martin Sewell or TA.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
7 months ago

Colin Coward is quite right in his assertions that the CofE holds the same views as if Honest to God had never been written. At this time of year, we’ll soon celebrate a God “Coming Down to Earth from Heaven” , in a story believed by Primary School children, but few others outside the Nativity Play. Because the CofE has been hijacked by conservative leaders who believe in a God who lives up in the sky, it’s unsurprising their views on human sexuality are also pre-Darwinian. If bishops can’t demythologise basic Christian doctrines, they’re unlikely to accept a view of… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by FrDavid H
ACI
ACI
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 months ago

I’d love to hear Charles Darwin’s response to your comment! He had quite a poetic side.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 months ago

I’m not sure it is about conservative leaders believing in a God up in the sky, so much as believing in a God who keeps everyone in their place and control from which there is no escape. God made it so and that’s the way it is and there is no diversity or difference within the system. Much has been written since Honest to God. Much of it now looks at the Bible through the eyes of the poor, the dispossessed and the outcast. I find no really good news in Honest to God, except the challenge to the time,… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Marise Hargreaves
7 months ago

I think the best take I’ve ever heard on ‘Honest to God’ was in one of Susan Howatch’s Starbridge novels, where someone asks the Bishop’s wife “Have you read ‘Honest to God’, Mrs. Ashworth?” and she replies, “Of course, my dear—in bed, so that Charles could kick me when I fell asleep.”

That’s exactly how I felt when I read it lo these many years ago. Dull and dreary, with no Gospel to communicate. And only remembered nowadays by clergy and theologians.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

Exactly!

Dave
Dave
7 months ago

The call for bishops to break the silence on LLF and LGBTQI issues is a much needed one.
Two bishops in Blackburn Diocese have very publicly stated their views on LLF.
What have other bishops got to say?

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

If the response of +Chichester the answer is nothing! Apparently I have to improve my listening skills.

Kate
Kate
7 months ago

In my experience the NST is a black hole. I lodged a safeguarding concern 3 weeks ago about the CEEC video (which clearly puts vulnerable LGBTI Christians at risk) and was quickly told the NST don’t think it is a safeguarding concern, but with no reason given. I have asked why and my emails, aren’t even acknowledged, let alone any response to the question. So do I share Martin Sewell’s negative views of the NST? Absolutely. Do I agree with Charlie Bell that the silence from the bishops is unacceptable? Absolutely. Do I think anything is likely to change? Sadly,… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

The problem is that we have not had the basic discussion to decide how to put different behaviours into the right boxes with the right proportionate procedures to follow. An “ old school “ priest might complement the ladies on their appearance and they might think it charming whereas another person might regard the same behaviour as offensively creepy or patronising. By all means have a discussion about the behaviour but talking it up to a major safeguarding risk helps nobody. If everyone is “vulnerable” the term becomes functionally meaningless. I hear the term “ at risk” casually used without… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Martin Sewell
7 months ago

“At risk” means that if I had seen it it as a vulnerable teenager I would have attempted suicide – I was very close anyway. Do you feel comfortable that there aren’t equally vulnerable teenagers and young adults today? I don’t. “At risk” means I don’t want to risk my partner watching it. Is she uniquely vulnerable? Having spent time on various LGBTI support initiatives, I honestly think there are many people I would worry about if they saw that video.   I am already hearing of clergy being signed-off sick thanks to actions of CEEC and Christian Concern. I… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Kate
Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

If you look at the range of abuse safeguarding covers, and which must be investigated and must be acted on, these videos more than tick the boxes for action. There is emotional abuse, discrimination which is a category of abuse, cyber abuse, hate crime which one video certainly comes under, organisational abuse – failure to act whether through ignorance or prejudice. These are categories anyone working in any institution will recognise as safeguarding issues and will have been trained to sort and act on. It is not about our feelings on safeguarding it is about what safeguarding means and what… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

I was not suggesting there are not many serious behaviours that put genuinely vulnerable people at risk. I spent many years as a lawyer protecting children and am keenly aware that human flourishing is held back in many ways. I was rather flagging up that we constantly need to double check our thinking. I have seen “ putting x at risk” ( in some unspecified way) used as a synonym for “ I disapprove”. I take issue only with flabby thinking and weaponising safeguarding as part of a proxy war. Sadly that does happen and must be challenged to preserve… Read more »

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Martin Sewell
7 months ago

Yes, it can be weaponised sadly. That does safeguarding no favours. It is easier to work with when you are with an individual in a particular situation. This is a little more broad but I think there needs to be a little more exploration of it with regard to the videos – especially the very personal one attacking individuals directly using the Cof E materials. I would hate for there to be yet another case of a ‘lessons have been learned’ statement following something awful as a result of the impact of these videos. We know social media has caused… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Martin Sewell
7 months ago

By which you imply that something which puts LGBT people at substantial risk shouldn’t be treated as a safeguarding issue but, like many evangelicals, rather than justify that position, you fallback on the emotive phrase “weaponising safeguarding”.

Let’s be clear.. safeguarding isn’t just about physical abuse.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Both videos are worrying and possibly dangerous, and the Christian Concern one is particularly vile. Christian Concern is not a Church of England body, however, and presenter Ben John isn’t ordained in the C of E. It’s difficult therefore to see what grounds there are for the Church of England to act on a safeguarding complaint made against John or CC. It’s been reported that a police complaint has been made and the police are duly investigating, presumably as a hate crime. That does seem appropriate. I hope the clergy, including bishops, who took part in the CEEC video have… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Janet Fife
7 months ago

Absolutely right Janet. I commented previously that people should be encouraged to watch these videos to see for themselves what kind of intellects and world-views we’re dealing with in CEEC, to say nothing of the duplicity of some of the contributors. Part of me thinks that the more such videos they make the better. Ropes and hanging themselves – an unfortunate image given another post – come to mind.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Janet Fife
7 months ago

I guess that the Christian Concern video is the Church of England’s responsibility only so much as Iwerne was. Either or neither is a potential position.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Do you know that the majority of CC staff and trustees are authorised or licences to positions in the Church of England? That was (and is) the case with Iwerne, but I don’t know that it’s true of CC. I may do some research.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

I’ve looked at the CC website and, as far as I can see, none of its staff are licensed in the Church of England. One, Michael Nazir-Ali, is a former bishop but has left the Church. Another, Dan Strange, is Academic Director at Oak Hill Theological College but is not ordained and last month announced his departure. He’s on the faculty of the teaching arm of CC and may have had no involvement with the video. It doesn’t appear that any CC personnel would come under the jurisdiction of our safeguarding system. Iwerne, on the other hand, was and is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
7 months ago

Much about John Smyth remains shrouded in mystery, even to the extent of whether he was ‘an Anglican’. I recall that some time ago the subject of his being licensed as a Lay Reader in the Winchester Diocese resulted in someone posting on TA that the Diocese had no record of it. One hopes that this highly significant matter will be one of the multitude of things which Keith Makin’s review report should establish once and for all.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Janet Fife
7 months ago

Maybe, in which case we need a change in hate crime legislation.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Janet Fife
7 months ago

“The difficulty with proceeding with a complaint against it is that we live in a country where free speech is not only allowed, it is treasured as one of our core values.”

To take an obvious example, free speech doesn’t extend to calling for the assassination of a politician. Everyone agrees that acceptable free-speech has limits. Similarly anti-semitism and racism isn’t acceptable, and neither should be homophobia or transphobia.

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
7 months ago

Martin’s point about the length of time it takes for a move to a senior position as head of Children Services at the county level is a very good one. Therefore I sadly find it hard to believe that when General Synod (I’m a member) had its debate on safeguarding only two weeks ago, her resignation was not known to a number of people who spoke and contributed in the debate. I hope I am not being unfair to conclude that. The impression was given of new leadership getting embedded and stuck in, and that we should have confidence in… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Judith Maltby
7 months ago

That is a fair point, Judith. But until Melissa’s new appointment was confirmed by Devon CC, she could not reasonably be expected to announce it or make it known to the Synod, regardless of when she applied for (or was headhunted for) the Devon post.

Melissa’s departure from her NST post after only 18 months is unfortunate: what, perhaps, is of more immediate significance is that it appears there is no immediate intention to replace her as National Director of Safeguarding. Also, no announcement has been made yet as to who will be acting/interim Director.

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
Reply to  David Lamming
7 months ago

That is true, David, and perhaps hands were tied in that way. But it doesn’t really promote confidence about promised transparency, new brooms, etc.

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