Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 20 February 2021

The Guardian Ash Wednesday under Covid restrictions – in pictures

Ben Phillips All Things Lawful And Honest Super Bishops & Simpler Structures
“Ben Phillips reflects on the increasingly top-heavy structures of the Church of England and commends a radical rethinking of diocesan boundaries which would enable bishops to be both real pastors on the ground and effective symbolic leaders of the wider Church.”

Anthony Woollard Modern Church Does it Matter if the Church Dies?

Robert Hammond ViaMedia.News What to ‘Give Up’ When Everything’s Been Taken Away?

Philip North All Things Lawful And Honest The Primacy of the Parish


Christ Church to Commission Independent Review

Updated Saturday morning

Our last update on this subject was on 8 February: Christ Church Oxford: further developments.
Now comes this, from the website of Christ Church, Oxford:

Christ Church to Commission Independent Review

17 February 2021

Christ Church’s Governing Body has voted to carry out an independent review regarding the handling of a serious sexual harassment complaint, in order to confirm the disciplinary process it has put in place. The complaint was made last October by a junior member of staff against a senior member.

Last month, Governing Body addressed the complaint through its internal disciplinary procedures, but these have been questioned repeatedly by some in the media, while the motives of the complainant have been publicly challenged. While it is fully confident of the decisions it has made on this matter, Governing Body agreed that it wanted to respond to the queries that have been raised in a transparent manner. It felt that an external review would be the best way of ensuring that the complaint can be properly and swiftly dealt with for the sake of all those involved.

Governing Body’s decision follows a letter written by Christ Church student representatives to the Charity Commission, which stresses the importance of urgently addressing any allegation of sexual harassment. Christ Church’s internal HR processes are dictated by its statutes, and in this case require a tribunal to be set up to consider any appropriate disciplinary action.

A spokesperson for Christ Church commented:

“We entirely share our students’ concerns that a complaint of sexual harassment by this young member of staff must be treated with the utmost seriousness. That is exactly why last month we put our formal internal HR processes into action, and we are entirely confident these are the correct and necessary steps. However, we believe that an external, independent review will provide further reassurance about the decisions that were taken, and a way forward for all involved.”

Christ Church has begun the immediate process of identifying and appointing a Chair for the independent review and agreeing its terms of reference. It is expected that the Chair will be a senior figure from the judiciary.

Separately, Christ Church has reiterated its condemnation of attempts, through the press, social media and on a number of blogs, to gaslight and intimidate the complainant, their supporters, and the independent investigator who carried out a preliminary investigation into the allegation. Given the repeated leaking of confidential, personal information, Christ Church has reported a data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Update Saturday morning

Gabriella Swerling at the Telegraph has this: Dean of Christ Church can’t pray in his own cathedral without permission.

In addition to reporting the additional independent review, this article describes a number of restrictions placed by the College on the Dean, some of which are denied in a further statement by the College to the Telegraph.


Opinion – 17 February 2021 – Ash Wednesday

Sarah James Earth & Altar Memento Mori: Christian Forms of Death Contemplation for Lent

Augustine Tanner-Ihm ViaMedia.News When You are Not Invited to the Table

Charlotte Gauthier All Things Lawful And Honest Middle Management Malaise
“Charlotte Gauthier speaks from her experience of middle management in the secular world – how it works well, and where it works badly. The Church of England is replicating all the worst management patterns of a failing company heading for collapse. How can we stop this malaise and restore an efficient and energising vision of what the Church of England could be?”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Proportionate and Just? The Church of England and the Clerical Discipline Measure.


Opinion – 13 February 2021

Savitri Hensman ViaMedia.News What place for minorities? Church, Status and Power

Barry Orford All Things Lawful And Honest Back to Basics Bishops
“Fr Barry Orford asks important questions about how the Church of England goes about appointing bishops and what a bishop is. Has an obsession with managerialism prompted us to lose sight of the true episcopal vocation to serve and care for the flock of Christ?”

Dexter Bracey All Things Lawful And Honest Change and Clerical Decay
“Dexter Bracey asks if the current agenda for change in the Church of England might not be at odds with the spirit of the newly published Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. Could it be that the trend for reinvention is driving clergy to burn out?”

The Tory Socialist A Plea to Save the Church of England

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Waiting for the Thirtyone:eight Jonathan Fletcher Safeguarding Report


Archbishops respond to “rascally voices”

Following on from our earlier article, Financial threats to Church of England plans, there has been a response from the two archbishops, which you can read either here in the Spectator itself, A defence of the Churchof England  (includes a cartoon) or here: Archbishops: the Church in changing times (without the cartoon).

We linked earlier to one item by Emma Thompson in the Spectator which might be what has provoked the archbishops. There was another one from Marcus Walker The misguided priorities of church authorities.

Andrew Brown has commented on all this in several items:

And Angela Tilby has also written in this week’s Church TimesThe Church is not a business.


Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth

The Rt Revd Tim Thornton is to retire as Bishop at Lambeth after four years in the role.

Bishop Tim has been Bishop at Lambeth since 2017. Previously he was Bishop of Truro, and Bishop of Sherborne before that.

As Bishop at Lambeth, Bishop Tim has supported the Archbishop of Canterbury’s work in the House of Bishops, General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council. He has chaired the Development and Appointments Group overseeing the leadership programmes and development work with senior clergy. He has also chaired the review of the Clergy Discipline Measure and provided advice on areas including safeguarding and church renewal.

Acting on the Archbishop’s behalf, Bishop Tim carried out episcopal duties within Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, and had pastoral oversight of Anglican chaplains and the Anglican church within the Forces. He also served as Bishop for the Falkland Islands.

Bishop Tim has also been closely involved in preparations for the Lambeth Conference, which has been postponed until 2022 because of the pandemic. He will continue to be involved as a Trustee of the Lambeth Conference Company. At Archbishop Justin’s request, he will work on other matters relating to the process leading up to the Conference and in the years after it.

Bishop Tim said: “It has been a tremendous privilege working with Archbishop Justin and the marvellous colleagues in Lambeth and the other aspects of my work and life over the last four years. It has not been dull and I have been challenged and excited by all that I have done. During this year I will have been ordained for 41 years and a Bishop for 20 years. Sian and I have both chosen to retire and we look forward to taking on some new opportunities together in a variety of areas.

“I am very pleased to be able to continue to be involved with the process around the Lambeth Conference. I am especially grateful to those who have worked closely with me for all their hard work and all that we have managed to achieve. There is much more work to do as the Church of England faces up to the realities of the current situation. I will keep all concerned in my prayers and look forward to hearing more about all the plans and following from slightly further away the moves towards ensuring under Justin’s wise leadership the growing and flourishing of the Church of England.”

Archbishop Justin said: “From the chaplaincies of the Armed Forces, to congregations of the Falkland Islands, to the chamber of the General Synod, Bishop Tim has been a blessing to so many during his time as Bishop at Lambeth. I give thanks for his wisdom, insight, compassion, generosity and humour. I will miss him enormously, and I will be praying for him and Sian as they prepare for the next stage of their journeys as faithful followers of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Tim will leave Lambeth at the end of September.


Opinion – 10 February 2021

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The necessity for radical LGBTIQ+ activism in the Church of England

Jarel Robinson-Brown Church Times Can rage be holy?
“From Old Testament prophets to the present day, it can be”

Dexter Bracey All Things Lawful And Honest Change and Clerical Decay
“Dexter Bracey asks if the current agenda for change in the Church of England might not be at odds with the spirit of the newly published Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. Could it be that the trend for reinvention is driving clergy to burn out?”

John Bauerschmidt The Living Church A Scriptural Liturgy

Ian Paul Psephizo Is the Church of England on the brink of collapse?

Diocese of Oxford New Digital Congregations
“Growing New Congregations – Online”

Nicholas Adams Ekklesia Ecclesial white supremacism

Nicholas Henshall ViaMedia.News A Rock Climbers Guide to Church, History and the Future


House of Bishops Meeting 9 February 2021

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops Meeting, 9th February 2021

The February meeting of the House of Bishops was held on Tuesday 9 February via Zoom.

The meeting was an opportunity for the House to engage with key aspects of the Emerging Church workstreams, specifically the work of the subgroups focussed on themes of Younger & More Diverse and Mixed Ecology.

Amongst the first items was the Bishop of London in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group, who updated the House on the latest information available on the lockdown, Covid-19 and the ongoing work of the Recovery group.

This was followed by the Bishop of Manchester as Chair of the Coordinating Group of the Emerging Church of England workstreams. His address outlined feedback received from regional discussion held last month as well as an update on the future operation of the Coordinating Group.

The Archbishop of York then addressed the House in his capacity as head of the Vision and Strategy workstream. In his address, the Archbishop drew on feedback from Regional Bishops’ groups on Vision & Strategy and spoke about the integration of the Vision & Strategy work with the Five Marks of Mission and Missionary Disciples; the House took note of the work so far.

The Bishop of Durham and the Diocesan Secretary of Sheffield then addressed the House as Co-Chairs for the working group – Younger and more Diverse, setting out the issues, barriers and opportunities to creating a younger and more diverse church. In discussion groups, bishops discussed the proposed approach, aiming to direct feedback into further work of the Vision and Strategy Group.

A similar process was followed with the Bishop of Dunwich speaking to the House as co-chair of the Mixed Ecology the Norm, a subgroup of the Vison and Strategy workstream.

The interim Director of Safeguarding then addressed the House, with the House noting progress towards phase 1 of establishing an independent oversight structure for national safeguarding.

The Lay Ministry Advisory Group (a sub-group of Ministry Council) then addressed the House on its future work as it seeks to support diocesan strategies and implement a vision for the ministry of the whole people of God. Presented by the Bishop of Leicester, the House was asked a range of questions on how the Lay Ministry Advisory Group and Ministry Council can best support diocesan strategies for ministry. The House noted the points raised.


Christ Church Oxford: further developments

Following the Charity Commission intervention made public on 28 January, there have been further developments:

Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church made comments on that letter and the Christ Church response: The Charity Commissioners intervene in the Christ Church bullying of the Dean.

Gabriella Swerling at the Telegraph disclosed on 29 January further details about the Christ Church response: Christ Church trustees express anger after watchdog questions efforts to oust embattled Dean. This contains numerous details from an email sent to the trustees commenting on the Charity Commission’s action and suggesting ways that individual trustees might respond to enquiries.

A week later on 5 February, the Church Times published a letter to the editor from the complainant, which can be read in full here (scroll down to Complaint against Dean of Christ Church, Oxford) and carried a lengthy news story about this letter and the background to it, see Complainant in Percy case says she acted alone.

This morning, 8 February, Archbishop Cranmer has published an article by Martin Sewell, titled Christ Church Oxford Trustees could be personally liable for £85K each. This article (which includes a link to a Daily Mail report of 22 November) contains a large number of criticisms of the Trustees.


Jarel Robinson-Brown and the Diocese of London

Updated yet again Tuesday

There have been numerous news reports and comment articles in both mainstream and social media concerning a tweet posted last Wednesday.

On Thursday the Church Times reported this story under the headline Cleric apologises for ‘White Nationalism’ remark.

A LONDON clergyman, the Revd Jarel Robinson-Brown, has apologised for posting on social media that the clap for Captain Sir Tom Moore, who died this week, was linked with “White British Nationalism”.

His post on Twitter — “The cult of Captain Tom is a cult of White British Nationalism. I will offer prayers for the repose of his kind and generous soul, but I will not be joining the ‘National Clap'” — was interpreted as a criticism of the man himself. It was quickly taken down, and Mr Robinson-Brown posted an apology in its place: “I offer an unreserved apology for the insensitive timing and content of my tweet regarding the clap for Captain Tom.”

A statement by the diocese of London said that the matter was being reviewed by the Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller. “As a Church, we expect clergy to ensure that all online activity is in line with the Church of England’s social media guidelines and built on truth, kindness and sensitivity to others.”.

The Diocese of London statement can be found here: A statement from the Diocese of London regarding Jarel Robinson-Brown and reads in full as follows:

Jarel Robinson-Brown’s comments regarding Captain Sir Tom Moore were unacceptable, insensitive, and ill-judged. The fact that he immediately removed his tweet and subsequently apologised does not undo the hurt he has caused, not least to Captain Tom’s family. Nor do Jarel’s actions justify the racist abuse he is now receiving.

A review is now underway, led by the Archdeacon of London. As a Church, we expect clergy to ensure that all online activity is in line with the Church of England’s social media guidelines and built on truth, kindness and sensitivity to others. It is incumbent upon all of us to make social media and the web more widely positive places for conversations to happen.

A subsequent report appeared on Saturday in the Church Times: Support grows for Jarel Robinson-Brown.

A GROWING number of churchpeople have voiced their support for the Revd Jarel Robinson-Brown, the Black ordinand and former Methodist minister, whose Twitter post last week was widely interpreted as an attack on Captain Sir Tom Moore, who died on Tuesday…

..Mr Robinson-Brown’s post was quickly taken down, and an apology from him was posted in its place: “I offer an unreserved apology for the insensitive timing and content of my tweet regarding the clap for Captain Tom.”

A petition was none the less started for his removal from office (he has not yet been licensed, but has secured a title post at All Hallows by the Tower, London). By the weekend it had gained more than 20,000 signatures. Many of the signatories referred to Mr Robinson-Brown’s race, with comments such as “Racism is a one way street according to some. When a white person is accused of racist tendencies they are rightly called out and vilified. When a BAME person does the same it seems to be their right to do so based on the wrongdoings from generations ago.”

Racist trolling has been one trigger for expressions of support for Mr Robinson-Brown. Another has been the statement put out by the diocese of London, which read: “Jarel Robinson-Brown’s comments regarding Captain Sir Tom Moore were unacceptable, insensitive, and ill-judged. The fact that he immediately removed his tweet and subsequently apologised does not undo the hurt he has caused, not least to Captain Tom’s family.”

Many social-media posts have viewed this as undermining Mr Robinson-Brown’s apology — “throwing him under a bus” has been a common expression — as was the announcement that the Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller, was to conduct an investigation into the matter…

On Sunday afternoon, a second statement was issued from the Diocese of LondonStatement from the Bishop of London regarding Jarel Robinson-Brown

“After Jarel Robinson-Brown posted his now-deleted tweet last Wednesday, my primary concern has been to ensure that he received immediate pastoral support in the face of the most appalling racist and homophobic abuse, aimed at him and at others. I am particularly thankful for the ongoing care that was quickly put in place, through so many different routes.

“I believe it is right that the original matter is reviewed properly and swiftly by the Archdeacon of London, to enable us all to reflect and learn, and that work is taking place. I also believe, and have made clear to Jarel, that there is no excuse for anyone to be sent the shocking messages he has been receiving. Jarel did of course quickly acknowledge that his tweet was ill-timed and pastorally-insensitive.

“I am deeply concerned to hear reports within the Church that United Kingdom Minority Ethnic clergy and ordinands have been affected by recent events, and by the Diocese’s response. I want to ensure that in London, and right across the Church of England, our clergy and those training for ministry feel safe. I look forward to the report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Task Force launched last year, and the work of the Archbishops’ Commission that will follow, which I know will help to achieve this shared end.

“Any form of online abuse, including racism, homophobia and threatening behaviour, cannot be tolerated. I sincerely hope that those perpetuating it will desist and consider the hurt they are causing. We must all work to ensure the digital world becomes a more loving and generous place.”

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally
Bishop of London


The Church Times has reported further: Racist attacks on Jarel Robinson-Brown ‘appalling’, says Bishop of London.

The Archbishops’ Anti-racism Taskforce issued this: Statement from the Anti-Racism Taskforce.

The Diocese of London issued this Response to the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce.

The Church Times has again reported this development: London diocese will look at its own actions in Jarel Robinson-Brown review.


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


Informal Meeting of General Synod members – 27 February 2021

As we published earlier the February meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod has been postponed to April, but there will be an informal meeting on Saturday 27 February. The timetable for this has been published today, and is copied below.

There will be no question time in February, but the Business Committee has agreed that members can submit questions for written answers only not later than 12 noon on Tuesday 16 February. Supplementary questions will not be taken at this informal meeting. The questions booklet will be circulated on Thursday 25 February.


10.30am Opening Worship
10.40am Introduction by the Chair of the Business Committee
10.50am Reflections from the Presidents

11.35am BREAK

12.00pm Worship
12.10pm Vision and Strategy
12.50pm Story of hope and salvation
1.00pm Voting Test

1.10pm LUNCH

2.00pm Story of hope and salvation
2.10pm Safeguarding update, including screen break
3.15pm Story of hope and salvation
3.25pm Archbishops’ Commission on Housing

4.10pm BREAK

4.30pm Story of hope and salvation
4.50pm Worship
5.00pm Close of meeting


Finance Statistics 2019

The Church of England has recently published its Finance Statistics 2019. These provide the latest financial information, including:

  • Income
  • Expenditure
  • Giving

Tables showing parish finances aggregated to diocese level are available as an excel file. Finance statistics for previous years, and other publications of the Research and Statistics Unit can be found on the resources, publications, and data page.


Financial threats to Church of England plans

Updated again Thursday evening

The Sunday Times published a news story with the headline:  Church to cut paid clergy as a fifth of flock wanders off which is based on a report circulating among diocesan secretaries etc.

The damage inflicted on the Church of England by the pandemic is revealed in a leaked internal document which warns up to 20 per cent of its regular worshippers may never return.

It calls into question “the sustainability of many local churches” and the continued financial subsidy given to 5,000 loss-making parishes out of a total of 12,000…

The next  day, the Church Times published a news story which includes the full text of that document. You can read that here: Financial crisis threatens Church’s strategic plans.

(Note the Church Times  paywall arrangement: if you are not a subscriber to the newspaper, but you register with the site you get two additional free articles each month, i.e. a total of four items.)

DECLINING income, accelerated by the pandemic, means that dioceses are facing “indiscriminate cuts” to clergy posts, undermining the Church of England’s attempts at strategic reform.

New assistant curates, recruited in the recent push for vocations, could struggle to find incumbencies, an internal document suggests.

Details of the scale of the challenge are contained in a discussion paper circulated to all bishops and diocesan secretaries in the middle of last month. It confirms that the C of E’s income fell 8.1 per cent in the year to November 2020. It projects a further fall of ten per cent for 2021, calculated before the latest lockdown was announced. Expected savings on expenditure for 2021 are currently three to four per cent. These overall figures disguise a large variation between dioceses.

The document, Perspectives on Money, People and Buildings, seen by the Church Times on Monday, has not been made public, despite confusion from parish priests and others about media reports on its contents, and a declaration at the start: “Honest sharing of information on how those resources of money, people and buildings are being stewarded for greatest impact is vital.”


The Archbishop of York has published an article on his own website which comments on the above, The Church of England still needs clergy. This article is also available in the Church Times with the strapline There are no central plans to cut the number of priests, says Stephen Cottrell. Do read the full text of what he says.

The Church Times also has this news report: Clergy won’t be pushed out in cost cuts, says Archbishop of York

CLERGY are still needed to serve the Church of England, and “are not being pushed out” of their posts to make up for the continued decline in income, the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, says.

None the less, the Church will have to make “tough” and “challenging” changes to spread both its wealth and stipendiary clergy fairly across the 42 dioceses, he warns. This is likely to result in some cuts to stipendiary posts in all dioceses, many of which — especially in the north — are being left vacant after clerics retire…

The Spectator has published an article by Emma Thompson with the title Holy relic: what will be left of the Church of England after the pandemic? (registration may be needed).

William Nye has published a furious response on the Church of England website. Copied below.



Opinion – 3 February 2021

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Who Are The Prophets in Charismatic Churches?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Forty LGBTIQ+ people and allies write a second letter to thirty five bishops

David Brown Surviving Church The Problem is not CDM, but a significant Relational Deficit


Bishop of Salisbury to retire in July 2021

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, will retire on 3 July 2021, a month short of his 67th birthday. He will have been Bishop of Salisbury for 10 years. There are more details in the diocesan press release.


Bishop of Lincoln to resume ministry

The Church of England has issued this: Statement on resolution of disciplinary process regarding Bishop of Lincoln

…The Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, has accepted a penalty for misconduct in relation to the management of one safeguarding issue.  At their meeting the Archbishop apologised to the Bishop for the long process that he has endured.  The Archbishop expressed his full support for the Bishop as he now begins the process of returning to ministry as the Bishop of Lincoln.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “I am very sorry that Bishop Christopher and his wife Susan have had to endure such an ordeal over the last 20 months.  I have expressed my regret to Christopher and am very grateful to him for the gracious way he has responded.  I want to make it clear that I am fully supportive of Christopher returning to ministry as the Bishop of Lincoln.  We have both agreed that there are many lessons we and the Church need to learn from this very difficult season, as we also continue to learn lessons from the scrutiny of IICSA which highlighted our poor response to survivors…

And the Diocese of Lincoln has issued this: Letter to the people of the Diocese of Lincoln

We write as episcopal colleagues to the people of the Diocese to share news of the Bishop of Lincoln’s return to ministry and our shared sense of encouragement for the future.

1. What has happened?

On 12th January 2021 the Bishop of Lincoln had a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury. They met together to pray and discuss next steps following the conclusion of the clergy disciplinary process instigated after the Bishop’s suspension in May 2019, and subsequent investigation. That process resulted in a judgment by the President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin, following which the Bishop agreed to accept a rebuke in relation to his handling of an allegation made against a priest in the diocese. Bishop Christopher has offered an unreserved apology for the way in which he handled this matter.

Archbishop Justin expressed his full support for Bishop Christopher as he now begins the process of returning to ministry as Bishop of Lincoln…

The Church Times carries this report: Bishop of Lincoln can return to duty after 20-month safeguarding investigation. That account reminds us how it began:

…The Church’s safeguarding procedures were triggered in May 2019, after police informed the church authorities about an allegation (News, 17 May 2019). Bishop Lowson was immediately suspended because, as Archbishop Justin Welby said at the time: “If these matters are found to be proven I consider that the bishop would present a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people.”

Bishop Lowson agreed to co-operate fully, while expressing his bewilderment at the charge, and hoped that the investigation would be completed “as quickly as possible”.

Part of the delay was down to the police, who did not conclude their investigation until January 2020, deciding that, on the evidence before them, there was no case to answer. The Church’s investigation, carried out for the National Safeguarding Team, began at that point, and it was later confirmed that Bishop Lowson was being investigated under the Clergy Discipline Measure…


Opinion – 30 January 2021

Laudable Practice “Maintenance of Thy True Religion”: is use of 1662 reactionary?

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News “It’s a Sin…Not to Care and Listen”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love LLF and Systemic Homophobia in the Church of England

George Carey The Telegraph The Church’s unjust treatment of clergy has created a climate of fear
“I am far from alone in having fallen foul of a slow and secretive approach to disciplinary matters”


Review into Bishop Whitsey

The review into Bishop Whitsey, originally published in October and then withdrawn, has now been republished, along with the press release below. There are several statements below the fold.

Review into Bishop Whitsey

A Betrayal of Trust, the independent report into the Church’s handling of the allegations concerning the late Hubert Victor Whitsey, former Bishop of Chester, was originally published in October 2020 and concluded that Whitsey sexually abused a large number of children and young persons (both male and female) and vulnerable adults. The review has now been republished following the resolution of a legal issue – we apologise to those who were affected by this. The Church is committed to taking very seriously criticisms in the report about how and where it failed to respond.

The learning lessons review was carried out by His Hon David Pearl and independent safeguarding consultant Kate Wood.

The Church supported the police in an investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by Whitsey dating from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. A public apology was issued in October 2017 following this investigation which included a commitment to a learning lessons review.



Charity Commission writes to Christ Church Governing Body

The Charity Commission has written to each of the 65 members of the Governing Body of Christ Church, Oxford, concerning the proposed second tribunal relating to the Dean, Martyn Percy.

The full text of the two page letter is available here: Christ Church – Charity Commission letter to trustees 27.1.2021 and the salient portions are copied below.

The College has issued this press statement:

Statement in response to media interest

Christ Church’s Governing Body and Cathedral Chapter earlier this month decided to take forward internal disciplinary proceedings, following a complaint of sexual harassment made by a junior member of staff. Christ Church is clear that, as an employer, a charity, and an educational institution, it will always treat such an allegation fairly. We should not and cannot ignore such serious allegations.

Christ Church has followed the formal requirements in our statutes to deal with such an allegation, as well as the Charity Commission’s guidance on “Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees,” in the handling of this complaint. On 12 January 2021, we provided a further update to the Commission accordingly. We welcome the opportunity to share the process in a transparent way with the Charity Commission and we know they will take as seriously as we do all accusations of sexual harassment. We continue to keep the Commission fully informed and respond to any questions they may have.

Extract from Charity Commission letter:

…We are writing to all members of the Governing Body in their capacity as trustees of the above foundation which was registered as a charity in August 2011…

…Further to the earlier stages of our regulatory engagement with the charity, we have concerns about the prudent application of charitable funds and the proper process of decision making within the charity as the dispute involving the Dean continues. We understand from your legal adviser that members of the Governing Body have now agreed to establish a second Tribunal to examine the conduct of the Dean.

We have determined that it is appropriate in these circumstances to:

  • contact each member of the Governing Body in their capacity as charity trustees about their responsibilities and duties for the management and administration of the charity; and
  • advise each member of the Governing Body of the actions we are taking to verify that they have acted in accordance with their responsibilities and duties as charity trustees and complied with our published and regulatory guidance.

To begin with, we will be seeking further information and assurances from the members of the Governing Body about why establishing a Tribunal is:

  • in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries.
  • a responsible use of the charity’s resources.

We will also examine how, when reaching this decision, the members of the Governing Body:

  • took account of our published guidance and previous regulatory advice; and
  • identified and managed any conflicts of interest and / or loyalty.

This is not an exhaustive list. Full details of the information and assurances we require will be set out in a separate letter to the charity’s registered main contact.

We acknowledge that the Governing Body may have sought professional advice about these matters. That does not relieve them, as trustees, of their responsibilities – collectively and individually – for the management and administration of the charity, although that will be considered accordingly. For that reason, we may want to discuss these matters with individual trustees directly…