We linked some weeks ago to an article at Surviving Church titled The Clergy Discipline Measure – RIP? but we have been remiss in not following up on this topic.
The Church Times had reported on 16 July: ‘Toxic’ CDM leaves clergy suicidal, research finds
THE Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) is part of a “toxic management culture” in the Church of England, and is so flawed that it needs complete replacement.
This conclusion, in a paper published on Thursday by Dr Sarah Horsman, Warden of Sheldon, an independent retreat centre and support hub for those in ministry, is based on the results of a survey of one third of the C of E clergy, carried out with the University of Aston…
That paper by Dr Horsman and others can be found here.
Dr Josephine Stein has now responded here.
The Clergy Discipline Measure was a disaster from the word go. Ten years ago, I wrote to the Chair of the Clergy Discipline Commission to explain why the CDM was not an appropriate instrument for dealing with clerical sexual abuse, and why a completely different approach was needed. My paper was circulated to the Commission and put on the agenda for their next meeting. But did they ‘listen’? It appears that they did not; the amended measure, the ‘Safeguarding and the Clergy Discipline Measure’, only exacerbated the problems.
Things may be different now. The devastating impacts of the CDM on clergy, two thirds of whom are innocent of any wrongdoing, have been exposed by the Sheldon Community’s research and Dr Sarah Horsman’s report. The findings make depressingly familiar reading for survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Survivors encounter similarly horrendous responses to disclosures and experience the same sorts of impacts on our mental and physical health, finances, careers and relationships as clergy subjected to CDMs. And it is for similar reasons: the Kafkaesque ‘toxic management culture’ that privileges arcane, inhumane processes (often themselves incompetently managed) over appropriate professional judgement, practical and pastoral support, and working towards healing and reconciliation.
Put simply, both the CDM and the Church’s responses to disclosures of ecclesiastical abuse are incompatible with Christian discipleship. Not only is the CDM time-consuming and expensive, the human cost can be hell on earth. The adversarial, legalistic approach causes structural damage to the relationships between bishops and clergy, between clergy, church-goers and congregations, and between the faithful and the Church itself. Some survivors and clergy lose their faith; some their very lives. The CDM is a disaster for the life of the Church.
It doesn’t have to be this way…
Do read the whole article.