Thinking Anglicans

Sheffield Cathedral Visitation: Bishop issues his Determination

The Bishop of Sheffield has published his Determination, following upon the Visitation of his cathedral that he announced on 1 November.

The press release is here: Bishop of Sheffield publishes ‘Determination’ following Sheffield Cathedral Visitation or another copy is here.

The text of the determination itself (pdf) can be found either here, or alternatively over here.

The Sheffield Star reported: Sheffield Cathedral’s ‘bullying and blaming’ culture led to ‘fear of speaking out’.

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Michael
Michael
5 months ago

The bishop of Sheffield writes Moreover, in relation to the issues addressed in the Visitation, I must acknowledge my own responsibility. Throughout 2020, and even before, I failed to find a swifter, more effective way to address matters of which I was being made aware, and I profoundly regret this. Yet another bishop failing to do whatever was necessary and what are the consequences for him – there are none. What are the consequences for the victims: The Visitation Team found evidence of an environment at the Cathedral which has tolerated bullying and blaming and has been characterised by a… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Michael
5 months ago

Disappointing, isn’t it?   I could make a proper assessment if I undertook a Visitation of the House of Bishops but I think I have seen enough to make a number of guesses which I suspect aren’t far of the mark: 1. Diocesan bishops are very busy people who could benefit from time management training to better focus on what they need to do themselves and what they can delegate. 2. The Sheffield Visitation highlights a lack of experience and professional qualifications. The same applies even more strongly to Diocesans. 3. There appears to be no support for Diocesans from… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Kate
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
5 months ago

Why hasn’t there been a visitation of Christ Church, Oxford, the cathedral of Oxford Diocese? The dysfunction (to put it mildly) there has been making headlines for some three years.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

The Crown is (uniquely) the Visitor of both Cathedral and College. However, I suspect that HM the Queen would not intervene while legal proceedings were pending, whatever view one might take about the conduct of the Governing Body and the Church of England, both at national NST and local diocesan levels, in those proceedings. The further outstanding claim in the Employment Tribunal falls to be decided in Her Majesty’s courts, and the Christ Church Statutes are made under her Privy Council, all reasons why matters must take their course, I suspect, so far as Her Majesty is concerned.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
5 months ago

Presumably the Archbishop of Canterbury could initiate an enquiry, as George Carey did into Lincoln Cathedral in 1994/5?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

I’m not at all sure. I think the Christ Church Statutes firmly give the Crown sole jurisdiction. I have certainly read that the Archbishop has no disciplinary (or possibly any other) powers at Christ Church in its capacity as a Peculiar outside the jurisdiction of any bishop, just one of the very many mysteries about the place. See also +Oxford’s reasons for recusing himself in the current CDM.

Lincoln was different: in Cantuar’s Province and under his jurisdiction.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
5 months ago

If that’s the case, how can the Church of England bring a CDM against the Dean? The Church obviously has some jurisdiction.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

I don’t profess to know, but there has been discussion of this only today on the latest Christ Church thread. See Charles Read and what I say there about the intervention of William Nye.
However, this seeming anomaly is nothing new on TA and has all been covered in earlier discussion.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

The Dean holds the license of the Bishop of Oxford, presumably, and is thus one of the bishop’s clergy. Without said license he could not function in any capacity outside the walls of the college.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
5 months ago

Other possibilities are an Archbishop’s licence, or a licence to preach granted by the University of Oxford, or, possibly, given the unique status of Christ Church, none of these! It is a Crown appointment, and the Crown, not the Bishop, is the Visitor. The exemptions of which I am aware only extend to Royal peculiars. It is common ground that Christ Church is a non-Royal peculiar and that, as mentioned above, is the basis for William Nye’s contention that the Dean is subject to the Church of England’s disciplinary jurisdiction. So much of this has to be surmise, doing the… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Janet Fife
5 months ago

Cases are often brought where jurisdiction has to be settled as a first step. (I am not suggesting that the Church of England either does, or does not, have jurisdiction, just noting that disputes as to jurisdiction are not unknown in proceedings.)

Father David
Father David
5 months ago

Yet another Home Goal for the Established Church – this time concerning alleged bullying rather than other totally unacceptable forms of abuse. Thinking of Determination let us not forget the determination of some to completely clear the name of George Bell, that great Bishop of Chichester and remove any “significant cloud” that remains hovering over his saintly head. To this end I would point T A readers to an excellent article by Professor David Jasper in the “Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal” (Spring 201 Volume 5;1) – a significant article by one of so many determined to exonerate George Bell’s good… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
5 months ago

I note there as being ten comments in this thread at this point (23.21 on Monday) and only one (the first) related to Sheffield. What does this tell us? For me it says how very Oxford-centric this site has become, and how enduring the issues. People in authority ‘looking away’, hoping things will calm down or better still go away; heads in clouds. ‘I’d like to say how sorry I am that …’. I’m with Michael- where is the consideration for victims, survivors, kids, choristers, Sheffield, the reputational damage caused that will take generations to heal, if ever. I’m losing… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  God 'elp us all
5 months ago

It could just be that the Determination is clear and therefore attracts little comment.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  God 'elp us all
5 months ago

Good point. Cathedrals are very difficult places to work (and sometimes, worship) at the best of times. When things go wrong they can be hellish.

I hope that all those who have been hurt or damaged by the situation at Sheffield will find justice, recompense and healing. For the children in the choir, especially, the effects may be lifelong.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  God 'elp us all
5 months ago

Agreed that the ‘Oxford’ discussion would have been better on the Christ Church thread, but it has been a legitimate and useful means of trying to clarify some of the baffling legal complexities of that place. There is no basis for assuming that other TA readers lack sympathy and compassion; some themselves have been the victims of abuse. Today we now have the Rushton report, 146 pages to be assimilated, and there are more from elsewhere still to come. It’s a very sad fact that the Sheffield report represents just one of several major crises faced by the C of… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
5 months ago

Rowland, I think you meant to refer to the thirtyone:eight report on Jonathan Fletcher and Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon (ECW), not Ruston (you called it Rushton.) The Ruston report was in 1982 and related to John Smyth’s abuse. A copy of the Ruston report (kept under wraps for many years), also the subsequent Coltart report in 1993, can be downloaded from Lee Gurney’s website: Smyth Review Reports — soul∙in∙formation

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Lamming
5 months ago

I have no idea where ‘Rushton’ came from. I think that comment may have been made late at night – clearly ‘a senior moment’. I wasn’t referring to the Ruston report which I read (in redacted form?) at least two years ago. It is, of course, of crucial significance in the Smyth chronology. I was principally refuting the apparent assertion that TA readers’ over-emphasis on the Ch Ch issues implied a lack of compassion for other victims of abuse, and conceding that the Ch Ch issues discussed on this thread would have been better on another.

M Evans
M Evans
5 months ago

Presumably the next dean will be a very careful appointment indeed; that’s quite a job that someone would need to feel called to. It appears that last year’s advertisements for a precentor came to naught as well, which perhaps isn’t surprising. The ‘Worship and Music’ section on the website says nothing about music; ‘Services’ mentions a choir singing but appears to have been written pre-Covid and pre-July. The cathedral strikes me as a deeply unhappy place, in a long-term way, and as G’EUA points out, putting right the damage done is what needs to happen first. “Serious consideration” and “explore… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by M Evans
Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  M Evans
5 months ago

There have been some good outcomes to the cathedrals saga of recent years. Peterborough Cathedral seems a settled and happy place, Derby has an experienced archdeacon at the helm, and York Minster has its Right Reverend dean. If there is a common theme it’s that they all had prior senior leadership experience.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago

I have now read the Determination. It is full of management speak – processes, qualifications, reports etc. There is zero attention to redress or concern for those who have been adversely affected, barely any motion of support going forwards.
 
God and Jesus are mentioned, but only in the top and tail. They are not mentioned in the main body – this could be a review of a paint factory as easily as that of a cathedral. If a bishop doesn’t centre God in a Visitation what hope is there for the cathedral to have a distinctively Christian culture?

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