Thinking Anglicans

“Shock at the total breakdown of trust in the CofE”

Ruth Peacock writes about Roger Bolton’s video interview of Sir David Lidington which is available on YouTube under the headline Lidington: I was used to acrimony in politics, but I hadn’t expected to find it in the church.

Sir David Lidington, a former de facto deputy prime minister, and long-standing member of the Church of England, has spoken of his shock at discovering a total breakdown of trust within the church.

In an interview with Roger Bolton for the Religion Media Centre, he said the flaws in the governance of the church were not by themselves the sole cause of the culture of distrust within the church, but he was convinced they had aggravated the mistrust…

The interview itself is here: RMC Big Interview: Sir David Lidington shocked at total breakdown of trust in the CofE

Strongly recommended.

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‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
10 months ago

Hopefully you will soon provide a link to Meg Munn’s blog and some commentary. In the meantime: https://chairnsp.org/2023/08/03/improving-relationships-between-survivors-and-safeguarding-staff/ I am extraordinarily grateful to Meg for this post which I trust will never be taken down. Its complete arrogance, hubris and failure to understand survivors at all shows exactly why she should never have been allowed within a million miles of anything to do with C of E safeguarding, let alone 2 important roles. This proves that the 70 + of us who refused to touch her with a barge pole were right all along.If the AC thought she should have… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
10 months ago

I notice that Meg Munn says that survivors should restrict themselves to “legitimate and appropriate anger”. I wonder what inappropriate anger would look like ? Maybe anger that disturbs the complacency of the “safeguarding” bureaucracy ? As we know from the head of safeguarding himself, it is wrong to focus too much on victims and if you do you are liable to be sacked.

Froghole
Froghole
10 months ago

I must commend Roger Bolton as an interviewer and, like many, I was saddened by his departure from the BBC. I also found Sir David Lidington to be a sympathetic interviewee (any person who gets to grip with the operation of the Tudor court of exchequer, chiefly a revenue court with an equity jurisdiction, and certain criminal powers – the latter having been studied by Lidington – is worthy of respect in my estimation). However, I found the interview slightly frustrating, and this is because it *appears* that Lidington has been commissioned to propose another round of administrative tinkering. His… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Froghole
peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Froghole
10 months ago

Froghole, As always, your commentary was informative My assumption has been that throughout history, those Christian denominations that follow the ancient orthodox hierarchy of deacon, priest, bishop — such as the Roman Catholic Church, the CofE, the Eastern Orthodox churches, perhaps even the Lutheran church — have always given a great deal of authority to bishops, such that it is almost impossible to reform them, or remove them in cases of bad conduct (sacred or secular). So your commentary on the historical role of bishops was appreciated. Regarding the CofE being deluded about being a power in the land, when… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
10 months ago

At what point did the office of bishop become distinguished from that of priest? In the New Testament the terms seem to be used interchangeably. Indeed, I have always understood the New Testament three-fold order of ministry to be widow, deacon, and presbyter/episkopos. When did the order of widows die out, and what we now consider the ‘historic three-fold order of ministry’ become established? (I suspect the answer may have something to do with the Roman empire!)

Gilo
Gilo
10 months ago

Hello Archbishops’ Council (ordained members) I recognise that survivors writing to Archbishops’ Council is the equivalent of taking pea-shooters to an armoured tank. Nevertheless, I hope Archbishops’ Council will find clear and transparent answers. From the reply by Steve Reeves to a question about a Church Times quote from Church House it seems clear that Ab Council attempted to get the ISB members to acquiesce in data breach (see attached), and while the ISB members were under extreme duress. How will Ab Council be dealing with this? Will you be investigating it? Will you report this to the Charity Comm… Read more »

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Gilo
10 months ago

Maybe someone should also investigate the role played by the Archbishops’ Council in the orchestrated smear campaign and character assassination of the Bishop of Chichester George Bell who – after seven long years – has finally been exonerated by the Chapter at Chichester Cathedral – two years after Archbishop Welby admitted “I was wrong” about the wartime Bishop:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/08/02/church-of-england-reinstates-tribute-bishop-accused-abuse/

Richard Symonds
Richard Symonds
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
10 months ago

And before anyone says the George Bell injustice is not relevant here, just remember this wartime Bishop of Chichester has also been a victim of abuse by the Church – the abuse of character assassination and false accusation.

Last edited 10 months ago by Richard Symonds
Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
10 months ago

Shock at “shock” – why anyone is shocked at the state of the institutional church is baffling. Perhaps we are not important enough for people to notice …

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark Bennet
10 months ago

Indeed, but perhaps Sir David’s ‘shock’ is not unlike the celebrated ‘shock’ of Capt. Renault (Claude Rains): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H-PS_pr-t0.

Nigel Ashworth
Nigel Ashworth
Reply to  Mark Bennet
10 months ago

I thought Sir David’s shock – and his analysis of it – were very well put by him. He knows how politics has infighting but he just did not expect the depth of antagonisms within the Church that he found. He believes that his proposals to reform the national institutions will help but the deeper issue is that mistrust has become cultural and endemic. I found him to be authentic and compelling. At the end of Roger Bolton’s excellent interview, David Lidington talks about the Church’s failings, for example, the recent debacle over the Independent Safeguarding Board. He speaks of… Read more »

Mark Andiam
Mark Andiam
Reply to  Nigel Ashworth
10 months ago

The CofE used to be known as ‘the Tory party at prayer’ and while I was never a member of the latter, it should not be a surprise that the two organisations share certain characteristics. But perhaps it’s not so much a specific party, but politics in general, itself known as ‘a dirty business’, that we are dealing with here. Of course David Lidington will be aware of this, but like many of us still holds out a hope that somehow the church is of a different order. While this may be a foolish hope, we still need to reason,… Read more »

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
10 months ago

Fascinating….but is it an exercise in rearranging the deckchairs on the TItanic?

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Struggling Anglican
10 months ago

My though too- deckchairism, while Canterbury burns.

Will
Will
10 months ago

It seems to me that David Liddington’s proposal for a Scrutiny Committee is key. Public scrutiny of the proposed CENS and other Central Church bodies would hold ‘the Church’ accountable in a way that simply doesn’t happen at present.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
10 months ago

Sir David Lidington did touch on a crucial problem by saying that it was vitally important who was on the selection panel and who was appointed to the new Independent Safeguarding Board. The Board will not be independent if the members don’t have an independent mindset as we discovered with Meg Munn. People will say that the King is a rubber stamp in the appointment of Bishops. Well if he is simply a rubber stamp, why does he have to ‘”approve” the appointments at all ? I believe that if we are dissatisfied by the behaviour of our bishops then… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

In matters of ecclesiastical preferment as in other matters the King acts on the advice of his Prime Minister.

Pitt the Younger was very annoyed when George lll appointed Manners- Sutton to Canterbury rather than his chosen candidate. Nowadays such an act would cause a constitutional crisis and give the revived republican movement more ammunition in its argument for the abolition of the monarchy.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Simon Bravery
10 months ago

I do understand the constitutional position but I question it. If the Prime Minister and King are mere rubber stamps then why do we insist on a formal procedure that has no meaning ? If the Prime Minister and King are not merely rubber stamps then the situation is very serious for the future of the Church of England. Why should a multi millionaire Hindu Prime Minister with extreme right wing views and a King who tricked a vulnerable young girl into marriage while conducting an extra marital affair have ANY influence on the appointment of Church of England bishops?… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

An excellent point. I suspect that it is the weakness characteristic of the English that they wish to preserve the husk even if they have long since thrown away the kernel. In ‘The English Constitution’ *1867) Bagehot remarked ” Lastly, constitutional royalty has the function which I insisted…is by far the greatest, I need not now enlarge upon again. It acts as a DISGUISE. It enables our real rulers to change without heedless people knowing it.” In other words, just as the crown is used by regular politicians as cover for constitutional usurpations under the guise of ‘continuity’, so it… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

I think the time has come to simplify the process for appointing diocesan bishops. I would abolish the letter of conge d’ elire, the letter missive, election, confirmation of election and homage. Instead when the Crown, Nominations Committee, had made it’s choice, the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary would confirm that the candidate would accept the position. The Archbishop of the relevant Province would then issue a document stating the new Bishop had been appointed. In the case of Canterbury or York, the other Archbishop would issue the document. There would follow the enthronement/installation/service of welcome/ inauguration of a new ministry/ Diocesan… Read more »

Wandering minstrel
Wandering minstrel
10 months ago

It would be revealing and salutary for a poll of the parish clergy to be conducted along the lines of

‘Do you think [your bishop/archdeacon/your diocese/the Church Commissioners/Church House/The Archbishops’ Council/Bishopthorpe/ Lambeth Palace] are looking out for you and have your best interests at heart?’

Answers on a postcard?

Richard Symonds
Richard Symonds
Reply to  Wandering minstrel
10 months ago

The postcards will probably be lost in a fire.

Wandering minstrel
Wandering minstrel
Reply to  Richard Symonds
10 months ago

I wasn’t suggesting that Church House would run it! I wonder, though, whether there is any awareness of the state of play amongst clergy? I’ve met five or six suffragans in the last year or so; with one exception they seem as miserable as the rest of us.

M Evans
M Evans
Reply to  Richard Symonds
10 months ago

Or a flood in a basement

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