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APRIL 10 2021 – RESIGNATIONS OF REVD VAUGHAN ROBERTS AND REVD ROBIN WEEKES FROM THE CHURCH SOCIETY

VAUGHAN ROBERTS AND ROBIN WEEKES RESIGN FROM THE CHURCH SOCIETY

Vaughan Roberts serves as the Rector of St Ebbe’s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaughan_Roberts

Roberts was born on 17 March 1965 in Winchester, Hampshire, UK.[1] He was educated at Winchester College which is an all-boys public school in Winchester.[2]

He studied law at Selwyn College, Cambridge and graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1988; as per tradition, his BA was promoted to a Master of Arts (MA (Cantab)) degree in 1991.[3][4] In 1987, he was President of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union.

After graduation, he spent a short time in student ministry in South Africa.[3] Roberts then moved to Oxford and in 1989 entered Wycliffe Hall, an Anglican theological college.[4] There, he studied theology and undertook training for ordained ministry.[3]

Roberts was ordained in the Church of England as a deacon in 1991 and as a priest in 1992.[4] In 1991, he joined St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, a conservative evangelical church, as a curate under David Fletcher.[3][4] From 1995 to 1998, he was the Student Pastor with special responsibilities for students and student ministry.[3][4] In 1998, when Fletcher retired, Roberts was appointed Rector of St Ebbe’s.[4]

Robin Weekes serves as the minister of Emmanuel Wimbledon

https://www.emmanuelwimbledon.org.uk/Groups/159149/Emmanuel_Wimbledon/About_Us/Whos_Who/Whos_Who.aspx 

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APRIL 9 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 5 2018] – ADDRESS BY LORD CAREY OF CLIFTON – REBUILDING BRIDGES CONFERENCE – CHURCH HOUSE WESTMINSTER

Lord Carey of Clifton

ADDRESS BY LORD CAREY OF CLIFTON – REBUILDING BRIDGES CONFERENCE – CHURCH HOUSE WESTMINSTER – OCTOBER 5 2018

Address by Lord Carey of Clifton

The following words were addressed to those attending the Keep Rebuilding Bridges conference on October 5. Baron Carey of Clifton was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002.

I am delighted to offer a contribution to this Conference on Rebuilding Bridges and thank Richard Symonds for his invitation and for all he has done and continues to do, to clear George Bell’s name. It is good to see in our audience Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson, the daughter of Bishop Bell’s close friend, Franz Hildebrandt. We look forward to hearing her later.


Now, I am uncomfortably aware that my presence here raises two unrelated questions.


I have been accused many times over the past few years of presiding over a ‘cover-up’ of Bishop Peter Ball’s crimes. Peter Ball misused his office as a bishop to abuse, and indecently assault young people who were exploring vocations into Christian ministry. There was, of course, no cover-up. We now know that the police at the time examined many allegations against Ball and together with prosecutors only charged him with a caution. This decision was very much of its time. But later even after I had left office other people, including police, had an opportunity to look at all the evidence that was in our hands at Lambeth to bring Peter Ball to justice, yet they did not do so until Chichester Diocese passed on its files and Peter Ball was finally brought to justice in 2015. I and my colleagues at the time did make mistakes and rightly my actions are being subjected to public scrutiny – a review by Dame Moira Gibb and the IICSA Inquiry. I have cooperated willingly, openly and honestly with this scrutiny at every stage. I will take every opportunity I can to publicly apologise to the victims of Peter Ball for the mistakes I made in the 1990s which have caused them such pain to this day. I will say no more about this matter because IICSA is still to report on this next year.


The other question is about the role of retired bishops and archbishops. ‘Don’t spit on the deck as you leave’ is usually good advice. But I am not retired from ministry. I am still active in ministry, still a member of the church and by Her Majesty’s invitation a member of the House of Lords. If it is permissible to speak out on public affairs, as I do from time to time, then it is permissible for me to speak out on matters of justice when so few others will.


Over the last 12 months or so I have had a recurring disturbing worry. It is the ‘nightmare’ that in spite of a very happy and faithful marriage to the same woman for nearly 60 years some 50 or so years from the point of my death, rumours will circulate that I was an abuser of others. The rumours will reach such a pitch that the Church to which I had given my life will capitulate, pay out money and believe the falsehoods. Who would defend me?


This could happen to anyone of us – male or female. It became a reality for one of the great giants of Anglicans, namely George Bell who died 70 years ago and whom we honour today. I remember the time when I was Archbishop visiting Morton’s Tower in Lambeth Palace where Bell’s works were stored. I was amazed by the scale of his correspondence and work. It expressed his energy, output and commitment to public affairs. He was never afraid to be unpopular because his commitment was to the gospel of Jesus Christ and its truth. Before ecumenism became a fashionable word he had already embraced a deep commitment to other Christians and Churches. Whilst anti-Jewish hatred continued to change the face of Germany and western Europe, Bell instinctively turned his face against the ugliness of anti-Semitism. I read his correspondence with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and marvelled at their deep friendship and common faith. At a time of understandable patriotism and jingoism on the part of the British people, Bell courageously argued against unacceptable retribution against Germany. Winston Churchill turned against him and, we understand, put paid to any prospect of Bell becoming Archbishop because of his opposition to carpet bombing

.
But Bell was more than an energetic, courageous and knowledgeable public figure. He was a man rooted in prayer and worship; a high churchman who loved the order and beauty of liturgy. In his exceptionally busy life he was supported loyally, deeply and lovingly by his wife, Henrietta. She was always alongside him, as were his chaplains who were there to take some of the burden of his high public office.


And then, fifty-seven years after his death, his own diocese which he served faithfully and greatly loved – supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops – made an announcement which was likely to affect Bell’s reputation forever more. The announcement was widely interpreted by press and public alike as an accusation that Bell had sexually abused a child between 1949 and 1953. Strangely, church leaders deny that they have ever said that Bell was guilty of the abuse, but this is surely disingenuous. In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words, a ‘cloud’ hangs over his name.


In that initial announcement, very few details were given but it was clear that an unspecified sum of money had been given to the complainant. The Church said it had decided to give this compensation on the basis of the ‘balance of probabilities’. But even on this evidential basis, arguments for the defence should have been heard. Previously, no other accusations – or even rumours – had ever been heard against Bell. And on the basis of this one unproven, and probably unprovable allegation, his name was removed from buildings and institutions named after him.


A recent detailed review of the case by Lord Carlile showed that no significant effort had been made by the Church to consider any evidence that might have supported Bell’s innocence. In particular, those investigating did not consult Bell’s biographer, Andrew Chandler, nor the living people who worked with him at that time.


George Bell’s cause was given no legal advocate. Instead, in a process, which I referred to in the House of Lords in 2016 as ‘having the character of a kangaroo court’ it seems as though the ‘victim’ was automatically believed. The normal burden of proof was reversed and it was considered ‘wicked’ to doubt the veracity of the allegations.
Dr Andrew Chandler in his excellent biography of George Bell states: ‘We are asked to invest an entire authority in one testimony and to dismiss all the materials by which we have come to know the historical George Bell as mere figments of reputation.’ Of course, if Bell was guilty, his high reputation should not protect him. But we have not been given the chance to establish fairly whether he was.


In an appendix devoted to the controversy, Chandler notes that Bell’s 368 volume archive contains his personal notebooks and pocket diaries from 1919 to 1957, in which he kept track of all his appointments and engagements. He notes Bell’s “conspicuously high view of the standards required by his office,” and adds that Bell was almost constantly observed, that he participated in many disciplinary processes for clergy, that he maintained what seemed like a happy marriage, and that he worked almost continually in the presence of his wife, secretary, domestic chaplain, or driver.
Chandler interviewed the only member of Bell’s circle who was then still alive, Adrian Carey, his domestic chaplain from the early 1950s. This man “is firm, indeed emphatic, that ‘no child or young teenager ever entered during my two years as Chaplain, except on the day in January chosen for the parish Christmas party which he and Mrs Bell laid on every year for the children of the clergy’”.


Thankfully an outcry came against such a miscarriage of justice and I was delighted in 2016 to be invited to join the George Bell group, led by Andrew Chandler, to fight to clear George Bell’s name.


It was a relief to us all when the Bishop of Chichester asked Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, a well-known independently-minded human rights lawyer, to conduct an independent review which he did thoroughly and authoritatively. His report concluded that the “core group” established by the church to consider the claims “failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”.

“The church, understandably concerned not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when it had been too slow to recognise that abuse had been perpetrated by clergy and to recognise the pain and damage caused to victims, has in effect over-steered in this case.

“In other words, there was a rush to judgment: the church, feeling it should be both supportive of the complainant and transparent in its dealings, failed to engage in a process which would also give proper consideration to the rights of the bishop. Such rights should not be treated as having been extinguished on death.”

He added: “In my view, the church concluded that the needs of a living complainant who, if truthful, was a victim of very serious criminal offences were of considerably more importance than the damage done by a possibly false allegation to a person who was no longer alive.”

Carlile said the purpose of his review was not to determine the truthfulness of the allegations nor to rule on Bell’s guilt or innocence.

He went on, “even when the alleged perpetrators have died, there should be methodical and sufficient investigations into accusations leveled against them”.
In this case, “the truth of what Carol was saying was implicitly accepted without serious investigation or inquiry. I have concluded this was an inappropriate and impermissible approach.”

What then followed was to my mind more damaging to the Church than to George Bell. Instead of this logically leading to the rehabilitation of George Bell’s reputation, the Church compounded the problem further by apologizing for the procedures that had been found wanting by the Carlile review, but nevertheless refused to retract its conclusion that George Bell was in all probability guilty of the abuse.

In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury a ‘significant cloud’ hangs over his name. The Archbishop bluntly added: ‘he is accused of great wickedness’.

What is deeply unsatisfactory is that no explanation is given and no evidence for these conclusions. If the Carlile report revealed how biased and unjust were the conclusions of the Core Group, how can the Archbishop, the Bishop of Chichester and Bishop of Bath and Wells continue to unblushingly assert that George Bell’s reputation remains under a cloud?

Now, it gives me no pleasure to note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has received harsh criticism from a number of leading historians and theologians and, sadly, his response has been so far unsatisfactory. Those of us still committed to the national Church remain horrified that not more has been done to explain his remark that ‘a cloud remains’. At the very least justice demands it.

Perhaps an explanation lies in a further allegation which has come out of the blue, at the beginning of this year, before the Carlile review could be properly debated in General Synod. But after the first core group debacle, can we really have confidence that the Church can investigate this competently itself?

Regarding the current investigation at least this time we know that George Bell’s niece is to be represented by one of the George Bell Group, Desmond Browne QC, and that Andrew Chandler’s expertise and knowledge of Bell is being utilised. But a gnawing and perhaps understandable suspicion remains that the hierarchy are hoping we will all forget and the ‘can’ will be kicked further down the road. It is a sorry mess: a great man’s name has been traduced, justice has been denied and the good name of George Bell rubbished.

The Archbishop has rightly made mediation and reconciliation a major plank of his ministry, and I hope he will reach out to all those who are dismayed by this treatment of Bell and consider again his judgement of Bishop George Bell.

However, one of the matters I am most dismayed by is the silence over these concerns by the House of Bishops. The Church of England has always been respected for scholarship, theological exploration and independent thought. George Bell stands out as a pre-eminent scholar-bishop of the 20th century who engaged in public debate within the church and nation – frequently disagreeing with his episcopal colleagues.
In my time as Archbishop I served with colleagues of great scholarship and distinction including John Habgood, David Hope, Tom Wright, Mark Santer, Michael Nazzir-Ali, Peter Selby, Richard Harries, David Jenkins, Hugh Montefiore, David Sheppard, Simon Barrington Ward, and John Taylor of St. Alban’s and many others. These were bishops who prized justice and spoke out when they saw injustice. Bishops were prepared to speak out even against their own hierarchy – and they did not always agree with me.


So why the silence from the House of Bishops? Each member must know that he or she is implicated indirectly in this condemnation of Bell. Only one bishop has distanced himself from the Archbishop’s conclusion, but I understand that at least six others disagree with him. Unity, and collegiality are good things but never should they replace what is right and true. ‘Collegiality’ is not to be mistaken for ‘collective cabinet responsibility’ or ‘party discipline’.

So it is right to press the Bishops to declare themselves. Do you share the opinion that a significant cloud hangs over George Bell’s name? Do you agree that he is guilty of great wickedness? Please tell us what you think. At the February Group of General Synod Martin Sewell was told that ‘the House of Bishops is accountable for safeguarding in the Church of England’. If that is the case, why the silence? Is it an honorable thing to be silent on a matter so crucial as this? If the bishops are at one with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s declaration that a ‘cloud hangs’ over George Bell’s reputation and that ‘he is accused of great wickedness’, let them says so in a collective declaration of support for the Archbishop’s view.

It is because we all make mistakes that we need a church that preaches grace, forgiveness, repentance and new life. I see very little of grace in the way that the Church of England has handled allegations against George Bell. Indeed, it is shaming because it is unjust. We know we can do better. That is why this conference talks about rebuilding bridges, and that is why many of us will continue to fight for justice for George Bell.

However, I want to end on a positive note. Rebuilding Bridges is central to the Christian faith and that is what we all want to do. Let me offer three points:
I believe the George Bell case and also the Peter Ball investigation makes the argument for outsourcing investigations in the case of accusations of sexual misconduct. It is not because Archbishops and bishops can’t be trusted to have an important role in safeguarding, rather it is because we are too close to the clergy concerned and very likely to defend instinctively the institution, rather than actively promote an unbiased and independent approach.

Secondly, George Bell was a man of the Church, passionate about its witness and unity. Here we are today with declining numbers of worshippers, with no clear evangelistic programme, and no apparent plan to reach the young. The gap between Church and society is widening all the time. Yes, I know that great work is going on and not all churches are declining. It grieves us all that this major squabble is taking up so much time and energy when our gaze should be directed away from ourselves. The supporters of Bishop George Bell desire wholeheartedly to speak with one voice with the Archbishop and the House of Bishops. Reconciliation would certainly send out a great signal of overcoming a major barrier to our unity, which of course is part of our mission.

A third positive sign is an attractive idea that Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson is going to offer later and I do not want to steal her thunder in any respect. As I understand it, she is going to suggest a way of continuing Bishop George Bell’s work in the diocese.

Let me close my remarks with George Bell’s own words: words we should all heed, and which should guide our attempts to clear his name: ‘To despair of being able to do anything, or refuse to do anything, is to be guilty of infidelity’.

George Carey

Lord Carey of Clifton with Sandra Saer at Church House

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APRIL 9 2021 – ‘BISHOP BUTLER AND BISHOP BELL’ CHURCH TIMES LETTER BY VASANTHA GNANADOSS

Vasantha Gnanadoss with Revd Alan Gadd at the Rebuilding Bridges Conference at Church House Westminster – Oct 5 2018

Photo: RWS Photography

Scripture Union review’ – Church Times Letter – April 9 2021

Sir, — From your coverage of John Smyth and the Scripture Union (News, 1 April), we learn that “One of the revelations from the SU report is that Bishop Paul Butler, at the time President of Scripture Union and Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, was told in 2015, yet appears to have done nothing.”

Failure to take action when abuse is reported is recognised as a serious matter. Can we expect Bishop Butler to be suspended while this revelation is investigated?

There is a marked contrast between this revelation of inaction and Bishop Butler’s defence, later in 2015, in the House of Lords, of what Lord Carlile has described as “a rush to judgement” on “a single unfounded allegation” against Bishop George Bell.

VASANTHA GNANADOSS
London

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APRIL 8 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [AUGUST 31 2016] – “THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND MASTERS THE NON-APOLOGY” BY REV JULES GOMES

Rev Jules Gomes: The Church of England masters the non-apology

By ‘Rebel Priest’ Rev Jules Gomes

August 31, 2016

The Conservative Woman

When is an apology not an apology? An apology is not an apology when a Church of England bishop offers it to a victim of sexual abuse on a silver platter of spin as a tactical cop-out while shedding crocodile tears and mumbling ‘Awfully sorry, old chap!’ in the mode of a Bertie Wooster facing a snappy Gussie Fink-Nottle.

The C of E has been caught with its pants down in yet another monumental cock-up with the embarrassing revelation of how bishops were instructed only to give partial apologies—if at all—to victims of sexual abuse to avoid being sued. A survivor of child sexual abuse has issued a damning indictment of the C of E’s hierarchy, naming and shaming it for washing its hands ‘like Pontius Pilate’.

The old-fashioned practice of a heartfelt apology, deeply rooted in the Christian theology of repentance and reconciliation, has now been turned into an episcopal Punch and Judy show with lawyers, bureaucrats and managers on fat cat salaries pulling the strings while their purple-clad puppets dance to their dirges, desperately clutching at mitre and crosier.

Deep in the spin-doctoring factory of episcopaldom, the ecclesiastical equivalents of Sir Humphrey Appleby are teaching their bishops to play the game of Catch Me If You Can while Sir Jeffrey Archer’s techniques on the 11th Commandment Thou Shalt Not Get Caught are being honed to perfection. It is part of the managerial double-speak dominating all forms of damage control discourse in the C of E.

The puppeteers advise their bishops to use ‘careful drafting’ to ‘effectively apologise’ and to ‘express regret’ only using wording approved by lawyers, PR advisers and insurers. ‘Because of the possibility that statements of regret might have the unintended effect of accepting legal liability for the abuse, it is important that they are approved in advance by lawyers, as well as by diocesan communications officers (and, if relevant, insurers),’ warns the Orwellian document from the Ministry of Truth.

When is an apology a genuine apology? When it is neither as slippery as a banana skin or as shallow as the paddling pool of a typical Anglican sermon. In his ground-breaking book, On Apology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.) Aaron Lazare, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, offers profound insights into the anatomy of an apology. Lazare traces the history of the world’s most humbling act, from Lincoln’s apology for slavery to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mea culpa after allegations of breast-groping. ‘Why do certain apologies succeed or fail to elicit forgiveness and bring about reconciliation?’ he asks.

‘There’s a right way and a wrong way to apologise. There are several integral elements of any apology and unless they are accounted for, an apology is likely to fail.’ The four components for an effective apology are ‘acknowledgment of the offence; explanation; expressions of remorse, shame, and humility; and reparation. Of these four parts, the one most commonly defective in apologies is the acknowledgment,’ he writes.

‘The offender (or the one speaking on behalf of the offender) must clearly and completely acknowledge the offence. People fail the acknowledgment phase of the apology when they make vague and incomplete apologies (“for whatever I did”); use the passive voice (“mistakes were made”); make the apology conditional (“if mistakes have been made”); question whether the victim was damaged or minimise the offence (“to the degree you were hurt”); use the empathic “sorry” instead of acknowledging responsibility; apologise to the wrong party; or apologise for the wrong offence,’ says Lazare.

The psychologist and pastoral counsellor Carl Schneider defines apology as ‘the acknowledgement of injury with the acceptance of responsibility, affect (felt regret or shame—the person must mean it), and vulnerability—the risking of an acknowledgement without excuses.’

There is a double irony here. All this, of course, is firmly grounded in the biblical tradition of repentance and in the Book of Common Prayer’s injunction that we should ‘acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloke them’ ‘but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart.’

But all this business of confession and contrition is intensely counter-intuitive to the managerial culture in the C of E. This is reflected in the dumbing down of its modern prayers of repentance to ‘politically correct prayers which sound as if they were written by a committee made up of Tony Blair, Karl Marx, and Noddy.’ What can you expect when the Archbishop’s Council produces an idiots’ Guide to Common Worship, which re-titles “Confession” as “Doing the dirt on ourselves”?

The other ironical twist is that apologies actually prevent lawsuits altogether and increase the likelihood and speed of settlement for those that do arise. This is evident from recent research both in the UK and the US. For example, one British study found that many plaintiffs who sued their doctors said they would not have done so had they received an apology and an explanation for their injury (Jeffrey S. Helmreich, ‘Does “Sorry” incriminate? Evidence, harm and the protection of apology,’ Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 21 (2012) 574).

Consistent with this view, legislatures in American states have enacted statutes that make certain apologies inadmissible in court thus encouraging more people to offer genuine apologies. Contrary to the recommendations of the C of E mandarins, a new secular culture of confession and contrition is seeking to encourage apologies by explicitly denying their admissibility as evidence.

In some instances the bishops have refused even to tender a doctored apology. Earlier this month Sussex police apologised to the living relatives of the late Bishop George Bell and the BBC admitted that some of its reporting on the allegations against Bishop Bell was wrong. However, the C of E is still refusing to apologise for smearing Bell’s reputation and for the way it handled the case.

The comparison of the bishops with Pontius Pilate made by the survivor of abuse is apt, not just for its powerful metaphor of Pilate ‘washing his hands’ but also for its portrayal of Pilate as the puppet in the pantomime. Pilate is weak-minded, spineless, gutless, easily led and irresolute. The cleverly crafted literature of John’s gospel portrays him as constantly vacillating back and forth as he listens to the crowd. Perhaps it is time the panjandrums in purple stopped listening to the men in pinstriped suits and learned how to say the two most humbling words in the English language: ‘I’m sorry.’ It would be even better if they learned to say the three greatest words in the biblical language of forgiveness and reconciliation: ‘I have sinned.’

‘Rebel Priest’ Rev Jules Gomes The Rev’d Dr Jules Gomes, BA, BD, MTh, PhD (Cantab) is a journalist and academic.

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APRIL 8 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [FEBRUARY 1 2019] – “ARCHBISHOP WELBY APOLOGISES FOR ‘MISTAKES’ IN THE CASE OF GEORGE BELL” – CHURCH TIMES

Archbishop Welby

Photo: FT

“ARCHBISHOP WELBY APOLOGISES FOR ‘MISTAKES’ IN THE CASE OF GEORGE BELL” – CHURCH TIMES – JANUARY 24 2019

 by HATTIE WILLIAMS 24 JANUARY 2019

George Bell, painted in 1955

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised for “mistakes” made in the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, after an independent investigation concluded that fresh allegations of sexual abuse were unfounded.

Evidence from at least two claimants and statements from the family of Bishop Bell, who died in 1958, were gathered by Detective Superintendent Roy Galloway, and assessed by an ecclesiastical lawyer, Chancellor Timothy Briden, Vicar-General of the Province of Canterbury, who carried out two hearings last July and October.

Chancellor Briden concludes in his report, published on Thursday, that the new allegations were “inconsistent”, “inaccurate”, “unconvincing”, or, in some instances, amounted to “mere rumour”.

This included the evidence of a complainant known as “Alison” (not her real name), who wrote to the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, claiming that Bishop Bell had “fondled her” when she had sat on his lap, aged nine, in the 1940s. In her oral evidence, the report says: “Her attempts to repeat what had been written in the letter displayed, however, a disturbing degree of inconsistency.”

Mr Briden continues: “I am satisfied that Alison has not made her complaint for financial reasons, not as a piece of mischief-making. Her desire has been to support Carol.”

Another 80-year-old witness — named as “K” in the report — said that his mother had told him that she had seen Bishop Bell “carrying out a sexual act with a man over his Rolls Royce” in 1967. Bishop Bell died in 1958. Apart from this inaccuracy, the report states: “The longer that the statement from K’s mother is analysed, the more implausible it appears.”

The allegations surfaced after the publication of a review conducted by Lord Carlile of the Church of England’s handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against Bishop Bell by a woman known as “Carol” (News, 22 December 2017). The diocese of Chichester had apologised and reached a settlement with Carol two years previously (News, 23 October 2015).

The Carlile review concluded, however, that the Church had “rushed to judgement” when it said that Bishop Bell was responsible for serious abuse. It had also failed in its response to Carol’s original complaint in 1995, and in 2013 when she had written to Archbishop Welby.

The Carlile review triggered fresh allegations, and an investigation was commissioned by Dr Warner in January of last year “in the spirit” of the Carlile review. This was confirmed at the time in a statement from the Church’s National Safeguarding Team, led by Graham Tilby — the “core group” in the Briden ruling.

Questioned during a press briefing on Thursday about the decision to publicise these allegations after the Carlile review had advised against this, a Church House spokesman said that the review had resulted in the raising of “difficult questions” by General Synod members about the handling of allegations against Bishop Bell and the subsequent damage to his reputation.

“Those questions would have been difficult to answer; we did not want to mislead the Synod.”

The Church regretted the “unfortunate timing” of the publication of the review before the February Synod meeting, he said, but it had not been a “conspiracy. It was simply the way events unfolded.” He continued: “The previous matter [allegations made by Carol] were in the public domain. I cannot see how we could have covered up a further investigation [into fresh allegations].”

The spokesman also expressed regret over the handling of Carol’s case (including her feeling of being “besieged” by defenders of Bishop Bell), and the public statement made in 2015 after the settlement was reached. “The statement we made was not sufficiently clear — the level of certainty does not exist to say that either Bishop Bell is not a paedophile or that Carol’s allegations against him are unfounded.”

This was reiterated by Dr Warner in his statement on Thursday: “We have learned that the boundaries of doubt and certainty have to be stated with great care, that the dead and those who are related to them have a right to be represented, and that there must be a balanced assessment of the extent to which it would be in the public interest to announce details of any allegation.

“It became obvious that a more thorough investigation must be made before any public announcement can be considered, and that the level of investigation typically undertaken for settlement of a civil claim is not adequate to justify an announcement. It is now clear that, if an announcement about any person is to be made, it must not imply certainty when we cannot be certain.”

OTHER STORIES

C of E rejects Carlile recommendation regarding naming of alleged abusers THE Church of England’s safeguarding team has already rejected the key recommendation made in the critical independent review of the Church handling of the George Bell abuse allegations

Archbishop Welby said after the Carlile review that “a significant cloud” had been left over the name of Bishop Bell. In his statement on Thursday, however, besides confirming that “nothing of substance” had been added to previous allegations, the Archbishop reiterated that “[Bishop Bell’s] legacy is undoubted and must be upheld.”

He said: “The reputation of Bishop Bell is significant, and I am clear that his memory and the work he did is as of much importance to the Church today as it was in the past. . . I hope that ways will be found to underline his legacy and share the learning from his life with future generations.”

The spokesman for Church House suggested that Chichester Cathedral might “review” its decision to remove Bishop Bell’s name from its grant scheme. It was up to individual institutions to decide whether to reinstate his name on buildings, however. Resignations in the Church over the handling of the case would be “a matter of conscience”.

The Church was to produce further guidance on handling posthumous allegations, he said, and was “keen to hear” the conclusions of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is due to produce its final report on the Anglican investigation after the final hearing in July (News, 18 January).

Archbishop Welby apologised “unreservedly and profoundly” for the hurt caused to the surviving “family, colleagues, and supporters” of Bishop Bell for the failures of the Church in handling the allegations. “However, it is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation relating to an historic case of abuse, and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. We need to care for her and listen to her voice.”

In an interview with The Spectator published on Thursday, the Archbishop said: “‘It has been a very, very painful process. Not least because Bishop Bell was — is — one of my great heroes.”

Dr Warner also apologised for “how damaging and painful” it had been for all involved in this and other cases in his diocese: “The diocese of Chichester has rightly been held to account for its safeguarding failures of the past — shocking and shaming as they were. We hope that the culture of the diocese has changed.” It remained committed to responding with compassion, he said.

Professor Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer, who has been campaigning to clear Bell’s name, said on Thursday evening that the statements “show that they are clinging to the wreckage of their old position as best they can.

“It is simply self-justification, but it does indicate that they will just maintain for the sake of consistency the views that got them into such trouble in the first place.”

He questioned why, in January of last year, the Church had issued a statement and commissioned a second investigation: “What today has really exposed is the ridiculousness of what has been going on, and the foolishness of people who have real power in the Church. . .

“Many people will say that the Church was trying to control, or retrieve control, of the narrative of Lord Carlile, to shut down the critics, and create a doubt in the public mind that Bell might be a serial offender of some kind.

“They have nothing to hide behind now. It looks like a highly calculating, politicised outfit indeed.”

While parts of the Archbishop’s statement were “meaningful, welcome, and appropriate”, the reference to the Church’s “dilemma” in weighing up a reputation against a serious allegation did not exist, Professor Chandler argued.

“There is no dilemma. It is quite extraordinary as part of pastoral practice, let alone legal practice, to maintain that taking somebody seriously involves believing somebody. . . The problem is that the various [church] establishments invested a great deal in this, and it is difficult to climb down. . .

“If they are going to survive in office with any credibility at all, they [will] have to think very hard [as to how to] win back the trust that has been so inexorably lost.”

The “enormous” damage to Bishop Bell’s reputation had been inflicted by the very people who should have looked after it, Professor Chandler concluded. “The real figure of Bishop Bell has never been involved. His name has just been symbolic of a great social dread, and an established institution colluded with [this dread] in search of self-justification.”

Read more from Andrew Chandler on our comment pages, and read how the story was covered in the national press, here.

You can find the full report and statements the Church of England website.
 

Full statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury:

I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell. The reputation of Bishop Bell is significant, and I am clear that his memory and the work he did is of as much importance to the Church today as it was in the past. I recognise this has been an extremely difficult period for all concerned and I apologise equally to all those who have come forward and shared stories of abuse where we have not responded well.

OTHER STORIES Welby is urged to withdraw George Bell ‘cloud’ statement after Carlile report THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that he cannot, with integrity, clear the name of George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester

An allegation against the late Bishop George Bell, originally brought in 1995, was made again in 2013 in the context of a growing awareness of how institutions respond to safeguarding cases. A review carried out by Lord Carlile into how the Church of England handled the case concerning Bishop Bell made a significant number of recommendations, and the Church of England accepted almost all of these.

At the end of 2017 several people came forward with further, fresh information following the Carlile review, and after a thorough, independent investigation, nothing of substance has been added to what has previously been alleged.

statement from the National Safeguarding Team explains the processes involved in reaching this latest decision more fully.

The Church’s dilemma has been to weigh up the reputation of a highly esteemed bishop who died over 60 years ago alongside a serious allegation. We did not manage our response to the original allegation with the consistency, clarity or accountability that meets the high standards rightly demanded of us. I recognise the hurt that has been done as a consequence. This was especially painful for Bishop Bell’s surviving relatives, colleagues and supporters, and to the vast number of people who looked up to him as a remarkable role model, not only in the Diocese of Chichester but across the United Kingdom and globally. I apologise profoundly and unconditionally for the hurt caused to these people by the failures in parts of the process and take responsibility for this failure.

However, it is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation relating to an historic case of abuse and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. We need to care for her and listen to her voice.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has already questioned the Church of England over its response to the Bishop Bell case and the review by Lord Carlile. We expect that their report on our hearings will address further the complex issues that have been raised and will result in a more informed, confident, just and sensitive handling of allegations of abuse by the church in the future. We have apologised, and will continue to do so, for our poor response to those brave enough to come forward, while acknowledging that this will not take away the effects of the abuse.

This very difficult issue therefore leaves the Church with an impossible dilemma which I hope people with different perspectives on it will try to understand.

Finally, I want to make it very clear that Bishop George Bell is one of the most important figures in the history of the Church of England in the 20th century and his legacy is undoubted and must be upheld. His prophetic work for peace and his relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer are only two of the many ways in which his legacy is of great significance to us in the Church and we must go on learning from what he has given to us. I hope that ways will be found to underline his legacy and share the learning from his life with future generations.

OTHER RELATED STORIES

Lord Williams backs abuse survivors’ demand for independent safeguarding body at IICSA 14 Mar 2018

‘I am ashamed of the Church’, Archbishop Welby admits to IICSA hearing 21 Mar 2018

Safeguarding: the next steps 06 Apr 2018

Police close latest investigation into George Bell 23 Apr 2018

Safeguarding: what we got wrong, and the steps we are taking to put it right 06 Apr 2018

I was shocked by what I found in Chichester diocese, Dr Warner tells IICSA hearing 14 Mar 2018

RELATED ARTICLES

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APRIL 8 2021 – “SEX, POWER, CONTROL: RESPONDING TO ABUSE IN THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH” – REVIEW BY LINDA WOODHEAD

Linda Woodhead reviews ‘Sex, Power, Control: Responding to Abuse in the Institutional Church’

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church

A review by Linda Woodhead, Distinguished Professor of Religion and Society, Lancaster University

When she was the Director of Safeguarding for Bath and Wells, Fiona Gardner was puzzled about why so many of the diocesan hierarchy asked her, ‘How can you stand it?’. At the time, she thought that ‘it’ must be sexual abuse and predation. Only later did it occur on her that ‘it’ was something different: the shadow church, as difficult to face up to as the shadow side of one’s own psyche.

The anecdote gives a flavour of this important book. Gardner draws on many years of experience as a psychotherapist, a safeguarding officer, a spiritual writer and counsellor. She was one of the people who eventually helped bring Peter Ball to justice. She knows the Church of England from inside out, and the human psyche too. She writes with clarity and understanding about the mind of the abuser and the trauma of the abused, always grounding her thoughts in actual examples.

It is Gardner’s multifaceted experience that enables her to do something fresh and useful: to psychoanalyse the Church in order to explain its abusive tendencies. While sociologists like me are wary of attempts to psychologise social phenomena, Gardner gets past my defences because she understands institutions and social relations so well. She knows that they always involve power, and that an institution is in essence a structured set of power relations. The book’s title ‘Sex, Power, Control’ is well chosen.*

Back to ‘it’, the grubby side of the Church of England that those in power want to bury. Gardner’s achievement is to drag it into the light. By listening carefully to the insights of survivors and analysing ‘the mind of the abuser’, she finds a key to unlock the Church of England’s bloody chamber.

Narcissism features prominently in the analysis, narcissism being understood in clinical terms rather than simply as vanity. The narcissist buries shameful things that he or she cannot bear to face. Some of these may derive from childhood, some from later episodes and actions. In order to defend against horrible feelings, a false self is constructed. The more grandiose the self, the more it needs to be continually re-inflated. One way of doing so is by joining an institution that confers dignity. Dressing up, being given a title, and being treated as more ‘reverend’ than others does the job very well. So – to take a further step – does controlling, demeaning and even abusing other people. The smaller you make them, the bigger you feel. The abusers that Gardner encountered were all men, and were all predatory narcissists.

In sociological terms, abuse both exploits existing social inequalities and reinforces them. Victims of clerical abusers are selected because of they are lay, young, lower-class, female, or have other vulnerabilities. The abuse reflects and reinforces their relative powerlessness, meaning that abuse serves a social as well as a personal purpose: it is not peripheral to hierarchical structures, it is integral to them.

Gardner tells us about the warning signs of narcissism. She sees in men like Ball a ‘completely self-absorbed sense of reality’. Everything is all-about-them. They work tirelessly to salvage their reputations and inflate their egos, and draw on all the connections and tools available to them to do so. They are deeply manipulative. Those who cross them are likely to be treated with rage, contempt and various forms of intimidation. As well as a campaign of letters from Ball himself, Gardner was advised by three senior church officials to back off, in one case being walked round the bishop’s palace grounds for a ‘chat’, and on another being rung by Lambeth Palace.

As well as the solipsism, the narcissist gives himself away by a lack of boundaries. There is no thee and me, just me. You are of interest only insofar as you serve the narcissist’s needs, and you have no separate subjectivity or independent existence for him. This blurring of boundaries extends to the body. The abuser does not just groom victims emotionally, he invades their personal space uninvited with touches and groups, hugs and strokes; he may sit people on his knee, or suggest sharing a bed.

Understanding the mind of the perpetrator helps Gardner to understand why the Church has been so hospitable.  It is a rigidly and steeply hierarchical institution. The clergy, she says in one chilling passage, are the subjects, the laity are objects, and victims of abuse are not even objects – they are marginals, untouchables, a kind of ‘matter out of place’, as the anthropologist Mary Douglas put it in her discussion of dirt and impurity. To allow the victim to speak and have agency is to upset the whole order, thereby putting at risk not just the institution but the very identity of those whose sense of selfhood is bound up with it. No wonder that when Ball’s abuse was reported to no less than nineteen bishops and an archbishop by increasingly desperate victims and concerned supporters, not one of them intervened.

Gardner uses the idea of ‘institutional narcissism’ (which I think comes from Stephen Parsons and his blog) to take the analysis further. It helps to explain why senior leaders crave success stories even when they involve things as dodgy as the Balls’ monastic order or Chris Brain’s ‘Nine O’Clock Service’. It explains why those who try to blow the whistle are ignored or traduced, and why bad news has to be hushed up. It explains why so many large and costly ‘comms’ teams are employed by dioceses, Church House and Lambeth to pump out good news and bury bad. It explains why truthfulness is not a value you ever hear preached. This all makes sense because there is institutional grandiosity to defend, and an ‘it’ to be denied.

Gardner includes a helpful chapter on the public schools from which over half of the bishops are drawn. The repression of emotion and vulnerability in order to appear strong and manly, and ambivalence about homosexuality and women, are discussed. This helps to situate the current problems in a wider framework of English class, privilege, and establishment.

If that all sounds a bit grim, it is. The obvious conclusion is that the only way to rid the Church of England of abuse is to dismantle its hierarchical structure completely. Safeguarding is a hopeless sticking plaster.

Yet I found at least one hopeful thing in Gardner’s analysis, for she reminds us that abusers are made, not born. And if the making of an abuser is a process, that process can be halted. Gardner gives the example of a young man abused by his mother as a child who is aware of his own attraction to children, and terrified by it. Instead of surrendering to this part of himself by, for example, downloading images of children, masturbating, becoming addicted, and perhaps going on to offend, he seeks medical help. This allows him to manage his desires by understanding, externalising and controlling them. There can be ‘interventions’ just as with any other kind of addiction, and the earlier the better.  Books like this help by making people more alert and understanding.

But can the institution change its spots?  Gardner is too nice to say ‘no’, but she probably thinks it. She may be right, but I wonder if a more historical view of the Church of England would have let in a bit more light and possibility. It is easy to think that the way things are now is the way things have always been and always must be, but the diocesan structures that weighed down on Gardner in Bath and Wells are actually rather recent. It was only in the second half of the twentieth century that diocesan bishops became powerful bureaucrats, as the Church was remodelled along the lines of the state with its own kind of regional devolution and expanding civil service. Parliamentary control and lay patronage were whittled away, and the disastrous simulacrum of democracy, the General Synod, was born.

For all the episcopal bluff, the Church of England is not really one thing, and never has been. ‘Unity’ is a narcissistic fiction. The Church of England is one big unhappy family whose several parties divorced one another some time ago. And although some parts and parties of the Church really may be abusive at the core (where abuse means abuse of power, which opens the door to sexual abuse), other parts can more easily be cleaned up.

Gardner is right that the problem of abuse is tied up with theology and governance structures, which means that any real solution must be, too. I have long thought that the constituent parts of the CofE should be allowed to separate from one another, develop on their own terms, and become parts of a federal structure. If the Church wants to be taken seriously by civil society, let alone enjoy the privileges of establishment, then the criterion for remaining part of this loose affiliation must be to respect the basic norms of equality, non-discrimination, transparency and independent oversight that govern other public bodies. That, combined with proper safeguarding and an open learning environment, might just save what is worth saving.

*Full disclosure: I have not met or corresponded with the author, but she cites my book with Andrew Brown That Was The Church That Was: How the Church of England lost the English people and its definition of the institutional Church.

About Stephen Parsons

Stephen is a retired Anglican priest living at present in Cumbria. He has taken a special interest in the issues around health and healing in the Church but also when the Church is a place of harm and abuse. He has published books on both these issues and is at present particularly interested in understanding how power works at every level in the Church. He is always interested in making contact with others who are concerned with these issues.

COMMENTS

  1. EnglishAthena Yup. The great institutional sin is the caste system. Even three years ago, I’ve had a bishop shouting and doing the stabby finger thing; generally behaving as if I was just saying horrible things, rather than reporting experiences. They haven’t learned much.

FURTHER INFORMATION

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APRIL 8 2021 – “A U-TURN IS REQUIRED FROM ARCHBISHOP WELBY AND BISHOP WARNER IN THE CASE OF BISHOP BELL. IT’S CALLED REPENTANCE” – RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

“A U-TURN IS REQUIRED FROM ARCHBISHOP WELBY AND BISHOP WARNER IN THE CASE OF BISHOP BELL. IT’S CALLED REPENTANCE”

RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

Richard W. Symonds

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APRIL 8 2021 – APRIL 6 2021 – ‘THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS’ LETTER SUBMITTED TO DAILY TELEGRAPH [BUT UNPUBLISHED] – BY DR TIM HUDSON

SIR – A propos his continued character assassination of the late Bishop George Bell of Chichester, it isn’t only “the basic Christian precept of repentance” which Archbishop Welby seems to lack (Letters, April 2).

Exodus 20.16 states “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”.  Does that not also refer to bearing witness you don’t know to be certainly true? 

Tim Hudson

Chichester, West Sussex

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APRIL 7 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [DECEMBER 16 2017] – LORD CARLILE QC INTERVIEWED BY THE ARGUS REGARDING BISHOP BELL AND ‘CAROL’

Lord Alex Carlile QC

FROM THE ARCHIVES [DECEMBER 16 2017] – LORD CARLILE QC INTERVIEWED BY THE ARGUS REGARDING BISHOP BELL AND ‘CAROL’

16th December 2017

Victim: ‘He can say Bishop Bell wouldn’t be found guilty, it doesn’t change the facts’

Exclusive by Joel Adams  Argus_JoelA ReporterBishop George Bell

Bishop George Bell 

THE woman at the centre of a Church sex scandal said yesterday: “It did happen.”

She spoke out after a review found the Church had not investigated her claims properly – and her alleged abuser’s reputation had been wrongfuly damaged.

Lord Alex Carlile had reviewed the process which led to a statement of apology and a payout from the Church of England over the woman’s accusation against wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell.

Lord Carlile said the process followed by the Church was “deficient in several ways”.

He told The Argus: “The statement was wrong, it should never have been issued. It was quite wrong, and I think if one looks at the process, the process went just horribly wrong.

Lord Carlile, a QC, added: “I’ve prosecuted and defended a lot of cases including a lot of sex cases, and there’s absolutely no prospect that a criminal case against him would have succeeded.

“I think even if it had been brought in 1951 or 1952, I don’t think it would have succeeded.

“But in any event a complaint wasn’t made until 37 years after he died. And by that time there would have been absolutely no chance had he been living of him being convicted.”

Bell’s accuser, who The Argus has called Carol to preserve her anonymity, responded: “The fact is, it happened whether he would have been found guilty or not, whatever Lord Carlile says.”

Carol first reported the sexual abuse, which she said happened for several years from the late 1940s beginning when she was five, in 1995.

The bishop to whom she wrote told her to speak to a vicar.

Carol emailed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office in 2012 but was told nothing could be done because Bell was dead.

In 2013 an email to the newly enthroned Archbishop Justin Welby was taken seriously.

A two-year investigation was undertaken leading to the settlement and statement of apology, which referred to Carol as “the survivor”.

Critics accused the Church of trying Bishop Bell – a critic of the bombing of civilians during the Second World War, defender of German Christians under the Nazis and one of the 20th century’s most revered churchmen – in a kangaroo court.

In November Lord Carlile was appointed to review the Church’s handling of the affair and yesterday his report was highly critical.

He concluded: “The investigation was very weak, failing to find important, credible evidential material that the announcement of my review produced with ease.”

Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, said the church accepted the “main thrust” of the report’s recommendations.

But the Church has rejected Lord Carlile’s central proposal that an alleged perpetrator should never be named unless responsibility for the alleged abuse has been proved.

Bishop Hancock said the Church was committed to transparency and would generally seek to avoid confidentially clauses.

Carol told The Argus: “In all the talk about how the Church treated Bishop Bell, people seem to have forgotten how the Church treated me.”

LEGAL EXPERT POINTED TO OVERLOOKED EVIDENCE

Lord Alex Carlile QC sat down with Argus reporter Joel Adams at Church House yesterday morning following the publication of his report.

What is the most significant piece of evidence you are concerned the original process did not unearth?

The evidence of a person I’ve called Pauline who was about the same age as Carol.

She was in the bishop’s palace a great deal of the time, had a great deal of contact with the bishop.

She described him as basically being lovely at all times, aloof but a very nice person.

She says there was never any suggestion of any impropriety towards her on his part.

Next the fact that there were no other complainants. The church knew there were no other complainants but they didn’t give it much weight.

Thirdly that for part of the period, a little earlier than the complaint time, there were Kindertransport children living in the bishop’s palace, and I was able to see some photographs of some of them, they were almost all little girls.

So there wasn’t an analysis of the evidence worth naming analysis.

Surely no weight is ever given in a trial to all the children a sex offender didn’t touch?

If you take the Jimmy Savile case, there have been hundreds of people who came forward.

In the Peter Ball case a considerable number of people came forward.

Of course there are cases – occasionally, and I have to say occasionally – where only one person has been abused, but with the kind of abuse that was complained of here it’s very unusual for there to be only one person who’s been abused.

And therefore it is a legitimate part of any inquiry.

Are you troubled by the fact the other witness you spoke to, who the inquiry didn’t, Andrew [Adrian – Ed] Carey, can remember neither Carol nor Pauline?

I wasn’t particularly troubled by that.

When I saw Canon Carey first of all he was 95, he had a very good memory for some things but one can’t expect him to remember everything .

And although I of course asked him whether he remembered these children and I was slightly surprised that he didn’t, he also gave me a very complete description of the way of life in the bishop’s palace and there were some details he gave me, of who did what, where they tended to be, what staff the bishop had around him, which diminished the prospects of the complaint being proved.

What is your message to Carol?

My message to her, and I met her and believe she would accept this message, is that if due process has not been followed properly, then she like any other reasonable person would not expect a person to be condemned.

It was not part of my terms of reference to say whether she was telling the truth or not and I have made no such judgement.

Do you feel the entire process has been a waste of time if the Church is not happy to accept the most important conclusion that you have drawn, that it should not have named Bell?

Firstly I believe that Bishop Martin will reflect upon this report in the long term.

Secondly this report will not only be read by bishops, but will be read by people who form parts of Core Groups in the future, and I think they in part will be guided by it.

Finally I would say that I think one can overplay the importance of paragraph 33 of my report, it’s one of the recommendations there are some very detailed recommendations about the way in which these cases should processed.

You conclude in quite stark terms the statement was wrong

It was wrong, It should never have been issued. It was quite wrong, and I think if one looks at the process, the process went just horribly wrong.

Are you a religious man?

No. I’m a baptised and Confirmed member of the Church of England, but I’m not a religious person.

A PERSON OF DIGNITY AND INTEGRITY

RESPONDING to Lord Carlile’s review, Church of England leaders apologised to Bishop Bell’s family as well as repeating their apology to Carol.

Safeguarding lead Bishop Peter Hancock said: “We recognise that Carol has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell.

“We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of the case.”

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner said: “We apologise for failures in the work of the core group of national and diocesan officers and its inadequate attention to the rights of those who are dead.

“Irrespective of whether she is technically a complainant, survivor or victim, Carol emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “We are utterly committed to seeking just outcomes for all. We apologise for the failures of the process.”

All three churchmen accepted many of the report’s criticisms of the process,and said improvements to its protocols were already in place, with further consideration still to come.

But all three stressed the church did not agree with Lord Carlile’s recommendation that alleged perpetrators should never be named if responsibility had not been proved.

They said the Church was committed to the principle of transparency and would generally seek to avoid confidentiality clauses.

ARGUS TOLD OF ALLEGATIONS

UNTIL Carol spoke to The Argus last February, all anyone knew of the person at the centre of this case was that the Church had apologised to a person it called “the survivor” and settled a legal claim.

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner had said in October 2015 the allegation dated from the 1940s and concerned allegations of sexual offences against “an individual who was a young child at the time”.

We revealed the claimant was a woman, now in her seventies, who alleged the abuse had started when she was just five years old.

Carol told The Argus she was frequently molested by Bishop Bell in rooms in the cathedral grounds, when she visited a relative employed there.

She said Bishop Bell would take her into a private room saying he wanted to read her a story.

She said: “It was whenever he got a chance to take me off on my own. My strongest memory is seeing this figure all in black, standing on a stair, waiting.

“He used to take me off down this long corridor and there was a big room at the end, and he used to take me in there.”

She said once the door was closed he would put her on his lap and molest her.

Yesterday it was also revealed that in a police statement she said on some occasions he made her touch his genitals and had attempted to rape her.

Last year she told The Argus: “He said it was our little secret because God loved me.”

She gave the same testimony to the Church investigation.

She said: “It’s something that lives with you for the rest of your life. It never goes away.”

In 1995 Carol wrote to then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, telling her story.

Yesterday it emerged she added: “My whole life has suffered because of him… I am going to tell my story and sell it to the highest bidder to gain compensation for something that blighted my whole life.”

She never did sell her story.

Yesterday said she had written that to get Bishop Kemp’s attention.

Her attempt failed.

Kemp advised her to speak to a vicar.

In September 2012, as the Jimmy Savile story broke, she twice emailed Lambeth Palace with her story.

She was told first to ring a helpline, then that “the former bishops of Chichester are dead so there is nothing we can do to take your story forward and deal with it”.

Only when Justin Welby took office in 2013 did a later email receive proper attention, leading to the 2015 apology, and then to Lord Carlile’s review.

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APRIL 6 2021 – ‘GEORGE BELL HOUSE’ LETTER SUBMITTED TO DAILY TELEGRAPH [BUT UNPUBLISHED] – BY CHRISTOPHER HOARE

Christopher Hoare

Sir     

Lord Lexden’s excellent letter- 2 April – reminds us of the grave injustice Archbishop Welby inflicts on Bishop Bell, by stating that ‘a significant cloud’ remains over the latter’s name.   What then should be done to right the matter?  For my part I have withdrawn £50 thousand left in my Will to Chichester Cathedral until such time as the name  ‘George Bell House’ is restored to a building in Canon Lane, Chichester, dedicated to Bishop Bell, by Archbishop Rowan Williams in 2008. To enjoy my legacy this needs to happen in my short remaining lifetime.  I am 89 !

More importantly can we find out what is preventing this first step being taken now ?    I think it is due to Archbishop Welby’s  loyalty to Bishop Warner, whom it is widely believed was installed to clean up the bad reputation our Diocese had earned for sex scandals.  The latter, closely involved in the discredited investigation, was clearly completely taken in by ‘Carol’ [ the name given to the claimant] who  during over half a century of convincing herself of the identity of her abuser – if indeed she was abused at all – was doubtless a convincing witness.

Other than Chapter & a small number of Clergy, is there anyone in favour of retaining the temporary name 4  Canon Lane ?   I have yet to meet or hear of a single one. although it is true that a certain number of  highly regarded senior Laity, while recognising the existing injustice, are inhibited from ‘coming out’ due to  conflicting loyalties.

Whereas I am convinced that ultimately Bishop Bell’s reputation will be fully restored, I doubt  whether even the first step will be taken in time to claim my legacy

Christopher Hoare,  Chichester

“BISHOP’S GOOD NAME” – THE TIMES – LETTERS – APRIL 5 2021

Sir, Lord Lexden is to be thanked for raising the injustice done to George Bell (letters, Apr 3).

A first step for the Church of England in rehabilitating the bishop’s reputation would be for the present Bishop of Chichester to restore the name George Bell House, dedicated in 2008 by Rowan Williams, then the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the house on Canon Lane in Chichester.

There was never any good reason to remove it.

Graham Toole-Mackson

Arundel, W Sussex

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APRIL 5 2021 – “RESIGN, BISHOP WARNER! RESIGN, ARCHBISHOP WELBY!” – REVD PETER MULLEN

Revd Peter Mullen

Resign, Bishop Warner! Resign Archbishop Welby

By Peter Mullen [submitted to ‘The Conservative Woman’]


April 5, 2021

After many years as Rector of a parish in the City of London, I am happily retired to the south coast. I live at the foot of the South Downs and half a mile from the sea. There is a first rate butcher’s shop and I shall — once we are let out of prison — revisit our cheerful local pub. There is only one drawback to being a priest in the Diocese of Chichester and this takes the form of my boss by whose permission I am licensed to officiate. The Rt Rev’d Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester. Of course, Warner’s boss is Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury — and he represents another drawback. I will explain…

Bishop George Bell (1883-1958), Bishop of Chichester, has been judged and condemned without any case brought for his defence. An elderly woman came forward in 1995 and claimed that Bishop Bell had sexually abused her fifty years earlier. The authorities took no action. The woman complained again in 2013, by which time Bishop Bell had been dead for fifty-five years. The police concluded that there was sufficient evidence to justify their questioning Bishop Bell, had he been still alive. Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester, discussed the matter with Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and in 2015 the Church of England offered a formal apology to Bishop Bell’s accuser, paid her an undisclosed sum in compensation — later revealed to have been £31,000 – and allowed her to remain anonymous. The Church authorities ordered that memorials to Bishop Bell be removed and institutions — such as the Bishop Bell School, Eastbourne — should change their names. So this highly-regarded wartime bishop was effectually condemned to the status of a non-person.

Unsurprisingly, there was outrage. On 13th November 2015, Judge Alan Pardoe QC described the way the allegations against Bishop Bell had been handled as “slipshod and muddled.” Judge Pardoe’s criticisms were followed by further censure from a group of historians and theologians led by Jeremy Morris, Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

The Bishop of Chichester replied with insouciance and a volley of jargon to these criticisms: “The Church is seeking to move on from a culture in which manipulation of power meant that victims were too afraid to make allegations, or allegations were easily dismissed. We must provide safeguards of truth and justice for all, victim and accused alike.”

But there were no “safeguards of truth and justice” for Bishop Bell who was condemned without a hearing.

The outrage did not subside and a committee of senior church people, distinguished lawyers and members of both the Lords and the Commons calling itself The George Bell Group was formed. On 20th March 2016, this group published a review in which they challenged the Church’s evidence against Bishop Bell and attacked it for failing to find or interview a key witness or examine Bell’s own extensive personal archive.

On 30th June 2016, the case formed a large part of a debate in the House of Lords on historical child sex abuse.

On 28th June 2016, the Church of England announced that it would hold an independent review of the procedure used. On 22nd November 2016 it announced that Lord Carlile QC would chair this review

Meanwhile, the George Bell Group declared: “In view of the evidence that we have gathered and examined, we have concluded that the allegation made against Bishop Bell cannot be upheld in terms of actual evidence or historical probability.”

Lord Carlile’s report was eventually handed to the Church authorities and they kicked it into the long grass.

So much for Bishop Martin Warner’s vaunted “…safeguards of truth and justice for all, victim and accused alike.” All along, the only interests being safeguarded here were those of the Bishop of Chichester and the Archbishop of Canterbury. We know very well why these authorities leapt so precipitately to condemn Bishop Bell out of hand: it was because they had previously had to admit to the existence of so many perpetrators of sexual abuse among the senior clergy — especially in the Diocese of Chichester. Warner and Welby, to salvage what remained of their reputations, wanted desperately to appear to be doing something.

Thus the name of the safely-dead Bishop George Bell was tarnished because the Church’s highest authorities sought to cover their own backs.

Let us be in no doubt as to the seriousness of the Church’s misconduct so eloquently criticised in Lord Carlile’s report…there was “a rush to judgement.”

In the light of this scandalously incompetent behaviour, the least that might have been expected from the Archbishop of Canterbury was a profuse apology…Instead Justin Welby persisted in his mood of arrogant vindictiveness, saying, “A significant cloud is left over George Bell’s name. No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones…”

This is outrageous. True, Bishop Bell was “accused of great wickedness” — but he was not found guilty of any wrongdoing. And there is no “significant cloud” over his name. There is, however, certainly a very dark cloud over Welby’s name after his lamentable performance in this matter…

Welby has described the church’s enquiry as “Very, very painful.” For him yes, as indeed it ought to have been owing to his disgraceful and dishonourable conduct of this issue from the start. So to answer the question put to me this morning by the Bell Group, “How should we proceed?” There is only one answer and it is clear: the Bell Group should call for Warner and Welby to resign — as indeed they ought to have done once Lord Carlile’s report had been published.

“Bishop’s injustice” + “Cost of abuse” – The Times – Letters – April 3 2021

BISHOP’S INJUSTICE

Sir, The Archbishop of Canterbury rightly says that Church of England’s response to allegations of child sex abuse has often been appalling [“Independent watchdog to police abusive priests”, Mar 30].

But in its haste to make amends, the church inflicted an appalling injustice on one of its greatest bishops, George Bell.

The processes by which it decided in 2015, nearly 60 years after his death, that he had abused a girl, were shown by Lord Carlile QC in 2017 to have been flawed. He said that for Bell’s reputation to be so “catastrophically affected” was “just wrong” and that Bell “should be declared by the church to be innocent”.

Justin Welby’s declaration is still awaited.

Lord Lexden

House of Lords

Daily Telegraph – Letters – April 2 2021[Good Friday] – “Welby and Bishop Bell” – Lord Lexden OBE

SIR – Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, states: “We can’t erase the past…We have to learn from it” [report, March 31].

He ought to have learnt from the recent past that when an error is made, correction and apology must follow.

The process by which the Church decided in 2015, with his approval, that Bishop George Bell had abused a young girl in the 1940s, were shown to be fatally flawed by Lord Carlile QC in his independent report of 2017, which said: “For Bishop Bell’s reputation to be catastrophically affected in the way that occurred was just wrong.

He added that Bishop Bell “should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him”.

If the Archbishop wishes to learn from the past, how can he stand by his unfounded statement that Bishop bell remains under a “significant cloud”?

What will posterity say about an Archbishop who lacked the basic Christian precept of repentance?

His moral failure will cast a significant cloud over his reputation forever.

Lord Lexden (Con)

London SW1

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APRIL 2 2021 [GOOD FRIDAY] – “WELBY AND BISHOP BELL” – DAILY TELEGRAPH – LETTERS – LORD LEXDEN

Daily Telegraph – Letters – April 2 2021[Good Friday] – “Welby and Bishop Bell” – Lord Lexden OBE

SIR – Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, states: “We can’t erase the past…We have to learn from it” [report, March 31].

He ought to have learnt from the recent past that when an error is made, correction and apology must follow.

The process by which the Church decided in 2015, with his approval, that Bishop George Bell had abused a young girl in the 1940s, were shown to be fatally flawed by Lord Carlile QC in his independent report of 2017, which said: “For Bishop Bell’s reputation to be catastrophically affected in the way that occurred was just wrong.

He added that Bishop Bell “should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him”.

If the Archbishop wishes to learn from the past, how can he stand by his unfounded statement that Bishop bell remains under a “significant cloud”?

What will posterity say about an Archbishop who lacked the basic Christian precept of repentance?

His moral failure will cast a significant cloud over his reputation forever.

Lord Lexden (Con)

London SW1

OTHER COMMENTS

I write to urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to set a Christian example of humility and repentance at Easter 2021 by correcting the error in respect of Bishop Bell”

Gerald Morgan OM FTCD

All very well, but the pride that infuses the coterie of power that nurtured and protected
not one but two seriously hypocritical cannot stroll away with a few biblical names. When did Jesus choice of fishermen morph into the leadership exclusively drawn from attendance at Iwerne via Eton, Winchester and Repton? Why not challenge Wm Taylor and his lieutenants with the following. Instead of embracing with gratitude the work of those who had reached out to the broken, and fought their corner when many in that grouping of the Church were putting pressure on the victims to stop tarnishing the brand, Taylor tries to marginalise them, characterising them as a “ small group who had a part in shaping the report”.and as they extend the debate, he complains that they are “ clearly politically driven”. The organisation that produced the report in the first place ( whose name at this point he deigns not speak ) apparently has questions to answer. Well, you first William. Why don’t you tell us in which decade you first became aware that your old Iwerne teacher was a sexual sadist? Why don’t you tell us what you think of his crimes being covered up for 40 years by your friends and long term associates? Do you think on reflection, there was a degree of closet racism in Smyth being too dangerous to English public school boys, but ok to unleash to abuse African boys because he had given a “ Scouts honour “ promise to your leadership pals? What steps have you taken to bring any of this out into the open and support the victims? You continued your relationship and sat on Charity Trustee boards for a couple of years with your friend Fletcher after his PTO was withdrawn. Did he ever confide in you during this period that he was in a “spot of bother”? Do you think that some victim’s reticence to speak for so many years, might have been as a result of the power of your leadership team, and that their challenging your power of shunning and a culture of omerta might just be “ godly political work” What personal responsibility do you acknowledge for not being seen as a champion of transparency and accountability in these matters? What does the phrase “ the arrogance of power” mean to you? I strongly suspect that Revd Taylor will not like these questions; he need not answer them. No matter. We have others, and more to the point, so do many many more decent people in the Church from all shades of opinion who see what has gone on within this Iwerne coterie, and find it abhorrent on many levels

Martin Sewell – ‘Surviving Church’

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Source: Financial Times

“BISHOP’S INJUSTICE” – THE TIMES – LETTERS – LORD LEXDEN

“Bishop’s injustice” + “Cost of abuse” – The Times – Letters – April 2 2021

BISHOP’S INJUSTICE

Sir, The Archbishop of Canterbury rightly says that Church of England’s response to allegations of child sex abuse has often been appalling [“Independent watchdog to police abusive priests”, Mar 30].

But in its haste to make amends, the church inflicted an appalling injustice on one of its greatest bishops, George Bell.

The processes by which it decided in 2015, nearly 60 years after his death, that he had abused a girl, were shown by Lord Carlile QC in 2017 to have been flawed. He said that for Bell’s reputation to be so “catastrophically affected” was “just wrong” and that Bell “should be declared by the church to be innocent”.

Justin Welby’s declaration is still awaited.

Lord Lexden

House of Lords

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APRIL 1 2021 – “UNIVERSITIES ARE THE CRUCIBLES OF IDEAS. DEMOCRACY DIES WITHOUT OPEN DEBATE, VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY AND ROBUST CONTESTATION OF IDEAS”

Universities are the crucibles of ideas. Democracy dies without open debate, viewpoint diversity and robust contestation of ideas. Universities flourish in conditions of free inquiry, critical interrogation, intellectual integrity and firewalls against donor and political pressure. Have they instead become the chief enablers of the long march through institutions? The death in December of James R. Flynn of the ‘Flynn effect’ fame (and my boss at Otago University for 16 years) warranted feature articles in the liberal New York Times and the conservative Wall Street Journal. His last book, In Defence of Free Speech: The University as Censor, was promoted by Emerald Press in 2019 but then pulled on legal advice, picked up by Academica Press in the US and published as A Book Too Risky To Publish: Free Speech and Universities.

For nine years, with Kofi Annan’s backing, I helped protect the institutional autonomy and academic integrity of the UN University, little knowing that reputable Western universities would demonstrate a softer commitment to core university values in the age of microaggressions, trigger warnings and emotional safe spaces. These have transformed the university’s mission from challenging ideas to coddling snowflakes. Academics being de-platformed, cancelled, censured, disciplined, fired and disinvited has become commonplace. Management-speak administrators cower before Twitter, mistaking volume of noise for breadth of support, genuflect to woke fads and are keener to regulate behaviour than defend intellectual freedom.

Ramesh Thakur

“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.”

― H. G. Wells

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APRIL 1 2021 – “A BLOODY SHAMBLES – SURVIVING CHURCH BETWEEN GOOD FRIDAY AND EASTER” BY ANONYMOUS

A Bloody Shambles: Surviving Church Between Good Friday and Easter

Stephen’s Blog Stephen Parsons

by Anonymous

The bloody history of shambles might help us process the God-awful mess of
the Church of England, the National Safeguarding Team, injustice and
incompetence, and the brutality of bishops and church officers “just following
their process…”.

Annibale Carracci, The Butcher’s Shop, oil on canvas, circa 1583, 185cm x 266cm.

Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford.

 Annibale Carracci, The Butcher’s Shop, oil on canvas, circa 1580

59cm x 71cm, Kimbell Art Gallery, Fort Worth.

You are looking at two pictures by Annibale Carracci, painted in the early 1580s.  It is one of two slightly different paintings called ‘The Butcher’s Shop’. One hangs in the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. The other hangs in the Christ Church Picture Gallery, and is one of the paintings bequeathed in legacy by Charles 1.  It may have originally been commissioned by a Butcher’s Guild.  It is big picture of a busy butcher’s shop – much like you get in any market.  Meat hangs up; there are game birds.  Several staff chopping and prepping. Sharp knives, a saw, and some butcher’s blocks – all stained with blood.

But it is of course a religious picture, refracted into the everyday.  Here, in the picture, we see the foreground, almost at knee height, so you have to bend down to see it: a lamb about to be slain.  Passive, motionless and without blemish.  The picture gives us other clues as to its intentions.  Meat – like the soul in judgement – is weighed by one person in a balance. 

An armed guard gazes into some middle distance – a seemingly pointless detail in a butcher’s shop.  And there are on-lookers too, as though watching butcher’s at work was a good way to spend your free time.  This is a scene of ordinary slaughter. An ordinary day at a butcher’s shop is like an ordinary day in Palestine, two thousand years ago.  Death is routine.  Actually, there seem to be a lot of bystanders in the two paintings – people doing nothing whilst the slaughter just carries on.  Process.

In C.D. Dickerson’ intriguing Raw Painting (Kimbell Masterpiece Series, Yale University Press, 2010), he explains how the paintings portray the butcher’s trade in sixteenth and seventeenth century Bologna.  Dickerson puts Carracci’s painting into context by comparing it with a contemporary butcher’s shop painting by Bartolomeo Passarotti (1577-80) and Dutch-Flemish paintings by Pieter Aertsen and Joachim Beukelaer.

The paintings by Pieter Aertsen and Joachim Beukelaer (below) may appear, on the surface, to be mere representations of the produce available in a Dutch or Flemish market.  But on closer inspection, one can clearly detect a sacred scene painted in the background of Aertsen’s work.  Why did Carracci and others paint like this?  I think one clue is the link between the soldier and the passive lamb in the Oxford painting.  For here the imagery is pregnant with meaning.  This is no ordinary butcher’s shop. The man kneeling in the foreground with a cleaver in his left hand is about to ‘sacrifice’ the docile lamb in front of him.

The butcher standing left of him is holding a set of scales reminiscent of a Last Judgment. But what is that Swiss Guard with the ridiculous protruding codpiece even doing in a lowly butcher’s shop? The Swiss Guard were, and still are, the elite police force of the Vatican. A respectable Swiss Guard would have servants to do his bidding. Could he be representing one of the soldiers at the scene of the Crucifixion? Maybe. Yet the Swiss Guard represents something much more sinister: a symbol of the Church uncaring, just observing a slaughter.

Most readers of this site will know what an utter shambles the Church of England is, that safeguarding (and the work of the NST) and the implementation of CDM’s on clergy is form of process-torture and brutal butchery. Research from Sheldon found that 40% of clergy who were on the wrong end of a CDM contemplated suicide.  The rest merely feel crucified – butchered by an inhumane system of justice that follows a process that is numb and dumb to compassion. 

Our bishops admirably perform the role of Pilate, washing their hands to claim their innocence.  The NST and the Dioceses are little better than shuttling the victim between the court-trials of Pilate, Caiaphas and Herod.  If you are unlucky enough to be the Dean of Christ Church, you can be delivered up to all three tribunals in a matter of weeks.  No-one takes responsibility.  They will each blame the other.  It is a shameful shambles for an institution that is supposed to specialise in care-taking, receiving care and in care-giving.  It is incomprehensible that people who are supposed to be good and kind can tolerate such indolent brutality and butchery visited upon others.  What is going on, I wonder?

Our word ‘shambles’ commonly means “a scene or state of great disorder and confusion”, but it historically referred to a slaughterhouse.  The word (in a singular form) originally meant “a stool” and “a money changer’s table”. Later it acquired the additional meaning of “a table for the exhibition of meat for sale”, which in turn gave rise in the early 15th century to a use of the plural form with the meaning “a meat market”. A further extension of meaning in the 16th century produced the sense “a slaughterhouse”.

That meaning quickly led to the more figurative use of ‘shambles’ to refer to a place of terrible slaughter or bloodshed. A few centuries passed with the word being mostly used with the literal “slaughterhouse” and figurative “place of mass slaughter or bloodshed”. A bloody mess, literally. By the early 20th century, another extension of meaning took place. ‘Shambles’ acquired the sense of “a scene or state of great destruction” and “a scene or state of great disorder and confusion,” or a “great confusion; a total mess”.

The money-changer’s tables? A bloody mess? A slaughterhouse? Good Friday? You might ask why safeguarding in the Church of England is such a bloody mess – an utter, total shambles?  The answer from Good Friday is that Church has to do something with its crippling guilt over its past crimes and cover-ups.  So it matters not who is tortured and dies for all of these sins: someone has to.  A scape-goat is needed. Preferably a ready supply of them.

This is why the Swiss Guard in Carracci’s painting looks on, impassively. His pose is one of indifference.  But I also think it is one of pointless pietistic prayer and passivity.  Bishops will tell you they are praying for you as you are butchered and hung out to dry by the NST, before whatever remains of you is passed through the mincer of a CDM.   Carracci painted the church observing the victim die, for what in fact the church does.  The lamb-meat is to order.  So I think this is an image of atonement for the sins the Swiss Guard must represent.  As soldiers, they had a fearsome reputation for being tough, brutal mercenaries; they were butchers for hire, and commanded high fees for their work.

Perhaps like me, you have found yourself butchered and hung out to dry by the Church?  Perhaps you found that the bloody slaughter that is visited upon victims of abuse, clergy facing false accusations and ruin, and being condemned by courts, trials and processes that deny everyone their basic human rights, transparency and agency, is just too gruesome to watch anymore?  I agree. Sometimes, the only thing to do with a bloody ‘shambles’ is look away. 

Or perhaps leave it altogether?  Leave the butcher’s shop, I mean.  Assuming you don’t mind the analogical imagination at work here, if the vehicle for your means of journey and pilgrimage – be it boat, plane, car or train – is not roadworthy, seaworthy or able to fly safely, it is usually a mistake to presume the voyage ahead will not include some terror or likely misfortune.

If the car or bus has no MOT, and looks like it is clearly a shambles, my counsel is you’d be unwise to climb aboard and take a seat. It may already be too late for me to give you this advice, and you may well find you are already (s)trapped in.  If so, I am sorry.  But please, try and leave when you can.  You may have to wait for the next stop at a junction or at a port. But when it comes, this is your chance to hop out, and hop off.  Escape. Seize the moment.

The quality of the driver, a cheerful conductor or smiling flight attendant won’t help.  The recent (promised) dubious health and safety audits won’t be worth the paper they are written on. Leave now. Because once inside this shambolic vehicle, your life is actually in far more danger.  It is better not to risk the ride.

Leaving the butcher’s block was not an option for Jesus on Good Friday. Or for the two thieves. Or for Spartacus and his friends. Such carceral crucifixions were common: there to intimidate the masses, suppress dissent and bypass true justice. But you do not need to be crucified for the sake of the church, looking on, with pitiful piety and pastoral pity.  This is their shambles, not yours. You do not need to be another vicarious victim in their butcher’s shop.

A lamb being slaughtered is not a very promising symbol for a new religious movement.  Yet from the first Easter, Christians proclaimed that “the Lamb who was slain takes away the sins of the world”.  The gospels converted the shepherd of the sheep into one of the flock.  Jesus becomes a victim; one statistic among the numberless who were butchered by an autocratic State. 

Jesus is simply a routine execution – a regrettable process to be started and finished as quickly as possible. And then we can all go home.  I find it interesting the Jesus is condemned to die before the jury can deliberate; his trials are afterthoughts, and only there to rubber-stamp the sentence.

I think I may know what you are thinking now.  So please let me say, try not to worry too much about Jesus struggling and gasping for each breath on the cross.  Or protesting about the injustice of three consecutive kangaroo courts.  Because Jesus is not alone, you see.  He has the constant presence of episcopal company in his suffering, and I promise you, is sincerely offered “prayer and pastoral support during this difficult time”. You should remember that the thieves don’t get that, so Jesus is actually quite fortunate.

Seriously, Jesus is “well supported”. If it were not for that cross keeping him upright, he’d be a crumpled, tangled heap of bloody mess, bruises and broken bones on the ground, where no-one could see him. Such is the brutality of our CDM’s and the faceless unaccountable processes of the NST. I, you, we: are led like lambs to the slaughter. 

So much for Good Friday, then.  Yet I do not think you have to be another notch on the NST and CDM roll-call of victims.  That is why I wrote this.  Good Friday is not meant for you.  The Swiss Guard may still look on, but there is life outside the butcher’s shop. It is not your prison, or your butcher’s block, and you do not need to be some tangled mass of discarded offal in an ecclesial meat display. You are actually worth much more than the sparrows. Jesus told us.

So at Easter, what might you try to remember? That death has no more dominion over you. As C. S. Lewis once said, part of the Deep Magic of Good Friday lies in surrendering to something else that the Church neither owns or knows; namely the wisdom of God.  You can let fear do it’s worse, but it cannot kill you, so do not be afraid. 

Try to keep your faith, knowing this is foolishness and weakness to the world; but to God, it is wisdom and strength. A resurrection strength that will actually save us from this butchery. 

That Swiss Guard has it all coming to him.  Much like the soldiers who stood guard by the tomb of Jesus.  The cracks appear; the light breaks in. The guards can’t cope without a corpse.  Their dead prisoner has left; they have nothing to watch over any more.  The light floods out of the tomb. 

Resurrection is coming, and for those indolent passive soldiers – instruments of unjust butchery going through their motions of process a few days before – the resurrection is going to be, quite simply, terrifying. Revolutionary.  The tomb-guards and soldiers then have nothing to process, and nobody left as the object of their grim vigil.

New life comes, and the old order is swept away. The guards, sore afraid, must scatter. We will now witness to something else: new life, new hope and radiant resurrection light piercing the darkness, and exorcising the indifference of our church leaders and the banality of their butchery back into the shadows, where such evil belong. 

Lent and Good Friday are but a season. Resurrections are forever.

Pieter Aertsen, The Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms, oil on panel, 1551

115cm x 165cm, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.

Joachim Beukelaer, Fish Market, oil on panel, ca. 1568

56cm x 213cm, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples.Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Thoughts on “A Bloody Shambles: Surviving Church Between Good Friday and Easter”

Rowland Wateridge

Here’s a link to a website about this painting which might be of interest. I am sure there must be others. Interesting, and a little surprising, that this painting previously hung in the kitchen at Christ Church, Oxford until its importance – and value! – were recognised. https://www.artble.com/artists/annibale_carracci/paintings/the_butcher’s_shop

Janet Fife

I don’t think it’s such an odd comparison as it might appear. There are questions about irregular procedures at Christ Church, including the pursuit of legal proceedings against a man who has been medically certified unfit to brief a lawyer. And the safeguarding expert who investigated the case has been credited as the author of a risk assessment which she denies having carried out. Jesus was subject to irregular proceedings, an illegal (because held during the night) trial and false charges. In the Christ Church case, of course, there has yet to be a verdict on whether the allegation is true or false – but the Oxford diocesan website has published several statements critical of the Dean. This seems to prejudge the verdict; especially as they claim the allegation is of serious abuse, when it does not meet the legal criteria of serious abuse. The irony is that the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time believed that they were doing the right thing – probably for varying reasons – and church leaders also probably believe they’re doing the right thing when they inflict this kind of psychological and reputational damage on a survivor, a person alleged to have committed abuse, or someone thought to be guilty of safeguarding failures. It’s a cruel system, to everyone who gets caught up in it. Holy Week is a call to all of us to be honest our motives and question our own judgements.

Janet FifeThe Clergy Discipline Measure is currently being reviewed and will eventually be redrafted.If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that there are longstanding and deep-rooted problems with the way the Church of England handles allegations of abuse; the processes are incompetent, often unfair, and usually inhumane for both complainant and respondent. Good processes are necessary for all concerned. It has taken the National Safeguarding Team nearly three and half years to get as far as setting a core group in my own case.

Janet Fife

The Swiss guard seems to be getting off on the butchery. On another tack, I think Anon is right to draw a parallel between churches’ often brutal treatment of their own, and the victimisation of Jesus which we commemorate In Holy Week. The Church of England is not alone in this, but is certainly a serial offender. And the horrors unfolding at Christ Church are a prime example. My prayers are with the Percy family, as they live through their own narrative of suffering, and with all those involved.

Innocent Bystander

I don’t know the situation at all well but I do agree with you that one must feel compassion for them. It must be a very difficult living through ‘their own narrative of suffering’ as you put it. Hopefully they will be able to walk away soon (or go by boat, car, train as Anon says) and start afresh.

Stanley Monkhouse

You lot are obsessed. The guy’s hand is in his pocket. Codpieces have been fashionable on and off throughout history, size signifying nothing. Lots of military portraits show the tight trousers outlining male genitalia such as would dwarf those of male rock stars. Google Prince Albert ring. Stephen compares the disinterested guard in the picture to the passivity of the bishops so perhaps the codpiece (not particularly large I assure you) represents the cock-up they preside over.

FURTHER INFORMATION

https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/blog/easter-2020-lamb-who-was-slain-has-come-reign?fbclid=IwAR2zV5dFEIYgFzTrUwsHm1TMSb81B5br6m6izjVjIFLdL826kwp7rXqGvQQ

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APRIL 1 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [APRIL 1 2016] – “VIGIL IN SUPPORT OF BISHOP GEORGE BELL TO BE HELD ON SUNDAY” – THE ARGUS

1st April 2016

Vigil in support of Bishop George Bell to be held on Sunday

By Joel Adams

Bishop George Bell 

6 comments

A VIGIL protesting the treatment of the legacy of the late Bishop George Bell will be held at Chichester Cathedral on Sunday.

In October last year the Church of England issued a public apology and paid a settlement to a woman who said she had been abused by the wartime Bishop of Chichester while she was a child in the 1940s and 1950s.

But the vigil’s organisers have said they want to encourage people to examine the evidence against Bishop Bell for themselves, including a detailed review into the Church’s methodology in the case published last month by a group of prominent scholars, academics and peers called the George Bell Group.

Organiser Richard Symonds said he expected between three and ten people to attend the vigil, which will be held at 12.30pm on Sunday, April 3 outside the Cathedral, where Bell’s ashes lie.

Vigil outside Chichester Cathedral – April 3 2016

Mr Symonds told The Argus: “I am more concerned with the process. It would appear to be seriously flawed and might prove to be a catastrophic error of judgement. I think the Church’s powers-that-be were panicked into a rushed judgement.

Flyers will be handed out which feature a picture of George Bell with words from a cathedral monument – “A true pastor, poet and patron of the arts, champion of the oppressed and tireless worker for Christian unity” – along with quotes from the George Bell Group.

My Symonds said the purpose of the vigil was to raise public awareness and to encourage people to come to their own conclusions, and ultimately to reinstate George Bell’s name on buildings and institutions which have removed it since the Church’s announcement in October of last year.

The reliability of the victim’s testimony and the soundness of the Church process has been questioned and challenged by defenders of George Bell, who was highly regarded as a man of peace and patron of the arts, who opposed the area bombing of Germany and counted Gandhi as a friend.

In a 5,000 word review published online on March 20, the George Bell Group questioned why the Bishop’s personal diaries had not been cross-referenced, and why his biographer and then-chaplain had not been interviewed by the panel which investigated the abuse claim. 

Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury said in an interview: “”On the balance of probability, at this distance, it seemed clear to us after very thorough investigation that that was correct and so we paid compensation and gave a profound and deeply felt apology.”ADVERTISING

Organisers could not confirm whether any of members of the George Bell Group are due to attend the vigil. 

6 comments

House Rules

We do not moderate comments, but we expect readers to adhere to certain rules in the interests of open and accountable debate.

Broadwater Juice 1st April 2016 09:19 am

April Fools surely?

Richard W Symonds 1st April 2016 11:16 am

Two additional pieces from the Argus article (not included in this online version):

1. “Solemn remembrance is appropriate for late Bishop” by Peter Hitchens

‘A PEACEFUL and dignified vigil outside the cathedral where George Bell’s ashes are buried can only do good.

‘A small but growing and determined group of people of many differing opinions, many of them skilled in the law, feel that the Bishop still deserves better treatment than he has received at the hands of the Church.

‘And as George Bell himself was willing to risk disapproval by not bowing to conventional wisdom or fashionable thought, his present-day supporters feel justified in doing the same.

‘The recent review of this case by the George Bell Group has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that the Church acted hastily by publicising allegations against him in such a way that many believed they were proven.

‘Crucial records were never consulted. A valuable living witness, a decorated Naval war veteran, who both lived and worked at the Bishop’s Palace at the time of the alleged crimes was not traced or interviewed, though this would not have been hard.

‘There are many other flaws in this case and yet the Church still won’t properly address them.

‘A gentle reminder to the Church that it is founded on truth and must respect it, can surely do no harm’.

Peter Hitchens is a columnist for the Mail on Sunday

2. “Abuse victim is not seeking retribution” by Lawyer Tracey Emmott

‘CAROL suffered these assaults many decades ago and has had to live with them ever since.

‘The memory of what happened to her has blighted her life.

‘Like many victims of childhood abuse she felt inhibited to speak out fearing nobody would believe her, until public attitudes changed and it was realised what horrors had so often been perpetrated on children in the past.

‘The Church has carried out its investigation and concluded that Carol’s story is likely to be true. Carol has been remarkably level-headed in her attitude towards Bishop Bell and made clear in her interview in the Argus that she wasn’t seeking retribution.

‘As long as this story stays in the headlines, Carol will continue to suffer. She deserves much better.

‘There is very little more that I can say since the facts, though disputed, are already known. It’s time we left Carol in peace so she can get on with her life.’

Lawyer Tracey Emmott

Last Updated: 1st April 2016 01:53 pm brighton bluenose

I have never heard such self-serving nonsense as that from lawyer Tracey Emmott – but then again many lawyers regularly defend the indefensible so we should not be surprised I guess!

Last Updated: 1st April 2016 01:10 pm Grammar Boy

Sadly I cannot join the vigil as I no longer live anywhere near Chichester. Bishop Bell’s reputation was savaged unmercifully. The present Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Chichester should pray daily that the same fate does not befall them when they are dead.

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APRIL 1 2021 – “CHURCH ABUSE VICTIM WAIVES HIS ANONYMITY TO SPEAK OUT” – CHANNEL 4 NEWS – EXCLUSIVE

Jonathan Fletcher

EXCLUSIVE: CHURCH ABUSE VICTIM WAIVES HIS ANONYMITY TO SPEAK OUT

https://www.channel4.com/news/exclusive-church-abuse-victim-waives-his-anonymity-to-speak-out

23 Mar 2021

Cathy Newman Presenter

A former vicar who bullied and psychologically abused men and boys was protected by a church culture where he was “untouchable”.

That’s the finding of an independent review which found 27 victims of Reverend Jonathan Fletcher were failed by the Emmanuel Church in Wimbledon. The Metropolitan Police is gathering information about the allegations, including one involving a sex act.

One of the victims has agreed to waive his anonymity for an exclusive broadcast interview with Channel 4 News. Lee Furney says Jonathan Fletcher invited him to take part in massages. And he claims there are more victims of sexual abuse.

Further information

John Smyth

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MARCH 31 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [MARCH 30 2016] – GEORGE BELL GROUP ESTABLISHED TO RESTORE REPUTATION OF DISGRACED BISHOP – WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE

JUSTICE FOR BISHOP GEORGE BELL

GROUP SET UP TO BACK DISGRACED BISHOP – WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE – MARCH 30 2021

A group has been established to seek to restore the reputation of Bishop George Bell.

The George Bell Group – which comprises lawyers, politicians and senior church members – wants to challenge ‘George Bell’s condemnation as a paedophile’ and has contacted the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In response, the Diocese of Chichester has reiterated its stance after it issued a statement saying that it had apologised and made a financial settlement last year to a victim of child sex abuse.

The George Bell Group said : ‘A surprised world learnt on October 22, 2015 that this much-admired wartime Bishop of Chichester had in 2015 apparently been found guilty, by Church authorities, of child sex abuse. As a result, his reputation has been irreparably damaged and schools and institutions dedicated to his memory have been renamed'”

The Right Revd George Bell was Chichester Bishop from 1929 until his death in 1958. His supporters have praised his humanitarian work during the Second World War. A spokesperson for the Diocese (who? – Ed) said that the current Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner had already stressed ‘that we are all diminished by what has taken place concerning the case of Bishop George Bell.’ “We have nothing to add to what was said last October when news of the settlement with the survivor was made public.”

At that time, the Church said in a statement that it had paid civil damages following what it described as a ‘thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place, including the commissioning of independent expert reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.’

In February, Dr Warner commented : “Words of apology written in a letter can never be enough to express the Church’s shame, or our recognition of damage done. However, the apology that I made on behalf of the Diocese of Chichester is genuine, and a sincere expression that lessons are being learnt about how we respond to accusations of abuse.”

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MARCH 27 2021 – “UNACCOUNTABLE CABALS OF POWERFUL BULLIES, MANIPULATORS, ENFORCERS, SILENCERS AND ABUSERS GIVE THEMSELVES PERMISSION IN THE CHURCH TO DO WHAT THEY LIKE WITH IMMUNITY AND IMPUNITY. THEY ARE IN CONTROL – AND OUT OF CONTROL. WE LET IT HAPPEN. WE DO NOTHING – OR NOT ENOUGH. CAN ANYONE STAND UP TO THEM NOW, OR IS THE COST TOO GREAT WITH TOO MUCH TO LOSE?” – RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

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MARCH 27 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 4 2008] – THE BISHOP GEORGE BELL LECTURE – DELIVERED BY DR ROWAN WILLIAMS – FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY [NOW LORD WILLIAMS OF OYSTERMOUTH]

Dr Rowan Williams

Photo source: BBC Wales

BISHOP GEORGE BELL LECTURE – DELIVERED BY DR ROWAN WILLIAMS – 104TH ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY – UNIVERSITY OF CHICHESTER – OCTOBER 4 2008 | The Bell Society (wordpress.com)

http://aoc2013.brix.fatbeehive.com/articles.php/1348/university-of-chichester-bishop-george-bell-lecture?fbclid=IwAR18HJDthdenQmKlivG2_va_MJJmhZylugNIcouEHKT320Pz-5DRp8gpgsM

University of Chichester, Bishop George Bell lecture

Saturday 4th October 2008

A lecture by the Archbishop of Canterbury given at the University of Chichester, 4 October 2008, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Bishop George Bell, Bishop of Chichester 1929—58.

The Archbishop answered questions at the end of the lecture – click here to go directly to the question & answer section, or read it at the end of the lecture.

A Church of the nation or a Church for the nation?  Bishop George Bell and the Church of England

In the first of a series of commemorative lectures earlier this year, Dr Andrew Chandler spoke with great insight about Bell as a man whose greatest commitments seem to have been doomed to failure. His steady belief in negotiation and arbitration in international conflict, his consistent refusal to allow that modern technological warfare might dispense with traditional moral boundaries – we could add too his passionate optimism about the possible convergence of the Christian faith with the artist’s imagination, and his lifelong devotion to ecumenism: all this surely represents a set of aspirations that now look to many people sadly unrealistic, overtaken by the onset not only of a Cold War but of a sort of ice age in corporate social vision or imagination.

My aim will not be to argue against this judgement, though Dr Anthony Harvey’s excellent tracing (in a later lecture this year) of the growth of some sort of organised moral and institutional awareness of the claims of international law might well be set in the balance against a superficial verdict of failure overall. It is rather to ask some questions about the motivation of such commitments as rooted in a particular sense of what the Church in general, and the Church of England in particular, might be. Bell was a politically active and experienced man, but not a pure politician; so we shouldn’t assume for a moment that practical failure would have made very much difference to what he thought worth working for. I want to suggest that his beliefs about the Church of England, as revealed in his actual priorities, offer an account of what might still be a reasonable ground for identifying the moral priorities of any Christian community, ice age or no ice age; and that therefore the celebration of Bell’s memory is by no means a wistful exercise.

I shall be focusing on two areas of Bell’s varied and tireless labours – his sponsorship of the arts in a Christian context and his interventions in public debate about the conduct of war. And what I hope to draw out is Bell’s acceptance of Christian witness as shaped by a twofold responsibility – responsibility to the culture in which the Christian community is located and responsibility for it. On the one hand, Christians are ‘answerable’ to the ambient culture in the sense that they are there not to dictate but to serve; the Church is not a body that arbitrarily sets the agenda for society at large, but seeks to discern what needs it must meet. It therefore has to develop a degree of attention to the culture in which it lives, if only so that it doesn’t find itself (as has often been said) answering questions that no-one is asking. On the other hand, with the Jewish prophetic tradition much in mind and the New Testament imagery of the believing community as salt, leaven and light, Christians are answerable to God for the integrity and justice of their society; they may not be setting an agenda but they are discerning what is destructive and warning against it – and the refusal to utter such a warning leaves the believer exposed to judgement.

The balance is a difficult one, and very few individuals or particular Churches get it right for long. Answerability to the culture can produce a lack of confidence within the Church in its own distinctive gifts, and at worst an uncritical reproduction of the culture’s attitudes with a faint pious gloss. Answerability for the culture can generate obsessional confrontation, something like paranoia about cultural and moral decline and a weddedness to the luxuries of a permanent minority position which allows criticism without practical engagement. What is impressive about Bell is not only his ability to hold the tension, with an apparent lack of self-consciousness that is remarkable, but also the way in which the two concerns appear in his biography as intricately interwoven. A supreme ‘insider’, in both ecclesiastical and social terms, Bell uses the rather ambivalent authority of his position both to serve and to re-shape his environment.

Bell and the Imagination of Society

Kenneth Pickering, in his delightful book, Drama in the Cathedral,[i] has chronicled the history of the plays performed in Canterbury Cathedral in the twenties and thirties of the twentieth century; and Bell’s role in prompting this history is fully acknowledged. It was he who, as Dean of Canterbury, invited John Masefield to write The Coming of Christ for performance in the Cathedral nave in 1928 and who commissioned music from Holst and designs from Ricketts for this historic event. Pickering stresses [ii] Bell’s refusal to censor Masefield’s text, despite the strong political meat contained in some of the shepherds’ speeches, where the experiences of the Great War and the General Strike are given pretty explicit voice: ‘Bell was prepared to face the consequences of the anti-war sentiments expressed in the play.’ [iii] And if we recall the coolness or even hostility towards the entire project from some in the Cathedral establishment in Canterbury and the lukewarmness of the Archbishop, it is clear that Bell’s distinctive but undramatic moral courage was already in evidence. For most modern readers, Masefield is an unadventurous poet, and quite a lot of the text of this particular drama does now sounds the flat and artificial note of the mere pageant; but it is important that the moments where something much more passionate and challenging is allowed to come through are among the parts that Bell most wanted to preserve.

In other words, Bell’s welcoming attitude to the arts of his day was not simply a matter of encouraging decorative uplift: Masefield, Holst and Ricketts were none of them at the time uncontroversial figures, or indeed conventionally religious ones (Charles Ricketts was a robust unbeliever, much amused by the invitation to design a nativity play in a cathedral.) If the history of the Canterbury plays now seems less exciting in terms of engagement with the more complex areas of modern literary development than seemed to be the case at the time, we should make due allowance for the advantages of hindsight. Bell’s personal taste was largely (not exclusively) conservative, but in comparison with most of his ecclesiastical contemporaries he was notably adventurous, and, above all, he was determined to allow artists themselves to set the standards of excellence and acceptability. In this alone, his stature is evident. The later evolution of the Canterbury plays, the involvement of Martin Browne, the recruitment of T S Eliot to the project and the formation in 1930 of the Religious Drama Society with Bell as President, all this is quite well-known. Although Bell left Canterbury in 1929, his personal imprint on this notable rediscovery of the possibilities of religious drama continued undiluted. Eliot could even dream of every cathedral having its own drama company, [iv] not as an aspect of ‘religious revival’ but as a way of the Church meeting people’s appetite for serious theatre. And Bell himself, as his approach to Masefield’s text suggests, looked to drama to address the major public issues of the day; in 1932, he enthusiastically supported a play on disarmament as setting an agenda for the Geneva Conference of that year.

In fact, the more one looks at Bell’s involvement with the religious drama revival, the more the connections with the rest of his concerns become clear. Being ‘answerable’ to the culture meant, in this context, something like ‘giving permission’ – as we’d now say – to the artist to raise issues, to give room for voices that might otherwise be suppressed. Answerability is not about giving a generic blessing to the culture and its corporate imagination, not even about trying to identify in it some encouraging echoes of Christian aspirations; it is helping the properly critical voice of art to find an audience. It is, we could say, serving the seriousness of society, not accepting its own account of what entertains or reassures it. Masefield’s Coming of Christ is, of course, a mediaeval pastiche, lapsing constantly into sententious poeticism; yet it was doing something quite fresh, and that freshness could not have been there without Bell. It was using the cathedral as a platform for public seriousness, not bound to but still grounded in the confession of faith.

The language of ‘seriousness’ may recall Philip Larkin’s famous ‘Churchgoing’ poem; but I think there is a difference between Larkin’s seriousness, essentially a mood of rather sombre individual reflection strongly connected with the remembrance of death, and the seriousness of an art that invites its culture to self-examination and a degree of shared productive discomfort. Bell clearly believed that if the Church was going to be responsive to the arts, it had to let them be what they would. In another of this year’s commemorative lectures, Christopher Frayling expertly dissected some of Bell’s assumptions about aesthetics and identified the residual presence of Ruskin and other Victorians (Bell was in so many ways very much a belated Victorian) in shaping what we are bound to see as an overoptimistic sense of convergence between creativity and faith. Indeed; yet his practice is, in this as in other areas, perhaps more complex and nuanced than his actual words. The world of the visual arts has been much disenchanted since Bell’s heyday, and Professor Frayling lays out authoritatively why re-enchantment is a long job, if it is possible at all. We have no common iconographical vocabulary, no symbols we all recognise even if we are doing new or subversive things with them. To imagine a simple convergence of visual art and theological understanding is fantasy. Yet, if my reading of Bell’s engagement with drama is right, there is a little more to be said: even in an artistic atmosphere dominated by individualism or abstract formalism, where the whole notion of a ‘commission’ from an institution like the Church is suspect, is it still true that art can work for public seriousness? And if so, is it still possible for the Church to assist in letting such voices be heard or images be seen?

I hope that by now it will be clear that what I’ve called answerability to the culture was not, for Bell, any kind of easy compliance: it was an attentive and sometimes risky strategy of seeking to give a hearing to those voices in the corporate imagination that were pushing the boundaries of what made obvious sense, that were moving beyond a simple consensus, whether of taste or of ethical sensitivity. It would have been relatively simple in 1928 for a religious drama to elide the painful realities of war and economic privation; Bell refused that simplicity and enabled at least some of the later Canterbury plays to address some of these same realities, and the related ethical knots of propaganda, complicity and raison d’état, the political rationalisation of violence, that surface in the most famous of all the Canterbury dramas – Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, in whose commissioning Bell had played a part. More generally, though, what is implied here about the Church overall is of great significance. Bell had written in 1930, in his Brief Sketch of the Church of England, [v] that a national church was one in which ‘everybody has an interest of some kind’; [vi] and on its own, this could have been the recipe for a bland and narrowly pastoral account of the Church’s service to the society around. Bell’s practice suggests, in contrast, that a national church is one which can help to orchestrate a fuller argument in and about society than might otherwise happen, partly by offering a platform for certain otherwise inaudible or unwelcome voices. Precisely in its careful attention to what is actually being said and imagined in the creative arts, it becomes more than a pious mirror for one or another kind of dominant discourse. It helps to sustain within the nation’s culture a critical distance from the practices of power.

Bell and the Morality of Society

Hence the interweaving of Bell’s involvement with art and culture and his advocacy for those without voice in the international as well as the national context. It was an advocacy conducted unashamedly within the geography of the English establishment; Bell was out to persuade national decision-makers to decide differently, and he acted accordingly, in the Lords, in the correspondence columns of the mainstream press and by navigating that complex delta of mingling private relationships and affinities that composed the governing class of the interwar years. He was not a grandstanding prophet, unconcerned with how national decisions are made; his extraordinary network of personal contacts across Europe, largely born out of his ecumenical labours, meant that too many situations in the Europe of the thirties were of direct personal concern for him ever to be content with generalities. He wanted to save particular lives, not only to secure better outcomes for large numbers.

And this meant creating routes into the establishment for those with no obvious leverage or access. It is eternally to his credit that he – unlike rather too many of his colleagues in the Church of England – recognised almost instantly the nature of the threat posed by the Third Reich to Christian and civilised tradition, and the scope of the much more crude and direct threat to the Jewish people. (Among the English bishops of the day, only the proverbially brave and independent Henson of Durham fully shared this clarity.) When the mixture of covert anti-Semitism and a presupposition in favour of order and the combat with Bolshevism had blinded even relatively liberal and compassionate public commentators and politicians in Britain, he seems to have had no doubts of where the demands of truth lay. And this clarity was evident not only in Britain but in the wider ecumenical scene. In April 1934, Bonhoeffer, still at that point a pastor in the German church in Sydenham, wrote to Bell, quoting a letter from a friend in Germany about the crisis in the church there: ‘in the present moment there depends everything, absolutely everything on the attitude of the Bishop of Chichester’.[vii] An extravagant testimony, but one that shows how completely Bell was relied upon as the voice of the European Christian conscience, through his position in the Council for Life and Work; as the most important force in animating solidarity for a persecuted Christian minority in Germany, convinced (not without reason) that Christians elsewhere had only the dimmest notion of what was at stake for them.

It was the start of a long and costly involvement for Bell in the protection of all the victims of the Third Reich – increasingly in his pressure for the British Government to act on behalf of Jewish refugees, in his practical support for famine relief in Europe in the early years of the war, and, in a different register, in his consistent opposition to the pattern bombing of German cities – recognising that German civilians too were victims of the Reich, hostages of the Reich, and that the indiscriminate slaughter of such people was to adopt some of the enemy’s own callousness towards their own people. But both before and during the Second World War, there is a consistency also in what Bell wanted for the nation to which he belonged. In pressing for a responsible and moral stance towards refugees and in condemning methods in warfare that compromised the claim to be fighting ‘justly’, he was reminding his fellow-countrymen that the nation is not an entity whose interests can be thought about in isolation from an ethic extending across national boundaries. What is good for the United Kingdom cannot be defined in abstraction from what is good for those who look to the United Kingdom for generosity and integrity. We cannot call ourselves good if we betray what others expect from us in the light of that claim. A moral society is one that is strong enough to expose itself to the judgement of others, to hold itself accountable to more than its own immediate interests. Significantly, it was a point that Bell was still making in the 1950s, when the presenting issue was economic justice for the poorer nations and continents.

So we could say that responsibility ‘for’ the nation was something to do with the belief that the nation needed itself to be reminded of its own responsibility, its answerability to what is expected of it in a global moral context. Like many another tormented patriot in the modern age, Bell attacked an immoral consensus in his own society not out of a lack of commitment to the nation and its interests but out of a depth of commitment to the ‘imagined nation’ evoked in the most serious (to use the word again) elements in that nation’s traditional self-descriptions. The question Bell puts is essentially one which all public moralists must sooner or later, in one form of words or another, articulate: ‘Do we as a society actually want what we say we want?’

A national church in which everybody has an interest: standing alone, that is a potentially complacent account of what Bell believed about the Established Church; but in the context of his actions, it’s a definition that provokes deeper questions. Bell acted as though the Church were in some sense the guardian of the ‘interests’ of the nation insofar as the nation was a morally coherent society. It is not so much that society at large looks after the interest of the Church, but that society recognises that in the absence of the Church its own interests are gravely compromised. That recognition requires the nation to believe that its interests are not served by automatic self-defensiveness; that its flourishing may be in its exemplifying better some of the elements that its national mythology prizes – legal equity, the welcome of strangers, the willingness to take risks for a wider good (as, for example, in the abolition of the slave trade). The analogy with the prophet in ancient Israel here acquires some force: here is a voice that recalls the community to its basic self-images and self-understandings – assuming that the national community does indeed have a ‘myth’ about itself rather than just a commitment to its collective self-interest.

So Bell’s twofold witness comes to be essentially about challenging the society in which he works as to whether it has any shared sense of its worth, of what it is that its social forms and practices communicate about its vision of human flourishing. For Bell, as, again, for any public moralist, what matters about this or that society is whether it has anything to say about what’s good, interesting, life-giving for human beings in general, not just for this society or nation in isolation. This is never to reduce the particularities of a nation to moral generalities, variations on a cultural Esperanto whose local expressions are of no substantive concern. And it is precisely at this point that the specifics of a local culture come into play – the history and heritage of creativity in a particular language and ethos. Part of the Church’s responsibility to and for the nation at large is discharged by its readiness to nurture and support voices of questioning within the culture, voices that themselves challenge a society about what it considers to be of worth and meaning. Certainly, we are in a situation where even the residual optimism of Bell about the possible convergence of artist and churchman (and yes, I do mean churchman in this context) is not available. Yet this doesn’t mean that the Church today is spared the task of approaching the art of its day ready to listen and discern, and to try and see where it speaks to and at the level of seriousness that will pose the necessary questions for society. Bell’s engagement with the arts, whatever its limitations in retrospect, was emphatically of a piece with his later challenges to the moral self-image of Britain in a darkening Europe and a destructive war.

Bell and the Church in Society

For Bell himself, this was all undoubtedly bound up with his understanding of what an established church should be doing. Yet at the same time as his perspectives on these matters were maturing so impressively, the Established Church was going through a crisis of unprecedented severity. The year before Bell became a bishop, Parliament had for the second time rejected the Revised Prayer Book. Bell himself is one of the most punctilious chroniclers of the crisis in his biography of Archbishop Davidson; and his critical friend and intermittent ally, Hensley Henson, had, as a result of the Prayer Book debacle, abandoned his commitment to establishment. Were Bell’s own convictions shaken? It seems not; in 1930 he joined a Commission on Church and State (along with William Temple) set up by the bishops, which was more or less designed to sidetrack any talk of disestablishment.[viii] But to understand exactly what was involved at this moment, we need to grasp that what the Prayer Book crisis did for some was not to precipitate them into the arms of the disestablishers but to reinforce a sense that establishment needed to be sharply distinguished from subjection to state authority. As Matthew Grimley notes in his excellent monograph, a deep division had opened up between those like Bell and Temple who valued establishment as a vehicle for the kind of critical moral debate we have been reflecting on, and those in both the Modernist and the Conservative Evangelical camps at the time who looked to the authority of the state to protect them from both superstition and ecclesiastical hierarchy.[ix]

The salient point is that, as Grimley puts it,[x] ‘Most Evangelicals and modernists denied that the Church had an inherent right, as an association or as a divine society, to settle its own doctrine.’ This was completely antithetical to what Bell believed. If the Evangelical/Modernist position were to be accepted, there would never really be grounds for the Church, as a body of people committed to a specific revelation, to question what the state determines about ‘the orientation of the religious life of the nation’ (the phrase comes from the Evangelical paper, the Record, in 1927). And this was, of course, to be the issue at the heart of the German Church Struggle; Bell could not have spoken or acted as he did in regard to Germany if he had not been clear about the principles and limits of establishment in England. The Modernists and Evangelicals of 1927/8 cannot, of course, be blamed for not foreseeing where the German situation would end up within a few years, and some made due amends; likewise, we should have to acknowledge that some of the most embarrassing examples of collusion with the Nazi-influenced German Christian programme came from British churchmen with a quite different background (Hoskyns and Headlam, for example). But the central issue of 1927/8 must have done something to shape Bell’s thinking, not least as it was the painful nemesis of his patron and lodestar, Archbishop Randall Davidson.[xi]

For an established church to do its work on Bell’s presuppositions, it has to be more than just an established church; it has to have a theology that guarantees a wider horizon than the national. This, of course, has a great deal to do with the perspective Bell acquired through the ecumenical movement, but it is not simply an appeal to an international instead of a national Christian consensus. Bell evidently believed that the Church has to be able to give an account of why it is there at all, as a community that is not simply identical with the political community, however deeply it sees the destiny and health of that community as linked with its own life. The Church has to be able to propound and defend a view of what is due to human beings as such that is independent of a merely local or national loyalty or even of an international ideological loyalty. In short, the Church exercises its responsibility to and for the nation and its culture precisely by being itself responsible to more than the nation and its culture. In other words, Bell’s twofold concern with the arts and the political morality of government illustrates not the virtues of a Church embedded in its cultural environment in the most obvious way, but the essential importance of both transnational and theologically grounded interests in its life. The Church is ‘serious’ because it is in some degree strange to its environment as well as committed to understand and serve that environment. And an openness to the life of the imagination is simply one way in which that strangeness can be refreshed and strengthened: the culture of a nation is not a matter of repetition and self-reinforcement but of that ‘continuity of conflict’ that Alasdair Macintyre has identified as central to the vitality of any tradition. The Church has no business being less strange and challenging than the best of the artistic life of its society.

A Church whose roots lie in the event of the Incarnation cannot be other than strange to its society. It embodies the conviction that the uncontainable creative energy that undergirds all reality is uniquely and uninterruptedly at work in a human life at a particular juncture in history, so that this human life communicates possibilities that human history left to itself could never generate. Among those possibilities, crucially, is the vision of an interdependent and universal human fellowship, living by mutual gift rather than mutual rivalry. And in any imaginable human situation, this will produce tensions with the specific loyalties and priorities that are assumed by fellow-citizens or kinsfolk. At a time when it is easy to be weighed down with anxiety about the degree to which we are satisfactorily adjusted to our cultural context, it does no harm to have a reminder that the ‘legitimacy’ of the Church is not based on the permission of a social authority: it answers to something other than the dominant structures of the day.

Yet, it is the same incarnational theology that reminds us that God has spoken in a particular dialect and a particular body, and not in generalities or abstract principles. The Church speaks the languages of its environment, and one of its most distinctive features – to pick up a point developed elsewhere[xii] – is that it assumes its Scriptures can and must be translated, over and over again. It is heavily invested in the deeper discovery of what is given to it in revelation through the encounter with new and diverse contexts. It may be strange, but it cannot be simply alien and incomprehensible; it is always seeking to understand itself in the endlessly varied exchanges of cultural life within and between societies.

What I have been arguing is simply that Bell instinctively understood this essential duality in the character of the Church (and in the character of a Christ described in the orthodox formulations as complete in both his unfathomable divinity and his familiar humanity). And if there is a vital role to be played these days by what is fashionably called ‘narrative theology’ (granted all the reservations and criticisms that may be made, criticisms brilliantly developed in Francesca Murphy’s recent book on the subject), we could reasonably say that telling Bell’s story is one way of elucidating what might have seemed abstract doctrinal statements about the nature of Christ and his Church. Stories that present the Church as struggling to hold the tension between the two responsibilities I sketched at the beginning of this lecture are an essential tool for maintaining the Church in a proper and critical self-awareness. Neglecting theology may be an attractive course for the practically-minded, but some at least of the narratives of the twentieth century present rather sharply the practically disastrous results of this, when the absence of a clear self-understanding on the part of the Church leads to an abrogation of responsibility. Laying out the narrative becomes part of the theological education we need – which is, once again, why remembering Bell is not an exercise in nostalgia.

He does not give us a simple answer to the conundrum of how to understand and work with the residue of establishment in England today; but in gently pushing us towards a recognition of the critical possibilities in this historical situation, he also reminds us that what there is of moral and spiritual substance in our legacy is not primarily about any power to direct and control the social process or about a guaranteed security for the privileges of a particular ecclesial organisation. It is something to do with the opportunities of engaging with some very tough and complex questions about how a society scrutinises itself in the light of what lies beyond its political fashions and immediate interests. And it will do that most honestly, of course, if it is itself ready to confront its own reality, its weaknesses and its gifts, with clarity.

Establishment can be the nurse of an over-ambitious sense of what ‘the Church’ means in society. In a very characteristic passage, the late Donald MacKinnon sets Bell’s descriptions of Archbishop Davidson at work alongside the contemporary struggles, the passionate quarrels and plottings of those who were forging a revolutionary future in Russia – Lenin and his friends and enemies. The conjunction is almost, but not quite, comical – not quite when you consider the scale and cost of what emerged from the latter. ‘No one,’ writes MacKinnon, ‘can read Bell’s great life of that most considerable of twentieth-century primates [Davidson], without being made aware that here was a man of great wisdom and unquestionable goodness, who saw his role in part at least as that of being the very effective instrument of an informed Christian presence at the heart and centre of British life in the very heyday of Britain’s imperial power’.[xiii] Yet where were the forces that in fact were moulding the greatest social changes of the world in the first decades of the last century? Not in the well-mannered corridors of power familiar to Davidson. Establishment, MacKinnon goes on, is defended because it ‘assures that a Christian voice is heard in the places where great decisions are made. But what places are these?’[xiv]

Bell’s dual sensitivity to art and politics constituted one factor which kept him from settling down with a merely conventional answer to that devastating question; one factor which made him in some ways a greater man than Davidson. If my reading of certain aspects of Bell’s life here has been at all accurate, he retained a rare capacity to see the Church’s responsibility as related to those whose voices did not find an easy hearing in the ‘heart and centre of British life’ as normally conceived, and to understand that the calling of an established church had something to do with this. An established church can only do what it is meant to if it is a great deal more than an established church; if it is coherently aware both of the larger global context in which its national society lives, and, above all, of the ultimate context of the Church’s existence in the initiative of the strange and transcendent God. Peter Ackroyd, in his biography of Eliot, describes a weekend in December 1930 at the Palace in Chichester where Eliot read ‘Ash Wednesday’ to a mixed group of guests, receiving a somewhat baffled reception. Ackroyd comments that Eliot’s ‘was not the kind of religion at home in bishops’ palaces’.[xv] You can see his point; but it is actually a slightly off-key observation about this particular bishop’s palace. Bell, rather like Temple, can give the impression of someone whose Anglican and Christian identity was fundamentally untroubled, despite the apocalyptic character of the events through which he lived; but, if my reading is correct, then, whatever Bell’s private state of feeling, he (more than Temple?) knew that cultural or political cosiness was a temptation to be strenuously resisted as the most insidious temptation for an ‘insider’ in the British establishment; and he knew that if the insider failed to use his patronage and leverage for the voices that the establishment as not eager to hear, then there was a serious moral issue about that established status. For that knowledge alone, Bell deserves to be heard and rediscovered by Anglicans and, no doubt, by other British Christians, generation by generation.

© Rowan Williams 2008

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MARCH 26 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [FEBRUARY 8 2016] MICHAEL WHITE ON THE BISHOP BELL INJUSTICE AND ‘LYNCH MOBS’ – THE GUARDIAN

Child abuse claims: why due process and a fair hearing matter

Michael White

Michael White

It is such processes that distinguish us from lynch mobs, be they in dusty Mississippi towns, dustier Iraqi ones – or on Twitter

Bishop George Bell
Bishop George Bell, who was described by Charles Moore as ‘nearest thing to a saint since Richard of Chichester’. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Mon 8 Feb 2016 14.32 GMT

It looks as if the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, is edging towards an apology to Field Marshall Lord Bramall, 92, over unfounded allegations of child sex abuse and that some kind of further apology is coming to the family of the late Leon Brittan. It’s too late to do him much good, as it is to former prime minister Edward Heath, also caught up by some wildly improbable allegations.

Monday’s report by senior Dorset police officer James Vaughan into the Met’s handling of the Brittan allegations shows how complicated such historical claims can be.

Vaughan’s report says detectives were “fully justified” in pursuing a “fairly compelling account” of rape in 1967 but only made to police in 2012, though procedural mistakes were made.

Newspapers that made hay with separate lurid claims of sexual abuse and worse, made by someone known as “Nick” and others, later switched sides, as their reporting of Vaughan confirms.

His report did not say Brittan would have been cleared, only that an acquittal was more likely than a conviction.

It’s worth noting in passing that Vaughan concluded that a key police officer in the Brittan case misunderstood the law on consent and it would have been reasonable to arrest the former cabinet minister, which nearly happened but didn’t. As so often, loose ends need tidying up.

But is (arguably) the most distinguished of all those accused, George Bell, bishop of Chichester (1929-58) – a saint by some reckonings – being quietly traduced by the Church of England to cover its own back?

I’ve made some inquiries but don’t claim to know the definitive answer. Others are furious in his defence. One of them, ex-Telegraph editor and formidable Thatcher biographer Charles Moore thinks Bell has been stitched up by the police and his church. This case is again bubbling up this week thanks to a scoop in the Brighton Argus – of which more later.

In reality, Moore wrote last month (paywall), Bell was Chichester’s “nearest thing to a saint since Richard of Chichester” – miracle-worker and patron saint of Sussex, who died in 1253. The issue has been scorching the pages of the church press – and here – since October, when Martin Warner, the current bishop, revealed that a pre-litigation sum of £15,000 compensation had been paid, and an apology made, to an unnamed victim of child abuse in the sepia tinted postwar years when society was more innocent than now.

Why should only rightwing pundits (Peter Hitchens is also on the case) and churchgoers be concerned? In January, the redoubtable cleric Giles Fraser weighed in in the Guardian. Fraser is agnostic about Bell’s guilt but says due process and the rights of a much-admired bishop to be defended have left the church asking to have too much taken on trust.

Due process and a fair hearing should matter to secular progressives as much as they do to both sides in the Julian Assange case and other legal controversies. But Bell should appeal to the left because he was a brave and early opponent of the Nazis (when the Daily Mail was still playing footsie), a friend and ally of the great and murdered Dietrich Bonhoeffer, of Gandhi and TS Eliot, a champion of refugees.

Perhaps most compelling of all, during the second world war Bell was a courageous critic of Allied bombing of German civilian targets. I’m not sure I’d have agreed with him but it took guts. It may also have cost him the archbishopric of Canterbury.

Was this the man who also did cruel and wicked things to a small girl in his care under the pretext of reading her a bedtime story a few years later? The question is hard to answer at 65 years’ distance. Human nature has a dark side, as Bell, who saw Hitlerism close up, knew better than most.

Here’s last week’s Brighton Argus’s scoop, an interview with the alleged victim, “Carol”, her life intact but marked by what she says happened.

Like Dorset copper Vaughan’s reading of the account of “Jane”, Brittan’s alleged rape victim, I found her story chilling and – on the face of it – persuasive. So was Argus reporter Joel Adams on Radio 4.

Others I have spoken to dismiss it. In his Telegraph column on Monday Charles Moore protests that those who knew and loved Bell, some still alive, have not been given a chance to defend him, that no lawyer was appointed to sift the evidential record of the time.

Warner is using Carol as “a human shield” to protect his own procedural failings, he argues.

On Sunday, Hitchens also returned to the fray, citing an admission by Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham, the No 3 man in C of E’s hierarchy and charged with supervising these cases. Butler said in the Lords (column 1,516, pdf) that Bell was “an astounding man” and that, after careful consideration, the church was not saying he actually did what he is alleged to have done.

“There has been no declaration that we are convinced that this took place. It’s about the balance of probabilities,” Butler told peers.

That’s quite a stroke and not how the “Bell guilty, admits church” headlines told it last October. Here’s Warner’s latest statement. My own inquiries shed light in both directions. Friends who know church politics and gossip very well tell me the diocese of Chichester has had an unsavoury reputation for sexual misconduct for decades, as demonstrated by the Peter Ball case. He was finally jailed last year at 83 despite friends in high places.

The issue was compounded by a geographical split in which posher West Sussex – around Chichester and its handsome 12th-century cathedral – is a centre of high church Anglo-Catholicism, whereas East Sussex was until recently the territory of south-coast evangelical Anglicans, some of whom are anti-women, anti-gay. It is not quite Shia and Sunni, but C of E’s culture wars have been nasty, and still are.

Given the shaming of the Catholic church worldwide and Anglicanism closer to home, given the uproar over paedophilia and establishment cover-ups (some bits real, others the fruit of malign or damaged imagination), it’s easy to see why Lambeth Palace seems to have prudently sacrificed the reputation of a long dead bishop under the leadership of Justin Welby.

It’s also disappointing. Those close to Rowan Williams, the last archbishop, are categorical that they have no record that a complaint against Bell reached Lambeth on his watch circa 2010. The buck passes. Meanwhile, local buildings and institutions named in honour of Bell are being renamed, no Cecil Rhodes reprieve for him.

Yet for justice to be done and seen to be done, process matters. Bell may or may not be guilty. But quasi saints do not come along very often and the comments of those who have affected his reputation need to be examined.

Process matters, the right to a proper police investigation and legal defence matters for the guilty as much as the innocent. It is that responsibility which distinguishes us from lynch mobs, be they in dusty Mississippi towns, dustier Iraqi ones – or on Twitter.

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MARCH 25 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [FEBRUARY 25 2018] – ‘THE OXFORD STUDENT’ – “THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND SHOULD STAND UP FOR BISHOP BELL” + “IT’S A SIN”

The Church Of England Should Stand Up For Bishop Bell

Comment Jack O’Grady

A short biography of George Bell, who had been Bishop of Chichester for 27 years when he died in 1958, begins by acknowledging a recurring pattern regarding the reputation of notable people. It points out that after such people die, their reputations are often reshaped and defamed by harsh criticism not voiced during their lifetimes – but that the Bishop had managed to be an exception to this rule.

This claim, published in 1971, would no longer be written today. Whilst the memory of George Bell has been cherished over the past 60 years due to his significant support of the Protestant opposition to Hitler, his work in bringing over many non-Aryan refugees from Germany and his emphatic opposition to the bombing of civilians during the Second World War, Bell’s reputation is now at risk of being utterly decimated. A complaint made to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013 accused Bell of having committed grotesque acts of child abuse in the 1940s and 50s. In response, the Church apologised and paid the accuser £16,800 in compensation. Various memorials, such as one proclaiming him a ‘champion of the oppressed’ in Chichester Cathedral, faced removal. An Eastbourne school, formerly known as the Bishop Bell Church of England School, has changed its name altogether.

Most would agree that this sort of action would be justified in the face of conclusive evidence against Bell. But it has since transpired that the church acted far too hastily. Following their acceptance of the abuse claims, a robust movement was sparked to defend Bell’s reputation, involving major journalists such as Charles Moore and Peter Hitchens. The Church then initiated an independent inquiry, led by Lord Carlile (one of the country’s top legal experts), which concluded that they had “rushed to judgement” and that the damage to Bell’s reputation was “just wrong”. Lord Carlile even went so far as to say that had he been prosecuting a case against Bell in court, Bell would have won. Nevertheless, this report was withheld by the Church for two months. After its eventual release, Justin Welby insisted that a “significant cloud” still hangs over Bell’s name in spite of Lord Carlile’s conclusions.

We should be equally concerned for protecting Bell’s reputation against false accusations as we are for spoiling his reputation over true accusations

This strange outcome highlights an element of mystery that has surrounded the Bell case. The initial claim against Bell was anonymous and the church revealed no details about the accusation when making their apology. As mentioned, it took two months for the Church to release the Carlile report after having received it. Once it was released, Justin Welby did not follow the logical implications of the report, but refused to retract his statements because of a vague belief in a “cloud”. On the 31st January, the enigmatic plot thickened when the Church announced that a further anonymous and unspecified accusation had been made and was being investigated. Some felt the timing of this was suspicious, given that a motion to debate the restoration of Bell’s reputation was due to be voted on at the Church’s General Synod the following week. Lord Carlile, who knew nothing of this accusation during his investigation, described the announcement as ‘unwise, unnecessary and foolish’. At the very least, we can all recognise the strange and stark asymmetry between the previous withholding of the completed Carlile investigation report and the eagerness of the recent announcement of an incomplete investigation. Things got worse when it emerged that the Church of England had refused to allow Mrs Barbara Whitley, Bell’s 93-year-old niece, to have the lawyer of her choice represent her side in the proceedings – instead choosing on her behalf someone who is neither a lawyer nor known to Mrs Whitley.

At this point, while many will sympathise with the active supporters of George Bell, which now includes leading groups of historians, theologians and church leaders who have written public letters asking for Welby to retract his statement, others feel a sense of unease. After all, it is of course possible that the accusations are true. Justin Welby, in a recent interview with the Church Times, said that the alleged victims should be “treated equally importantly” as the reputation of George Bell. Some would say this does not go far enough: surely we must be more concerned for the alleged victims, who are still living, over the reputation of someone who died 60 years ago?

The general nervousness of the Church of England’s handling of the Bell case must be related to the fact that the Church currently faces over 3,000 complaints of sexual abuse

Perhaps a better way of framing this would be to say that we should be equally concerned for protecting Bell’s reputation against false accusations as we are for spoiling his reputation over true accusations. The trouble is that most people have an instinctive tendency to find the latter much easier than the former. When the Church of England apologised and paid the first alleged victim in 2015, The Guardian ran the story with the headline “Church of England Bishop George Bell abused young child”. At that stage, nothing was known about the identity of the accuser nor the accusations, and yet headlines announced the claims as fact. Once the Carlile report was made public, it would have been no less factual to run the headline ‘George Bell declared innocent of abuse claims’, yet nobody did so. In fact, most would consider this overstepping the mark.

The general nervousness of the Church of England’s handling of the Bell case must be related to the fact that the Church currently faces over 3,000 complaints of sexual abuse (including both long-standing and recent accusations). Other high-profile cases of clergy committing child abuse, such as that of former bishop Peter Ball, have highlighted the shocking failures of senior clerics to listen to victims and pass allegations on to the police. Taking into consideration the sharp spike in awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse in society more broadly, following Weinstein, Larry Nassar and the #MeToo movement, it is not hard to imagine why the Archbishop of Canterbury would not want to stick his head above the parapet and defend the innocence of an archetypal establishment figure: a dead, white, male clergyman.

Courage, after all, comes at a cost. George Bell discovered this himself when his opposition to the bombing of innocent civilians during the Second World War put him on the wrong side of Winston Churchill, probably the main reason why he was never appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. In the absence of substantial evidence in support of the accusations against him, Bell’s reputation deserves to be defended. This is not only in the interest of truth, but also in the interest of maintaining a legacy of courageous leadership which is desperately needed among Bell’s clerical successors today.

OTHER COMMENTS

“Very regrettable to see this statement from the Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, who lambasts Bishop Bell’s defenders and accuses them of adding to the suffering of the accuser and her family. This is little more than an attempt by Bishop Warner to use the accuser and her family as human shields in this affair. Sad and wrong. Bell’s defenders are motivated only by a desire for due process and a fair hearing. Bishop Warner should respect that”

~ Justice for Bishop George Bell – March 27 2016

It’s A Sin: The Myth of Homogeneity

Posted on March 27, 2021 by Jayne Ozanne

by Father Richard Peers, Sub Dean of Christ Church, Oxford

Extract from: Final Report – Independent Lessons Learned Review for Emmanuel Church Wimbledon (March 2021)

“Theme 17: Homogeneity

The Review illustrated that one of the biggest difficulties in identifying and disclosing the behaviours was the myth of homogeneity. The Review evidenced that a person who possesses positive characteristics and is widely highly-regarded could nonetheless display entirely inappropriate, abusive and harmful behaviours which render them ‘unfit for their office’.

Furthermore, those who wish to disclose abuse or harmful behaviours can be caused to question their experience and reality where the predominant narrative outlines the positive traits of an individual. When this is combined with a narrative of protecting the gospel above all else then this becomes a powerful barrier to disclosing abuse or harmful behaviour.”

It was in 1987 that the Pet Shop Boys released their single It’s A Sin which provided the title, and elements of the soundtrack, for the recent Russell T Davies mini-series on gay life in the 80’s. Whether it was 1987 or a little bit later my strongest memory of dancing to this iconic song was on a Sunday night (gay night) at The Academy in Boscombe, just outside of Bournemouth. It was an exhilarating time for me. I had met and was with that night, the love of my life, a housemate was performing on stage with a live snake (don’t ask). Like the housemates in the recent TV series it seemed that there was nothing that could poison our sheer delight at life. 

Three decades later watching It’s A Sin touched many unexpected raw nerves for me and I am not embarrassed to say I wept watching it. 

During lockdown I have done a fair bit of online teaching in the form of seminars for various groups including ordinands at Ripon College Cuddesdon and Cranmer Hall in Durham on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, better known as Confession. I have heard a fair number of confessions in the last 20 years or so. One of the key tasks of a confessor, it seems to me, is to help the penitent identify what is and what is not sin. Many people come to the sacrament filled with shame, self-loathing or in need of healing. 

We live in a society in which the language of Christianity is tired and worn; it is hard for people to understand. Sin is a key concept that is much misunderstood. Yet the older I get the more important I think sin is. The more I believe in its reality. We all know that when anyone says “Human beings are divided into …” some trite simplism is going to be uttered. If only it was so easy.

The older I get the more aware of my own sin I become. I am a deeply flawed human being. If that sounds like I am beating myself up. I’m not. 

The older I get the more aware I am that we are all sinners. We are all capable of deeply flawed behaviour. My favourite image for sin (not sure who invented this, perhaps it was me) is a bicycle on which the front wheel is slightly askew. We human beings just can’t cycle straight. We need to constantly adjust for the reality of our askew-ness (sin). That’s mostly what the Christian life is about.

At the top of this piece there is an extract from the investigation into abuse at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon by Jonathan Fletcher. For me it is the most important passage in a very important report. The review highlights how a combination of fear and putting people on pedestals made it impossible for victims to report abuse. It also calls for a wider understanding of vulnerability in situations where individuals wield considerable charismatic and institutional power. These are all important lessons to learn. But it is this myth of homogeneity that is, I think, the most important lesson and the most difficult for us to hold on to.

The American pastor and writer Brian McClaren talks and writes about :

“Confirmation Bias: the human brain welcomes information that confirms what it already thinks and resists information that disturbs or contradicts what it already thinks.”

and

Complexity Bias: the human brain prefers a simple lie to a complex truth.”

It is easy to believe that there are good guys and bad guys. The truth is almost always more complex.

A friend of mine was one of the young men who formed part of the residential community associated with the serial abuser Bishop Peter Ball. It was a transformative and wonderful time for him, all blessing. Another friend spent much of her life as part of l’Arche communities. She is the leader she is now because of that experience. She has spent the last year grieving the revelations about Jean Vanier.

What can we learn from this? Nothing simple.

I can’t write a line, or come up with a phrase that explains this.  All I can do is offer the Christian faith. St Paul is often mocked for the complexity of his writing; his endless and sometimes seemingly incomprehensible sentences. But he was on to something. Perhaps no one has understood sin better. We human beings are all sinners. There are certain characteristics that we associate with something we call ‘holiness’. I am deeply sceptical of them.  

When we pray the penitential material in our worship and in Scripture it is not a reason to beat ourselves up. It is a reminder that every human being is a sinner. I am with St Augustine, and the Pet Shop Boys: It’s A Sin. I find the constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner” to be tremendously liberating. This is who I am. This is who everybody is. As I say to people when they begin the journey of Spiritual Direction with me: there are no gurus.

As we move into Holy Week there are simple questions we can ask. Why do we need Jesus? What do we need saving from? And the simple answer is: ourselves. As Walt Whitman put it “I contain multitudes”, and some of them are not very nice.

1 Response to It’s A Sin: The Myth of Homogeneity

  1. Richard Moy says: March 27, 2021 at 8:40 am “The older I get the more aware of my own sin I become. I am a deeply flawed human being. If that sounds like I am beating myself up. I’m not. The older I get the more aware I am that we are all sinners. We are all capable of deeply flawed behaviour. My favourite image for sin (not sure who invented this, perhaps it was me) is a bicycle on which the front wheel is slightly askew. We human beings just can’t cycle straight. We need to constantly adjust for the reality of our askew-ness (sin). That’s mostly what the Christian life is about.” Thank you Fr Richard for sharing today… Paul seems to have taken a similar journey… ending up with a depth of understanding as being ‘the chief of sinners’. Was struck last week that Jesus promised a Holy Spirit who would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement…. if we’re not being convicted, it may not be the HS (or therefore Jesus) we are really meeting…

The Patronage Legacy of Jonathan Fletcher – Surviving Church

COMMENT – LIZZIE TAYLOR

It’s very hard to have to say this. But here goes. The con evo constituency has given itself permission to do as it pleases. No one has stood up to it. The group is now out of control because the rest of the Church has simply allowed this to happen. Con evo clergy should repent of their attitudes of arrogance, entitlement and control.

The wider Church has soft and hard levers which must now be used to bring the group to heel. For example, bishops need not license clergy unless they’ve been satisfied that the parish’s ministry is being fully conducted in good faith with the wider Church. All CofE clergy should act in accordance with, and genuinely in the spirit of, the ordination declarations and oaths of canonical obedience that they have taken, the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of Clergy and – for what should be obvious reasons – the Nolan Principles.

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MARCH 24 2021 – “QUEER EYE FOR A FEARFUL CHURCH” BY REVD CANON DR EMMA PERCY

Revd Canon Dr Emma Percy: Queer Eye for a Fearful Church

During the long months of lockdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic I was encouraged by my sons to watch Queer Eye on Netflix. I became hooked. When I felt overwhelmed with the uncertainties of the world on an international and personal level I would stick on an episode and be moved by the sheer warmth and kindness. For those who have no idea what I am talking about; Queer Eye is a make-over programme. Individuals whose lives have got stuck for some reason are nominated by a friend or family member to welcome the Fab Five into their life for a week. The five are men with expertise in grooming, clothes, design, food and wellbeing. They are all gay. This seems to give them a freedom to offer new perspectives. The result is life changing. 

We meet individuals who are stuck for different reasons. Sometimes they are so fixated on helping others they do not know how to look after themselves. Sometimes they are stuck in a time warp unable to let go of the past and live confidently in the present. They still dress in the clothes of a college student or with the haircut they had in their twenties. Often there is fear, either in the past or the future. Fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, fear that if they stop for a minute everything will fall apart, fear of loss and grief. 

Some of these fears arise out of genuine experiences of rejection or failure or loss. Others are projections shaped by inadequate self-esteem or patterns of upbringing that suggested any focus on the self was selfish. We see how often fear can paralyse people or leave them trying to hang on to an idea of themselves which is long out of date. We see how fear can cause them to reject help from the people who love and care for them believing that any kind of dependency is weakness. We often see an inability to recognise their own worth.

What moves me in this programme is that these fears are met with compassion and kindness. There are no glib suggestions that life’s injustices can be easily overcome. Learning to know who you are and to find a sense of confidence in your inherent worth as a person is remarkably transformational. Moreover, the Fab Five are what we might call in pastoral theology wounded healers. These men have faced their own fears. Their queerness, and for two of them their skin colour, has been lived out in a world that still has so many fears about people who are different. As they talk they share small moments of their own stories. We catch glimpses of painful rejection from families, of bullying at school, of tough times.  We also get insights into the good relationships, the positive ways they have embraced who they are. We see how harsh religious judgements have caused deep wounds with one of the five finding it hard to even step inside a church building. Yet, despite this he designs and completes a wonderful meeting space for a church.

These men clearly understand what it has meant in their own lives to be met with compassion and kindness and they are able to express kindness and delight in those they meet. They show the value of relationships, of finding your family even if your own family don’t want you. They tell people that they are worth it, not in a self-indulgent way, but in a genuine valuing of our shared humanity. They also spread joy. This is a generous programme. They give and they do so trying to understand the person in front of them. They give to enhance and help. They give so that giving may be shared and relationships built up. They rejoice so that people can learn to share joy. I know of course that it is TV and it is carefully and skilfully edited but that cannot take away from the sheer humanity and kindness on display.

So, why am I writing about this programme in an essay about the fearful church? Principally because I believe the institutional church is stuck in many ways and is reaching for unhelpful ways of trying to move forward.

The statistics of attendance are on a clear downward slant. The age profile of those who go to church is heavily stacked towards the older end. Although a percentage of younger people will experience Christian worship as part of their education it is far fewer than when I was in school back in the 1970’s. Smaller congregations also means smaller offerings and financial decline is a real concern especially after the pandemic. 

The loss of commitment to organised religion coupled with the increase of a pick and mix spirituality is deeply confusing to a Church that often does not understand the people it seeks to serve. Although the church still has a public voice it is finding that its views are less likely to be asked for or listened to. Increasingly, the internal church debates are both of little interest to the wider society and on some subjects, deeply alienating. Thus the church is facing a loss of power and influence alongside a strong sense of being misunderstood. The fears are genuine and manifold. The future is uncertain. 

As this is the church we need to add to these genuine fears of decline the fear that we are letting down God. This is a fear that we often find hard to articulate. It is also the fear that makes us blame each other. So for some wings of the church we are letting God down by giving in to societal shifts in terms of women, sexuality and marriage. If only we were clearer about our counter cultural stand God would send the spirit and all would be well.  For others, myself included, the criticism is that we have not moved with changing understandings about women, sexuality, science and so much more. If we could really spread the good news of God’s love for all people things would be different.  

We blame each other for failing as evangelists.  We do not pray enough in the right way, (of course there are different opinions of what that would look like). We neglect the sacraments or the word of God or the service of the poor or proper theology. We bicker amongst ourselves and at times we more than bicker, drawing lines between proper Christians and those who for whatever reason do not fit. We fear rejection from each other and many fear displeasure and at worst rejection from God. All of us can be guilty of nostalgia. Like some of the individuals encountered in Queer Eye, we metaphorically dress as if we were our younger selves and wonder why people, including ourselves, find us unattractive.

We struggle to face these fears.  Often attempts to make the church more modern – business-like, more growth orientated and more branded –  lack kindness towards the very people who make up the church. Clergy and committed laity are overstretched and under-appreciated. There is a constant busyness; attempting to  control the decline and re-establish a sense of who we are. One writer suggests, ‘our busyness, strangely enough may constitute its own version of laziness (JBE p 82) – a failure to actually face the realities and the serious work needed to address the underlying issues. There is a nostalgia for church as it was, a distress that all the hard work fails to make a serious difference and a longing for how it might be. This can end up exacerbating our collective lack of self-esteem and damages our internal relationships. We cannot hide from these fears or try to return to a former age, however much we may want to. 

Alongside the realities of decline we  have to face up to the proper shame for past failures. The shame of failing to stop serial abusers from preying on children and young people. The shame of racism and classicism. The fact that so many congregations made good Christian immigrants unwelcome because they were black. The still unprocessed misogyny which led to such a begrudging acceptance of women in the ministry of the church and a continuing undervaluing of the work of so many lay women. The shame is acknowledged but not properly addressed so it continues to undermine our sense of who the church should be. We try to counter the shame by officiously practicing safeguarding and talking about diversity, by pointing to changes made and saying we are sorry. 

Much of this is good and necessary. Yet, a failure to really listen to those who the church has hurt means we have simply added levels of policies without culture change. Some of these have established unkind disciplinary processes that in too many incidences do not recognise gospel principles of compassion, forgiveness and human dependency. We seek to manage risk as if human relationships do not involve vulnerability and openness. There is still a sense that reputation management for the institution is prioritised in a desperate hope that we will not be shamed again. We need to honestly confront the self-understanding of the institutional church that meant certain types of people were trusted despite many warnings about their behaviour and other types of people mistrusted for not being like us.

Where are the wounded healers that might be able to help the church face these fears? Who can be the metaphorical Fab five who can kindly speak truth and give gifts that can help us move forward with a sense of integrity into our uncertain future? I believe we need to hear from those people who have known and experienced ‘othering’ by the church, who carry the wounding of that experience. Amazingly, there are plenty who, despite the rejections, the sexism, racism and homophobia they have experienced from the Institutional church, have found a secure place in God’s love and an articulate faith of inclusion. These folk, and I include myself, stay in our damaged and at some times, damaging church because we recognise that this is our family.  

Having faced the fears of rejection and marginalisation there can be a new confidence in a richer vision of both God and humanity. Some have written what we call standpoint theologies; looking at Christianity and the institution of the church from different perspectives. We need to learn from these about the blind spots and narrow visions that are part of the Church’s past and present, so that we can acknowledge past shames and imagine possible futures. These should not be special interest, alternate, theologies but welcomed as the necessary correctives to heal the fearful church.

As a woman growing up within the church it has taken so long to find genuine confidence in my full humanity before God. I have grown through feminist language in prayer and reflection, theology that speaks to my lived experience, the visible presence of women in places of power within the organisation. These changes matter, but they have been so slow and so begrudging. How transformational it would be if a patriarchal church could truly acknowledge and repent of the ways women have been at best taken for granted and at worst oppressed and abused. How different if feminist and womanist theologies were read by all.

Imagine how enriching it would be to be part of a church that can talk confidently about sex and gender differences and how these can help us understand God and humanity more fully. How exciting it would be to be in a church that rejoiced in the gifts women bring and acknowledge how much of the day to day service of the church they have carried. Yet, the fearful church wants to cling on to patriarchal privileges, to welcome women into the club as long as they don’t question too many of the rules and rituals. It is not able to see how alienating this stance is to a world in which more and more women are embracing their full humanity. 

The long history of othering women is connected to fears about sexual desire. This of course connects to the deep fears within the church about homosexuality. The church has taught men and women to be ashamed of their sexual desires. People have been rewarded for secretiveness, for a denial of self that is deeply damaging. Fear of exposure, fear of rejection and internalised shame is a deeply damaging wound that the church has inflicted on individuals and on its own body. Queer theology has insights to offer about embracing difference, challenging stereotypical views of masculinity and femininity, questioning our current idolising of the nuclear family. 

We have seen how gay and lesbian couples have things to teach all of us about what marriage means and yet the Church of England has rejected that gift suggesting that it should not be blessed.  What would a church look like that was not afraid of human sexuality? How freeing it would be to be part of a church that celebrated all marriages. What can we learn about God and humanity from listening to the wisdom of those who despite all the efforts to shame them have found that in God’s eyes they are good and gloriously made? The fearful church is terrified of acknowledging that differences in sexuality have always been part of human diversity, clinging to the need to shame others there is a failure to see how shocking and unkind this looks to so many in and beyond the church.

The church seems to feel more comfortable in publicly expressing its failures in welcoming in people of different skin colour. In the Church of England there has been a recent acknowledgement of the disgraceful treatment of the Windrush generation; the men and women from Caribbean commonwealth countries invited to come to work in the UK during the post war years.  They arrived in the ‘mother country’, many as faithful Anglicans only to find that they were not white enough to be welcome in the Church of England. 

Yet, it is possible to express sorrow for these failings without addressing the roots of the problem. It seems easier to look at a moment in the recent past than to address the long and complex history of colonialism and slavery. There are Christians across the world who have stories to tell us shaped by their perspectives on colonialism and racism. The Black lives matter movement is another wake up call to say look at the world from where we stand. There is a rich and diverse theology; Latin American, Indian, African and black theologies written by those who have grown up with racism and the legacy of colonialism, all of which can and should challenge the white normativity of so much of our church thinking. We need to listen and learn.

Understanding and repenting of the colonial past that has shaped the church and still shapes so many ways our culture works, is a hard task. On a trip to India a few years ago I was shocked to see the white Christ-child with his white mother in the crib of an Indian church that traced its roots back to the Apostle Thomas.  Yet, this is just a simple example of the colonial legacy of a white church. For those, including myself, who as white western Christians have grown up with a history and imagery of the church which privileges our story there is a need for a reimagining of God, the church and humanity.  What would it mean for the church to really accept that Jesus wasn’t white? 

There is more. We need to encourage the theological perspectives of those differently able, those who do not fit the inherent class system of the church. Though the institutional church claims to want this there is immense fear of change. Above all there is a fear that diversity will mean an erosion of power for those who have held power as of right. This fear needs to be corrected by our gospel vision of mutuality and genuine interdependence. And there needs to be a proper recognition that this change should be uncomfortable for many of us. There is genuine anger to be heard and carelessness to be acknowledged. Yet, there is also hope. If we can start to allow the stories of others to change our understanding, we may find that in really listening to these voices we expand rather than contract. 

In Philips and Taylors book On Kindness they quote Donald Winnicott, ‘a sign of health in the mind is the ability of one individual to enter imaginatively and accurately into the thoughts and feelings hopes and fears of another person; also to allow the other person to do the same to us.’ They acknowledge that this is not without tension. ‘It is kind to be able to bear conflict, in oneself and others; it is kind to oneself and other, to forego magic and sentimentality for reality. It is kind to see individuals as they are, rather than how we might want them to be; it is kind to care for people just as we find them.’(p.96) We need this kind of kindness. The generosity of those who have been hurt by the church is seen in their willingness to compassionately speak truths, to offer new perspectives, to unblock channels of fear. Can we find the grace to really listen?

The Fab Five in Queer Eye regularly commend those they meet for their willingness to be open, to try the different clothes and new foods, to let go of damaging past narratives and embrace new perspectives. I nominate the fearful church for a make-over. We need help. Can we listen to compassionate critique from the standpoints of those whose voices have too often been deliberately excluded? We need the encouragement to step out of our comfort zone and learn from different experts. In a modern world which is, albeit hesitantly, trying to talk differently about gender, sexuality, ethnicity, the colonial past and the diverse future, the church needs to find the courage and humility to listen. When it has truly learned to listen it may find that despite all the signs to the contrary it does have something useful to say. We may find that our vision of God is enlarged and our capacity to share God’s reconciling love with the world becomes more authentic. We might become kinder and understand more deeply the joy of our faith. We may then be surprised to find that after our makeover others may then find us more attractive. 

Emma Percy.

Revd Canon Dr Emma Percy is Chaplain of Trinity College Oxford and Chair of WATCH (women and the church). She is one of the first generation of women ordained priest in the Church of England in 1994. She is a feminist practical theologian and has long been an advocate for an inclusive church. She is the author of Mothering as a Metaphor for Ministry (Routledge 2014) and What Clergy do when it looks like nothing (SPCK 2014) as well as a number of book chapters and journal articles.

QUOTES FROM ‘QUEER EYE’ – ‘PREACHING OUT LOUD’

“The Church, for me, is a place of hurt, judgement and pain”

Member of the QE Team

“The Church is quick to try to fix things without owning the damage that was done”

Pastor Noah – Evangelical Lutheran Church of Atonement, Philadelphia

“Owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do”

Brene Brown

“I keep running a negative script about myself”

Pastor Noah



You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it within himself


Galileo Galileo

THE FEARFUL CHURCH – JONATHAN FLETCHER – IWENE CAMPS

https://jeremypemberton.wordpress.com/2021/03/24/smoother-than-oil/

The title of this blog is taken from Psalm 55. The writer laments the way he has been betrayed not by his enemies and the people he might expect to let him down, but instead by ‘mine own familiar friend’, with whom he ‘took sweet counsel together and walked in the house of God as friends.” He goes on:

The words of his mouth were softer than butter, having war in his heart:
His words were smoother than oil, and yet be they very swords
Ps 55:22 

That is what Jonathan Fletcher was.

But I associate the smoothness with David Fletcher too. He too knew how to use the tools of effortless public-school pressurising. He inherited from EJH Nash and then built up the whole edifice of Iwerne and its spiritual style. He sustained and promoted a structure inside which Jonathan Fletcher and John Smyth operated their horrendous regimes. What did David Fletcher know about what his brother was doing? I was only tangentially connected with the whole thing, and yet I knew about Jonathan Fletcher. The denials of sexual motive rang totally hollow to me. I knew that people were in thrall to him. I did not know quite how bad things were. But if I knew what I knew, then I simply can’t believe that people who were a lot more closely connected with Fletcher didn’t know too, and a lot more besides.

It is too early to pretend that lessons can be learned, when all the people who upheld the culture that shielded Smyth and Fletcher are still in post. They have been asked to consider their positions, but there is no sign that any of them think they should step down. They should. I am an outsider to it all, but I have some admiration for the evangelicals who want to see a very different culture. It would be some consolation for the victims of so much abuse by Smyth and Fletcher if the senior and shadowy figures in that whole milieu stepped aside for something new to grow…..

When I was in training in Cambridge, I was attached to St Barnabas Church, whose vicar at the time was Dennis Lennon. Dennis was a Londoner, who had played in the ruins of the blitzed city in his childhood, and who definitely did not go to the right kind of school. He had been a missionary in the Philippines and was then ordained in the Church of England. He was also the most brilliant and thoughtful expository preacher. He was a man without affect, straight-forward, kindly, encouraging, and I owe him a huge amount. I well remember the service he took with his surplice on back to front, looking like he had lost his hands – when questioned afterwards, he showed the wine stain on the front – “I didn’t have time to get Sonja [his very kind Swiss wife] to wash it”. He died some years ago, and I remember him with great thankfulness very often.

Besides being a low church evangelical, Dennis was an intellectual. He read very widely, and his sermons might be peppered with quotations from some obscure Polish poet, or Dostoyevsky or sociological writings or almost anything else. And he really wrestled with the text he was preaching on.

So I was formed by this approach, and the conference that Jonathan Fletcher led seemed shallow and formulaic by comparison.

~ Jeremy Pemberton

REVD DENNIS LENNON – CHURCH TIMES OBITUARY

Obituary: THE REVD DENNIS LENNON

26 SEPTEMBER 2007

The Revd Chris Butt writes:

THE Revd Dennis Lennon, who died on 4 May, aged 75, was ordained in 1974, aged 42. Given that he served in three dioceses — for nine years in Ely, and seven in both Edinburgh and Sheffield — he had a remarkable impact on the communities in which he served.

Born in 1932, he grew up in Fulham, where he developed a taste for leadership as the gang leader of a group of boys, who would play in and around the bomb sites near his home. But the most significant event of his childhood years was the realisation of Christ’s love for him, through his involvement in a Covenanter group.

After training in precision engineering, and national service in Malaya, Dennis returned to the Far East and to Thailand, serving with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship as an evangelist, but also using his engineering skills, on one occasion to build an operating-theatre lamp with an electric torch.

He married Sonja, a Swiss nurse, also serving with OMF, in Thailand, and both their children, Claire and Patrick, were born there. Dennis had a flair for languages, and became fluent in both Thai and Malay. After seven years in Thailand, the family returned to the UK, where Dennis served as Youth Director of OMF for a further five years, before attending theological college at Oak Hill.

A curacy at the Round Church (Holy Sepulchre) in Cambridge, where he developed a ministry to the many young families, was followed by an appointment as Vicar of St Barnabas’s on the then less-than-fashionable Mill Road. The church was very run down, attended by a handful of people and threatened with closure, but within a few years it was buzzing with life.

The executive director of the Bible Society’s programme for England and Wales, Ann Holt, spoke (Back Page Interview, 31 August) about the influences of people on her, and, alongside Lesslie Newbigin, she mentioned “the sermons of Dennis Lennon. He was a brilliant wordsmith, and the first person to make me think seriously about spiritual discernment.”

Preaching was undoubtedly his greatest gift. An Evangelical at heart, he had none of the predictability of Evangelical preachers. He drew his inspiration primarily from scripture, but also fed his mind and imagination from the writings of Barth, Torrance, Farrer, and von Balthasar, among the theologians, and Herbert, Donne, Emily Dickinson, Ted Hughes, and O’Siadhail among the poets.

He would later, in retirement, write a book on George Herbert’s sonnet “Prayer”, Turning the Diamond, published by SPCK. He also had a wonderful sense of kairos, God’s opportune time, and really launched the Cambridge churches’ ministry to the many international students, which is such a feature of life in many of the city’s churches today.

In 1979, he launched the Kairos Trust, supporting a full-time worker in this ministry. Nearly 30 years on, several people are supported by the trust, and it has a remarkable ministry to students from all over the world.

From Cambridge, he was invited in 1983 to go to Edinburgh, as Rector of St Thomas’s, Corstorphine, which he described at the time as a church “all dressed up, with nowhere to go” — recognition that it had enormous, but as yet unrealised, potential.

At that time, the church was recognisably an Evangelical “flagship” in the mould of many that could be found in the cities and large towns of England — eclectic in its catchment, conservative in its theology and patterns of worship, more at home with churches of like mould (mostly south of the border) than with the diocese of which it was a part.

From this large congregation (and before church-planting became fashionable), with the blessing of Bishop Richard Holloway, who was hugely supportive of Dennis’s ministry, 70 members of the congregation at St Thomas’s moved to St Paul and St George’s, a church in the heart of Edinburgh which was threatened with closure.

This church now has a congregation of 700, who are embarking on a £5-million renewal and renovation project of the building, and look back with great gratitude to Dennis’s ministry. A second church-plant in Clermiston — Emmanuel Church — took place a few years later in the adjacent suburb to Corstorphine.

The Revd Paul Burt, now Senior Chaplain of Winchester College, who was a curate at St Thomas’s when Dennis was Rector, writes: “It’s no exaggeration to say that, as a result of Dennis’s leadership, Edinburgh church life, and even Scottish church life during the second half of the 1980s, glimpsed previously unthought-of possibilities, the effects of which are still being felt today.”

After only seven years in Edinburgh, Dennis was invited to bring his passion for evangelism and the breadth of his experience to the post of Adviser for Evangelism in the diocese of Sheffield, with the added responsibility of two small Anglo-Catholic parishes in Burghwallis and Skelbrooke.

This enabled him to speak with authenticity to churches and ministers across the churchmanship spectrum. He travelled widely within the diocese, encouraging parishes to discover the pattern of evangelism and faith-sharing that worked for them. He also kept up his regular writing of daily notes for Scripture Union’s Encounter with God series, something that he had begun in Cambridge, and which brought a worldwide readership and a considerable postbag.

On one occasion, he received a postcard from a missionary nun somewhere in equatorial Africa: “Now, after forty years, I finally understand what Hebrews is about. Yours, in gratitude, a Handmaid of the Lord.”

In retirement in Uppingham, he was never inactive, and his ministry was deeply appreciated. It had a transforming impact on a number of individual lives; but he was happy to control his workload and spend time with his wife, Sonja, and his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed having time to write, publishing two books in the Encounter with God series on Job and Revelation, another entitled Weak Enough for God to Use, inspired by a saying of Hudson Taylor, and several books on prayer and spirituality: Fuelling the Fire, The Eyes of the Heart, and Turning the Diamond.

At his funeral, the Bishop of Peterborough, who had taught Dennis at Oak Hill, said that he had learnt more from his student on prayer than he himself had taught.

Dennis baptised his latest grandchild, Daniel, on the Sunday before he died: a joyful end to his ministry. After a lengthy battle with cancer, he died on his and Sonja’s 46th wedding anniversary.

“BOY ERASED”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Erased#:~:text=Jump%20to%20navigation%20Jump%20to%20search.%202018%20biographical,produced%20with%20Kerry%20Kohansky%20Roberts%20and%20Steve%20Golin.

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MARCH 21 2021 – CHURCH OF ENGLAND CRIMINAL FORGERY TO PERVERT THE COURSE OF JUSTICE AND/OR CHRIST CHURCH CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY TO PERVERT THE COURSE OF JUSTICE ?

“If this isn’t forgery, it is certainly a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice”

‘Archbishop Cranmer’

“AVERTING A CATASTROPHE IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. IS IT TOO LATE?” – STEPHEN PARSONS – ‘SURVIVING CHURCH’

Averting a catastrophe in the Church of England. Is it too late?

Stephen’s Blog Stephen Parsons

In September 2018, the Church of England, as part of its ongoing safeguarding efforts, published a very comprehensive fact sheet on different types of abuse.  It is an attempt to encourage a reader to become used to recognising the great variety of abusive practices that can occur in the Church and elsewhere.  In 2015, English law codified the idea that domestic abuse is much more than just physical violence.  It may include a range of behaviours that come under the broad category of coercion and control.   Even without evidence of physical violence, a man or woman can now be convicted of a criminal offence for abuse.   Educating people to have a broader understanding of abuse in a religious context was also needed.  I have a personal interest in this topic.  When I wrote my book Ungodly Fear over twenty years ago, I was trying to explore this idea that the misuse of power in a church context was a widespread reality and the cause of much suffering.  Abusing power is a far bigger topic than just the sexual exploitation of a vulnerable person.

This morning, on a sister blog Archbishop Cranmer, we heard new details about the Dean Percy affair.  I do not propose to repeat the points made in that disturbing article, but to use some of Cranmer’s material to indicate that Percy has become the victim of many of the types of abuse mentioned in the 2018 document.  Apart from naming a wide range of abusive practices, the 2018 CofE document also provides suggestions of the way that the Church can respond to the victims and survivors.  Percy, because he has been labelled as a perpetrator, has not been offered much help, pastoral, financial or practical.  Help is supposed to be offered in such cases, according to the Church’s safeguarding protocols but only the tiniest amount has been forthcoming.  Somehow the level of vitriol in the College is such that a regime of extreme isolation has been imposed.  The help and support that Percy has been able to gather is that which has come from family and friends.  He has also seen the complete depletion of the family finances. 

The 2018 document first of all discusses emotional or psychological abuse.  I would see these two forms of abuse as sometimes distinct categories and, at other times, overlapping.   Over the past three years there have been many examples of psychological threats and abuse towards Percy.  Phone calls/emails late at night are part of the stock-in-trade for those who want to harass and put someone permanently on edge.  Also within a community like a college, it is not difficult to create an unfriendly environment for an individual.  Shunning and ostracism, when they are practised, are especially cruel.  This is a topic to which I often return in this blog as it is one of the most evil practices that can be enacted.  The 2018 document mentions this behaviour when it describes ‘causing or forcing isolation/withdrawal from family/friends and support networks’.  The extraordinary lengths to which the Censors and members of the Chapter has gone to prevent members of the clergy/colleagues even visiting Percy are described as practices that the Church should be fighting against.  Can unproven allegations of sexual harassment ever justify the rolling out of such viciously cruel behaviour?

Abuse can also be financial.  The 2018 document has in mind such things as the forcing of an elderly person to change a will or hand over property.  In Percy’s case, the financial abuse has been by forcing him virtually to bankrupt himself in employing lawyers to defend him in the first legal challenge by the College to oust him in 2018.  He was declared innocent of all the 27 original charges brought by the Censors.  Percy’s accusers were also shown up to have produced manipulated documents.  In short, the accusers engaged in lying to make their case.  Retired Judge Andrew Smith saw the lies and commented on them in his report.  In the latest attacks by College and National Safeguarding Team, overseen by the Bishop of Birmingham, Percy has been unable to instruct legal representation.  This is partly for financial reasons and partly for reasons of his health.

The CofE document mentions discriminatory abuse.  This is taking advantage of someone who is in a weaker position because of poverty, disability or some other handicap.  Discriminatory abuse is to be found all over the recent treatment that Percy has received.  The Sub-Dean, Richard Peers, has taken it upon himself to prevent even the fellow members of Chapter from making contact with Percy.  I understand that not even his request to receive Communion in the home has been allowed.  Such isolating of a sick man, socially, spiritually and psychologically is desperately underhand behaviour. 

Institutional abuse is described.  This is the kind of situation that might occur in a Home where one patient is treated badly because they are deemed to be difficult in some way.  When an institution, like a Home, turns against an individual, it is hard to see how anyone can resist such enormous pressure.  It is clearly going on at Christ Church. The financial bullying of Percy, backed by the enormous financial resources of the College, was another example of institutional abuse.   The Censors must be hoping that the Dean’s ability to fight back financially will eventually be defeated by the sheer fire power available to the College because of their endowments. 

Abuse by neglect and acts of omission are other examples of behaviour suffered by Percy.  The utter failure of the College or Canons to reach out to a sick man to offer help and support of any kind is an inexplicable failure of any institution, let alone one founded on Christian principles.  The 2018 document is not a particularly Christian document.  It is rather an adaptation of the Care Act of 2015 which wanted to show how we need to take a much broader understanding of abuse than society has done hitherto.  As with the Charity Commission, the values being articulated are human values.  If Christian individuals and institutions find these hard to hold on to, what can we expect of the rest of society?  Are we not able to hope that Christians take morality and goodness seriously?

The final category of abuse mentioned in the document is complex abuse.  This is a name given to a situation when an institution or an individual is using a variety of abuse methods against one person.  We have already indicated that Dean Percy is the target of a many-sided form of abuse.  Complex abuse might be considered to be an convenient shorthand for what is going on here.  But there is one great irony about the document Types of Abuse.  This was put together by experts in the Safeguarding world to help Christians identify those in need of help.  Here we are discovering that in fact it is, in this case, the Church itself committing acts of abuse against an individual.  If I am right in identifying six of the categories of abuse in this church document being set in motion by church officials, then someone needs to blow a whistle on this event.  We often speak about survivors on this blog, but here we have to describe Percy as a victim.  Six forms of abuse coming from two distinct institutions, operating with an extraordinary level of malice, is enough to put anyone into a breakdown.  No one going through such an experience is easily able to fight back.  Humanly, the force being used is barely survivable.  The only human strength that can operate here is that provided by supporters, family and friends.

Two things need to happen if the Church is to emerge from this disaster with any integrity. 

One is that all the clergy who have been guilty of dirty tricks and abuse against Percy should be named in a new Clergy Discipline Measure process.  There have been so many procedural dishonesties in this episode.  One mentioned by Archbishop Cranmer, is what I call the dirty dossier.  This is a fraudulent risk assessment document submitted with the CDM documents to the Bishop of Oxford.  The College have admitted that they were wrong to back this document but the damage has done in creating the over-the-top risk assessment which has now been put in place around the College. 

The second thing that could save the day and rescue the Church’s integrity from a mire of self- destruction, is for someone of stature to come forward.  They would then ask for all the destructive church processes to be halted for a while.  The one person that could do this is the Archbishop of York.  The Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to be entangled with the same legal firms as have been advising the Diocese of Oxford and Christ Church College, as well as the various bodies that work out of Church House.  Stephen Cottrell, hopefully, can recognise what a disaster these events are for the whole Church of England.  I believe that the paths of Dean Percy and Cottrell have crossed in the past.  If that is true, he will know that Percy is not a sex-crazed lunatic, which is how his enemies at Christ Church have been trying to portray him for their own political ends.  If the Archbishop pf York could put in place a moratorium on the church processes for three months, this might help to calm things down and stop the current madness infecting and afflicting the church in Oxford and elsewhere.   There is a crisis; we need something dramatic to happen to resolve things.  Stephen Cottrell, you are our last hope!

About Stephen Parsons

Stephen is a retired Anglican priest living at present in Cumbria. He has taken a special interest in the issues around health and healing in the Church but also when the Church is a place of harm and abuse. He has published books on both these issues and is at present particularly interested in understanding how power works at every level in the Church. He is always interested in making contact with others who are concerned with these issues. 

3 thoughts on “Averting a catastrophe in the Church of England. Is it too late?”

  1. John Wallace Stephen, you are so right in this. Nearly 30 years ago, the children’s home where I worked was subject to allegations of abuse as a result of a new deputy Social Services Director, who wanted to make her mark. 52 of us were suspended. Fortunately, through the strength of numbers and putting pressure on councillors, we eventually got an independent enquiry which exonerated us and resulted in the Director and the deputy resigning and the rest of us being redeployed or receiving a financial settlement. Even at that time, the enquiry was reckoned to have cost the County Council around £1m. Martyn does not have the luxury of these numbers, but perhaps those of us who want to see fairness for Martyn – and believe in his integrity – should start a campaign of writing to + Birmingham (as in charge of the CDM), to +Oxford as the diocesan and to ++ Canterbury and ++ York (copying the Charity Commission into our correspondence). I believe totally in Martyn’s innocence and integrity but equally believe that any challenges to this should be based on fairness, openness and, dare I say, the spirit of Christian charity and humility. Initiating CDM processes during absence due to sickness is certainly bad practice and could well be illegal. I’m sure our legal participants to this blog will clarify this. Martyn has already suffered enough at the hands of vindictive academic and ecclesiastical manipulators. It is time for more vocal support for fairness and transparency of process.
  2. Rowland Wateridge If, and we have to say if, a fraudulent document was used in initiating the CDM procedure, the CDM should be set aside, no ifs and buts about that. You can’t have a legal disciplinary procedure based on illegal material. So, the full facts about that document including how and by whom it was produced must be established urgently. I believe steps to that end are already in hand.

“LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN CHRIST CHURCH OXFORD SAGA” – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

COMMENTS

Richard W. Symonds Awaiting for approval

Stephen Parsons, over at ‘Surviving Church’, asks: “Averting a catastrophe in the Church of England. Is it too late?”, and concludes it is not – but…

“This morning, on a sister blog Archbishop Cranmer [and elsewhere – Ed], we heard new details about the Dean Percy affair…
Two things need to happen if the Church is to emerge from this disaster with any integrity. 
One is that all the clergy who have been guilty of dirty tricks and abuse against Percy should be named in a new Clergy Discipline Measure process. There have been so many procedural dishonesties in this episode. One mentioned by Archbishop Cranmer, is what I call the dirty dossier. This is a fraudulent risk assessment document submitted with the CDM documents to the Bishop of Oxford. The College have admitted that they were wrong to back this document but the damage has done in creating the over-the-top risk assessment which has now been put in place around the College. 
The second thing that could save the day and rescue the Church’s integrity from a mire of self- destruction, is for someone of stature to come forward. They would then ask for all the destructive church processes to be halted for a while. The one person that could do this is the Archbishop of York. The Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to be entangled with the same legal firms as have been advising the Diocese of Oxford and Christ Church College, as well as the various bodies that work out of Church House. Stephen Cottrell, hopefully, can recognise what a disaster these events are for the whole Church of England. I believe that the paths of Dean Percy and Cottrell have crossed in the past. If that is true, he will know that Percy is not a sex-crazed lunatic, which is how his enemies at Christ Church have been trying to portray him for their own political ends. If the Archbishop pf York could put in place a moratorium on the church processes for three months, this might help to calm things down and stop the current madness infecting and afflicting the church in Oxford and elsewhere.  There is a crisis; we need something dramatic to happen to resolve things. 
Stephen Cottrell, you are our last hope!”

FURTHER INFORMATION

“THE CASE OF BISHOP GEORGE BELL” BY DAVID JASPER DD FRSE

COMMENTS

COMMENTS

You may have seen a recent letter to the Church Times...about the case of the Revd John Roberts in Woolton. Liverpool…But it was Justin Welby’s behaviour when John Roberts was ‘helping’ at the cathedral that really struck us. In that situation, Welby sided with a convicted abuser against a genuine complainant. Clearly, he has very poor judgement on occasion, as was abundantly shown later by his ‘significant cloud’ comment. Private Eye has covered the case to some extent but, so far, Welby has largely escaped as far as the national press is concerned. At the time of IICSA, the John Roberts case was going through the courts, so there are only veiled references to it in their reports. Liverpool diocese is undertaking a review of the case, so we shall see if that says anything much about Welby’s involvement.

‘M’ – 21/03/2021

It brings it all back, doesn’t it?  I don’t think my anger and disgust will ever go away and my regard for the Church of England which was low anyway has pretty well gone…

‘J’ – 20/03/2021

Thank you for sending me this article by David Jasper. Whilst its contents will be familiar to those of us concerned for Bishop Bell’s reputation, it brings the necessary material together for a wider readership. I wonder whether copies of it have gone to Welby and Warner, though in the case of the former it would probably be intercepted by his staff and kept from his sight, and Warner remains obdurate in his refusal to admit his errors and those of the group which tried to trash Bell’s reputation. After the Carlile Report, an honourable man would have apologized and at least have offered his resignation. It was suggested to me that Warner’s chief concern is protecting his safeguarding team from all blame. I do not know whether this is so, but it is a black day for the Church when matters of truth and justice take second place to defending diocesan functionaries.

I also wonder whether a copy of the Jasper article has gone to the Church Times – not that I have much faith in the paper to concern itself with the Bell case. I believe several letters have been written to the Editor on this matter, including one from me, none of which has been published.

However, the important thing is that Welby and Warner must by now be aware that Bell’s defender’s are not going to “put up and shut up”. Warner, in particular, appears oblivious to the fact that it is his own reputation, and that of the diocese and the Cathedral, which are now in the gutter.

‘B’ – 20/03/2021

Lamentable

‘G’ – 22/03/2021

What a devastating summary of the case!  I hope that the press will pick it up – not just the Church Times, but the national dailies as well

‘T’

I think what distinguishes the present situation from what has gone before is the suggestion that there has now been a breach of criminal law, not just irregularities in the Church’s own procedures, very serious as some of those have been. We can only wait to see whether this latest development changes things. It may be that only outside intervention will do so

‘R’ – 22/03/2021

Surely it would be better for him to go elsewhere.” That’s what the Governing Body wants. It’s called giving way to bullying

‘S’

Bullying is abuse. The bully is an abuser

‘R’

CHURCH TIMES – MARCH 26 2021 – SUB DEAN CANON RICHARD PEERS

Christ Church Cathedral ‘praying for Dean Percy’

THE Sub Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Canon Richard Peers, issued a pastoral letter on Wednesday to assure the congregation that the Dean, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, who has currently stepped back from duties while a complaint of sexual harassment is investigated (News, 19 March), is prayed for daily in the cathedral. He rebutted rumours on social media that Dean Percy, who is unwell, had been refused communion and was unsupported. He wrote: “Throughout all this, I have encouraged friends and colleagues to make contact with the Percys to offer love and support and prayer in what must be an extraordinarily difficult situation.”

Safeguarding decisions at Christ Church, Oxford

From the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford

Sir, — I write as Christ Church Cathedral’s Safeguarding Lead, and I can, therefore, confirm exactly what was, and was not, in the leaked risk assessment (News, 19 March).

The version of the risk assessment leaked to the Church Times lists a timeline, including a “Second risk assessment” as having been carried out by Kate Wood on 22 October 2020. Instead of “Second risk assessment”, it should have read “Investigation”: this is what was carried out by Kate Wood and submitted on that date. That subheading was corrected in subsequent versions of the documents.

None of this has any bearing whatsoever on the complaint itself, or indeed the assessment of risk made in the documents. The risk assessments are confidential, password-protected, and with very limited circulations, designed to protect all those involved, including both the young member of staff who made the allegation, and the Dean of Christ Church himself.

It has even been sensationally suggested that the risk assessments in some way restrict the Dean’s freedom to be visited and supported by friends and family, or even to receive communion. None of this is true; and pastoral support has been in place for Martyn throughout.

It is very disappointing how one heading from those preliminary documents is being disingenuously used to imply that the assessments are somehow invalid, to generate mistruths, and to cast doubt on the CDM process itself.

GRAHAM WARD (Canon)
Christ Church
Oxford OX1 1DP

From Mr Martin Sewell

Sir, — I read your report last week about the wholly disproportionate irregular risk assessment concerning Dean Percy. Taking the document at face value, I was one who criticised the independent investigator Kate Wood for exceeding her area of expertise.

The affixing of her name gave that document the authority of her experience and independence, which, it transpires, it did not have. Accordingly, she did not deserve my criticism, though legitimate criticism must now be considered elsewhere.

I hope that you will allow me to apologise to Ms Wood publicly for the upset and frustration that this aspect of the scandal will have caused her, and my inadvertent part in it.

MARTIN SEWELL
Member of General Synod
8 Appleshaw Close
Gravesend
Kent DA11 7PB

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MARCH 20 2021 – “THE CASE OF BISHOP GEORGE BELL” – DAVID JASPER DD FRSE – SCOTTISH EPISCOPAL INSTITUTE JOURNAL – SPRING 2021 – VOLUME 5.1

“Following the excoriation of the Church hierarchy by Professor David Jasper DD FRSE, it makes me wonder whether or not action should be taken on the basis of ‘institutional abuse’”

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

Page 1

Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal – Spring 2021

Page 31

DAVID JASPER DD FRSE

“In the Christian year as celebrated in the Church of England, 3 October is dedicated to the remembrance of ‘George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Ecumenist, Peacemaker’…”

Page 32

The Times put it quite simply: ‘Eminent bishop was a paedophile, admits Church’. The background to this extraordinary, and actually incorrect, statement was this…”

Page 33

“In his statement in October 2015, Warner…’the scrutiny of the allegations has been thorough, objective and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties’…”

Page 34

“‘…balance of probability’. Lawyers know what that means, but when institutional fear and public appetite for scandal are strong factors, there seems to be little patience for the necessary verbal niceties of the law. They are there to protect all of us. Bell was, in effect and in spite of the Bishop of Durham’s statement in the House of Lords, pronounced guilty before his innocence was securely disproved…Lord Carlile’s report was…utterly dismissive of the original diocesan investigation, describing it as ‘indefensibly wrong'”

Page 35

“Carlile concludes…’for Bishop Bell’s reputation to be catastrophically affected …was just wrong. In spite of this the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, continued to reject the clear presumption of innocence as demonstrated by Carlile, commenting instead that a ‘significant cloud’ remained over Bell’s name….Nothing that would stand scrutiny in a court of law has been found against Bell…”

Page 36

“George Bell Group…conclusion reads: ‘…Bishop Bell’s reputation is today vindicated and affirmed by authoritative opinion. What remains of the story is only a matter of contemporary church politics’. But this last matter remains with us today…As long as there is any hint that anyone is to be found guilty. or suffer the destruction of character…before their innocence or guilt have been established by the due and unprejudiced processes of law, then none of us is safe”.

Page 37

“In a statement of 1 February 2019…Lord Carlile wrote: ‘The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him’. So far, it appears, the Church of England has failed to find the moral courage…to make this declaration of his innocence. It belittles us all”.

COMMENTS

You may have seen a recent letter to the Church Times...about the case of the Revd John Roberts in Woolton. Liverpool…But it was Justin Welby’s behaviour when John Roberts was ‘helping’ at the cathedral that really struck us. In that situation, Welby sided with a convicted abuser against a genuine complainant. Clearly, he has very poor judgement on occasion, as was abundantly shown later by his ‘significant cloud’ comment. Private Eye has covered the case to some extent but, so far, Welby has largely escaped as far as the national press is concerned. At the time of IICSA, the John Roberts case was going through the courts, so there are only veiled references to it in their reports. Liverpool diocese is undertaking a review of the case, so we shall see if that says anything much about Welby’s involvement.

‘M’ – 21/03/2021

It brings it all back, doesn’t it?  I don’t think my anger and disgust will ever go away and my regard for the Church of England which was low anyway has pretty well gone…

‘J’ – 20/03/2021

Thank you for sending me this article by David Jasper. Whilst its contents will be familiar to those of us concerned for Bishop Bell’s reputation, it brings the necessary material together for a wider readership. I wonder whether copies of it have gone to Welby and Warner, though in the case of the former it would probably be intercepted by his staff and kept from his sight, and Warner remains obdurate in his refusal to admit his errors and those of the group which tried to trash Bell’s reputation. After the Carlile Report, an honourable man would have apologized and at least have offered his resignation. It was suggested to me that Warner’s chief concern is protecting his safeguarding team from all blame. I do not know whether this is so, but it is a black day for the Church when matters of truth and justice take second place to defending diocesan functionaries.

I also wonder whether a copy of the Jasper article has gone to the Church Times – not that I have much faith in the paper to concern itself with the Bell case. I believe several letters have been written to the Editor on this matter, including one from me, none of which has been published.

However, the important thing is that Welby and Warner must by now be aware that Bell’s defender’s are not going to “put up and shut up”. Warner, in particular, appears oblivious to the fact that it is his own reputation, and that of the diocese and the Cathedral, which are now in the gutter.

‘B’ – 20/03/2021

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MARCH 19 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [MARCH 7 2016] – “FORMER ARCHBISHOP SLAMS CHURCH FOR DESTROYING REPUTATION OF GEORGE BELL” – THE ARGUS

“FORMER ARCHBISHOP SLAMS CHURCH FOR DESTROYING REPUTATION OF GEORGE BELL” – THE ARGUS – MARCH 7 2016

7th March 2016

Former Archbishop slams church for destroying reputation of George Bell

By Rachel Millard

Dr George Carey pictured in 2002 two days before his retirement as Archbishop of CanterburyPicture: John Stillwell / Press Association
Picture: John Stillwell/Press Association

Dr George Carey pictured in 2002 two days before his retirement as Archbishop of Canterbury [Picture: John Stillwell / Press Association]

8 comments

A FORMER Archbishop of Canterbury has attacked the church for destroying the reputation of Bishop George Bell over a settled claim of child sex abuse.

Lord Carey said he was “appalled” at the way the church had treated the memory of the revered late wartime bishop and was looking for “ways of re-opening” the case of the former head of the Church of England in Sussex.

Suggesting Bell had been ‘crushed’ by a ‘powerful organisation’, Lord Carey said he had been denied the right to a fair trial and had questioned the church’s approach but been told to keep things ‘low-key’.

Last October the Church of England announced it had settled the claim formally lodged in April 2014 after expert reports gave them “no reason to doubt” its veracity.

The Argus subsequently revealed Bell’s victim was a five-year-old girl at the the time of the abuse in the late 1940s and 1950s, who recalled him telling her “it was our little secret, because God loved me”.

The revelations provoked huge controversy as the former Chichester bishop’s name was stripped from institutions, with supporters saying the claim remained unproven.

The current bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, praising the victim’s courage.

Now, responding to a letter from George Bell’s 92-year-old niece, Barbara Whitely, Lord Carey said the church he headed until 2002 has effectively “delivered a ‘guilty’ verdict without anything resembling a fair and open trial”.

He added in the letter date March 3: “His reputation is in tatters and as you sadly point out, all references to him in the diocese he loved and served have been removed and renamed.

“[…] I am frankly appalled by the way the church authorities have treated his memory.

“When this matter became public knowledge several months ago I questioned the Church’s approach with someone at Lambeth Palace and was advised that it was in everyone’s interest to keep the matter low key.

“I have however kept a watching brief on the matter and your letter has now prompted me to seek ways of re-opening this.”

Lord Carey’s intervention comes after it was revealed he wrote to police in 1993 over the now disgraced Bishop Peter Ball. When the case came to court last year Ball’s solicitors argued Lord Carey was assured the case was closed after Ball received a police caution at the time. But Ball was finally convicted and jailed.

In his letter to Mrs Whitley, Lord Carey added he hoped “to persuade some people in the media to take this forward”.

He added: “Newspapers are sometimes prepared to step forward when powerful organisations crush individuals.” 

8 comments

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MARCH 17 2021 – “THIS IS A ROTTEN SYSTEM RUN BY PEOPLE WITH A THOROUGHLY DEFORMED VIEW OF FAIR PRACTICE…THERE ARE FEW THINGS THAT MAKE ME ANGRY, BUT STUPIDITY, BULLYING, AND INJUSTICE ARE ON THE LIST. ALL ARE PRESENT IN THE PERCY CASE IN SPADES” – MARTIN SEWELL ON CHRIST CHURCH/CHURCH OF ENGLAND SAFEGUARDING

“THIS IS A ROTTEN SYSTEM RUN BY PEOPLE WITH A THOROUGHLY DEFORMED VIEW OF FAIR PRACTICE…THERE ARE FEW THINGS THAT MAKE ME ANGRY, BUT STUPIDITY, BULLYING, AND INJUSTICE ARE ON THE LIST. ALL ARE PRESENT IN THE PERCY CASE IN SPADES” – MARTIN SEWELL ON CHRIST CHURCH/CHURCH OF ENGLAND SAFEGUARDING

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN CHRIST CHURCH OXFORD SAGA

Richard W. Symonds

“Dean Percy, therefore, faces three concurrent investigations: the CDM; a second core group set up by the National Safeguarding Team; and a second tribunal set up by the Christ Church Governing Body under statute 39, “seeking the removal of the Dean from office for good cause”. In the earlier Christ Church tribunal, to consider a complaint lodged in 2018 (News, 9 November 2018), Dean Percy was exonerated of every one of the 27 charges against him (News, 23 August 2019)” – Church Times

So, three quasi-legal kangaroo courts ‘lynching’ the unwell Dean – with injustice, cruelty and brutality – inflicted with an illusion of impregnability, immunity and impunity.

Martin Sewell

Martin Sewell – Child Protection Lawyer [Retired] and Member of General Synod – on Church Safeguarding

The malcontent dons and their lawyers “sold“ the dodgy risk assessment to the Governing Body on the basis that it was an official CofE document compiled by people with the requisite qualification and competence to do so. They prayed in aid the authority the CofE logo and Kate Wood’s name though she was plainly embarrassed to be associated with it.

I was unhappy at her being involved in an exercise outside her core expertise. The failure by the College and lawyers to correct that false impression or correct it in a timely way when requested by her to do so, speaks volumes.

Somebody created that document and saw fit to badge it as a CofE assessment, somebody saw fit to share it with the Bishop who – when challenged – still apparently asserts it is a valid assessment by unauthorised people. Perhaps he will confirm and release how many such assessments those responsible have undertaken. Did he undertake ANY due diligence – if so what?

Had the College clarified Ms Wood’s disassociation from the documents. I would have given Ms Wood an apology, insofar as I implicitly criticised her involvement in this shabby apology of a fair risk assessment. That said, she did not contact me. I am not hard to find.

She has my apology, ( albeit limited by being misled ): would that others were so quick off the mark to those with a grievance.

That said, I do wish she could have felt able to distance herself from it earlier. To do so would have undermined the status of the RA [Risk Assessment] earlier. It is a shame the document stood unchallenged for so long.

It was apparently not created on a CofE template. I understand the metadata reveals the template used is a generic one, not designed for safeguarding use, but for generic event purposes. Its format was once employed to assess the risks of a school classroom hamster!

Interesting to note the standards of scrutiny of important documents by the College Censors.

Martin Sewell 

I ought to briefly address the decision of the Bishop of Birmingham to progress the matter whilst the Dean has been assessed as unable to engage in legal proceedings by his treating Psychiatrist. His lawyer knows the proper legal practice that one cannot act for such a person and were the lawyer to purport to do so they would be doing so improperly and moreover any decision taken by the respondent, under harassment for a reply, would not be valid.

We have come to terms with the Church not complying with the Human Rights Act.

Now we need to accept that it recognises that a person may be under legal disability and unable to act – but attributes no consequence to the status and ploughs on regardless.

This is a rotten system run by people with a thoroughly deformed view of fair practice. 

Father Ron Smith 

There would seem here – to an outsider – to be a whiff of injustice being perpetrated by the Church of England; in its treatment of the situation of the Dean of Christ Church. The seeming intransigence of the University Dons who want him out is not being challenged by the Church – or at least, that is what appears to be the case from this side of the world, in Polynesia.

Neil

Neil

It is interesting that virtually all commentators seem to be taking Dean Percy’s side. Is this because of his theological views and general position on Church politics? This I could understand given that I agree entirely with his criticisms of Archbishop Welby re managerialism and the poor and misguided leadership he gives. And also I agree with those who feel a great injustice was done to the saintly Bishop George Bell. But I don’t think it was Dean Percy’s finest hour when he and his wife (or possibly vice versa) hounded out Bishop Philip North whom God had called to the see of Sheffield. Also I am not sure anybody has noticed that when Dean Percy was asking for a pay rise to match that of other College Heads in Oxford, he was actually comparing apples with oranges. In that there is a very limited field of talent and suitability for the post of Dean of Christ Church – given you need to be in Holy Orders – and this has been compounded by Welby’s system failing to support academics within the church. I don’t think Dean Percy, for all his gifts, quite matches the pedigree and stellar achievements of many if not most Oxford Heads.
The situation is very sad for everybody involved and hopefully a settlement can be reached without further legal battles. My friends who were at the House have told me they are fed up with both the Dean and the Students of Christ church (the Governing Body). 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to  Neil

There is no moral equivalence between the behaviour of the Christ Church Governing Body and the behaviour of Martyn Percy. To attempt to do so only adds to the obfuscation, perpetuates the injustice and cruelty, and justifies the unjustifiable and unacceptable.

Charles Read

Charles Read Reply to  Neil

What Faith said – well put. As for the Sheffield debacle I would add:

  1. Martyn and Emma Percy did what theologians do and asked hard questions – as summarised by faith. Philip North could have formulated a coherent reply by saying that he thought the C of E had no authority to ordain women without ecumenical agreement (with Rome…) but instead he gave no answer – accounts of his meeting with the women clergy of Sheffield bear this out too – they pressed him and no answer did he give (so it was not just the Percys doing this).
  2. The CNC failed to consider the effect on the diocese of appointing Philip and prepare him for the inevitable furore.
  3. Sheffield has a high percentage of female clergy – what was the CNC thinking?
  4. Martyn and Emma served in Sheffield diocese so they are not disinterested or uninformed about that diocese. I would be concerned if an inappropriate appointment were made to any of my former dioceses – you retain a concern for their wellbeing after you move elsewhere.

Martyn is in fact a top flight scholar but I wonder if there is an air of sniffiness about the fact that he writes and researches in what may broadly be termed sociology of religion? I know from another place that some academics (including theologians) think that is not proper theology.

And finally – does anyone wonder if the sniffiness is connected with Martyn’s humble origins? I am sure such attitudes do not exist in Oxford….

Martin Sewell

Martin Sewell Reply to  Neil

Neil. I can assure you that I and others take a stand on a very simple platform – Transparency, impartiality, accountability, proportionality and adherence to the basic principles of Natural Justice and the Human Rights Act.

i have inter alia defended a dead Anglo Catholic Bishop, a retired Evangelical Archbishop, the liberal Dean, survivors of varying churchmanship and none (including one from a different faith entirely). At present, those seeking my advice and pastoral support tend to be clergy getting unfair treatment. Given how critical I have been of the Conservative Evangelical community over Smyth and Fletcher, I am surprised and (though sorry for them) pleased that some from that constituency have felt able to seek my advice and pastoral support.

So, I hope you can see from this, that the advocacy of Dean Percy’s case by a number of us is rooted in the principles set out above. We advocate good practice for anyone, whether we agree or disagree with them.

There are few things that make me angry, but stupidity, bullying, and injustice are on the list. All are present in the Percy case in spades. 

Faith

Faith

Responding to Neil briefly. He needs to read the Smith Tribunal judgment.

a. The Dean did not ask for a pay rise, but rather requested transparent processes in setting pay – others first, and then his.

b. For having the temerity to challenge the dons on ‘transparency’, they saddled him with a charge of “immoral, scandalous and disgraceful conduct” – and for four months refused to even explain what lay behind the charge. Most laypeople would assume adultery or much worse – but it suited the dons (again) to not be transparent.

c. They are at it again – “serious sexual assault” and “immoral, scandalous and disgraceful conduct” are all very headline-grabbing. But the allegation turns out to be something to do with a comment about a person’s hair. This is the dons second go at tarnishing him. It is worth remembering that the Dean has no grievance procedure under Christ Church statutes – so defenceless, and taken to trial all the time.

d. I can’t see that the situation with Fr. North is comparable. Fr. Philip could have defended his theological position and explained how he proposed to work with clergy whose orders he did not recognise. He was not able to explain how he could support the priestly ministry of clergy (male) if ordained by a woman bishop and female (all) if he continued to assert that such people were not actually real priests at all. That was/is his theological position. They never were, nor ever could be priests (although males could presumably be ‘properly’ ordained by a male bishop, if they were prepared to accept that ordination by a woman bishop was inherently void?). Fr. Philip’s position would have meant that potentially 50% of the Sheffield parishes were not getting valid sacramental ministry, which as a diocesan bishop should concern him and those parishes. Most clergy and laity cannot see how that is a sustainable position for a diocesan bishop to take.

e. Heads of House in Oxford come in all shapes and sizes. Yes, some are top of their profession (legal, government, commerce, civil service etc). But the majority are, like the Dean, fellow academics who happen to have also run complex and large institutions too. The Dean has been (amongst other things) the Senior Independent Director of the Advertising Standards Authority, which he somehow managed whilst also being Principal of Cuddesdon. I think he still advises the British Board of Film Classification? He’s reasonably well-known as an academic in his field, and one festschrift behind him before you turn 60 is not too bad. Besides running Oxford’s largest College, there is also a Cathedral to manage too. But the dons conspire to make him the lowest-paid Head of House in Oxford (amongst forty colleges). Typically, he has not complained about that and doesn’t – despite the clunky PR of the dons trying to narrate him as greedy.

Read the Smith Tribunal and a. b. and e. are crystal clear.

Stephen Griffiths

Stephen Griffiths Reply to  Faith

Regarding point d), Philip North’s views may or may not be exactly as you describe. But in any case, his views are allowed and upheld by the Five Guiding Principles which General Synod voted through in 2014 and to which every ordinand has since then had to assent before ordination. I for one found Dean Percy’s heavyweight opposition to Philip North’s appointment unreasonable, given the Church of England’s settled and generous position on the matter as enshrined in the Five Guiding Principles. The fact that bishops representing the full spectrum of views can work and flourish together in the same diocese (e.g. Blackburn and Chichester) shows that Dean Percy’s concerns were unfounded. Whether the CNC and Sheffield Diocese handled the matter well is another matter. Reply

Neil

Neil Reply to  Faith

Re a.
From the FT (the Smith Tribunal doesn’t seem to be readily available)
In December 2017 Martyn Percy emailed one of the people who set his salary. As dean of the Oxford college of Christ Church, Percy was already among the best paid clerics in the Church of England — earning more than the Archbishop of Canterbury. But he was unhappy. A priest since his late twenties, the 55-year-old was not rich by the standards of college heads. At Christ Church, with its huge quadrangles and £500m endowment, he was surrounded by wealth. He felt overworked. Perhaps, he told the college’s salaries board, he should “adjust [his] availability” — and skip a fundraising tour of the US? From such exchanges has arisen one of the most embarrassing and expensive debacles in the university’s recent history.

I didn’t realise that the Dean wasn’t asking for a pay-rise, which you say is made crystal clear in the Smith Tribunal.

Re b.  ‘immoral, scandalous and disgraceful conduct’ I agree are totally over the top as charges even if he had asked for a pay rise. Unless his behaviour changed (if such a pay-rise was not granted) into a disgraceful sulk and non-cooperation. But I don’t think this was ever alleged? I’m not sure what ‘adjusting availability’ might have amounted to…

Re c. I agree that commenting on someone’s hair does not merit a charge of ‘serious sexual assault’ – but that if you touched someone’s hair then the matter does become serious. Especially if you are the boss. It isn’t clear what is alleged.

Re e. The point is that the field of potentially suitable candidates for appointment as Dean is really very small indeed, and given the need to be in Holy Orders Dean Percy might have thought it more suitable to compare his remuneration with other priests in the Church of England – or Deans of Cathedrals. It would be interesting to know how his predecessors managed on their pay, and if they were content.

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MARCH 15 2021 – “WE ARE SIMPLY FOLLOWING THE ARCHBISHOP’S DIRECTIVE: ‘THIS CANNNOT BE IGNORED OR SWEPT UNDER THE CARPET'” – RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

“There is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet”

Archbishop Justin Welby

“We are simply following the Archbishop’s directive – neither ignoring the allegation, nor sweeping it under the carpet. We are fully analysing its detail and scrutinising it closely – something the Church core group very seriously failed to do at the time”

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

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MARCH 14 2021 – “A BILLION-DOLLAR LIABILITY” – TOM DOYLE [1985] + “ACT PROMPTLY” – GEORGE BELL – ‘CAUTION LIST’ [1939] – “IT IS ALMOST ALWAYS THE COVER-UP RATHER THAN THE EVENT THAT CAUSES TROUBLE” – HOWARD BAKER

“A BILLION-DOLLAR LIABILITY” – TOM DOYLE [1985] + “ACT PROMPTLY” – GEORGE BELL – ‘CAUTION LIST’ [1939] – “IT IS ALMOST ALWAYS THE COVER-UP RATHER THAN THE EVENT THAT CAUSES TROUBLE” – HOWARD BAKER

‘THE CAUTION LIST’* – WHERE IS IT TO BE FOUND?

*Source: “George Bell, Bishop of Chichester – Church, State, and Resistance in the Age of Dictatorship” by Andrew Chandler [Eerdmans 2016] – Page 197

FURTHER INFORMATION

https://virtueonline.org/abuse-warnings-scandals-unfold

https://virtueonline.org/australia-anglican-church-faces-shortage-ministers-churches-bush-it-repays-victims-child-sexual

FURTHER QUOTES

“…this is not simply an issue of attitude but of competence too. This is a point which has been made powerfully by Martin Sewell, who is both a lay member of the General Synod and a retired child protection lawyer. He points out that diocesan staff are typically trained in theology and Canon law, not in safeguarding or child protection law. As a result, he says, many of those making a decision about safeguarding in the Church of England have no credible claim to expertise in this increasingly complex situation. Interestingly, Mr Sewell makes that point both in relation to the treatment of complainants of abuse, but also in regard to the mishandling, in his view, of the George Bell case. He sees the failings on both of those aspects as two sides of the same coin, a fundamental problem, in his view, being a lack of competence and specialist knowledge, particularly legal knowledge and experience gained in a practical safeguarding context”

~ Richard Scorer – Counsel for the complainants, victims and survivors represented by Slater & Gordonat the IICSA [March 5 2018 – Page 129 -Paras. 2-19]

RWS NOTE – 14/03/2021

According to Page 197 [fn 3] of Andrew Chandler’s book, the Caution List can be found in the ‘Bell Papers, vol. 301, p. 5’ – one of 368 volumes – held at Lambeth Palace Library.
As far as I know, no-one has mentioned this ‘Caution List’ – the Church itself, nor the Carlile Review, nor the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse [IICSA].
Why?
Because, I believe, the List will uncover names the Church – and ‘others’ – do not want uncovered. And it is likely to provide sufficient proof that the wartime Bishop of Chichester Bell was innocent. And it may well also uncover the name of the abuser of ‘Carol’ in the Diocese of Chichester – especially as “there were national and diocesan caution lists” [p 196].
Are there Non Disclosure Agreements [NDAs] in force to prevent such a List from entering the public domain? That might go some way in explaining the reason why no-one has mentioned either the NDA’s or the Caution Lists. 

ARCHBISHOP WELBY OPENS WAY FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION INTO BISHOP BELL ACCUSATION – WAS IT A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY?

“…there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet”

Archbishop Justin Welby

“We are following the Archbishop’s directive – neither ignoring the allegation, nor sweeping it under the carpet. We are fully analysing its detail and scrutinising it closely – something the Church core group very seriously failed to do at the time”

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

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MARCH 13 2021 – “IF THEY [ARCHBISHOP WELBY AND BISHOP WARNER] CANNOT GET THAT RIGHT, WHAT CAN THEY GET RIGHT? …IF ONLY WE HAD A [BISHOP] GEORGE BELL FOR THESE TIMES” – PETER HITCHENS

Peter Hitchens

Interview with Peter Hitchens – English Churchman

English Churchman: What would you like to hear from the Church leadership post pandemic pandemonium?

Peter Hitchens: Their announcements that they propose to retire and do good works.  I am especially keen to see the retirements of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the present Bishop of Chichester, whose names escape me. Their behaviour over the allegations against the late George Bell, the mighty, faithful wartime Bishop of Chichester, was bad at the time and even worse after he was vindicated by Lord Carlile’s report. If they cannot get that right, what can they get right? It’s a sign of how unequal they are to the great task of leading a nation in prayer and faithfulness, and turning the Hearts of the Disobedient to the Wisdom of the Just   If only we had a George Bell for these times, a man prepared to endure much in the service of his Lord. 

Bishop Bell, Wartime Bishop of Chichester

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MARCH 12 2021 – THE CHRIST CHURCH KANGAROO COURT + “THE RULE OF THE LYNCH MOB” [FROM THE ARCHIVES – CHURCH OF ENGLAND NEWSPAPER – OCTOBER 28 2015] – “AN ACT OF CRUELTY – NOT JUST AGAINST THE DEAN”

FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 28 2015] – “THE RULE OF THE LYNCH MOB” – CHURCH OF ENGLAND NEWSPAPER [CEN] + WITCH-HUNTS, PERSECUTIONS, INQUISITIONS, VENDETTAS, KANGAROO COURTS, LYNCH MOBS, SMEAR CAMPAIGNS AND CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS – “AN ACT OF CRUELTY – NOT JUST AGAINST THE DEAN”

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2021/01/14/january-13-2021-the-rule-of-the-lynch-mob-from-the-archives-october-28-2015-church-of-england-newspaper/

The rule of the lynch mob – October 28 2015 – The Church of England Newspaper [CEN]

By CEN on 28/10/2015 6 Comments

The rule of the lynch mob

Well let’s get it out of the way. All child abuse is wrong and horrible. All claims of child abuse should be investigated properly and the offenders, if found to be guilty in a court of law, should be flung into prison for a very, very long time.

So now we’ve done the formalities. There is much discontent with the Church of England’s behaviour over the way it has handled abuse allegations against one of its greatest sons, George Bell – a great ecumenist, liturgist, wartime leader and friend to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church.

It was announced last week that a legal civil claim has been settled by the Diocese of Chichester regarding sexual abuse claims against Bishop Bell. The allegation was first made in 1995 and was not reported to the police. The case was reopened in 2013 and now an unknown sum of money has been handed over.

But why on earth is the Church of England traducing the reputation of one of its greatest wartime spiritual leaders on the basis of recent allegations about the events of 65 years ago? We talk about cases of historic abuse in reference to Jimmy Savile crimes during the 60s, 70s and 80s, but this case is truly prehistoric.

Bishop Bell died in 1958 and the crimes of abuse he is alleged to have committed against a young child date from the late 40s and early 50s when the Bishop himself was in his late 60s and early 70s.

He is effectively being tried and convicted by the Church of England with little thought for proper justice and due process.

“We are all diminished by what we are being told,” said the modern Bishop of Chichester. He goes on to explain: “Our starting point is response to the survivor. We remain committed to listening to all allegations of abuse with an open mind. In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties.

“We face with shame a story of abuse of a child; we also know that the burden of not being heard has made the experience so much worse. We apologise for the failures of the past.”

And here much of the problem lies. The starting point must be justice, not just a concern for the ‘survivor’, because that is to jump to conclusions. The Bishop, and the independent assessors, have missed out a vital part of the process of justice that is that the accused is presumed innocent and has the right to defend themselves.

The indecent haste to describe Bishop George Bell as an abuser is a failure of nerve on the part of the Church of England. The diocese of Chichester may have failed to respond properly when the allegation of abuse was first reported in 1995, and although the accuser was offered pastoral support, this should not lead to any sort of admission of guilt on behalf of George Bell.

There is hysteria and a lynch-mob mentality surrounding some of the cases of historic abuse. We have seen this in the false allegations of murder, rape and ritual abuse made against politicians such as Ted Heath, Leon Brittan and Harvey Proctor. The Church is now as much a part of this overreaction as any other part of society.

Of course there are historic cases of abuse, and there was a long period of time when child protection procedures were unknown and reports of abuse were dealt with poorly. There were cover-ups and failures to believe the victims of abuse. But we’ve had at least two decades of improving things, legislating and regulating to make sure that protections are better, and that children are properly listened to and dealt with.

These improvements should have lessened the sense of hysteria and panic surrounding these cases. Abusers such as Jimmy Savile could never have thrived in today’s climate of safeguarding. Yet the case of George Bell proves that we are living in a state of perpetual and rising fears over allegations of child abuse and we in the Church of England have no answers to these fears. In fact, we are complicit in the lynch mob.

Remember the ritual abuse controversy of the 1980s and 1990s in which social workers and police were convinced that Satanists were involved in the mass killing and abuse of children. And there was no evidence at all in the end.

Remember also the mob that surrounded the home of a paediatrician. The witch-hunt is back and no prominent person is safe from being named – alive or dead. And if named their reputation is trashed.

This is the very opposite of the Christian faith that decries fear and says ‘judge not, lest ye be judged’.

George Bell, with his reputation for bravery, and his leadership in bringing the victims of Nazism to safety, opposing carpet-bombing of German cities and supporting the martyrs of the Confessing Church, is the type of church leader who would have confronted this lynch mob with calm courage.

There may be a stain on his reputation for a short time but his memory will be cherished again in future especially when we look back at this time of witch-hunting with a proper sense of perspective.

6 Responses to “The rule of the lynch mob”

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FURTHER INFORMATION

JANUARY 13 2021 – WITCH-HUNTS, PERSECUTIONS, VENDETTAS, KANGAROO COURTS, LYNCH MOBS, INQUISITIONS, SMEAR CAMPAIGNS AND CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS

MARCH 13 2021 – “CHRIST CHURCH PUBLISHES INDEPENDENT REVIEW” – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

 COMMENTS

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

The Christ Church censors prevented the report by Andrew Smith QC from being distributed among fellow trustees.

Sir Wyn Williams response: “I am satisfied the body of information provided was wholly sufficient to reach an informed decision”

Christ Church governors now hope that “individuals will accept the outcome of Sir Wyn’s independent review, and allow the tribunal process to continue and reach a conclusion without further public comment”

In the immortal words of John McEnroe: “You cannot be serious!?” 

Janet Fife

Janet Fife 

Since the Christ Church governing body announced when they commissioned this review that it would confirm the appropriateness of their actions, it’s hardly surprising that it’s done just that. It would be interesting to see the terms of reference.

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

Is the Christ Church internal tribunal simply a quasi-legal kangaroo court ‘lynching’ its Dean, on a par with the Church of England core group which ‘lynched’ Bishop Bell?

Susannah Clark

Susannah Clark 

I totally respect the right of the woman involved to have her case investigated fairly and without prejudice.

However, given the vendetta which many believe Christ Church has carried out against the Dean over an extended period preceding this case, I think it is disingenuous to state there is no ‘conflict of interest’ involved in further handling of this case. The Governing Body has seemed to me to be intent on getting rid of the Dean on any grounds possible.

Furthermore, has this case not already been previously referred to the police?

Finally, I realise the Governing Body would like everyone to shut up, and let them complete what I regard as their long-running feud and vendetta against the Dean – and indeed in the interests of the woman concerned it would be good if her personal complaint could be fairly resolved without her being turned into some cause celebre through no fault of her own – but Christ Church’s attempt to control the narrative can hardly be expected to pass without comment.

Any commentary is not directed at the woman who has every right to have her complaint investigated, but at the Governing Body who in the eyes of a considerable number of observers is unfit to play any further part. To avoid further charges of ‘conflict of interest’ they should entirely recuse themselves from any further process, and pass control of this proposed tribunal to a completely independent body. Can anyone offer reassurance that this is going to be the case?

To achieve a credible outcome, in the best interests of the woman concerned, and the Dean, these two people deserve a process that is not executed under the shadow of doubt that seems to me to be cast on the case by the Governing Body’s longer term behaviour and what I believe to be extreme prejudice against the Dean.

None of what I’ve said implies the woman is not honest, or that she does not deserve to have her claims handled as potentially true, but I believe this badly needs to be dealt with by independent professionals and not by an internal Body already demonstrably hostile to the Dean. 

David Lamming

David Lamming 

One of the questions the retired judge was asked in his instructions was, “Were conflicts of Interest and conflicts of loyalty of members of Governing Body properly managed throughout the decision-making process?” (see page 7). Sir Wyn rightly states (para 24) that “This question must be considered in the context of the “history” between the Dean and the Governing Body and the publicity surrounding that “history”.” He then says (para 25): “I am not aware of the detail of this history other than that which has been aired in newspapers. However, I have reached the conclusion that I can answer the question posed for my consideration by reference to the papers provided to me since I am concerned with the management of potential conflicts rather than whether any particular member was actually conflicted. Self-evidently, actual conflicts would only be revealed if declared by a member or shown to exist by virtue of a member’s conduct.”

It is astonishing to note, first, that Sir Wyn states that he is “concerned with the management of potential conflicts rather than whether any particular member was actually conflicted.” This suggests that no documents were provided to Sir Wyn that would evidence any such conflict.

However, “a members’ conduct” would, surely, include being a signatory to a letter to the Chair of the Charity Commission, Baroness Stowell, stating that (in their honest opinion) “Martyn Percy has breached his legal and fiduciary obligations and shown both unsound judgement and a consistent lack of moral compass, and that he is not fit to remain a trustee,” with the letter concluding, “A failure to act now will oblige Christ Church to spend more money on attempts to resolve an unsustainable situation.” Such a letter, dated 20 May 2020, was signed by 41 members of the Governing Body (trustees of the charity) – co-incidentally the same number as apparently voted on 11 January 2021 in support of the motion that “the complaint was supported by sufficient evidence which, if proved, could justify removal from office” (See Williams, para 20.)

Sir Wyn makes no mention of this letter. Had a copy been provided to him with his instructions he would surely have had to conclude that those members of the Governing Body who signed it had, “by virtue of [their] conduct” revealed a conflict of interest, with their failure to disclose it fatally undermining the legitimacy of the resolution. 

Toby Forward

Maintaining the proud English tradition of the finest justice that money can buy. 

Jonathan

Jonathan

I think it is Welsh justice on this occasion. How much would a retired judge get paid for a report like this? “No doubt?” 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

The President of Welsh Tribunals concludes:

“I have no doubt that establishing a tribunal is a responsible use of charitable resource and in the best interests of Christ Church”

I am reminded of the courtroom riposte by Mandy Rice-Davies in the Profumo scandal:

“Well he would [say that], wouldn’t he?”

Kate

Kate

Since the Dean is ill I would have thought that it would make sense for the Governing Body and Chapter to explore his medical early retirement. There is a procedure within the Statutes. This would be much cheaper than a tribunal (and therefore probably a better use of Trust funds) and (but?) wouldn’t have the effect of trashing the Dean’ reputation. The review didn’t consider whether this or other possibilities might resolve the situation more cheaply than a tribunal. That seems to me to be a glaring deficiency. 

THE MARTYN PERCY DEFENCE FUND

Martyn Percy – Screenshot

Tom Keighley is organising this fundraising appeal on behalf of Martyn Percy.I have set up this website on behalf of the friends and colleagues of Martyn Percy, head of one of Oxford’s largest Colleges, and a Church of England Cathedral Dean.  This is revised version of the ‘story’ to reflect what has been in the media

The press has carried a number of accounts of what is happening to Martyn Percy. As Martyn has made no public comments, here are summaries of three reports.

It is claimed the college’s academics have been ‘combing the statutes’ of Christ Church – founded by Henry VIII in 1546 – to find legal justification to get rid of Prof Percy…One way the plotters believe they can force him out is through a formal complaint…That complaint will now be judged by an internal tribunal. Prof Percy, 56, is also said to have received a stream of legal letters that an insider said risked ‘financially breaking him’ after he was forced to hire his own lawyers. The insider added: “It’s a tragedy, embarrassing and a disgrace.” Mail on Sunday

The tribunal process itself raises further questions about governance. It is understood that Dr Percy was given no opportunity to challenge any of the evidence against him…a college insider said: “Chapter and Governing Body did not invite the Dean to give any response to the complaint, or put forward any documents of his own before making their decision.” Church Times

The Bishop of Buckingham fears Percy is being “hounded out” for taking “the costly path of reform” rather than seeking a “quiet life”. His lawyers have raised concerns he has been bullied, saying he has been ostracized forced to run up large legal bills. Sunday Times

It appears therefore that Martyn’s position is a uniquely powerless one. It takes just seven complainants under the statutes of the college to request a tribunal to remove the Dean of Christ Church. Three strange steps appear to have led to this position.

First, the Dean was offered no proper investigation, at which evidence from both sides could be heard, read and weighed.

Second, there was no disciplinary hearing in which he could defend any allegations made against him.

Third, to avoid unnecessary conflict, processes of genuine mediation should always happen. Such mediation is entered into in good faith by both parties – rather than being used as a means to coerce and expedite a virtually immediate resignation, which is increasingly common in workplaces today.

In any normal place of work, a Tribunal would be the very final stage: and only if the investigation, disciplinary procedures and mediation had all failed. In Martyn’s case, the first three stages did not fail: it seems they were not really attempted.

Under the college statutes, the Dean has no grievance procedure available to him either, so he can’t complain about the treatment give him. Consequently, he can do nothing about the bullying and harassment he has received. Under natural justice any person should have rights. But Martyn doesn’t.

Finally, the Dean seems to have no right to free speech. To defend himself, he has to find his own legal costs. His speech is not free. If you think this is unjust, then please help the support fund.

Organiser and beneficiary

Tom Keighley Organiser Hornchurch, Greater London, United KingdomMartyn Percy 

  • Created 7 November 2018

RWS NOTE – 13/03/2021

In a plot worthy of TV series Inspector Morse, Christ Church Oxford – once the most wealthy of colleges – follows the great British tradition of securing the best justice money can buy at any cost.


No doubt being well-rewarded for his efforts, retired judge and President of Welsh Tribunals Sir Wyn Williams concludes his independent report: “I have no doubt that establishing a tribunal is a responsible use of charitable resource and in the best interests of Christ Church”. I am reminded of the courtroom riposte by Mandy Rice-Davies in the Profumo scandal: “Well he would [say that], wouldn’t he?”.
The Christ Church censors prevented the report by Andrew Smith QC from being distributed among fellow trustees. Sir Wyn’s response: “I am satisfied the body of information provided was wholly sufficient to reach an informed decision”.

Christ Church governors are now hoping “individuals will accept the outcome of Sir Wyn’s independent review, and allow the tribunal process to continue and reach a conclusion without further public comment”.
In the immortal words of John McEnroe: “You cannot be serious!”


Has the Christ Church internal tribunal simply become a quasi-legal kangaroo court to lynch its Dean, much like the Church of England Core Group lynching of wartime Bishop George Bell?

The College’s internal tribunal is not only unjust , it is an act of cruelty – and not just inflicted on its Dean.

Locks and panic buttons: security measures against Dean of Christ Church

byA STAFF REPORTER17 MARCH 2021

CDM moves to tribunal stage, even though Dean has yet to respond formally to complaint

CHURCH TIMES

Christ Church, Oxford

KEY codes were changed, panic alarms were considered, and staff were told to be aware of the nearest exit at Christ Church, Oxford, all to protect them from the Dean, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, it has emerged.

These precautions are taken from safeguarding documents drawn up on 22 October 2020 after a complaint of sexual harassment was made against the Dean in the cathedral on 4 October (News, 20 November 2020). They were seen by the Church Times this week. It is understood that the Dean disputes the allegation, but he is on sick leave and unable to respond formally (News, 15 January).

There are two documents marked “safeguarding risk assessments”, one for the college and one for the cathedral and choir school. The cathedral assessment, which bears the C of E logo, rates the risk of harassment of the college chaplains and canons as “high”, and talks of changing door codes. Another risk assessed as high is “inappropriate leaks of sensitive and confidential information” to the cathedral congregation and alumni. The risk to pupils of the choir school of “inappropriate or erratic behaviour” is assessed as “low”.

The college assessment states: “There is potential for inappropriate behaviour to take place virtually, by Teams/phone, email, social media. Staff could be unable to carry out their duties effectively if measures are not taken to ensure that they can do so safely.”

Among the measures listed are: “Staff should be aware of exit routes”; “a panic alarm might be considered for staff who routinely work alone”; and “security locks and access to rooms should be checked.”

Housekeeping staff are instructed to enter the deanery in pairs, as are clerk-of-works staff if called to undertake maintenance work. The Dean’s PA is moved to a different office. Staff in the college lodge are considered safe because they work in pairs and “behind a counter and screen”.Advertisement

David Lamming, a lay member of General Synod who has taken a particular interest in safeguarding issues in the Church, said this week: “Not only are the alleged risks and the steps set out to manage them grossly disproportionate to the single allegation against the Dean, the risk assessments are not ‘independent’.” He said that this was a specific recommendation in the report drawn up by Kate Wood, the independent consultant whose investigation of the harassment allegations triggered the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) process.

The college assessment bears the names of the diocesan safeguarding officer, Richard Woodley, and Ms Wood. This was an error, Ms Wood said on Tuesday. “I have never undertaken a risk assessment in this matter or been party to the assessment of risk in any regard. I have never even seen the risk assessments conducted by the college and cathedral.

“My role was to conduct an initial investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment. This is a very different role to conducting a risk assessment. . .

“I was therefore deeply frustrated to read numerous press articles and social media comments in which my professional competence was repeatedly questioned in relation to having allegedly conducted a risk assessment and not being qualified to do so.

“I asked the college several times to publicly explain the error and to confirm that I had not conducted a risk assessment. I also asked the college to engage with those people who had been most vocal in criticising me on this false narrative. This public correction does not appear to have happened, though I am told that the error has now been corrected on the document.”

A spokesperson for Christ Church confirmed that Ms Wood’s name had been incorrectly included in an early “risk assessment draft”. This was corrected before the assessment was finalised, he said. “The risk assessments have been reviewed regularly and will be again ahead of the new term.”

The spokesperson said that the assessments had been signed off by the diocesan safeguarding officer, i.e. Mr Woodley, who explained on Tuesday that, because this was an “interim assessment of risk” rather than a formal risk assessment, it did not need to comply with the Safeguarding (Clergy Risk Assessment) Regulations 2016, which stipulate, among other things, that the person being assessed be consulted and given 14 days to query it, and, when it involved “certain facts which are in dispute . . . must set out the matter and the nature and the extent of the dispute”.

OTHER STORIES

Bishop of Carlisle made ‘significant errors of judgement’ concludes safeguarding inquiry THE Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, made “significant errors of judgement” when he wrote a character reference for the Revd Robert Bailey, a former parish priest in his diocese who has since been convicted of the sexual abuse of two under-13s in the 2010s. This is the conclusion of an investigation by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST)

The forms used for the interim assessments appear to have been adapted from risk assessments for events, and are headed “Activity risk assessment”. More up-to-date versions were requested by the Church Times but refused.

As for what happens next, it was understood that all progress on the complaint was stalled until Dean Percy became well enough to represent himself or instruct lawyers, and respond formally to the complaint. It was reported at the weekend, however, that the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart — to whom the Bishop of Oxford has delegated the processing of the CDM — has decided to proceed to the tribunal stage.

Bishop Urquhart’s statement on Tuesday afternoon said merely: “Having regard to the Statutory Guidance issued by the Clergy Discipline Commission, to which I must have due regard, I can say no more than that a complaint has been made against the Dean and that it is being considered in accordance with the procedures laid down in the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 and the Clergy Discipline Rules 2005.”

It is understood, however, that the complaint will now be investigated afresh by a designated officer, who reports to a president of tribunals, a senior church lawyer, who will decide the next course of action.

Dean Percy, therefore, faces three concurrent investigations: the CDM; a second core group set up by the National Safeguarding Team; and a second tribunal set up by the Christ Church Governing Body under statute 39, “seeking the removal of the Dean from office for good cause”. In the earlier Christ Church tribunal, to consider a complaint lodged in 2018 (News, 9 November 2018), Dean Percy was exonerated of every one of the 27 charges against him (News, 23 August 2019).

The college authorities last week published details from a review it had commissioned from Sir Wyn Williams, president of Welsh tribunals, stating that its actions against Dean Percy were “entirely consistent with the statue and by-laws” of the college.

Sir Wyn had been commissioned after the Charity Commission wrote to each member of the Governing Body (News, 5 February), warning that it was investigating the decision to proceed against the Dean to see whether it was “a responsible use of the charity’s resources”. The college authorities are thought to have spent more than £2 million in their attempts to remove the Dean. Dean Percy, in his turn, has run up legal bills of more than £500,000, and is relying on an employment tribunal, due later this year, to force the college to reimburse him.Advertisement

Sir Wyn writes: “There was nothing which can be categorised as unfair or unjust in the way the information was provided to members of Governing Body prior to the making of the complaint.” And he concludes: “I have no doubt that establishing a tribunal is a responsible use of charitable resource and in the best interests of Christ Church.” The review has been sent to the Charity Commission.

On Wednesday, however, The Times quoted from a 15-page opinion commissioned by Dean Percy’s supporters and drawn up by Edward Fitzgerald QC, a human-rights lawyer, and his colleague Paul Harris. This states: “The sustained, repeated and entirely groundless campaign to drive the dean from his job would seem to fall within the definition of harassment in Sections 2 and 7 of the Protection from Harassment Act, 1997.”

Although details of the alleged assault have been published elsewhere, the matter is being dealt with in confidence by the college and church authorities. The complainant wrote to the Church Times last month to counter information about her allegation which had been published elsewhere (Letters, 5 February). She wrote: “Had I not judged the incident to be inappropriate and extremely distressing, I should not have decided to make a formal complaint.”

COMMENTS

Richard W. Symonds

“Dean Percy, therefore, faces three concurrent investigations: the CDM; a second core group set up by the National Safeguarding Team; and a second tribunal set up by the Christ Church Governing Body under statute 39, “seeking the removal of the Dean from office for good cause”. In the earlier Christ Church tribunal, to consider a complaint lodged in 2018 (News, 9 November 2018), Dean Percy was exonerated of every one of the 27 charges against him (News, 23 August 2019)”Church Times

So, three quasi-legal kangaroo courts ‘lynching’ the unwell Dean – with injustice, cruelty and brutality – inflicted with an illusion of impregnability, immunity and impunity.

THE TIMES

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/can-there-be-a-truce-in-the-bitter-battle-of-the-dean-v-christ-church-cfcvbgfc5

Featured post

MARCH 8 2021 – ON THIS DAY IN 1531 – HENRY VIII RECOGNISED AS SUPREME HEAD OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND [THE SUPREME GOVERNOR IS HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN]

Photo: Wiki Commons

MARCH 8 2021 – ON THIS DAY IN 1531 – HENRY VIII RECOGNISED AS SUPREME HEAD OF CHURCH OF ENGLAND BY THE CONVOCATION OF CANTERBURY [THE SUPREME GOVERNOR IS HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN]

1531  Henry VIII recognised as supreme head of Church in England by the Convocation of Canterbury

Featured post

MARCH 7 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [MARCH 26 2018] – “BISHOP BELL’S MEMORY” – DAILY TELEGRAPH – LETTERS – CHRISTOPHER HOARE + GEORGE BELL HOUSE

March 26 2018 – “Bishop Bell’s memory” – Daily Telegraph – Letter – Christopher Hoare

IMG_0911

“Bishop Bell’s memory”

Sir – Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson’s letter (March 24) puts the case for the late Bishop George Bell very well.

Those of us who live in the Diocese of Chichester suffer a further frustration. Within days of the Church’s original finding being published, orders were given to remove almost all memorabilia to George Bell. In places where this was not possible, such as in the south aisle of the cathedral, a notice was displayed for many months referring to being a cloud over George Bell’s name.

At the same time, a building in Canon Lane that had been refurbished with nearly £1 million pounds of funds and named “George Bell House” was renamed “4 Canon Lane”.

Dr Hildebrandt Grayson asks how long we shall have to wait for the Archbishop to have the grace to admit that the Church made “the most colossal error of judgement”.

We in Chichester are asking how long before we can see the restoration of his name, and particularly of George Bell House.

Christopher Hoare

Chichester, West Sussex

Featured post

MARCH 6 2021 – DAY OF RECONCILIATION – DIOCESE OF CHICHESTER – SEPTEMBER 18

We would like to commend a suggestion made by Bernie which is to hold an official Day of Reconciliation across the Diocese. It was also suggested that the focus of such a day – a Sunday, it was recommended – could become a feature of the Diocese calendar on an annual basis … ‘lest we forget …’

[Source: The Shemmings Report 2019 – Conclusions and Suggestions for a Way Forward – Page 85]

CHURCH TIMES AND THE SHEMMINGS REPORT

“SEX, POWER, CONTROL – RESPONDING TO ABUSE IN THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH” BY FIONA GARDNER – CHAPTER 10 – ‘SPIRITUAL ABUSE, THE SPIRITUAL SICKNESS WITHIN THE CHURCH AND SIGNS OF HOPE’ – PAGES 161-162

If safeguarding remains within the remit of the institutional church, the it seems generally agreed that a whole church approach to safeguarding is needed. This could include an arrangement equivalent to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, tasked with bringing out into the open all the past wrongdoings by the institutional church towards victims and survivors. This would make an absolute priority of the return of the true narrative of events to its proper position in the mainstream accounts of what actually happened. This would be a reversal of the established power and control, and indeed ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8 : 32).

The 2019 Shemmings Report on the prevalence of abuse in the diocese of Chichester commended a suggestion made by one survivor they interviewed, which is to hold an official Day of Reconciliation across that diocese: ‘It was also suggested that the focus of such a day – a Sunday, it was recommended – could become a feature of the diocese calendar on an annual basis…”lest we forget”.

The report also gave three proposals, ‘developed as an organic, co-produced, open and transparent process, with diverse individuals and organisations to achieve genuine “ownership”, because it is now well-known and accepted that the protection and safeguarding of individuals from sexual abuse and exploitation requires the whole community to take an active part’.

These include a series of filmed conferences and seminars on subjects such as “Supporting Survivors”, “Screening New Applicants”, “Maintaining Openness”, “Celibacy and Close, Intimate Relationships”, “so-called) Desistant Paedophiles” etc.’ Key speakers could be invited and the events filmed with survivors very much present as participants or speakers.

The Shemmings Report also advocated further research into understanding sexual offending and an action research programme to evaluate progress on key areas. These include: recruitment and training of clergy; generally restricting access by clergy to children on their own or unsupervised; prosecuting offenders; further thinking about the concept of forgiveness; and continuing support for survivors. It also includes the idea of changing the culture of the organisation.

THE SHEMMINGS REPORT 2019

Introduction


In 2017 the Independent Safeguarding Advisory Panel for the Diocese of Chichester
recommended that the Diocese commission research regarding the history of sexual abuse in
its churches. This recommendation was in recognition of the large number of proven cases of
abuse that had come to light in recent years. In making this recommendation, the Panel was
mindful that more was known about what had happened than why it had happened, and in
particular why such a relatively large concentration of cases had occurred within this
Diocese.
The Diocese approached Professor David Shemmings from the University of Kent to lead the
research. Professor Shemmings, a leading expert in the use of interviews and qualitative
methods in social research, and his wife Yvonne, who works with him in numerous training
and research contexts, conducted a series of interview with Diocesan staff, police colleagues
who had worked investigations into abuse in the Diocese, and victims of abuse.
The Diocese is very grateful to Professor Shemmings and Yvonne for their work, and to all
those who contributed to this research. In particular, the Diocese wishes to thank those
victims of abuse who agreed to be interviewed, reliving very painful experiences in order that
those responsible for preventing abuse in church now can learn lessons from the past.
Many readers of this report may be unfamiliar with ‘qualitative’ studies as opposed to
‘quantitative’. In reading this material, readers should understand that the authors have been
exploring the experience of those whom they have interviewed rather than examining facts in
all their detail. This is a distinct discipline that differs from that used to compile reports that
set out factual evidence. The experiences of those interviewed are important because they
describe the real effect of events upon their minds.
The report makes for difficult reading, particularly as it shines light on elements of the culture
of the Diocese and its churches that contributed to abuse of the vulnerable. The voices in this
report add to the findings of the recently-published Chichester case study from the
Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the review conducted by Dame Moira Gibb
into the case of Bishop Peter Ball, and other similar reviews that have highlighted not only
the guilt of individual abusers, but also the responsibility of the wider church regarding its
culture, leadership, and values. No matter how difficult it is to hear the voices in this report,
particularly those of victims whose experience challenges the Diocese to its core, it is vital
that we approach these perspectives with an open mind and a humble attitude, recognising the
depth of hurt that has been caused and the moral imperative that is placed on us as a result, to
do all we can now to ensure that children and adults are safe in our churches.
The report adds to the wealth of research in this field, but as it identifies, there is much more
to learn. The suggestions contained in both this report and others offer food for thought, for
the wider church and not only for this diocese, and indeed for other organisations. Careful
consideration will be needed on the best areas to focus on. Meanwhile, we commend this
report to you and trust that the moral challenge it contains will continue to drive the Diocese
towards further improvements to our safeguarding culture and practice.


Sexual Abuse by Clergymen
in the Diocese of Chichester


‘You Can’t Say No To God’


FINAL REPORT


Yvonne Shemmings MA (by Research)
David Shemmings OBE PhD

PAGE 4

To be able to move on after a series of seismic or catastrophic events, it is necessary to
remember the past while deliberately focusing one’s gaze to the future. When driving a car
we look forwards, through the windscreen, yet we would be a dangerous driver if we didn’t
regularly look in the rear-view mirror; but we would end up an even more dangerous driver
if we only looked through the rear-view mirror. The aim is to get the balance right which, in
our driving analogy, is pre-set for us, given the relative sizes of the windscreen and mirror.

PAGES 83 TO 92

Conclusion and Suggestions for a Way Forward


Conclusion and Summary of the Responses to the Research Questions


We were asked to explore the views of key individuals and relevant published documents
about i) patterns of victimisation and offending behaviour and ii) factors within the Diocese
which may have contributed to the initiation and maintenance of the abuse.
Perhaps unsurprisingly there were differences of opinion and perspective that can best be
summarised in the following four points:

  1. Some, but not all, felt that there was nothing unique to the Diocese of Chichester
    about these tragic events, and surmised that this kind of abuse had occurred – and
    may still be taking place – in other parts of the country.
  2. There was a difference of opinion over whether the abusers were i) predatory sex
    offenders to begin with, who then chose the vocation of priesthood as a gateway to
    young males (and sometimes females) and/or vulnerable adults or ii) whether they
    took the opportunities when they arose, but didn’t actively set out to abuse or iii)
    whether there was something endemic about the ‘closed’ (some said ‘secretive’)
    community within the Church which, coupled with the requirement for homosexual
    priests to remain celibate, produces in some men, an unquenchable and unrequited
    need for intimate close relationships that can sometimes cross a line and become
    abusive and even coercive.
  3. A divergence of viewpoints was noted around the extent to which those in authority
    were seen as ‘initiating or maintaining’ the abuse (one interviewee disagreed with
    the suggestion that anyone in the Diocese had ‘allowed’ the abuse to flourish or
    continue). From official reports, and court transcripts, it does seem now to have
    been shown that different individuals overlooked or ignored allegations or moved
    offending priests to another diocese but this, it was suggested, isn’t the same as
    saying that members of the Diocese ‘allowed’ the abuse to start or ‘encouraged’ it to
    continue. Nevertheless, there were examples in our interviews of individuals saying
    FINAL REPORT 84 | P a g e
    that priests had, on occasion, watched each other abusing victims. There were also
    claims, from a number of respondents that warnings were unheeded and sometimes
    ignored, and these also appear in official reports.
  4. Finally, (but not mentioned in the Findings) the question of whether or not certain
    statues or other memorabilia of priests should remain in view divided those
    interviewed. Some felt they should be destroyed as they represented for them an
    affront to those who were abused. However, one respondent felt that it was
    inappropriate to remove them from the history of the Church.
    And as we saw in the previous section there was some disagreement about the extent to
    which an organised ring of offenders operated in the Diocese. Perhaps ‘social network’ is a
    more accurate term to describe what happened. One way of capturing how such a network
    operated is to consider the effect of one incident that we were told about. We stated earlier
    that one senior priest met with a new member of the clergy in his room, while sitting with a
    boy on lap, with his hand on the boy’s thigh. This is, we believe, a powerful example of how
    cultural values, beliefs, opportunities and even expectations could have been transmitted, in
    a ‘deniable’ way.
    Everyone we interviewed agreed that these events were shocking and terrible for those who
    had endured the abuse. It was also agreed that survivors had been let down in terms of the
    validation and support they had received.
    Moving Forward …
    In a recent edited book entitled Protecting Children and Adults from Abuse after Savile35
    Anne-Marie Mcalinden refers at the end of her chapter to the trial and conviction of the
    notorious child sex offender, Frank Beck, who abused children living in residential
    establishments between 1989 and 1991:
    ‘The scale and extent of Beck’s abuse seemed, at the time, unthinkable and surely
    unrepeatable. Presciently the inquiry chair, Andrew Kirkwood, QC, wrote: “It would

35 Edited by Marcus Erooga (18 Jan 2018), published by JKP.
FINAL REPORT 85 | P a g e


not be wise for anyone to approach this Report on the basis that it all happened a
long time ago and that nothing like it could ever happen again” …’. (p.22).
Kirkwood was right to issue this caution as, since then, we have seen a relentless and almost
incomprehensible number of revelations involving the sexual abuse of children, young
people and vulnerable adults.
We would like to suggest that Kirkwood’s caution still rings true today and, hence, we would
urge the Diocese to heed it deliberately and consciously, and not be tempted to approach
the future by adopting the mantra ‘That was then; this is now’. Inevitably there is now an
understandable need to move on from what many believe has been a terrible stain on the
Diocese but this can, in our view, only be safely and respectfully done by regularly training
everyone’s collective eyes and ears on what happened in the past.


We would like to commend a suggestion made by Bernie which is to hold an official Day of Reconciliation across the Diocese. It was also suggested that the focus of such a day – a Sunday, it was recommended – could become a feature of the Diocese calendar on an annual basis … ‘lest we forget …’.


We now present three proposals which we believe would, if implemented fully, take the
Diocese into the future without turning its back on the past. Each proposal, we argue,
should be developed as an organic, co-produced, open and transparent process, with
diverse individuals and organisations to achieve genuine ‘ownership’, because it is now well known and accepted that the protection and safeguarding of individuals from sexual abuse
and exploitation requires the whole community to take an active part.
We also believe strongly that these proposals will be of considerable interest to other
organisations facing the same challenges – whether or not they realise it, or want to believe
it even when it is staring them in the face. We share the view expressed by a number of
those interviewed that the abuse would not have been confined to the Diocese of
Chichester. It will almost certainly have been happening elsewhere, and in other religious
FINAL REPORT 86 | P a g e
organisations; and we have seen it more recently in football, gymnastics, music and artistic
academies … and tragically this list will, no doubt, be added to.
Because they has been gained through the experiences of survivors, some of whom one of
us (Yvonne) was privileged to meet, we believe the Diocese is in a strong position to take
the central messages further afield, to other organisations just beginning to discover their
own horror stories.
Before considering the proposals we strongly urge that, if it hasn’t been undertaken already,
a review of all existing recommendations is undertaken and that progress is plotted on a
GANTT-type chart to see what actions still need to be taken.


A WAY FORWARD: THREE PROPOSALS


A common thread running through these proposals is our hope that this report becomes a
part of a platform for debate and discussion, rather than just left on the shelf to ‘gather
dust’. We believe that a good place to begin would be to have a round table meeting with
the people interviewed, to begin to discuss openly the key points of discord and
disagreement that emerged in the research (for example over the notion of ‘cover-up’, the
existence of an organised paedophile group etc.). If it proved difficult to conduct such a
meeting we would suggest the use of trained mediators, so that individuals can be helped to
‘hear’ one another without becoming defensive or intransigent.


Proposal 1: A series of filmed conferences and seminars


We offer for consideration that the Diocese convenes a series of conferences and seminars
for different audiences on different subjects e.g. ‘Supporting Survivors’, ‘Screening New
Applicants’, ‘Maintaining Openness’, ‘Celibacy and Close, Intimate Relationships’, ‘(so called)
Desistant Paedophiles’ etc. The aim would be to invite key and renowned speakers to these
events which we would suggest are filmed. For example, depending on the focus of the
conference/seminar, one might consider inviting Dame Moira Gibb, Edi Carmi, Marcus
Erooga, Craig Harper, Theresa Gannon, Sarah Mullally (the new Bishop of London), Sir Roger
FINAL REPORT 87 | P a g e
Singleton … and others. We are also of the opinion that survivors should be invited to these
events as a matter of course – as full participants, either as presenters or as respondents in
plenary sessions (or both).
We suggest further that the first set of conferences/seminars is aimed at members of the
Diocese only, but that later on it would be important to take the papers and presentations
to a much wider geographic audience as well as to other organisations currently facing
similar challenges e.g. the BBC, sporting organisations etc.


Proposal 2: An Action Research36 programme to evaluate progress on key changes


There are clearly a number of areas which need to be addressed in the future (some of
which we know are already being discussed). An Action Research (AR) approach ensures
that progress is systematically reviewed and practice amended or altered throughout each
step during the change process. Typically, a team is established whose members can have
access to each other’s ideas and observations about the progress of change through a
facilitated online platform offering secure chatroom features such as BaseCamp37
.
We suggest six innovations be considered as part of an Action Research Project:
A. Recruitment, Selection and Training of New Clergy and Lay Members
Many of the findings in this report relate directly to recruitment, training and selection at all
levels in the organisation. The aim of this part of the programme is to explore more recent
innovations in screening to exclude potentially abusive individuals from entering the
organisation. The NSPCC regularly runs training in Safer Recruitment Practice38. We heard a
view expressed that recruitment and selection practices had improved, for example, with

36 Action Research is a well-known and documented method of evaluating the effect of change while it is
taking place. It focusses primarily on process but, equally, it can be extended to outcomes. The point of the
approach is that changes can – indeed, should – be made during the innovation, rather than waiting for the
results of the research to emerge.
37 Visit https://basecamp.com/how-it-works
38 See https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/get-expert-training/safer-recruitment-training.
FINAL REPORT 88 | P a g e
some psychometric testing at the stage seminary training, but more may need to be done at
a local level (and there may be value in considering additions to the testing battery).
Another development that might prove useful is the introduction of ‘serious, interactive
games and simulations’39 that have been developed at the University of Kent’s International
Centre for Child Protection. Such supplements to traditional training can be used for clergy,
members of the laity as well as for awareness-raising among parishioners and members of
the public within the Diocese.
B. Prevention of Abuse within the Diocese
Here the aim is to question the idea that there is, or is ever likely to be, homogeneity among
sexual offenders, hence strategies to prevent abuse need to take account of the myriad
reasons that abuse happens within an organisation. Marcus Erooga in his recent edited
book40 wrote a chapter entitled ‘Thinking Beyond a Single Type of Organisational Sex
Offender’ and it might well act as a source for this part of the Action Research Project. He
distinguishes, for example, between preferential sex offenders (‘those with a conscious
desire to sexually abuse children’), opportunistic sex offenders (‘those who are motivated to
abuse and do so because potential victims are available … and the organisational setting
either inadvertently facilitates, or fails to prevent, abusive activity’) and situational sex
offenders (‘whose propensity to abuse is previously unknown or unacknowledged, and their
offending is specific to the set of institutional factors which potentiates their offending’).
C. Restricting Access to Children (on their own or unsupervised)
It is presumably now accepted that events and activities that give unrestricted and/or
unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults need to be reviewed urgently (this may
already be taking place, but it will need to be evaluated in operation). This requires a

39 See https://www.kent.ac.uk/sspssr/ccp/simulationsindex.html. The Centre for Child Protection won the
University Faculty Teaching and Learning prize and Enterprise and Innovation award in 2014, the Guardian
newspaper award for Technological Innovation and, very recently (November 2017), the Higher Education
Academy’s UK Teaching Innovation Award.
40 op cit Erooga, M. (2018)
FINAL REPORT 89 | P a g e
Diocese-wide understanding – among the clergy, the laity and with parishioners and
congregations more generally – that certain events such as residential or camping weekends,
pilgrimages and trips abroad etc. which have been a feature in the past should be reviewed
for the future. Similarly, the practice of adequate and effective supervision of children and
vulnerable adults would need to be considered during Sunday school, as well as in youth
club attendance and Bible study groups.
Perhaps another relevant point to consider within this theme is found in the following
extract from a new book edited by Richard Gartner entitled Understanding the Sexual
Betrayal of Boys and Men41. Again, the aim is to promote debate through open discussion.
In a chapter written by Gartner himself, he states:
‘The more victims accept the familial implications of calling someone Father, Mother,
Sister, or Brother, the more the sexual abuse has incestuous connotations. So, many
victims of priests are psychologically dealing with a form of incest. And, a priest is not
simply “a” father. He is a direct representative of “The” Father, a living
representation of Christ. p.248
Boys most easily preyed upon by priests are likely to come from families with deep
religious convictions … They may be altar boys or choir boys who feel engaged in
their religious lives and have idealized views of their spiritual mentors. p.249
As boys, they looked to their abusers for solace and support, and were betrayed. The
trauma for each was shattering. Overlaying their betrayal was the specific effect on
the child’s spiritual life following abuse by a trusted “representative of God.” Each
man had a terrible crisis of faith. When that faith was destroyed they were thereby
further alienated from their religiously observant families.’ p.259.
D. Prosecuting Offenders (and the working concept of ‘forgiveness’)
We would suggest that there needs to be a very clear message to everyone connected with
diocesan matters, but especially those in ministering roles, that ‘if you abuse children or
adults then you will be investigated and if found guilty you will be punished and your career
in the Church will end (but not your membership of it)’. The reason for this level of clarity is

41 Published by Routledge in August 2017.
FINAL REPORT 90 | P a g e
that, from the reports we read and from many of those interviewed, it was not clear if this
was the message given or, if it was, whether it received with this intention in mind.
We also wonder – respectfully, as this next point is both outside of our own knowledge and
the brief for this research – if all members of the Diocese understand precisely what is
meant ‘in practice’ when a sexual offender who is a priest or member of the clergy is said to
have been ‘forgiven’. From our interviews there emerged different and contradictory
viewpoints. This might, therefore, be a suitable topic for discussion and open debate.
E. Offering Continuing Support for Survivors
There are now many therapeutic services available to survivors of different kinds of trauma.
We would urge the Diocese in the final component of the proposed AR Project to undertake
a review of the different approaches available along with an analysis of the evidence base
for their effectiveness.
F. Changing the culture of the organisation
During the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in March 2018, Sir Roger
Singleton (chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority and former Chief Executive of
Barnardos, UK) made a number of points during his testimony. We suggest that the Diocese
obtain the transcript from the IISCA session and consider whether and how to apply his
insights.


Proposal 3: Research to Understand Sexual Offending – ‘FIND OUT WHY?’


The final proposal is the most ambitious and, if embraced and implemented, would send a
clear message that the Diocese – as well as the wider Church of England – that it wishes to do
something radical about the pernicious problem of sexual abuse, which continues to surface
in different settings and different organisations across the world.
FINAL REPORT 91 | P a g e
There are a variety of different views about why (mostly) men want to sexually abuse
children and vulnerable adults and why, when they are finally apprehended, many show no
remorse. What was in the minds of Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Paul Gadd, Ian Watkins etc.
when they consciously and deliberately subjected children to the most cruel, depraved and
relentless abuse? In this study, why did some priests abuse their positions of trust?
We argue that existing explanations of sexual abuse fall short in one key respect: they do
not explain why it is that some adults want to molest and sexually assault a young child, for
example. Consider one of the commonly-held explanations for the depravities of Savile,
which is that he did those things ‘because he could’. This is true at one level, but at another
it leaves unanswered what, for us, remains the central question: ‘Whilst, no doubt, he did it
because he could … but what we don’t know is why he wanted to do it in the first place?
Until we Find Out Why – and far more than our current understanding permits – we believe
that children and vulnerable adults will remain at risk of being sexually abused. (Our use of
the word ‘understanding’ here means ‘fathom’ or ‘comprehend’ the perpetrator’s behaviour
and motivation; we do not mean ‘agree with’ or ‘sympathise with’).
To Find Out Why we need to conduct research in a number of areas which so far haven’t
been examined in much depth, partly because such studies are costly to fund. We need, for
example, to look at neurological, biochemical and genetic research with convicted
perpetrators (with their consent, naturally). But it is also important to step back from purely
individualised insights and examine how and in what ways the society and culture we live in
legitimates and perpetuates misogyny and violence towards women and children. Hence
the research will also need to be informed by anthropological, sociological and social
psychological insights from around the world.
The reported examples of sexual abuse by priests, religious teachers, certain ‘celebrities’ in
the broadcast media and now more recently in sporting organisations have all eroded
people’s trust in some of our most established organisations. Churches should be safe
havens, places where followers can turn for comfort and peace. Instead, for some, they
have become the source of fear, distrust and cynicism. Similarly, children should have felt
FINAL REPORT 92 | P a g e

THINKING ANGLICANS

Richard W. Symonds

RE: Helen King ViaMedia.News Independence & Safeguarding: Marking Our Own Homework?

Helen King ends her article: “As for those who have already suffered at the hands of church abusers, listening, repentance and redress must be prioritized”

May I suggest as a priority a “Day of Reconciliation”, as recommended by the Shemmings Report 2019 – an officially-recognised Day within the Diocese of Chichester and beyond it. This excellent report appears to have been almost totally disregarded by the Church of England hierarchy:

We would like to commend a suggestion made by Bernie which is to hold an official Day of Reconciliation across the Diocese. It was also suggested that the focus of such a day – a Sunday, it was recommended – could become a feature of the Diocese calendar on an annual basis … ‘lest we forget …’”

[Source: The Shemmings Report 2019 – Conclusions and Suggestions for a Way Forward – Page 85]

Tim Chesterton 

I enjoyed Simon’s article and, as I said in the comments on Via Media, it made me think of the character in one of Susan Howatch’s Starbridge novels who says that one of the most important phrases to remember in the spiritual life is “I can be wrong.” Reply

Richard W. Symonds Reply to  Tim Chesterton

It’s easy enough to admit “I can be wrong” in the spiritual life. It takes real moral courage to admit “I was wrong” – especially in public life. 

A gesture of reconciliation – like ‘I was wrong’ – will not come from the Chichester Cathedral hierarchy [eg the Dean] unless the likes of Archbishop Welby and Bishop Warner admit ‘I was wrong’, especially regarding Bishop Bell. These powerful people [who have a lot to lose if they admit such wrongdoing] are perpetuating abuse by their moral cowardice – not just an abuse of power but also an abuse of justice.

Email between ‘C’ and ‘R’ – 07/03/2021

G – The most conciliatory gesture, if they really want reconciliation, would be restoration of the name George Bell House

R – Indeed, but such a conciliatory gesture – like “I was wrong” – will not come from the Cathedral hierarchy [eg the Dean] unless Bishop Warner and Archbishop Welby admit “I was wrong” regarding Bishop Bell. These powerful people [who have a lot to lose if they admit such wrongdoing] are perpetuating abuse by their moral cowardice – especially an abuse of justice.

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MARCH 5 2021 – “A SINGLE MOMENT IS WOVEN INTO A BIGGER TAPESTRY” IN THE BISHOP BELL TEA ROOMS – AN EXTRACT FROM ‘DEAR ENGLAND’ BY STEPHEN COTTRELL – ARCHBISHOP OF YORK

Photo source: Chichester Cathedral

“A single moment is woven into a bigger tapestry” in the Bishop Bell Tea Rooms

05 MARCH 2021 – CHURCH TIMES

In this extract from Dear England, Stephen Cottrell recalls an episode from his family life

Breathe deeply.

Be still for a moment.

Let the restless and impatient breakers of your mind subside.

Search deep inside yourself for those places where you feel you are most yourself: the things that make you and define you and fill you with delight and awe. Or even the dark and difficult memories — for sometimes it is in the darkness that we have the clearest sense of what the light we crave might actually be like, or at times of pain and loss that we discover just how strong love is.

IS THERE a day that, as you look back over your life, you think: that was the day when I felt most myself, most at ease, most in love, most fulfilled, most full of joy and wonder?

Or just a day that was so blessedly beautiful it is the day you would live over again if you had such an option?

Or even a day, like the day that a dear loved one died, that was the saddest one imaginable, and yet, at the same time, hallowed by unquenchable torrents of tears, a day when we truly knew that though this person had gone, love continued?

Or is there a moment when life just made sense: when your life seemed meaningful, when it had purpose, when what you said and did made a difference? Even if it was a very small thing: something that on its own seemed insignificant but
that was somehow woven into a bigger and hugely beautiful tapestry, and you saw yourself as part of it.

I REMEMBER one particular moment from my own family life. Our eldest son would have been about two years old at the time. We were living in Chichester, and often went for tea in the Bishop Bell Rooms at the Cathedral.

In the summer, there was a garden where the children could play while the parents drank their coffee. Sitting at the table adjacent to us was a woman who was obviously in some sort of disquiet, but not in a demonstrative way: we were just aware of her solitude and distress.

I think I may have even wondered about doing that very un-English thing and reaching out to her. She was carrying some burden of sadness, holding it in, but not
so effectively that we were unaware of it.

But, of course, I didn’t reach out. It’s not the polite thing to do, and, anyway, how would I know what to say?

So we sat in the orbit of her grief, but felt powerless to enter it or change it. We drank our tea. She drank hers.

But Joseph, even aged two, did do something. He was also aware of her sadness. He felt it and he received it, and somehow, however subconsciously and intuitively, he decided to do something about it.

He picked a daisy from the lawn and, without saying anything, went up and gave it to her. Watching out of the corner of my eye, I saw her receive the gift of the daisy and thank him, then press the daisy between the pages of the book she had with her.

Perhaps she has it there still.

It was a beautiful moment. Joseph doesn’t remember it. But in that moment, he was giving this woman something astonishingly precious, something that it is hard to pin down or explain.

Yet it is the most obviously wonderful thing there is: one human being, on this occasion a small child, reaching out and doing something to nurse the hurt and assuage the grief of another human being, this time a woman carrying who knows what sadness, and making a connection that spoke more in a single moment than this book, and hundreds of others, will achieve in a thousand pages.


The Most Revd Stephen Cottrell is the Archbishop of York.

This is an edited extract from his new book, Dear England: Finding hope, taking heart and changing the world, published by Hodder & Stoughton at £12.99 (Church Times Bookshop £10.99); 978-1-529-36095-0.

Interview with Stephen Cottrell

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MARCH 3 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [JANUARY 22 2018] – “BISHOP GEORGE BELL NOT TO BE CLEARED OVER ‘ABUSE'” – BBC NEWS

Bishop George Bell not to be cleared over ‘abuse’ – BBC News

Bishop George Bell not to be cleared over ‘abuse’

Published 22 January 2018

Bishop George Bell
image captionGeorge Bell was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in 1958

The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected calls for him to clear the name of the late Bishop George Bell, who was accused of abusing a young girl.

A review found failings in the way the Church investigated allegations against the Bishop of Chichester in the 1950s.

Supporters of Bishop Bell have called on the Most Rev Justin Welby to pronounce the bishop as innocent.

But Mr Welby said he could not rescind a statement in which he said a cloud hung over Bishop Bell’s name.

Bishop Bell’s supporters have sent three open letters to the archbishop in recent days.

They were written by a group of historians, an international group of church leaders, and a selection of former choristers at Chichester cathedral.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
image captionThe archbishop said the letter from the historians did not take into account the “realities” of past abuse in the church

But the archbishop said: “Our history over the last 70 years has revealed that the church covered up, ignored or denied the reality of abuse on major occasions.

“As a result, the church is rightly facing intense and concentrated scrutiny (focused in part on the Diocese of Chichester) through the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

“The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability.

“It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt.

“The two standards should not be confused.”

The independent reviewer, Lord Carlile QC, said the Church of England’s investigation into allegations against the bishop by a woman known as “Carol” were deficient.

The church apologised and compensated Carol after she claimed she had been assaulted by Bell as a young girl.

Lord Carlile said the church had “rushed to judgment”.

But Mr Welby provoked anger among the late bishop’s supporters when he said: “No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness.”

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MARCH 3 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 27 2017] – CAMPAIGN FOR THE RESTORATION OF GEORGE BELL HOUSE IN CHICHESTER [AND THE PORTRAIT IN STORAGE WITHIN THE CATHEDRAL LIBRARY]

George Bell House [before October 2015]

OCTOBER 27 2017 – CAMPAIGN FOR THE RESTORATION OF GEORGE BELL HOUSE IN CHICHESTER [AND THE PORTRAIT IN STORAGE WITHIN THE CATHEDRAL LIBRARY]

IMG_9510This Portrait is in storage within the Cathedral Library [September 9 2017] – No Public Access [except on Heritage Open Days eg September 9 2017]

The Plaque reads:

“Bishop Bell has a worldwide reputation for his tireless work for international reconciliation, the arts, education, and church unity. The House that bears his name provides a place where work in these areas can continue and prosper. The generosity of an Anglican Order, the Community of the Servants of the Cross (CSC) has enabled the purchase of the House. Canon Peter Kefford (Treasurer of Chichester Cathedral 2003-2009) was the prime initiator in establishing George Bell House as a centre for Education, Vocation and Reconciliation” 

Photograph: Howard Coster, 1953. It is the last portrait photograph of Bishop Bell.

This entry was posted in Bishop George BellGeorge Bell HouseInjusticeJustice and tagged 4 Canon Lane4 Canon Lane – Formerly George Bell HouseAnglican OrderCanon Peter KeffordChichester CathedralChichester Cathedral LibraryCommunity of the Servants of the CrossGeorge Bell Bishop of ChichesterGeorge Bell HouseHoward CosterPortrait of Bishop BellThe Community of the Servants of the Cross [CSC]The Portrait on 

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FEBRUARY 28 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [JANUARY 25 2019] – “GEORGE BELL STATUE TO GO AHEAD AS LATEST ABUSE CLAIMS JUDGED ‘UNFOUNDED'” – BELFAST TELEGRAPH

Bishop George Bell statue to go ahead as latest abuse claims judged ‘unfounded’

The cleric was renowned for his opposition to the Nazis and his efforts to rescue Jewish children from Germany.

George Bell, former Bishop of Chichester. (PA Images)

George Bell, former Bishop of Chichester. (PA Images)

January 25 2019


A statue commemorating Bishop George Bell will go ahead after an independent investigation ruled the latest abuse allegations against him were “unfounded”.

Canterbury Cathedral said a planned statue of the former bishop of Chichester, who died in 1958, will be completed and placed in one of the exterior niches in the west end of the building.

Its announcement comes the day after the Church’s national safeguarding team published findings of an inquiry which found the latest allegations against Bell were “unfounded”.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (Dominic Lipinski/PA Images)

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (Dominic Lipinski/PA Images)ADVERTISING

Bell has been praised for helping to rescue Jewish children from Germany during the Second World War and was a supporter of the German resistance.

In a statement Canterbury Cathedral said: “A statue of George Bell, a former dean of Canterbury and later bishop of Chichester, is to be completed and installed at Canterbury Cathedral.

“Bishop Bell was dean between 1924 and 1929 and during that time founded The Friends Of Canterbury Cathedral who celebrated their 90th anniversary in 2017.

“To commemorate his work whilst in Canterbury, the statue will be placed in one of the exterior niches at the west end of the Cathedral joining those of other influential figures.”

A statue of Bishop George Bell will be installed at Canterbury Cathedral (Chris Ison/PA Images).

A statue of Bishop George Bell will be installed at Canterbury Cathedral (Chris Ison/PA Images).

Canterbury Cathedral said work started on the statue in 2015.

But that year the Church paid £15,000 in compensation to a women who claimed she was abused by Bell.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby welcomed the announcement on Friday.

He tweeted: “I warmly welcome the announcement today that the statue of Bishop George Bell will in due course be completed and installed at Canterbury Cathedral, as a permanent reminder of his unique contribution to international peace and to the Church of England.

The latest inquiry was commissioned by the Church and carried out by senior ecclesiastical lawyer Timothy Briden, the vicar general of Canterbury.

It followed the Church of England handing “fresh information” to Sussex Police about Bell in January last year.

In the report, Mr Briden said his finding “excludes any reconsideration of the validity” of original allegations made against Bell and instead focuses only on the fresh information handed to police last year.

He concluded: “Concentrating exclusively upon the allegations remitted to me, I have decided that they are unfounded.”

Speaking after the report’s publication on Thursday, Mr Welby apologised “unreservedly” for “mistakes” in how the Church of England handled allegations against the former bishop.

Mr Welby said Bell was a “remarkable role model”, and added: “I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell.

“I recognise this has been an extremely difficult period for all concerned and I apologise equally to all those who have come forward and shared stories of abuse where we have not responded well.”

He said at the end of 2017 “several people” came forward with “further, fresh information” and after a “thorough, independent investigation, nothing of substance has been added to what has previously been alleged”.

The information was received after the conclusion of Lord Carlile of Berriew’s independent review last month into how it handled allegations made against the late bishop.

These related to a woman who claimed she was abused by Bell in the 1950s when she was aged between five and eight.

She was paid £15,000 in compensation in 2015 and received an apology from the church.

In Carlile’s report, published in December 2017, the Church was criticised for “rushing to judgment” of one of its most respected bishops some 60 years after his death.

The Church’s inquiry into the allegations was criticised for failing to adequately investigate the victim’s claims or seek witnesses who had known or worked for Bell during his tenure as bishop of Chichester between 1929 and 1958.

Lambeth Palace commissioned the review of the original investigation after Bell’s supporters said not enough was done to substantiate the complainant’s allegations.

In his latest statement, Mr Welby said: “The Church’s dilemma has been to weigh up the reputation of a highly esteemed bishop who died over 60 years ago alongside a serious allegation.

“We did not manage our response to the original allegation with the consistency, clarity or accountability that meets the high standards rightly demanded of us.”

PA

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FEBRUARY 28 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [FEBRUARY 25 2016] – “SILENCE SAYS IT ALL – YET ‘THE STILL, SMALL VOICE’ REMAINS”

This letter below has been published by Chichester Observer – Thursday February 25 2016:

Dear Editor

Bishop George Bell’s niece, Barbara Whitley, hits back at accusers:

“The history books are all going to say this man was an abuser when nothing is proved”

The Church – especially the Diocese of Chichester – would do well to ask whether or not they are breaking the ninth of the ten commandments when it comes to Bishop Bell of Chichester : “Thou shalt not bear false witness”, as well as breaching a fundamental right under English and International Law : ‘Innocent until proven guilty

Silence says it all.


Yours sincerely


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

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FEBRUARY 27 2021 – “BISHOPS SHOULD LEAD THE WAY IN SCRAPPING CHURCH OF ENGLAND CORE GROUPS FOR GOOD” – RICHARD W. SYMONDS [BELL SOCIETY] + CORE GROUP DRAFT POLICY ANTICIPATED THIS SUMMER: “THE POLICY WILL MAKE CLEAR…IT IS NOT ITS ROLE TO TRY TO ESTABLISH GUILT OR INNOCENCE” – SIR WILLIAM NYE [SECRETARY GENERAL]

“All a person can do today is warn. ‘Deutsche Christen’ is a necessary warning. Church of England Core Groups are also a warning. These Core Groups should be scrapped with immediate effect. They are not ‘fit for purpose’. They perpetuate the twin evils of injustice and cruelty. Their continued existence will bring the Church into terminal disrepute – and inflict upon it permanent moral damage”

~ Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society – February 27 2021

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

After the Secretary General’s response to a General Synod question last Saturday [Feb 27], Bishops should now lead the way in scrapping Church of England Core Groups for good – and pioneer genuine independent oversight on Safeguarding matters

~ Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)

Q25 In answer to a supplementary question from me in July 2020 relating
to Q.20, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, stated “the
NST is currently reviewing the functioning of core groups with a view
to revising the guidance and clarifying their operation,” and in answer
to a supplementary question by Mrs Kathryn Tucker (Q.23) he said “it
is vitally important that the respondents should be properly
represented, they have full understanding of the allegations made
against them and they have opportunity to respond to those. That is a
basic issue of justice… respondents must be properly represented in
order that they have a full chance to respond to any allegations.”
(Report of Proceedings, July 2020, pages 25-27). Dr Gibbs further
stated in answer to a supplementary question from the Revd Canon
Rosie Harper, “we are proposing to introduce fairly soon new
guidance on the conduct of core groups.” (ibid, page 28). Further, in
the written answer to a question (Q.79) from Mr Martin Sewell in
November 2020 you stated: “Work to update the core group policy
and guidance will include consideration of whether an appeal system,
or a dedicated complaint system, should be included.”
In the light of these answers, please inform Synod of the work done
(and by whom) since November to update the current core group
policy and guidance, stating what (if any) provision has been or is
proposed to be included, or is under consideration, to provide
respondents with both the right to be represented at all core group
meetings by a person of their choice and a right of appeal against
core group determinations.

Mr William Nye Secretary General:

Two workstreams are underway:
The revision of the Responding to, assessing and managing
safeguarding concerns or allegations against church officers
guidance which sets out the core group’s role. The NST, in
consultation with representatives from dioceses and a cathedral,
is exploring the questions posed through a series of workshops,
involving representatives from dioceses and cathedrals.
The undertaking of two workshops involving the Legal Office, the
NST and a Bishop’s Chaplain to specifically review the function
of core groups in the kinds of cases the NST works with.
We anticipate that draft policy should be ready by summer 2021 for
wider consultation. It will address how core groups may better factor
in the respondent’s views and concerns taking account of the group’s
role. The policy will make clear that it is the role of core groups to identify,
mitigate and manage the risk in any situation; it is not its role to try to
establish guilt or innocence.

CHURCH TIMES

“With that said, he [Lord Carey] makes telling points about the arbitrariness and cruelties of the present system. “I am not the only one experiencing these unjust measures. Last year, it was reported that many clergy were left feeling suicidal by the way they were treated during the Church of England’s disciplinary processes. . . The current Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, has been suspended since May 2019 [his suspension was lifted this week]. What monstrous system of justice leaves a bishop in such a difficult quandary for so long? In contrast to these cases, and mine, recent safeguarding complaints about both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have been closed quickly with judicious speed and finality”

It all brought to mind some lovely lines of Auden: “But hear the morning’s injured weeping and know why: Ramparts and souls have fallen; the will of the unjust Has never lacked an engine; still all princes must Employ the fairly-noble unifying lie”

Andrew Brown – Church Times – February 5 2021

QUESTION [AND ANSWER] ON CHURCH OF ENGLAND CORE GROUPS AT GENERAL SYNOD – FEBRUARY 27 2021

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Secretary
General:


Q25 In answer to a supplementary question from me in July 2020 relating
to Q.20, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, stated “the
NST is currently reviewing the functioning of core groups with a view
to revising the guidance and clarifying their operation,” and in answer
to a supplementary question by Mrs Kathryn Tucker (Q.23) he said “it
is vitally important that the respondents should be properly
represented, they have full understanding of the allegations made
against them and they have opportunity to respond to those. That is a
basic issue of justice… respondents must be properly represented in
order that they have a full chance to respond to any allegations.”
(Report of Proceedings, July 2020, pages 25-27). Dr Gibbs further
stated in answer to a supplementary question from the Revd Canon
Rosie Harper, “we are proposing to introduce fairly soon new
guidance on the conduct of core groups.” (ibid, page 28). Further, in
the written answer to a question (Q.79) from Mr Martin Sewell in
November 2020 you stated: “Work to update the core group policy
and guidance will include consideration of whether an appeal system,
or a dedicated complaint system, should be included.”
In the light of these answers, please inform Synod of the work done
(and by whom) since November to update the current core group
policy and guidance, stating what (if any) provision has been or is
proposed to be included, or is under consideration, to provide
respondents with both the right to be represented at all core group
meetings by a person of their choice and a right of appeal against
core group determinations.

Mr William Nye to reply as Secretary General:


Two workstreams are underway:

  1. The revision of the Responding to, assessing and managing
    safeguarding concerns or allegations against church officers
    guidance which sets out the core group’s role. The NST, in
    consultation with representatives from dioceses and a cathedral,
    is exploring the questions posed through a series of workshops,
    involving representatives from dioceses and cathedrals.
  2. The undertaking of two workshops involving the Legal Office, the
    NST and a Bishop’s Chaplain to specifically review the function
    of core groups in the kinds of cases the NST works with.
    We anticipate that draft policy should be ready by summer 2021 for
    wider consultation. It will address how core groups may better factor
    in the respondent’s views and concerns taking account of the group’s
    role.
    The policy will make clear that it is the role of core groups to identify,
    mitigate and manage the risk in any situation; it is not its role to try to
    establish guilt or innocence.

INDEPENDENT SAFEGUARDING STRUCTURES FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – PROPOSED INTERIM ARRANGEMENTS – 2021 [PHASE 1]

Page 17

  1. Independent roles in Core Groups
    The Survivors’ Focus Group noted that survivors have felt disadvantaged and unrepresented on Core Groups and that this constitutes an imbalance of power. A review of Core Groups is currently being undertaken, which will include consideration of survivors’ criticisms of present practices.
    The ISB [Independent Safeguarding Board], as proposed in Phase 1, is not designed to play a direct role in Core Groups. The question of how the ISB in future could help improve the working of Core Groups requires further reflection and consultation, in the light of the findings of the review, and will be pursued at a later stage
    .

The Revd Canon Dr Malcolm Brown
Director of Mission and Public Affairs
February 2021

Synod members hear significant changes planned for church safeguarding

 by TIM WYATT 27 FEBRUARY 2021

A slide from a safeguarding presentation given by the lead bishop for safeguarding, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs (top right)

SIGNIFICANT reforms to ensure that the Church of England is no longer “marking its own homework” on safeguarding were discussed online by General Synod members on Saturday afternoon.

During the informal meeting, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, lead bishop of safeguarding, introduced a presentation updating members on measures taken to ensure independent oversight of the Church’s safeguarding provision.

Although no decision had yet been made, one option being considered for the longer-term future was to spin off safeguarding responsibility completely into an independent charity or trust. This proposal has been long demanded by some abuse survivors and campaigners, but has been resisted until now by the C of E hierarchy (News, 6 March 2018).

Many of the changes originated from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which had been “deeply shocking”, Dr Gibbs said, and “hammered home how the Church had failed victims and survivors, and the consequent need for repentance and change at all levels of the Church’s life”.

He and his colleagues were working hard, but he acknowledged that the measures were not coming as fast as some would like. They had to bring in lasting cultural change, however, rather than quick fixes to garner easy headlines. The C of E must make its formal response to IICSA’s report in March, six months after it was published (News, 9 October 2020).

The other “big-ticket item” was a proposal to establish an Independent Safeguarding Board, which would create independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team (NST). This work was the product of consultation with survivor representatives, and had been approved by the Archbishops’ Council last week (News, 26 February).

This would mean that the Church was no longer “marking its own homework” when it came to safeguarding, Dr Gibbs said. “We need to rebuild trust, above all among victims and survivors.” These reforms would only be the first phase in the process, he assured the Synod.

Zena Marshall, the interim director of safeguarding, then explained how engagement and consultation with survivors was integral to all safeguarding reform. This included having victims and survivors on recruitment panels for senior posts in the NST.

The long-awaited Safe Spaces service (News, 16 October 2020), which offers support for anyone who has experienced abuse in the C of E, Church in Wales, and Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, had now been live for five months, she said. It had supported 95 cases in total, and on 31 January had 60 active cases. Initial feedback from the two-year pilot had been positive.

Dr Gibbs then explained how safeguarding training in the Church had been rebranded as “safeguarding learning”, to try and shift perceptions as focusing on process — “knowing what to do when something happens” — to engaging with people’s deeper values and beliefs.

This was a key part of meeting IICSA’s recommendation for cultural change in the Church. There would also be specific learning pathways for both clergy and senior leaders in dioceses and cathedrals.

Work continued at pace in rewriting central Church policies on safeguarding, he said, as well developing a national redress scheme for survivors.

A project manager for this scheme had now been hired and begun work, Ms Marshall reported. Within six months, a full proposal with timelines for when it would be ready would be sent to the Archbishops’ Council.

Canon Malcolm Brown, director of mission and public affairs at Church House, Westminster, then took over to describe the work of providing independent oversight of the NST. An Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) would be created by July, comprising a chair, a survivor-and-victims’ advocate, and a third member to lead on handling complaints.

“The independent voice will be on our backs, in a good way, as a critical friend, to enable us to come up with answers to difficult questions about the role of independence which we should not be asking ourselves,” he said. “We cannot delay any longer having that independent accompaniment to our work.

The ISB would be small but complementary and diverse, Canon Brown said. It would also supervise the director of the NST and advise on developing policies and guidance, future training programmes, and staff appointments.

An ongoing tension was about how distant safeguarding work should be from the Church, he explained. Too embedded, and it could become captured by the needs of the institution; too removed, and it would never be able to foster cultural change. For now, having an in-house NST supervised by an independent board seemed the right balance, but in the future it could be that a fully independent safeguarding team was created as a separate legal entity.

OTHER STORIES

Church’s vision is for more front-line ministry, not less, Archbishop of York tells Synod members NOTHING was being “decided centrally and kept under wraps” where the vision and strategy discussions were concerned, the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, assured General Synod members on Saturday

“To get to that step will take time, but there isn’t time to wait before we introduce any independence at all,” he said. In time, the ISB would assist the Church to consider the difficult questions around full independence for the NST, as well as how diocesan safeguarding should be managed. (A key IICSA recommendation was for diocesan safeguarding advisors to become officers instead, employed and managed independently of the bishops they would then be able to direct.)

A further level on top of the ISB, such as an ombudsman, may also be necessary in future, to be an independent accountability check on the board itself, Canon Brown said.

The House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council were both committed to not only abiding by the “letter” of the IICSA recommendations but also the spirit.

After a short screen break, the speakers answered questions sent in by Synod members during the earlier presentation. In response to several questions, Canon Brown said that the establishment of the ISB was a decision the Archbishops’ Council had to take, as it had trustee responsibility for national safeguarding; but he hoped the Synod could be involved in a second phase — possibly including making final decisions — when issues to do with diocesan safeguarding structures were debated.

He also reassured members that he had regularly consulted with survivors and victims throughout the process of writing up plans for the ISB.

Replying to further questions, Ms Marshall acknowledged that time was ticking on: it was now more than a year since proposals for a redress scheme were agreed. But “it is important to get this right”, she said. She was confident that it could be progressed in a timely manner. An interim support scheme existed for those who needed emergency intervention in the mean time.

OTHER STORIES

Archbishops’ message: Don’t be unkind to the Church or each other 27 Feb 2021

Synod Q&A: safeguarding, CDM, and the Church’s future 26 Feb 2021

Independent scrutiny for National Safeguarding Team moves a step closer 26 Feb 2021

Sex, Power, Control, by Fiona Gardner, and Going Public, by Julie Macfarlane 26 Feb

2021

NEWS

Church’s vision is for more front-line ministry, not less, Archbishop of York tells Synod members 27 Feb 2021

Archbishops’ message: Don’t be unkind to the Church or each other 27 Feb 2021

Featured post

FEBRUARY 27 2021 – ‘DEUTSCHE CHRISTEN’ – THE GERMAN CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT [1932-1945] – “A NECESSARY WARNING”

“One of the little known facts about the rise of early Nazism relates to the professions that were most represented in the rank and file of the party and movement.  By several furlongs, the answer is: academics at German universities and colleges. You may think that is shocking enough.  But be prepared for the after-shock: many academics were also members of the clergy. Why and how, you may ask, could this be so? After all, the Nuremberg trials revealed horrific war crimes on a scale not witnessed before or since.  Surely to God, intelligent academics and kind clergy could not have been party to this?  But think again”

~ ‘Anonymous’ – “Nuremberg at 75: Trials and Tribulations” – ‘Surviving Church’ – February 26 2021

“All a person can do today is warn. ‘Deutsche Christen’ is a necessary warning. Church of England Core Groups are also a warning. They should be scrapped with immediate effect. They are not ‘fit for purpose’. They perpetuate the twin evils of injustice and cruelty. Their continued existence will bring the Church into terminal disrepute – and inflict upon it permanent moral damage”

~ Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society – February 27 2021

“With that said, he [Lord Carey] makes telling points about the arbitrariness and cruelties of the present system. “I am not the only one experiencing these unjust measures. Last year, it was reported that many clergy were left feeling suicidal by the way they were treated during the Church of England’s disciplinary processes. . . The current Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, has been suspended since May 2019 [his suspension was lifted this week]. What monstrous system of justice leaves a bishop in such a difficult quandary for so long? In contrast to these cases, and mine, recent safeguarding complaints about both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have been closed quickly with judicious speed and finality”

It all brought to mind some lovely lines of Auden: “But hear the morning’s injured weeping and know why: Ramparts and souls have fallen; the will of the unjust Has never lacked an engine; still all princes must Employ the fairly-noble unifying lie”

Andrew Brown – Church Times – February 5 2021

QUESTION [AND ANSWER] ON CHURCH OF ENGLAND CORE GROUPS AT GENERAL SYNOD – FEBRUARY 27 2021

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Secretary
General:


Q25 In answer to a supplementary question from me in July 2020 relating
to Q.20, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, stated “the
NST is currently reviewing the functioning of core groups with a view
to revising the guidance and clarifying their operation,” and in answer
to a supplementary question by Mrs Kathryn Tucker (Q.23) he said “it
is vitally important that the respondents should be properly
represented, they have full understanding of the allegations made
against them and they have opportunity to respond to those. That is a
basic issue of justice… respondents must be properly represented in
order that they have a full chance to respond to any allegations.”
(Report of Proceedings, July 2020, pages 25-27). Dr Gibbs further
stated in answer to a supplementary question from the Revd Canon
Rosie Harper, “we are proposing to introduce fairly soon new
guidance on the conduct of core groups.” (ibid, page 28). Further, in
the written answer to a question (Q.79) from Mr Martin Sewell in
November 2020 you stated: “Work to update the core group policy
and guidance will include consideration of whether an appeal system,
or a dedicated complaint system, should be included.”
In the light of these answers, please inform Synod of the work done
(and by whom) since November to update the current core group
policy and guidance, stating what (if any) provision has been or is
proposed to be included, or is under consideration, to provide
respondents with both the right to be represented at all core group
meetings by a person of their choice and a right of appeal against
core group determinations.


Mr William Nye to reply as Secretary General:


Two workstreams are underway:

  1. The revision of the Responding to, assessing and managing
    safeguarding concerns or allegations against church officers
    guidance which sets out the core group’s role. The NST, in
    consultation with representatives from dioceses and a cathedral,
    is exploring the questions posed through a series of workshops,
    involving representatives from dioceses and cathedrals.
  2. The undertaking of two workshops involving the Legal Office, the
    NST and a Bishop’s Chaplain to specifically review the function
    of core groups in the kinds of cases the NST works with.
    We anticipate that draft policy should be ready by summer 2021 for
    wider consultation. It will address how core groups may better factor
    in the respondent’s views and concerns taking account of the group’s
    role.
    The policy will make clear that it is the role of core groups to identify,
    mitigate and manage the risk in any situation; it is not its role to try to
    establish guilt or innocence.

INDEPENDENT SAFEGUARDING STRUCTURES FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – PROPOSED INTERIM ARRANGEMENTS – 2021 [PHASE 1]

Page 17

  1. Independent roles in Core Groups
    The Survivors’ Focus Group noted that survivors have felt disadvantaged and unrepresented on Core Groups and that this constitutes an imbalance of power. A review of Core Groups is currently being undertaken, which will include consideration of survivors’ criticisms of present practices.
    The ISB [Independent Safeguarding Board], as proposed in Phase 1, is not designed to play a direct role in Core Groups. The question of how the ISB in future could help improve the working of Core Groups requires further reflection and consultation, in the light of the findings of the review, and will be pursued at a later stage
    .

The Revd Canon Dr Malcolm Brown
Director of Mission and Public Affairs
February 2021

German Christians (movement)

From Wikipedia…This article is about an Evangelical pressure group in Nazi Germany. For Christianity in Germany, see Religion in Germany. “Faith Movement of the German Christians” redirects here. For the Nazi pagan movement, see German Faith Movement. Flag of the German Christians (1934)

German Christians (GermanDeutsche Christen) was a pressure group and a movement within the German Evangelical Church that existed between 1932 and 1945, aligned towards the antisemiticracist and Führerprinzip ideological principles of Nazism with the goal to align German Protestantism as a whole towards those principles.[1] Their advocacy of these principles led to a schism within 23 of the initially 28 regional church bodies (Landeskirchen) in Germany and the attendant foundation of the opposing Confessing Church in 1934.[2]

Contents

History

Antecedents

Imperial Germany

During the period of the German Empire, before the Weimar Republic, the Protestant churches (Landeskirchen) in Germany were divided along state and provincial borders. Each state or provincial church was supported by and affiliated with the regnal house—if it was Protestant—in its particular region; the crown provided financial and institutional support to its church. Church and state were therefore, to a large extent, combined on a regional basis.[3] Monarchies of Roman Catholic dynasties also organised church bodies that were territorially defined by their state borders. The same was true for the three republican German states within the pre-1918 Empire. In Alsace-Lorraine the Napoleonic system of établissements publics du culte for the Calvinist, Jewish, Lutheran and Roman Catholic congregations and umbrellas remained in effect.

Austria-Hungary

Karl Lueger‘s antisemitic Christian Social Party is sometimes viewed as a model for Adolf Hitler’s Nazism.[4] Hitler praised Lueger in his book Mein Kampf as an inspiration. In 1943, Nazi Germany produced the biographical film Vienna 1910 about Lueger, which was given the predicate “special political value”. Anti-Semitic Christian Social Party poster of 1920, depicting a Judeo-Bolshevikserpent choking the Austrian eagle; Text: “German Christians – Save Austria!”

Weimar Republic

With the end of World War I and the resulting political and social turmoil, the regional churches lost their secular rulers. With revolutionary fervor in the air, the conservative church leaders had to contend with socialists who favored disestablishment.

After considerable political maneuvering, state churches were abolished (in name) under Weimar, but the anti-disestablishmentarians prevailed in substance: churches remained public corporations and retained their subsidies from government. Religious instruction in the schools continued, as did the theological faculties in the universities. The rights formerly held by the princes in the German Empire simply devolved to church councils.

Accordingly, in this initial period of the Weimar Republic, the Protestant Church in Germany now operated as a federation of 28 regional (or provincial) churches. The federation operated officially through the representative German Evangelical Church Confederation (Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchenbund (DEKB)); the League was itself established in 1922 by the rather loose annual convention called Church General Assembly (Kirchentag), which was composed of the members of the various regional churches. The League was governed and administered by a 36-member Executive Committee (Kirchenausschuss) which was responsible for ongoing governance between the annual conventions of the Kirchentag.

Save for the organizational matters under the jurisdiction of the national League, the regional churches remained independent in other matters, including theology, and the federal system allowed for a great deal of regional autonomy.[5]

Nazi Germany

See also: Religion in Nazi Germany German Christians celebrating Luther-Day in Berlin in 1933, speech by bishop Hossenfelder

Ideology

The Deutsche Christen were, for the most part, a “group of fanatically Nazi Protestants.”[6] They began as an interest group and eventually came to represent one of the schismatic factions of German Protestantism.[6]

Their movement was sustained and encouraged by factors such as:

The Deutsche Christen were sympathetic to the Nazi regime’s goal of “co-ordinating” (see Gleichschaltung) the individual Protestant churches into a single and uniform Reich church, consistent with the Volk ethos and the Führerprinzip.

The editor Prof. Wilhelm Knevels of the journal Christentum und Leben (i.e. Christianity and Life) also worked for the “Institute for Research and the Elimination of Jewish influence on German Church Life“—and his journal published articles like “Heroic Christianity” (“Heroisches Christentum”, 1935) and “Why not only God? Why Jesus?” (“Warum nicht nur Gott? Warum Jesus?”, April 1942).

The “Martin Luther Memorial Church” (Martin-Luther-Gedächtniskirche), which was built in Berlin from 1933 to 1935 included a pulpit that showed the Sermon on the Mount with a Stahlhelm-wearing Wehrmacht soldier listening to Jesus and a baptismal font which featured an SA stormtrooper.[8] The swastikas were removed after the war and the former church has been reconstructed as a memorial to Nazi crimes against humanity.[citation needed]

Under the authority of Alfred Rosenberg and his religious theories the Protestant minister Wilhelm Brachmann established an Institute of Religious Studies as part of the Advanced School of the NSDAP.[9]

Formation

The Deutsche Christen were organized as a Kirchenpartei (church party, i.e. a nominating group) in 1931 to help win elections of presbyteries and synods (i.e. legislating church assemblies) in the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union, the largest of the independent Landeskirchen.[6] They were led by Ludwig Müller, a rather incompetent “old fighter” who had no particular leadership skills or qualifications, except having been a longtime faithful Nazi. He was advised by Emanuel Hirsch. In 1931 the book Salvation from chaotic madness by Guida Diehl, the first speaker of the National Socialist Women’s League, got an admiring review by the National Socialist Monthly—she was praised for fighting against the “ridicule of Christ” and “showing the way for German Christians”.[10] The Berlin section was founded by Wilhelm Kube in 1932. The group achieved no particular notoriety before the Nazi assumption of political power in January 1933. In the Prussian church elections of November 1932, Deutsche Christen won one-third of the vote.[11]

Hitler was appointed Chancellor on 30 January 1933 and the process of Gleichschaltung was in its full sway in the first few months of the regime. In late April 1933 the leadership of the 1922-founded German Evangelical Church Confederation, in the spirit of the new regime, agreed to write a new constitution for a brand new, unitary “national” church, which would be called the German Evangelical Church (Deutsche Evangelische Kirche or DEK). The new and unified national DEK would completely replace and supersede the old federated church with its representative league.

This church reorganization had been a goal of the Deutsche Christen for some time, as such a centralization would enhance the coordination of Church and State, as a part of the overall Nazi process of Gleichschaltung. The Deutsche Christen agitated for Müller to be elected as the new Church’s bishop (Reichsbischof).

Bishopric

Müller had poor political skills, little political support within the Church and no real qualifications for the job, other than his commitment to Nazism and a desire to exercise power. When the federation council met in May 1933 to approve the new constitution, it elected Friedrich von Bodelschwingh as Reichsbischof of the new Protestant Reich Church by a wide margin, largely on the advice and support of the church leadership.[12]

Hitler was infuriated with the rejection of his candidate, and things began to change. By June 1933 the Deutsche Christen had gained leadership of some Landeskirchen within the DEK and were, of course, supported by Nazi propaganda in their efforts to reverse the humiliating loss to Bodelschwingh.[13][14] After a series of Nazi-directed political maneuvers, Bodelschwingh resigned and Müller was appointed as the new Reichsbischof in July 1933.[15]

Aryan paragraph

Further pro-Nazi developments followed the elevation of Müller to the DEK bishopric: in late summer the old-Prussian general synod (led by Müller) adopted the Aryan paragraph, effectively defrocking clergy of Jewish descent and even clergy married to non-Aryans.[16]

With their Gleichschaltungspolitik and their attempts to incorporate the Aryan paragraph into the church constitution so as to exclude Jewish Christians, the Deutsche Christen entered into a Kirchenkampf with other evangelical Christians. Their opponents founded the Confessing Church in 1934,[17] which condemned the Deutsche Christen as heretics and claimed to be the true German Protestant Church.

Impact

Logos used by the German Christians in 1932, 1935 and 1937

The Nazis found the Deutsche Christen group useful during the initial consolidation of power, but removed most of its leaders from their posts shortly afterwards; Reichsbischof Müller continued until 1945, but his power was effectively removed in favor of a government agency as a result of his obvious incompetence.

The Deutsche Christen were supportive of the Nazi ideas about race.[18] They issued public statements that Christians in Germany with Jewish ancestors “remain Christians in a New Testament sense, but are not German Christians.” They also supported the Nazi party platform’s advocacy of a “Positive Christianity” that did not stress the belief in human sinfulness. Some went so far as to call for the total removal of all Jewish elements from the Bible, including the Old Testament.[1] Their symbol was a traditional Christian cross with a swastika in the middle and the group’s German initials “D” and “C”.

It was claimed and remembered by the Deutsche Christen, as a “fact”, that the Jews had killed Christ, which appealed to and actively encouraged existing anti-Semitic sentiments among Christians in Nazi Germany.

Precursors

19th century

The forerunner of the Deutsche Christen ideology came from certain Protestant groups of the German Empire. These groups sought a return to perceived völkisch, nationalistic and racist ideas within traditional Christianity, and looked to turn Christianity in Germany into a reformed intrinsic folk-religion (Germanarteigene Volksreligion). They found their model in the Berlin Hofprediger Adolf Stoecker, who was politically active and tried to position the Christian working-classes and lower-middle-classes against what he perceived as Jewish Überfremdung.

The Bayreuther Blätter devoted its June 1892 issue to a memorial of Paul de Lagarde and it emphatically recommended his work to its readers. Ludwig Schemann, one of the most prolific of Bayreuth Germanics and racists, and later the author of a full-length biography of Lagarde, summarized his life and work and concluded that “for the comprehension of Lagarde’s whole being one must above all remember that he always considered himself the prophet and guide of his people — which of course he actually was.” For Schemann his legacy consisted largely of his struggle against the Jews: “Not since the days of Schopenhauer and Wagner is the German thinker so mightily opposed this alien people, which desecrates our holy possessions, poisons our people, and seeks to wrest our property from us so as to completely trample on us, as Lagarde has” It was this image of Lagarde, the anti-Semitic prophet of a purified and heroic Germany, which the political Wagnerites and the Bayreuther Blätter kept alive. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Wagner’s son-in-law and intellectual disciple, wrote: “For us, the Deutsche Schriften have for a long time belonged to our most precious books, and we consider Lagarde’s unabashed exposure of the inferiority of Semitic religious instincts and the pernicious effects on Christianity as an achievement that deserves our admiration and gratitude.”[19]

In 1896 Arthur Bonus advocated a “Germanization of Christianity”. Max Bewer alleged in his 1907 book Der deutsche Christus (The German Christ), Jesus stemmed from German soldiers in the Roman garrison in Galilee and his preaching showed the influence of “German blood”. He concluded that the Germans were the best Christians among all peoples, only prevented from the full flowering of their spiritual faculties by the materialistic Jews. Julius Bode, however, concluded that the Christianisation of the Germans was the imposition of an “un-German” religious understanding, and that Germanic feeling remained alien to it and so should remain exempt from it.[20]

20th century

On the 400th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, in 1917, the Flensburg pastor Friedrich Andersen, the writer Adolf Bartels and Hans Paul Freiherr von Wolzogen presented 95 Thesen[21] on which a “German Christianity on a Protestant basis” should be founded. It stated:

The newer racial research has finally opened our eyes to the pernicious effects of the blood mixture between Germanic and un-German peoples and urges us, with all our forces, to strive to keep our Volkstum pure and closed. Religion is the inner strength and finest flower in the intellectual life of a people, but it can only strongly affect expression in popular culture … a deep connection between Christianity and Germanness can only be achieved when it is released from this unnatural connection, wherever it stands nakedly approached by the Jewish religion.

For the authors of the Thesen, the “angry thunder-god” Jehovah was the same as the “Father” and “[Holy] Ghost”, that Christ preached and that the Germans would have guessed. Childlike confidence in God and selfless love was, to them, the essence of the Germanic “people’s-soul” in contrast to Jewish “menial fear of God” and “materialistic morality.” Church was not an “institution for the dissemination of Judaism”, and they felt religious and confirmation materials should no longer teach the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments, nor even the New Testament, which they held to be of Jewish influence that had to be “cleaned” so that the child Jesus could be used as a model for “self sacrifice” and “male heroism”.

In 1920 minister Karl Gerecke published Biblical anti-Semitism in the Volksverlag of Ernst Boepple, one of the founders of the German Workers’ Party.

Dietrich Eckart, an early mentor of Adolf Hitler, also emphasized the “manliness” of Jesus Christ and compared him to the Norse god Baldr.

In 1921 Andersen wrote Der deutsche Heiland (The German Saviour), in which he opposed Jewish migration as an apocalyptic decision:

Who will win, the six-cornered star or the Cross? — The question is, for now, not yet evident. The Jew goes on his way purposefully, in any case … his deadly hatred will defeat his opponent. When the Christian Good Friday is celebrated, it should at least not weigh in his dreams; … otherwise there could come a whole lot of terrible Golgothas, where Jews across the whole world dance their jubilee songs on the grave of Christianity as heirs of a murdering people, singing to the Jahu they destroyed.

Against the “contamination by Jewish ideas”, mainly from the Old Testament, the Churches and Germany should (he argued) be “mutually benefits and supports”, and then Christianity would win back its status as “a religion of the Volk and of the struggle” and “the great exploiter of humanity, the evil enemy of our Volk [would] finally be destroyed”.

In the same year, 1921, the Protestant-dominated and völkisch-oriented League for German Churches (GermanBund für deutsche Kirche) was founded in Berlin. Andersen, pastor Ernst Bublitz and teacher Kurd Joachim Niedlich brought out the twice-monthly The German Church (GermanDie Deutsche Kirche) magazine, which in 12,000 articles advanced the Bund’s ideas. Jesus should be a “tragic-Nordic figure” against the Old Testament’s “religious idea”, with the Old Testament replaced by a “German myth”. Each biblical story was to be “measured under German feelings, so that German Christianity escapes from Semitic influence as Beelzebub did before the Cross.”

In 1925 groups such as the Bund united with ten völkischGermanophile and anti-Semitic organizations to form the German Christian Working Group (Germandeutschchristliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft). The Christian-Spirit Religious Society (GermanGeistchristliche Religionsgesellschaft), founded in 1927 in Nuremberg by Artur Dinter, saw more effect in the churches, striving for the ‘de-Judification’ (GermanEntjudung) and the building of a non-denominational People’s Church (GermanVolkskirche).

The proposed abolition of the Old Testament was in part fiercely opposed among Christian German nationalists, seeing it as a racist attack on the foundations of their faith from inside and outside. The theologian Johannes Schneider, a member of the German National People’s Party (GermanDeutschnationale Volkspartei or DNVP) (a party fairly close to the political aims of the NSDAP), wrote in 1925:

Whoever cheapens the Old Testament will soon also lose the New.

In 1927 the Protestant Church League (GermanDeutscher Evangelischer Kirchenbund) reacted to the growing radicalization of German Christian groups with a Churches Day in Königsberg, aiming to clarify Christianity’s relation to “Fatherland”, “Nation”, “Volkstum“, “Blood” and “Race”. Many local church-officers tried to delineate, such as with regards to racism, but this only served to show how deeply it had intruded into their thinking. Paul Althaus, for example, wrote:

Volkstum is a spiritual reality … certainly there will never be a Volkstum without the precondition of, for example, the blood unit. But once a Volkstum is begotten, it may exist as a spiritual reality … even foreign blood may be lent [in]to it. How great the significance of blood might be in intellectual history, but the rule is, even if one is born into a Volkstum, the spirit and not the blood.

On this basis, the radical German-Christians’ ideas were hardly slowed down. In 1928 they gathered in Thuringia to found the Thuringian German Christians’ Church Movement (GermanThüringer Kirchenbewegung Deutsche Christen), seeking contact with the Nazi party and naming their newsletter “Letters to German Christians” (GermanBriefe an Deutsche Christen).

Pagan and anti-Christian trends

Alfred Rosenberg‘s book The Myth of the Twentieth Century (GermanDer Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts) resonated in these circles and gave them renewed impetus. His polemic against all “un-German” and “root-stock” elements in Christianity was directed against the Christianity and the denominational organisations of the time. Marxism and Catholic Internationalism were attacked as two facets of the Jewish spirit, and Rosenberg stated the need for a new national religion to complete the Reformation.

The Associated German Religious Movement (GermanArbeitsgemeinschaft Deutsche Glaubensbewegung), founded in Eisenach at the end of 1933, was also an attempt to create a national religion outside and against the churches. It combined six earlier Nordic-völkisch oriented groups and a further five groups were represented by individual members. Jakob Wilhelm Hauer became the group’s “leader and representative” by acclamation, and other members included the philosopher Ernst Bergmann (1881–1945), the racial ideologue Hans F. K. Günther, the writer Ernst Graf zu Reventlow, the historian Herman WirthLudwig Fahrenkrog and Lothar Stengel-von Rutkowski.[22]

Attempts to “de-Judaize” the Bible

See also: Anti-Judaism

In 1939 with the approval of eleven of the German Protestant regional churches the Eisenacher Institute for the Study and Elimination of Jewish Influence on German Church Life (called the “Dejudaization Institute”) was founded, led by Siegfried Leffler and Walter Grundmann.[23] One of its main tasks was to compile a “People’s Testament” (GermanVolkstestament) in the sense of what Alfred Rosenberg called a “Fifth Gospel”, to announce the myth of the “Aryan Jesus”.[citation needed] It became clear in 1994 that the Testament’s poetic text was written by the famous ballad-poet and proprietor of the Eugen-Diederichs-Verlag, Lulu von Strauß und Torney. Despite broad church support for it (even many Confessing Christians advocated such an approach, in the hope that the disaffiliation of 1937 to 1940 could be curbed), the first edition of the text did not meet with the expected enthusiastic response.

After 1945

After 1945, the remaining German Christian currents formed smaller communities and circles distanced from the newly formed umbrella of the independent church bodies Evangelical Church in Germany. German Christian-related parties sought to influence the historiography of the Kirchenkampf in the so-called “church-historical working group”, but they had little effect from then on in theology and politics. Other former members of the German Christians moved into the numerically insignificant religious communities known as the Free People’s Christian Church (GermanFreie Christliche Volkskirche) and the People’s Movement of Free Church Christians (GermanVolkskirchenbewegung Freie Christen) after 1945.

In 1980, in the context of a statement entitled “Towards Renovation of the Relationship of Christians and Jews (Zur Erneuerung des Verhältnisses von Christen und Juden), the Synod of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland stated that it recognized and “confess, with dismay, the co-responsibility and guilt of German Christians for the Holocaust.” [24][25] On May 6, 2019, eighty years after the founding of the “Dejudaization Institute”, the “Dejudaization Institute“ Memorial” was unveiled in Eisenach at the behest of eight Protestant regional churches. It is intended to be understood as the Protestant churches’ confession of guilt and as a memorial to the victims of the church’s anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism.[26]

See also

Notes and references

  1. Jump up to:a b c Bergen, Doris L. (2005). Levy, Richard S. (ed.). Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Volume 1. Oxford, England: ABC Clio. pp. 172–173. ISBN 1-85109-439-3. Retrieved 27 February 2018. The Deutsche Christen (German Christians) were a group of clergy and laypeople in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s who sought to synthesize National Socialism and Christianity. They aimed to purge Christianity of everything they deemed Jewish and to create a German church based on “blood“. Most of the approximately 600,000 members were Protestant, although a few Catholics were involved. By mid-1933, Deutsche Christen had acquired key posts in the Protestant establishment – in national church governing bodies and university faculties of theology, as regional bishops, and on local church councils. Many kept those positions until 1945 and beyond.
  2. ^ Only in the regional church bodies of Bavaria (Lutheran)Hanover (Lutheran)Hanover (Reformed)Schaumburg-Lippe, and Württemberg had no majorities of German Christians in their synods, thus protagonists of the Confessing Church considered these church bodies as constitutionally unadulterated (so-called intact churches).
  3. ^ The ruler of each state was also the highest authority (summus episcopus) in that state’s churchSee generally the Wikipedia article on the German Empire and its constitutive states, as it existed before the end of the First World War.
  4. ^ Fareed Zacharia, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Norton, 2003, 2007, p. 60
  5. ^ For a fuller and more detailed account, see the article on the Confessing Church.
  6. Jump up to:a b c Barnes p. 74.
  7. ^ Verses 1-7 are the most pertinent; verses 1-2 read as follows (New International Version):Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
  8. ^ Bettina Vaupel, in: Monumente Journal. Published by the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz“Heiligenschein und Stahlhelm”. (i.e. “Halo and Stahlhelm”), August 2013 (includes a picture).
  9. ^ Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich, Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 68.
  10. ^ Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte. Issue 21. December 1931. Editor: Alfred Rosenberg. Original in German: “gegen die Verhöhnung der Christus-Persönlichkeit”, “zeigt gleichzeitig den Weg zum deutschen Christentum”. Page 46.
  11. ^ Bergen p. 5.
  12. ^ Bodelschwingh was a well-known and popular Westphalianpastor who headed Bethel Institution, a large charitable organization for the mentally ill and disabled. His father, also a pastor, had founded Bethel. Barnett p. 33.
  13. ^ Evans p. 223.
  14. ^ The new Reichskirche (or DEK) church constitution required a two-thirds majority for the election of its bishop and no candidate in the April contest could achieve this supermajority initially. After several ballots, Bodelschwingh prevailed by a landslide of 91 to 8.
  15. ^ The entire Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union (both Müller and Bodelschwingh were members of this largest regional church, which was of course only an administrative unit after the adoption of the new constitution establishing the DEK) was placed under police jurisdiction; pastors were fired, suspended and sometimes even arrested or placed under house arrest; and the Deutsche Christen and Müller carried on a vicious campaign against Bodelschwingh. Barnett p. 34.
  16. ^ In 1933 the Protestant churches in Germany employed about 18,842 pastors (1933); 37 of them were classified by the Nazi terminology as “full Jews” (GermanVolljuden). However, before the promulgation of the Nazi’s racist Nuremberg Laws, there was no standard definition of who was a “Jew,” or which Mischling would be deemed “Jewish” for purposes of Hitlerian racial policy, so the net would certainly have swept wider than this rather small fraction. The extension of the prohibition to address the wives of German pastors was surely, to many middle-of-the-road Protestants, shocking. See Barnett p. 33-36. The Evangelisches Pfarrhausarchiv (about in English: Evangelical Archive for Pastors and their Families) recorded for all of Nazi Germany 115 Protestant pastors with one up to four grandparents, who were enlisted in a Jewish congregation. Cf. Wider das Vergessen: Schicksale judenchristlicher Pfarrer in der Zeit 1933-1945 (special exhibition in the Lutherhaus Eisenach April 1988 – April 1989), Evangelisches Pfarrhausarchiv (ed.), Eisenach: Evangelisches Pfarrhausarchiv, 1988. No ISBN.
  17. ^ The Confessing Church grew out of the Pastors’ Emergency League (GermanPfarrernotbund) founded by Martin Niemöllerin 1933. See article on Confessing Church for more detail.
  18. ^ Bergen, Doris (1996). Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-8078-2253-1.
  19. ^ Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrunderts, 5th ed. München 1904, p.lxii. This is taken from Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: a study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology. copyright 1961 by The Regents of the University of California. ISBN 0-520-02626-8
  20. ^ Rainer Lächele: Germanisierung des Christentums — Heroisierung Christi, in: Stefanie von Schnurbein, Justus H. Ulbricht (Hrsg.): Völkische Religion und Krisen der Moderne. Entwürfe „arteigener“ Glaubenssysteme seit der Jahrhundertwende, Königshausen und Neumann GmbH, Würzburg 2001, ISBN 3-8260-2160-6, S. 165–183
  21. ^ See The Ninety-five Theses of Martin Luther.
  22. ^ Ulrich Nanko: Die Deutsche Glaubensbewegung. Eine historische und soziologische Untersuchung; Marburg: diagonal-Verlag, 1993
  23. ^ Jochen Birkenmeier, Michael Weise: Erforschung und Beseitigung. Das kirchliche „Entjudungsinstitut“ 1939–1945. Begleitband zur Ausstellung, Eisenach, 2019, p. 46-53 (in German).
  24. ^ “Judentum, christlich-jüdisches Gespräch”EKiR.de – Die besten Internetseiten der evangelischen Kirche im Rheinland – Ihre evangelische Kirche zwischen Saarland und Niederrhein (in German). Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland. 14 December 2005. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  25. ^ “Towards Renovation of the Relationship of Christians and Jews” [Zur Erneuerung des Verhältnisses von Christen und Juden]. Sacred Heart University Connecticut. Synod of the Evangelical Church of the Rhineland, Germany. 12 January 1980. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  26. ^ Jochen Birkenmeier, Michael Weise: Erforschung und Beseitigung. Das kirchliche „Entjudungsinstitut“ 1939–1945. Begleitband zur Ausstellung, Eisenach, 2019, p. 110-111.

Bibliography

English

German

  • (in German) Friedrich Baumgärtel: Wider die Kirchenkampflegenden; Freimund Verlag 19762 (19591), ISBN 3-86540-076-0
  • (in German) Otto Diem: Der Kirchenkampf. Evangelische Kirche und Nationalsozialismus; Hamburg 19702
  • (in German) Heiner Faulenbach: Artikel Deutsche Christen; in: RGG [de]4, 1999
  • (in German) Rainer Lächele: Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Glaube. Die „Deutschen Christen“ in Württemberg 1925–1960; Stuttgart 1994
  • (in German) Kurt Meier: Die Deutschen Christen; Halle 1964 [Standardwerk]
  • (in German) Kurt Meier: Kreuz und Hakenkreuz. Die evangelische Kirche im Dritten Reich; Munich 20012
  • (in German) Klaus Scholder: Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich
    • Volume 1: Vorgeschichte und Zeit der Illusionen, 1918–1934; Berlin 1977
    • Volume 2: Das Jahr der Ernüchterung 1934; Berlin 1985
  • (in German) Günther van Norden u.a. (ed.): Wir verwerfen die falsche Lehre. Arbeits- und Lesebuch zur Barmer Theologischen Erklärung
  • (in German) Marikje Smid: Deutscher Protestantismus und Judentum 1932–33; München: Christian Kaiser, 1990; ISBN 3-459-01808-9
  • (in German) Hans Prolingheuer: Kleine politische Kirchengeschichte. 50 Jahre evangelischer Kirchenkampf; Cologne: Pahl-Rugenstein, 1984; ISBN 3-7609-0870-5
  • (in German) Joachim Beckmann (ed.s): Kirchliches Jahrbuch für die evangelische Kirche in Deutschland 1933–1945. It: Evangelische Kirche im Dritten Reich, Gütersloh 1948
  • (in German) Julius Sammetreuther: Die falsche Lehre der Deutschen Christen; Bekennende Kirche Heft 15; Munich 19343
  • (in German) Leonore Siegele-Wenschkewitz (ed.): Christlicher Antijudaismus und Antisemitismus. Theologische und kirchliche Programme Deutscher Christen; Arnoldshainer Texte Band 85; Frankfurt/M.: Haag + Herchen Verlag, 1994; ISBN 3-86137-187-1

it (S. 201–234) Birgit Jerke: Wie wurde das Neue Testament zu einem sogenannten Volkstestament „entjudet“? Aus der Arbeit des Eisenacher „Instituts zur Erforschung und Beseitung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutsch kirchliche Leben“

  • (in German) Karl Heussi: Kompendium der Kirchengeschichte; Tübingen: Mohr, 198116ISBN 3-16-141871-9; S. 521–528

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Deutsche Christen.

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FEBRUARY 27 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [JANUARY 24 2018] – “LORDS CRITICISE CHURCH’S HANDLING OF GEORGE BELL CASE” – DAILY TELEGRAPH – PEERS CALLED ON THE GOVERNMENT TO “UPHOLD THE CARDINAL PRINCIPLE [OF JUSTICE] THAT AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVED GUILTY” – THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

Lords criticise Church’s handling of George Bell case as Bishop of Peterborough calls for ‘a major review of anonymity’ 

In a debate in the House of Lords on Monday peers called on the Government to "uphold the cardinal principle that an individual is innocent until proved guilty".  
Peers called on the Government to “uphold the cardinal principle that an individual is innocent until proved guilty”.   CREDIT: PA ARCHIVE 

24 JANUARY 2018  

Peers including the Bishop of Peterborough have called on the Government to protect the identity of people accused of a crime after their death. 

One member of the House of Lords said Anglicans were “deeply ashamed” of the Church of England’s handling of the case of Bishop George Bell, who was accused of abusing a child several decades after his death in 1958. 

A report published at the end of last year by Lord Carlile found that the highly-respected bishop’s reputation had been unnecessarily damaged by the Church when it publicly named him in an apology to the alleged victim in 2015. 

In a debate in the House of Lords on Monday peers called on the Government to “uphold the cardinal principle that an individual is innocent until proved guilty”.In cases until there is overwhelming evidence to suggest guilt, it seems reasonable for people’s reputations not to be damaged in this public way.

Official historian of the Conservative Party Lord Lexden asked home office minister Baroness Williams whether the Government would “review the law governing the naming of deceased individuals against whom criminal allegations have been made”.

He called on the Government to review the law in order to to ensure the anonymity of dead suspects accused by “one uncorroborated alleged witness”.

Fellow peer Lord Cormack added that the case was “deeply shocking” and said “the reputation of a great man has been traduced, and many of us who are Anglicans are deeply ashamed ​of the way that the Anglican Church has behaved”.

The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister echoed the calls and added: “In all cases where the complainant has a right to be anonymous, there seems to be a case for the respondent also to be anonymous, and in cases until there is overwhelming evidence to suggest guilt, it seems reasonable for people’s reputations not to be damaged in this public way.”

However Baroness Williams said the Government “do not have plans to review the law”. 

“Any decision to name an individual where that is considered to be in the public interest will necessarily be specific to the circumstances of an individual case,” she said. 

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FEBRUARY 26 2021 – SAFEGUARDING AND “THE BANALITY OF EVIL” 1 – NATIONAL SAFEGUARDING TEAM [NST] AND CORE GROUPS – ‘INDEPENDENT SAFEGUARDING STRUCTURES FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – PROPOSED INTERIM ARRANGEMENTS – 2021 [PHASE 1]’

SAFEGUARDING AND “THE BANALITY OF EVIL” – NATIONAL SAFEGUARDING TEAM [NST] AND CORE GROUPS – “INDEPENDENT SAFEGUARDING STRUCTURES FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – PROPOSED INTERIM ARRANGEMENTS – 2021 [PHASE 1]

“Nuremberg at 75: Trials and Tribulations” by ‘Anonymous’

– ‘Surviving Church’

Anonymous

EXCERPTS

One of the little known facts about the rise of early Nazism relates to the professions that were most represented in the rank and file of the party and movement.  By several furlongs, the answer is: academics at German universities and colleges. You may think that is shocking enough.  But be prepared for the after-shock: many academics were also members of the clergy…

Most people might assume that faced with the shock, trauma and reality of the death camps, they might, in Old Testament terminology, “rend their hearts and garments”. Some did. But if you watch grainy old film footage of townspeople walking through their local neighbourhood death camp, marshalled by allied troops, you see other reactions too. Some hold their heads high, and look away – a proud, almost haughty posture, as though somehow they have been confronted with “fake news” and odious allied propaganda. Others, stand and stare, and weep in disbelief…

The classic study of cognitive dissonance and religion – for that is what we are dealing with here – is Leon Festinger’s 1956 epic, When Prophecy Fails.  Less well-known is Festinger’s distinctive articulation of ‘social comparison theory’.  Namely, the premise that people have an innate drive to accurately evaluate their opinions and abilities, so seek to evaluate their opinions and abilities by comparing them with those of others.

This is important in the church – and always has been – as Christian groups like to say what they are most like (comparison), but equally, that they are special, so un-like anything else. This will produce distinctive grammars and cultures.  So, in terms of safeguarding, the Church of England has ‘Core Groups’ – but not like anything else you can find on any other planet. Clergy have ‘annual appraisals’ too; but again, not like anything else you can find on any other planet.  The church runs all kinds of systems that sound as they will be comparable to their secular counterparts. They never are.

Festinger had a distinctive take on cognitive dissonance too, and at its most basic, his hypotheses went something like this.  The existence of dissonance (or inconsistency), being psychologically uncomfortable, will always motivate a person to try to reduce their dissonance and achieve consonance (or consistency).  When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance…

The banality of evil is commonplace.  ‘Banal’ means ‘common’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘shared’. Arendt’s phrase gets right under the skin of what communities, societies, groups and churches find to be so utterly normal they cannot see its actual evil.  Racism, sexism, abuse of all kinds: these are part of the ecology of churches. We have just got so used to this stuff. We no longer notice it.

But it shocks others. And when they see it, they are furious. Their anger can be uncontrollable. You can understand perhaps, just a little, why allied soldiers, when they found camp guards hiding amongst the concentration camps, mercy was in short supply. The murderous rage that the liberators felt might be in all of us, somewhere.

This is where I struggle with the Church of England, NST and safeguarding. I see only captives and the oppressed. I see no sign of any liberators.  I cannot name a Diocesan Bishop who has, so far, acted with moral courage, or acted with any moral agency to call out the abuses.  I see only process: just our numbed mitred-ones, “only obeying orders”.  The banality of evil is contagious. And compulsory.

The Catholic theologian Clemens Sedmak says that one of the primary tasks of theology is to see it as an invitation: to wake up – to be mindful and attentive.  Black Lives Matter has a slogan: “if you are not angry, you are not paying attention”. Quite.  This is what the allies did with cinemas and walkabouts in 1945.  It was a powerful poke: wake up – just look at what has happened! Yet some still could not see, and would refuse to learn…

Curiosity leads us to searching; to self-search; to probe; to wrestle; to change; to repent; to risk; to love; to sacrifice; to empower others; to be responsible; to see, judge and act; to be accountable to one another; to become like Jesus.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any of this in the Church of England’s approach to safeguarding. Ever.

Instead, I see and hear leaders saying: “this is just the way it is at the moment”; “we are on a learning curve”; “we are on a journey”; “we are doing our best” and “we’ve come a long way”. But the best the NST does is not good enough. In fact, their best is harmful. 

I say this is after reading the recent 20-page page paper ‘Independent Safeguarding Structures for the Church of England’.  A careful scan of the proposals from the NST for an Independent Safeguarding Board left me weary and demoralised. But also deeply disturbed.

Why? Well, the rhetoric is lame, and the entire document seems to contort itself around process, but one which lacks any real bite.  Let me explain.  Herewith the Missing Words Round – a pub quiz interlude in this short essay.  Which of these words is missing from the report? Could it be justice, pain, betrayal, anger, injustice, resolution, compensation, closure, healing, repentance, atonement, sacrifice, forgiveness (yours, mine, anyone else’s), pastoral, care, kindness, suffering and compassion? Or could it be shame, stigma and guilt? Or perhaps God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Yes, they are all missing words. All of them. Not one mention for any of them in 20 pages.

Amazing. Yet someone has written a theology of safeguarding for this report, but managed to miss out all of these (key?) words. How is this done? By whom? For whom? Imposing comprehensive solutions stems from superiority. It will not realize the need for collective learning via intended authentic social intercourse and deep listening. This must be rooted in ecologies of equality, with attendant humility, compassion and empathetic bridging...

It reflects a dangerous assumption on the part of those in power: that only their injection of goodness and morality can reform society and liberate others. Countless impositions of initiatives on racism and sexism suffer from this. And now safeguarding. Lies are more common in silences than words, says Adrienne Rich. Authentic listening has to be the starting point for the NST and the Church of England. But you can be sure they will not want to hear what we have to say.

In decades to come, just as people have studied the cognitive dissonance of those on trial at Nuremberg (remember, “I was only obeying orders”), I think, anthropologists will study this small tribal cult that revolves around process, but strangely has none. The god of the NST is process, and its high priests control its’ meaning. Alas, this is only a local tribal deity, and in terms of Festinger’s notion of social comparison, it bears no relation to any other ideas of process in rest of the known world. Contact the relevant tribal elders for more information: the silent ones in the pointy hats, holding the magic staffs. They will explain why process is their god.  But it is all a mystery you see; the unseen and ultimately unknowable – such is process god.

Pope Francis has a nice line on the purpose of the church. He says it is a ‘field hospital’, not a custom house or some bureaucratic tax-revenue centre.  What does he mean by this?  That the church is here to mend and heal.  Not take and tax. The church is for reconciliation, compassion and empathy.  The church is an ITU – yes, an Intensive Care Union.  We are here to bind up the broken-hearted, to set captives free, and to deliver people from the powers of darkness, their afflictions and the stigmas and demonization, and all that oppresses them.

I have spent years now listening to those abused: the sexually abused, and the falsely accused.  And yet as I read ‘Independent Safeguarding Structures for the Church of England’, and what do I find? No heart or soul. The language of dull, dead process. It is a form of anaesthetic for the pain that the abused still bear.  You will recall Marx’s aphorism: religion is an opiate for the people.  It relieves their pain, but does nothing to alleviate the causes of their suffering and misery.

The trouble is, there is no other care or cure for the victim or patient of abuse from the NST. Now, “a patient of abuse” works pretty well as a term for our purposes here. We wait in hope. But in vain. The NST is, meanwhile, the weirdest field hospital. It bears no social comparison to any other healing institution. 

All that ever happens is this. On the ward rounds you are assessed, and promised prompt treatment.  But nothing else happens.  Your pain increases, and your anxiety too.  You feel forgotten.  So, you scream loudly, for a very long time.  Oddly, this makes the medics run away.  Eventually, they promise to operate.  But only if you calm down.  Nothing happens when you do.  So you keep screaming, and eventually the noise for everyone is so unbearable, they take you for surgery.

But then it is strange, for they ever do is gas you: they sedate you. You wake up, and they ask if you are feeling better? You say you do not. So they say they might need to repeat this procedure several times. It never works. So they discharge you, and explain your pain is all in your head. This is now your fault.

You are referred to Out-Patients in future, which alas is only open on alternate rainy days in any month beginning with an ‘R’. In the meantime, new patients arrive at the field hospital. The sedatives are in plentiful supply. Or you can just read the latest policy documents. They have the same effect.  The opiate of religion is a way of avoiding the causes of pain and disease. It ignores the poverty and social causes of the disorders and inequalities in society.

Seventy-five years ago, some people were traumatised by what the allies showed them. Some looked, and turned away. Those on trial were just running a process, and had the right moral reasons for doing so – or so they thought.  The banality of the evil was that no-one running the processes or obeying the orders exercised any moral courage or leadership.  And so the pogrom continued.  Because the cognitive dissonance was always in place.

Theology is an invitation to wake up. Abused lives matter too.  If you are not angry, indeed boiling with righteous rage and faithful fury with the proposals in the latest ‘Independent Safeguarding Structures for the Church of England’ document, then you are clearly not paying attention.  Actually, you are not awake. What would it take, I wonder, to get our church leaders to sit up, take notice, and begin a journey of real com-passion with us?  Those not just abused or falsely accused; but also those abused each and every day by the devoted disciples who belong to the tribal cult that worships this little god of process? 

The banality of evil is not waking up to the pain of your neighbour, and not being able to hear the cries and screams of the victims.  That was the education project we now refer to as Nuremberg. I long for the day when we can lead our bishops past the heaps and piles of atrocities that they have ignored for so many long, long years. 

But I know already what will happen. Some will stand and weep with shame. Some will look away, and claim no responsibility. Others will say they never knew anything about this. A few will flee with in the face of the trauma of what they have just seen and witnessed. Yet none, not one, will take responsibility. Because, as you know, the mitred-ones were just following a process; just taking orders; just a cog in the machine.  Such is the banality of evil.

“EMPOWERMENT AND DISEMPOWERMENT – THOUGHTS ON PROPOSED CHURCH INTERIM SAEGUARDING ARRANGEMENT” BY STEPHEN PARSONS – ‘SURVIVING CHURCH‘ – FEBRUARY 27 2021

EXCERPT

In the last day or two I have been wrestling with a document put out by the Church of England on the setting up of an independent safeguarding structure.  This will oversee the work of the National Safeguarding Team and other national bodies in the safeguarding realm.  Such structures are, no doubt, necessary.  Nevertheless, the document is written in such a way that one feels that the only people who will engage with the process will be people who are already familiar with the heavily formulaic patterns of church-speak. Somehow the whole safeguarding world seems to reflect the world of lawyers, managers and bureaucrats.   I already have to use Janet Fife’s useful glossary of acronyms to remember the different groups doing work in this area.  One more will confuse me, and no doubt others, who are trying to negotiate the labyrinthine world of national church organisations.  I ask myself the question.  Is this document another attempt by the Church to cling on to power to manage itself free of secular scrutiny?  How much independence is being proposed?  Is it writing documents that will exclude most ordinary Christians who should be there to respond to survivors?  What the survivors have to offer is the passion for justice, the longing for reconciliation, the prophetic challenge and the transparency of truth.   Survivors have been doing this work for years and church organisations have seldom been able to keep up.   The Church trundles along, producing more of the same and now it proposes another level of bureaucracy to face this enormous challenge of putting right past evils.  Of course, survivors are being welcomed into this new structure, but it is not one they have set up.   Will the survivors have the necessary stamina to sit with church-appointed officials and argue their case in such a way that the church will respond fairly and openly.  My problem is that after reading the 20 pages of church management speak, I am really none the wiser as to how this is going to make any difference to what goes on in the Church.  It will give Janet Fife one new acronym for her glossary.  Meanwhile, where is the Church realistically going to find a survivor or two able to give this time and stamina?    We do need more of the passion that survivors can bring to the table, but is this the right way to tap into it?

Tomorrow (Saturday) General Synod has an online session to discuss this document among other pieces of business.  I am not sure what I hope will come from that discussion.  I just know that I would like to see some of the passion for the Kingdom of God come into the exchanges.  In the Church of England we need the longing for peace, truth, righteousness and justice to be injected somehow into the process of safeguarding.   The right way forward is not moving the Titanic chairs around, but the waiting on and acting with the power from on high.   That power can indeed ‘ransom, heal, restore and forgive’ the Church and allow it to find new ways of moving forward in the realm of safeguarding.   The Church must find the way of empowering survivors and victims, having for so long disempowered them in an attempt to protect its power.

“PROPOSALS ON NST INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT PUBLISHED” – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’ – COMMENTS

Richard W. Symonds

Here is a link to the copy that includes the cover page (total page count 20).

Page 17 – 5. Independent roles in Core Groups The Survivors’ Focus Group noted that survivors have felt disadvantaged and unrepresented on Core Groups and that this constitutes an imbalance of power. A review of Core Groups is currently being undertaken, which will include consideration of survivors’ criticisms of present practices. The ISB [Independent Safeguarding Board], as proposed in Phase 1, is not designed to play a direct role in Core Groups. The question of how the ISB in future could help improve the working of Core Groups requires further reflection and consultation, in the light of the findings of the review, and will be pursued at a later stage.

I find it beyond disappointing, and more than disturbing, that Core Group reform is being delayed yet again: “the question of how the ISB in future could help improve the working of Core Groups requires further reflection and consultation”

Church of England Core Groups should be ‘at the very top of the list’ for immediate reform.

As the introductory quote says on page 1 of the new book ‘Sex, Power, Control – Responding to Abuse in the Institutional Church” by Fiona Gardner:

“Why has everyone involved been so inept, had no sense of urgency, given their rhetoric on safeguarding” – A vicar, quoted in ‘Private Eye’

Kate

Kate 

Awful, simply awful. It fails to make the NST operational structure independent which is the critical step. It fails to remove the risk of political involvement in the safeguarding process, both to proceed with complaints for potentially political reasons or alternatively to block them. Removing responsibility for Core Groups from the independent body is equally disastrous. This looks like an attempt to claim independence of safeguarding while retaining full political control in practice.
 
At a secondary level, too little thought has been given to the risk of part time posts. Postholders may need to find appointment for the remainder of the week which can compromise their independence – a contentious chair would, for instance, find it hard to secure work from dioceses.
 
All of this pales into insignificance in the face of the failure to specify that the ISB, and not the Church of England, should be responsible for the appointment of successors to the ISB. This is exacerbated by the failure to commit to the permanence of the posts and to long term funding.
 
This is not independent safeguarding, nor even independent oversight of safeguarding. A complete whitewash.

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

I am reminded of the words of Rosie Harper – Vicar of Great Missenden, Chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford – in Fiona Gardner’s book ‘Sex, Power, Control” [p 4]:

‘Everyone “is working very hard to produce new systems and more training and issue more apologies. It is hard to see this as anything other than moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic”‘

Judith Maltby

Judith Maltby

I cannot comment on the 20 page paper yet as it only arrived yesterday evening and, I suspect like most people, I have a pretty full day at work. But I will read it this evening as this is a matter of great importance.
Will there be a chance for discussion at Synod on Saturday or is this paper a basis for a presentation without discussion/debate/comment/questions? I confess I am slightly confused by just what an ‘informal’ meeting of Synod actually means.

Ellen

Ellen

Independence is dead easy. You set up a foundation, and give it sufficient endowment to get on with the job. That was mentioned in the bowels of this 20-page paper, but will predictably be ignored. IICSA’s final report on the CofE next summer will almost certainly recommend taking safeguarding out of the hands of the Church entirely and vesting it in a new statutory body — with the Church required to pay its share of the costs.  

Helen King

Helen King 

Typos can be revealing. Is this an example? On the ‘club mentality’ of the C of E we read that this “is exacerbated in an institution where ordination conveys authority which can leads to a culture of clericalism in which challenging the authority of the ordained becomes a kind of spiritual offence.” To me that suggests one draft with “leads to” and then someone objecting and asking instead for “can lead to”. But maybe I spend too long analysing texts… 

INDEPENDENT SAFEGUARDING STRUCTURES FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – PROPOSED INTERIM ARRANGEMENTS – 2021 [PHASE 1]

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Independent Safeguarding Structures for the Church of England
Proposed Interim Arrangements – 2021 (Phase 1)


Introduction


The Archbishops’ Council has approved the next steps in independent oversight of the
National Safeguarding Team (NST), with the first phase to be implemented by the summer.
The Archbishops’ Council originally voted on independent oversight in December 2020.
The paper below by Revd Dr Malcolm Brown on the proposed interim arrangements will
form part of the presentation to General Synod members on Saturday. MACSAS (Minister
and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) and members of the Survivors’ Reference Group formed
a Focus Group and considered an early draft of the proposals and their report offered
numerous comments and suggestions, with as many as possible incorporated into this
paper.
The proposals for this new structure were presented to an informal meeting of the House of
Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council on 23rd February. During the meeting members noted
the importance of being able to review the structure after a set period and further detail
needed on Phase 2 once the Board was in place. Council members approved the proposals
in the paper.


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A. Rationale

  1. Introduction
    The IICSA Report emphasised the importance of introducing an independent element into
    safeguarding arrangements in the Church of England (“the church”) (Recc. D.4). Conscious of the
    need to improve the culture of safeguarding across the church, the Archbishops’ Council and House
    of Bishops had already agreed to develop an independent structure to deliver professional
    supervision and quality assurance across its safeguarding activities. The IICSA Report gives new
    momentum to this decision.

    This would be a complex and time-consuming exercise if every aspect had to be finalised before
    anything happened. In the meantime, the lack of an independent element would become
    increasingly evident as the need had been acknowledged but not yet delivered, leading to
    understandable criticism.
    The Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops have therefore decided to put the initial element of
    independence in place at the earliest opportunity, recognising that some questions, especially those
    involving legislation or other complex structural changes, will be addressed later. This has the
    advantage that independent wisdom can be captured at each stage. It has the disadvantage that a
    degree of uncertainty will remain for those involved in areas of safeguarding where key questions
    remain to be addressed, which includes concerns of victims and survivors. It is therefore imperative
    that progress is maintained after this interim arrangement is in place.
    This paper proposes Phase 1 of a process that will take further steps to complete. The first step is
    to appoint an Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) and the paper shows how the ISB would relate
    to different safeguarding activities and especially to areas of weakness and the need to drive culture
    change.
    The paper then gives an outline of important themes that cannot be addressed in Phase 1.
    The proposed Independent Safeguarding Board would accompany the church in shaping the tasks in
    Phase 2 and deciding how they can best be delivered.
    a) Theological Grounds for Independence in Safeguarding
    Although this proposal paper does not include a theological section, the project began with
    a theological rationale for establishing an independent element in safeguarding.
    This sought
    to establish that the proposals were not driven by managerial or presentational concerns
    but were grounded in an understanding of the relationship between the church and the
    world which could frame the independent oversight of safeguarding.
    The initial work focussed on independence as a theological concept, but as further work is
    being done on a theology of safeguarding, it makes sense to bring them together later in a
    more detailed way. Arguments about theology could also distract from the substantive
    proposals, therefore the early theological work has not been included at this stage.
    b) Involvement of Survivors
    Thanks are due to MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) and nine members
    of the Survivors’ Reference Group who acted as consultants to this project. Together, they
    3
    formed a Focus Group convened by MACSAS, and considered an early draft of the proposals
    in a meeting planned for two hours but lasting well over three. Their report, amounting to
    some 28 pages with additional documentation, offered numerous comments and
    suggestions, and as many as possible have been incorporated into this paper. They also
    raised three fundamental questions which will be of ongoing significance:
    i. There is a danger that the proposals will stall once Phase 1 has been implemented.
    Is there really the will within the church to commit energy and resources to work
    with the ISB to implement key changes in Phase 2?
    This is a crucial question, but not one that can be answered on paper. The House of
    Bishops, Archbishops’ Council and General Synod must recognise that the current
    proposals for Phase 1 are only the beginning of a more far-reaching process and that
    their ongoing commitment to this – in public and on the record – is essential.
    ii. Are the roles of the ISB members achievable in the time given them?
    The proposed time commitment of ISB members was considered against their remit
    by the NCIs Director of People and judged to be roughly appropriate, with the proviso
    that additional time may be needed at the start and possibly less at later stages. The
    wording of the proposed time commitment was adjusted to reflect this, and the
    question specifically noted for review once the ISB was established.
    iii. Survivor representation and involvement should be improved further.
    The short time frame for this project prevented it being an exercise in co-production
    rather than consultation on an already-drafted proposal. Survivor involvement has
    been strengthened in the current proposals and it is recommended that the work
    streams of Phase 2 be approached through a co-production methodology.
    c) Internal Consultation
    The proposals have been reviewed by: The Interim Director of Safeguarding; the Lead
    Bishop for Safeguarding; the Chief Legal Adviser; the Chief Operating Officer; the Head of
    People and the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, all of whom have made
    helpful comments. There has also been liaison with other members of the Safeguarding
    Team, bishops with relevant responsibilities, and senior staff at Lambeth Palace and
    Bishopthorpe on specific aspects. Progress reports to the National Safeguarding Steering
    Group (NSSG), the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops enabled ideas and
    comments to be fed into the process.

  1. Dilemmas of Independence
    The purpose of introducing an independent structure for the church’s safeguarding work is twofold:
    to ensure good safeguarding and to challenge the internal cultures of the Church of England which
    too often have resulted in preventing best practice. A problem with all forms of culture change is
    4
    that, if the drivers of change are located too close to the organisation, they become absorbed into
    the culture themselves – but placed too far away, they have insufficient traction to effect the desired
    changes. The wisdom from business and commerce is that there is no single “right” answer to this –
    the relationship between the culture and the drivers of change must be reviewed and adjusted from
    time to time. The proposals in Phase 1 will provide experience to enable the distance between
    church and independent body to be refined in further Phases.
    Another level of ambiguity arises because, whilst IICSA has pointed to the desirability of having an
    independent safeguarding role, enacting that objective is the responsibility of the church itself. An
    independent body will also need to be funded by the church. This is not a case of an external body
    imposing control, but of the church delivering its legal responsibilities by vesting a new,
    independent, body with authority over the church itself.
    An independent body will have considerable moral authority. It has the power to blow the whistle
    publicly and expose resistance or backsliding on the church’s part. But there are many contexts
    where friction and resistance from the church could undermine the independent body. What is
    needed is a structure which the church may put in place, but which it cannot frustrate.
    As the church will be paying for this structure, the funding arrangements must not be usable as a
    lever to prevent the independent body doing its job. On the other hand, giving out blank cheques
    creates moral hazard – it is not in the interests of the independent body to have power to demand
    unlimited resources since that militates against operating efficiently and, ultimately, effectively.
    There is a tension between the statutory role of Trustees and the desire for safeguarding to be
    wholly the responsibility of an independent body. On the one hand, the Archbishops’ Council
    remains the responsible Trustee body for the Church of England’s national safeguarding work and
    can delegate, but not slough off, this responsibility. The Archbishops’ Council’s role in this area is
    subject to the regulation of the Charity Commission which is already interested in ensuring that the
    Council and its trustees exercise that responsibility. The Council could not give up that responsibility
    except by legislation to pass it elsewhere – and the Charity Commission is likely to want to be
    consulted on that move. On the other hand, if independence is secured by setting up a separate
    charitable body, there are restrictions on the circumstances in which Trustees can be remunerated.
    Given the quantity of work that we envisage falling to an independent body, its members will
    require proper remuneration. An independent charity could therefore necessitate both Trustees and
    staff – in addition to the National Safeguarding Team (NST) – introducing a new layer of nonproductive management and bureaucracy.
    Given the church’s past failings and present weaknesses in safeguarding, the bias in the proposals
    that follow is toward emphasising the independent function. The proposals give a starting point with
    this emphasis, and provide a platform for more long-term structures and resilient independence.

  1. Management and Authority
    Strong but conflicting views have been expressed about line management of safeguarding staff.
    These views are often expressed in zero-sum terms – if X is Y’s line manager, then power over Y lies
    exclusively with X. But if we look at the question of authority, line management clearly does not
    confer every kind of authority necessary for professionals to do their jobs. For example, lawyers may
    be employed and line-managed by an organisation, but their line manager cannot dictate what legal
    advice they give. In the church, healthcare chaplains are employed by, and line managed by, NHS
    5
    Trusts – and are under NHS discipline for many aspects of their job. But their judgements as religious
    professionals are not, and cannot be, dictated by NHS line managers. If a chaplain falls foul of Canon
    Law, for instance, the question is one for the church, not the NHS. In many professions, standards
    derive from the relevant professional body, not from internal line management.
    The Church of England, recognising the professional integrity of safeguarding staff, should be able to
    work comfortably with independent oversight of professional safeguarding standards alongside its
    own line management structure.
    The Phase 1 proposals leave line management of the NST with the Archbishops’ Council whilst
    drawing a clear distinction between oversight of professional safeguarding practice and
    management of the NST’s connections into church structures – the latter aimed at maximising its
    impact on the organisation. Maintaining this distinction will be vital. Decisions about whether the
    NST later becomes employed by, and wholly managed by, an independent structure – and if so, what
    kind of structure – will be addressed as a priority in Phase 2.
    There are existing models for a wholly independent charitable body to handle safeguarding.
    Exploring a variety of models, and assessing their applicability, will be undertaken in Phase 2.

  1. Independent roles in distinct areas of Safeguarding Work
    Safeguarding is not a single activity and the application of the principle of independence
    needs to add value in different ways to the distinct elements.
    Therefore, the ISB should have an Executive function for some purposes and an Advisory
    function for others. The division between the two functions set out below represents a
    starting point and this is an area that should be reviewed regularly.
    a) Areas where the ISB should have an Executive function.
    • Case work which has been passed up to the ISB by the NST.
    • Responding to complaints concerning alleged mishandling or maladministration of
    cases and procedures.
    • Determining how the church should respond to the needs of victims and survivors
    and other affected parties such as the families concerned in safeguarding cases.
    • Ensuring the involvement of victims, survivors and others who have suffered through
    poor handling of processes, in the development of safeguarding practices and
    policies through Phase 2.
    A strong independent element is required in the supervision and quality assurance of case
    work and the handling of complaints because they are the principal areas where trust in the
    church’s own mechanisms has been forfeited.
    An independent role in relating to victims, survivors and others impacted by a case, is
    essential. They are currently putting themselves in the hands of the very organisation
    through which the initial abuse was able to occur, or by whom they are accused, so the
    church’s response must be reinforced – and seen to be reinforced – by a structure that is
    independent of the church and its cultures. Others, such as the families of victims and of
    6
    accused persons, are often forgotten as processes unfold and the ISB should have the power
    to address their concerns where they have not been satisfactorily dealt with elsewhere.
    All these roles need to be developed in ways which reflect the different roles and levels of
    responsibility held by the ISB, the Archbishops’ Council and the Charity Commission. The
    Charity Commission guidance on safeguarding roles should be the basis for developing these
    relationships (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-duties-for-charity-trustees. )
    b) Areas where the ISB should have an Advisory function
    • Development of Policies and Codes of Practice and other initiatives addressing
    culture change within the church
    • Future development of training curricula and programmes across the whole church.
    • Staff appointments and development
    In advising on Policies and Codes of Conduct, an independent body has an important role in
    ensuring that uniform standards consistent with best practice are drawn from the whole
    safeguarding world, not just the religious sector. This must reach across dioceses.
    Patchy quality of training practice and delivery across the dioceses has been identified as a
    key failing. Raising standards to a uniformly high level cannot be done without the
    involvement of the church’s own structures, nationally in dioceses and in parishes, and the
    independent role will be most effective in helping to set and monitor standards rather than
    in direct delivery where differences in local conditions need to be accommodated.
    As part of giving professional supervision to the NST through the National Director, the ISB
    will advise on the kind of staff who should be appointed and on staff development. NST staff
    will continue to be appointed and managed through the NCI structures (HR etc.) on the
    advice of the ISB.

  1. What would Culture Change Look Like?
    Culture change is not the only solution to the church’s failures but without it there is no way
    forward. The Survivors’ Focus Group observed that talk of culture change is not always
    accompanied by any clarity about what it would look like or how one would know the
    culture had changed appropriately. The following four points give some indicators of culture
    change in the church’s approach to safeguarding. They are not comprehensive.
    a) Alertness to disparities of power becomes instinctive in all relationships. Abuse is
    rooted in the conscious or unconscious manipulation of power for personal
    advantage. Safeguarding failures can be caused or exacerbated by failure to
    understand imbalances of power, often because those with power fail to recognise
    the powers they have or allow their own vulnerabilities to obscure the power they
    have. Power comes in many forms and clergy are often ill-equipped (theologically,
    organisationally and psychologically) to recognise the power they possess, both
    personally and by virtue of their office. Better training and mentoring/supervision
    7
    can help here. There may be learning to share from the Archbishops’ Task Force to
    Combat Racism and the Living in Love and Faith process. Both are challenging those
    who have power to recognise how their power disadvantages others. There will also
    be much to learn from those outside the church.
    b) Group-think and tribalism are challenged effectively from outside the “club”.
    Professions and institutions breed a tribal or club mentality. Trust flows between
    “people like us” and identifying with one’s peers excludes and marginalises others.
    This is exacerbated in an institution where ordination conveys authority which can
    leads to a culture of clericalism in which challenging the authority of the ordained
    becomes a kind of spiritual offence. The hierarchical structure of the church can also
    lead to inappropriate deference which deters honest encounters. When someone
    from outside the culture challenges the status quo they go unheard and may be
    undermined. Both clericalism and the culture of deference have been exploited by
    abusers for their own ends. Systems intended to address abuses and failures may be
    designed and operated to respond more to internal anxieties than to criticism from
    outside. An independent function which will challenge the institution – publicly if
    necessary – thus becomes essential to the church’s integrity.
    c) Responsibility is clearly attributed and shared.
    Part of the role of an independent element will be to ensure that systems and
    structures enable all who hold responsibility to discharge their responsibilities
    properly and without confusions about their roles. A good independent element will
    ensure that there is accountability at all levels. It will be important to move beyond
    structural accounts of how responsibilities are held and promote a culture in which
    safeguarding is the concern of everyone, wherever formal responsibility lies. There
    should be no room in the church for anyone to say “safeguarding is not my concern”.
    d) Systems respond to failures by holding those responsible to account and changing
    to prevent recurrent failure.
    Prompt implementation of on-going learning is a hallmark of a responsive and selfaware culture.
    8
    B. Phase 1 Proposal
    The first steps to establish an effective level of independence in safeguarding in the
    Church of England, shall be the appointment by early July 2021 of:
  2. An Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB)
    Purpose: Professional Supervision and Quality Assurance, and consisting of:
    a) An Independent Chair – a remunerated post averaging c. 3dpw (more may be
    needed in the initial stages: possibly fewer hours later. The time commitment will be
    reviewed at key stages) with high-level experience in safeguarding or a closely
    relevant field.
    b) A Survivor Advocate –Leading liaison with survivors to ensure they are involved
    across the work of the Board and to help design the work streams of Phase 2 with
    survivors where possible. The ISB would benefit considerably if this member was
    themself a survivor of abuse within a church context and thus able to bring wisdom
    from that experience. A remunerated post of c. 2 dpw.
    c) A Third Independent Board Member with a key role in handling complaints.
    Selected to complement the other members in terms of diversity, background and
    safeguarding specialisms. A remunerated post of c. 2 dpw.
    Plus, dedicated administrative support for the ISB – Up to 1 fte post separate from the
    NST staff.
    It will be desirable to appoint a person with direct experience of setting up a regulatory function in
    other institutions, either as one of the initial three members of the ISB or available to the ISB
    through a consultancy role.
    Outline person specifications are appended in section D. The precise distribution of responsibilities
    within the ISB will be determined by the members themselves under the leadership of the Chair.
  3. Remit
    (See the summary of Executive and Advisory roles in Section A, 4 (a) and (b) above)
    In Phase 1, the ISB shall:
    a) Provide professional supervision to the Director of Safeguarding who will be
    accountable to the ISB for matters of professional conduct for themselves and all
    NST staff.
    9
    b) Responsibility for ensuring best practice in handling case work and for managing
    cases that are escalated to the ISB from the NST.
    c) Receive complaints referring to the NST’s handling of cases investigate the complaint
    with support from the National Church Institutions, and decide the appropriate
    response. (Exceptions would include complaints about legal advice given to the NST
    and other matters outside the ISB’s professional competence).
    d) Quality assure national safeguarding practice requirements issued by the House of
    Bishops under the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016.
    e) Ensure that victims and survivors, and all others who are affected by safeguarding
    cases, are heard and enabled to inform policy and practice.
    f) Make any recommendations the Chair deems necessary to enable the Church of
    England to prevent safeguarding lapses and ensure that processes for responding to
    allegations and complaints are just to all involved, timely and in line with best
    practice.
    g) Advise on the continuing development of a core curriculum for training undertaken
    by dioceses.
    h) Advise on good practice models which will set the standard for the work of Diocesan
    Safeguarding Officers (with particular emphasis on enabling the conceptual shift
    from Adviser to Officer status), support DSOs in applying these principles in their
    local context and intervene on behalf of DSOs if dioceses do not enable DSOs to
    discharge their responsibility for directing safeguarding activities in the diocese.
    i) Accompany the relevant parts of the church to advise on the development from
    Phase 1 to more long-term measures in subsequent Phases, including working with
    the NSSG and NSP to draw on their wisdom and define their future roles in relation
    to the ISB in Phase 2.
    j) Hold the church publicly to account for any failure to respond to the ISB’s
    recommendations.
  4. Resourcing
    The Archbishops’ Council will immediately commission the drawing up of a draft budget for
    the work of the ISB enabling the process of appointing the Chair and members of the ISB to
    go ahead.
    10
    The budget for the ISB should be agreed at a minimum level for an initial period of three
    years, recognising that the developments in Phase 2 may necessitate additional budget lines
    during this period.
    In addressing the issues to be resolved in Phase 2, it may be necessary for the ISB to
    commission research into (e.g.) other existing models. It may also, from time to time, need
    to seek independent legal advice. A budget for these items could either be allocated to the
    ISB or to the NST provided the ISB was able to determine its deployment.
    The ISB will need assurance that resources for the NST can be counted upon. It is therefore
    recommended that the Archbishops’ Council commits to a five-year budget for the NST. The
    ISB may, during that time, approach the Archbishops’ Council for such additional resources
    as it may deem necessary for the NST to fulfil its role.
    The overall budget (ISB and NST) will need to be reviewed if, under later proposals for Phase
    2, the employment of the NST is moved to a newly constituted body.
  5. Appointment of ISB Members
    The appointment process for ISB members needs to communicate the commitment of the
    Church of England at the highest level to the principle of independence and, at the same
    time, demonstrate that the appointment process is not being manipulated in favour of
    “safe” candidates.
    It is therefore recommended that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York nominate two
    persons, chosen for their understanding of the principle of independent oversight, to join an
    appointment panel comprising:
    • A nominee of the Archbishop of Canterbury
    • A nominee of the Archbishop of York (or the Archbishops may make two joint
    nominations)
    • A person with extensive safeguarding experience (not directly involved in the
    work of the NST)
    • Two representatives of survivor groups, including at least one who is a survivor
    of abuse in a Church of England context.
    The panel must include both women and men.
    It may be advisable to run a search through a suitable agency to maximise the field of
    potential candidates for the ISB.
  6. Operational Relationships
    a) The Director of the NST
    11
    In Phase 1, the Director of the NST will be accountable to the Chair of the ISB for the activities of
    the NST as noted in the ISB’s list of Executive functions (Section A, 4. (a)). The Director will not
    be a member of the ISB but will attend its meetings at the invitation of the Chair.
    In Phase 1, the Director of the NST will continue to be line-managed by the Secretary
    General of the Archbishops’ Council on matters which do not touch on professional
    safeguarding decisions, with a particular focus on ensuring good collaboration across the
    NCIs and providing the NST with the resources and access within the church that are
    necessary for its proper functioning. In any dispute about what constitutes a
    professional safeguarding decision, the Chair of the ISB will decide the question.
    The members of the ISB will have the right to call for reports on all safeguarding work
    that comes to the attention of the NST. On cases involving senior clergy, or of particular
    complexity, the Director of the NST will pass full details to the Chair of the ISB as a
    matter of course. On other cases which the Chair of the ISB regards as particularly
    significant (for whatever reason) the Chair of the ISB may require the Director to share
    all relevant information.
    Other staff of the NST may relate to the members of the ISB for particular purposes in
    any way which the Chair of the ISB and Director of the NST consider appropriate.
    b) The Lead Bishop(s) for Safeguarding
    In Phase 1, the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding will work closely with the Chair and
    members of the ISB, attending meetings of the ISB at the invitation of the Chair.
    The Lead Bishop will have a particular responsibility to advise the ISB, at the request of
    the Chair, on questions about the structures and cultures of the Church of England in
    order to enable the ISB to be most effective.
    In partnership with the NST, the Lead Bishop, supported by the Deputy Lead Bishops,
    will be responsible for ensuring that policies and decisions on safeguarding are
    disseminated to all bishops and that bishops understand the extent and limits of their
    responsibility. The Lead Bishop and Deputies will be responsible for ensuring that all
    bishops are properly supported to handle safeguarding issues and to understand their
    relationship to the ISB. The Lead Bishop will present and explain safeguarding policy
    questions to the General Synod and may share this responsibility with the Deputies.
    At present, one of the Deputy Lead Bishops is a member of the Lords Spiritual, it would
    be helpful for there always to be a Lord Spiritual nominated as the Church of England’s
    spokesperson on safeguarding in the Parliamentary context.
    c) The House and College of Bishops
    The lead bishop will ensure that all bishop (the College) are aware of how the
    introduction of the ISB impacts upon their roles and responsibilities with regard to
    12
    safeguarding. The lead bishop will work especially closely with diocesan bishops to
    ensure that they are aware of how their overall responsibility for safeguarding in their
    diocese will be affected by the advent of the ISB, and will work with the House of
    Bishops to monitor the way the relationship with the ISB is developing over time,
    feeding back the views of the House to the ISB Chair.
    The point may need to be stressed that the purpose of the ISB is to enable the bishops
    to discharge their safeguarding duties and responsibilities better – primarily by giving
    the ISB the authority to intervene on complex cases and set handling protocols, thus
    freeing bishops to do what they are best equipped to do, which is to be chief pastors to
    the clergy and people of their diocese. In Phase 1, the bishops will retain legal
    responsibility for safeguarding in their dioceses (this may be reviewed in subsequent
    phases) but by placing themselves under the authority of the ISB for advice and policy
    guidance, they will have a clear line of defence that currently does not exist.
    d) The Archbishops of Canterbury and York
    The Chair of the ISB will ensure that the two Archbishops receive regular overviews of
    the ISB’s activities and that any areas of concern are communicated directly to the
    Archbishops. At the outset, it is suggested that this should take place in a quarterly
    meeting between the Chair and both Archbishops. This arrangement to be reviewed in
    the period between Phases 1 and 2.
    Where the Chair of the ISB has specific concerns about the church’s response to
    safeguarding issues, it shall be the responsibility of the Archbishops to work with the
    Chair of the ISB, the Lead Bishop, the Director of the NST and (where appropriate) the
    Secretary General to identify how the issues will be addressed.
    e) The Archbishops’ Council
    The AC has trustee responsibility for the church’s national safeguarding arrangements.
    Policies regarding safeguarding are currently agreed between the Council and the House
    of Bishops and involve the coordination and development of safeguarding policy across
    the Church, the management of national safeguarding activity, and ensuring the
    application of safeguarding policy including quality control, across the Church.
    Introduction of the ISB means that, whilst the Council will retain its Trustee
    responsibilities, it will deliver its responsibilities under the oversight of the ISB who will
    also provide professional supervision and guidance to the NST. In order to deliver its
    legal responsibilities, the Council will delegate authority to the ISB for the oversight of
    safeguarding policy and professional supervision of its safeguarding staff.
    The Archbishops’ Council will remain responsible for ensuring that the NST is adequately
    resourced for its work and that the views of the Chair of the ISB on resource levels are
    13
    taken into account. The Council will assist the ISB to work across all the structures of the
    Church of England, national and diocesan. In Phase 1, the Archbishops’ Council will
    remain the employer of the NST but will hand responsibility for professional supervision
    and oversight to the ISB. The Archbishops’ Council will receive reports from the ISB as a
    standing item on every agenda, and will accede to any requests from the Chair of the ISB
    for additional agenda time at the Council’s meetings to raise matters the ISB may wish
    the Council to attend to in particular detail.
    f) The Dioceses
    The ISB will relate to diocesan safeguarding work at three levels:
    • Diocesan Safeguarding Officers
    In Phase 1, DSOs will continue to be employed by Diocesan Boards of Finance whilst
    relating to the ISB via the NST.
    In order to give substance to the shift of emphasis recommended by IICSA, from
    Advisers to Officers, the ISB may from time to time issue practice guidance, propose
    best practice models and offer general guidance to DSOs. DSOs may seek specific
    guidance and support for their decisions from the ISB and appeal to the ISB should
    difficulties arise within the diocese which compromise their effectiveness.
    • Improving coordination of safeguarding between dioceses and provinces.
    The ISB will work with the NST, the Archbishops’ Council and dioceses to determine
    the best way to ensure coherence of practice between dioceses and how the Church
    of England’s safeguarding structures can work most effectively to ensure good
    coordination with the structures in the other Anglican churches, especially the
    Church in Wales, Church of Ireland and Scottish Episcopal Church.
    The ISB, working with the NST, lead bishop and others, will consider whether a
    regional model is the right way forward for the whole Church of England and
    whether to pursue this model in Phase 2. In the meantime, the ISB should consider
    whether dioceses where safeguarding practices are currently strong should be
    encouraged to share resources and work collaboratively with neighbouring dioceses,
    and how dioceses where there are concerns about the robustness of safeguarding
    arrangements can draw on support from other dioceses. In Phase 2 or subsequently,
    the safeguarding arrangements for Lambeth and Bishopthorpe Palaces should also
    be addressed.
    • Support for Diocesan-level training in safeguarding.
    Much work in this area has been done already by the NST and the National
    Safeguarding Steering group. The ISB will have an advisory role, working with and
    through the NST and NSSG, to ensure that practices at diocesan level are robust and
    14
    DSOs properly equipped for their training roles. Building on existing work, the ISB
    will oversee the future development of national training curricula to be delivered in
    all dioceses, leaving scope for local variation in delivery methods and additional
    content. This is the baseline for establishing common understandings of
    safeguarding and of proper procedure across the whole Church of England and
    preventing clergy and others from dropping between separate systems when moving
    between dioceses. The survivors’ focus group commented that much diocesan
    safeguarding training is both expensive and ineffective when it mainly trains clergy in
    processes and not in the causes and nature of abuse. Similar criticisms come from
    some clergy. The ISB should advise on the aims and objectives of training as well as
    on its content.
    g) Existing Safeguarding Committees and Structures
    In Phase 1, existing bodies such as the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG),
    National Safeguarding Panel (NSP) and other bodies will continue to exist. Because the
    imperative is to introduce the first elements of independence (the ISB) quickly, the
    working relationship and division of responsibilities between these bodies and the ISB
    will be worked out “on the ground”. Close liaison between the Chairs of the existing
    bodies and the members of the ISB will be essential. As part of the transition to Phase 2,
    the constitutions and remits of groups that predate the ISB will be reviewed. It has been
    suggested by the survivors’ focus group that the ISB might become responsible for the
    NSSG and NSP and this should be one option for consideration. In the meantime, in any
    dispute about which areas of work lie within the remit of which body, subject to the
    relevant legal responsibilities, the decision of the Chair of the ISB will be final.
    h) Public Profile
    To ensure maximum transparency, the ISB should establish a website, serviced by the
    administrative officer, on which all its reports, formal minutes etc. are posted. There
    should be a clear link to the ISB website from the Church of England’s own website.
  7. Review
    The Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops will receive regular reports from the ISB and
    teething troubles, or the need to for urgent review of the ISB’s remit and relationships,
    should be raised through this mechanism. As the ISB Chair will have direct access to the two
    Archbishops, this will provide a higher-level channel for raising concerns.
    At the end of two years, a formal review should be undertaken between the ISB and the
    Archbishops’ Council (with the involvement of the NST) to assess progress and determine
    whether the ISB’s remit needs redefining as Phase 2 develops. This may be combined with a
    review of budgets and resources. In order that the independence of the ISB is fully
    scrutinised as part of that review, the review should either be led by an external agency or
    involve a substantial external input.
    15
    C. Key Topics for Phase 2 and Beyond
    The following are areas where no consensus has been reached about the changes necessary
    to achieve the desired outcomes or where the organisational implications are likely to be
    especially complex and challenging.
    Following the appointment of an ISB as Phase 1, the Archbishops’ Council and House of
    Bishops will work with the members of the ISB to follow up the possible lines of
    development below (and such others as may arise) in order to bring forward detailed
    proposals for Phase 2 and possible subsequent Phases.
  8. The Future Structure of the ISB.
    Having put an ISB in place, more work is needed on the nature of the relationship between
    the ISB and the Church of England, and its governance structure.
    One model would be to incorporate the ISB as an independent charitable body, funded by
    grants and possibly fee income from the Church of England. This might, potentially, be a
    free-standing organisation to oversee safeguarding, not only for the Church of England but
    also for other churches and/or faith communities. A drawback of this model would be that
    an independent charity could no longer draw, as a matter of course and without direct cost,
    upon shared services from the National Church Institutions, such as legal advice or handling
    subject access requests and privacy notices, which currently support the NST directly.
    The model adopted by churches in Australia (https://www.kooyoora.org.au/) would be
    worth considering in detail. A judgement would have to be made whether the time it would
    take to negotiate the establishment of an ecumenical/multi-faith agency would be justified
    by the enhanced authority, and perceptions of independence, such a body would carry.
    The survivors’ focus group noted that an independent body along these lines might be more
    effective as a foundation funded through an endowment than as a charity, as there would
    be an inherent conflict of interests in a charity dependent on the churches for donations or
    fee income. This point should be explored further in Phase 2.
  9. An Ombudsman Role?
    It has been suggested that the ISB would be strengthened by introducing the role of a
    Safeguarding Ombudsman/Ombudsperson. However, it was not clear what the relationship
    with the ISB would be. Some saw the role as a first point of contact for complainants,
    deciding what went forward to the ISB – but this could compromise the ISB’s ability to make
    independent decisions. Others saw the ombudsman as a final court of appeal on disputed
    decisions or complaints about the ISB itself. The survivors’ focus group, noting the
    emotional cost to victims and survivors of finding their way through serial layers of process,
    16
    commented that the priority should be a genuinely independent ISB rather than a further
    layer of process which survivors and victims had to negotiate.
    Much will depend upon how well and quickly the ISB establishes itself and is able to
    demonstrate its independence and ability to gain trust. In Phase 2, further consideration
    should be given to whether an ombudsman role is desirable and, if so, the shape it should
    take.
  10. The Employment and Management of the NST and DSOs
    There is a strongly held view among some stakeholders that independence in safeguarding
    would be enhanced by shifting the employment of the NST from the Archbishops’ Council to
    a new, separate, body as considered in 1. above. It has also been proposed that similar
    advantages would accrue if DSOs were also employed, along with the NST, by such a body
    (although IICSA proposed that DSOs should remain employed by dioceses).
    Against this, there are anxieties that this would lead to too great a gulf of understanding
    between the new safeguarding structures and the church, such that culture change would
    be harder to achieve, and also that the cost of making this change would be
    disproportionate to the advantages gained, for reasons noted above.
    The ISB should work with the Archbishops’ Council to explore what the costs would actually
    be and assess them against projected gains in independence and good practice. As noted,
    there is no perfect solution to the question about distance and proximity between a culture
    and structures designed to change culture. Because this cannot easily be explored until the
    ISB is in place, it must be a priority for Phase 2.
  11. Drawing dioceses into a common framework
    Serious safeguarding failures have been caused, and/or exacerbated, by failure to pass
    information freely and accurately between dioceses.
    Dioceses differ significantly in size (enabling some to have more streamlined systems than
    others), resourcing for safeguarding (leading to weak practice in some cases), and social
    profile (making some modes of delivery easier than others). Complete uniformity may
    therefore be undesirable but there remains scope for raising standards to a higher common
    level and removing procedural friction from cases that involve more than one diocese.
    Diocesan Boards of Finance (DBFs) employ safeguarding staff in order to enable the bishop
    to discharge the legal responsibility for safeguarding in the diocese. The introduction of the
    ISB needs to be understood as a way for bishops and to discharge their responsibilities
    better, and for DBFs to support them in this.
    Grouping dioceses together may assist with equalising the available resources and pushing
    all dioceses up to best practice standards. But if some regions include a large number of
    17
    weak dioceses and others combine those with the greatest resources, regionalisation could
    make matters worse.
    The question of regionalisation thus becomes an issue to be addressed in Phase 2.
  12. Independent roles in Core Groups
    The Survivors’ Focus Group noted that survivors have felt disadvantaged and unrepresented
    on Core Groups and that this constitutes an imbalance of power. A review of Core Groups is
    currently being undertaken, which will include consideration of survivors’ criticisms of
    present practices.
    The ISB, as proposed in Phase 1, is not designed to play a direct role in Core Groups. The
    question of how the ISB in future could help improve the working of Core Groups requires
    further reflection and consultation, in the light of the findings of the review, and will be
    pursued at a later stage.

    18
    D. Draft Person Specifications for ISB Members
  13. Independent Safeguarding Board Chair
    Essential:
    • Understanding of safeguarding as part of a “big picture” of organisational health.
    • Personal experience of carrying senior responsibility for institutional safeguarding.
    • Ability to demonstrate independence from the Church of England whilst
    demonstrating knowledge and critical understanding of how religious institutions
    work and the particular structures and cultures within the Church of England.
    • Experience of “speaking truth to power” and influencing policy, and the strength of
    character to do so to an institution where power is hierarchical yet dispersed.
    • Demonstrable experience in leading successful small teams to achieve common
    goals.
    • Empathy to engage with a wide variety of stakeholders, some of whom may be
    vulnerable.
    Desirable
    o Knowledge of safeguarding law and experience in applying it.
    o Direct experience of how regulatory bodies work – preferably from the inside.
  14. ISB Advocate for Victims and Survivors
    Essential:
    • A comprehensive understanding of the experiences of victims and survivors of
    abuse.
    • Experience of enabling institutions and individuals to hear and understand those
    experiences.
    • Consultative skills to engage with individual survivors and different survivor groups.
    • Ability to demonstrate independence from the Church of England.
    • Demonstrably a team player.
    Desirable:
    o A survivor of abuse in a church (preferably Church of England) context.
    o Ability to draw on personal experience and place it in the context of others’ direct
    experience.
    A Job Share post would be considered.
    Because this role is likely be emotionally demanding, and requires a complex combination of
    personal experience and professional detachment, the person appointed may wish to explore
    setting up a personal support group or reference group. Resources for such a group should be
    included in the ISB budget.
    19
  15. Third ISB Member
    Essential:
    • Ability to demonstrate independence from the Church of England
    • Demonstrably a team player.
    • Proven ability in handling complex complaints and mediation.
    Desirable:
    o Skills and experience in driving institutional culture change.
    A Job Share post would be considered.
    Among the three ISB members, it would be Desirable to have:
    o Diversity of gender, ethnicity and background.
    o Experience of setting up a regulatory body.
    o Experience of being responsibility for safeguarding in an institution whose
    primary purpose is not safeguarding itself.
    It is recommended that the Chair and Survivor Advocate are appointed first, and the Third
    ISB member appointed to complement their skills and experience.
  16. ISB Administrator
    (Job and Person Specs from standard NCI Admin roles – Band 5 or 6)
    20
    E. Some Lessons Going Forwards
    There were good reasons why the time frame for this work was severely curtailed, but it
    meant that the full implications of some of the proposals could not be explored as fully as
    might be desired. The fact that the work was conducted at pace was helpful in
    demonstrating that the Church of England is serious about independence and did not intend
    to procrastinate. But it will mean that the members of the ISB are recruited to roles which
    are not fully defined in some detailed respects and where some relationships and powers
    remain to be worked out. This calls for the recruitment of people with the skills and
    experience to negotiate uncertainties and prioritise the areas of unfinished business that
    must be pursued urgently.
    The Survivors’ Reference Group stepped up splendidly to reflect on a first draft of these
    proposals and many of their reflections are incorporated in this paper. But consultation of
    that kind falls short of a model of co-production which would have placed survivors closer to
    the whole process.
    Others impacted by safeguarding cases also need to be brought into the
    dialogue. Co-production cannot easily be done against imposed deadlines, but we now have
    an opportunity, in moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2, to consider a more thoroughgoing
    model of working together which, in itself, could add to the richness of different voices
    which is one objective of introducing an independent element in the first place.
    The Revd Canon Dr Malcolm Brown
    Director of Mission and Public Affairs
    February 2021
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FEBRUARY 26 2021 – “A MASSIVE CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE…ITS CONSEQUENCES COULD BE SEISMIC” – THE JOHN SMYTH CASE AND THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

Richard W. Symonds

“It still remains possible that the damage caused by these institutional failures has been so severe that the trust and respect for the Church held by society at large has been lost forever”

Stephen Parsons – Foreword – ‘Sex, Power, Control – Responding to Abuse in the Institutional Church’ [Lutterworth 2021]

Jeremy Pemberton

Jeremy Pemberton

It is almost as if they don’t want this review to come out publicly at all!

Stanley Monkhouse

Stanley Monkhouse 

… or maybe not until after ABC has resigned, retired, or, as they say these days using a lily-livered euphemism, stepped down. 

Anthony Archer

Anthony Archer 

I posted the following on TA on 28 April 2020 when Keith Makin said he needed more time to complete the review: “The good news is that it seems Makin is faced with vastly more material than he imagined, from victims and survivors, and others with knowledge. This report will analyse and dismantle the abusive culture. It will also ask searching questions about why so many people who knew about Smyth did absolutely nothing, except heave a sigh of relief that he had left the country.” I have previously disclosed on TA that I declare an interest as a former Iwerne (senior) camper, ashamed to have this connection. I also spent a gap year in 1972 at Ruzawi School, in the then Rhodesia, where years later a boy under the care of Smyth was found drowned in a swimming pool.
  
The web of knowledge would, in my opinion, have spread very quickly from the Iwerne Trust trustees and other(s) who were copied on the Ruston Report (only three of whom are alive today, to my knowledge), to most leaders involved with Iwerne in the years 1978 – 1982 or so. Few of those would not have asked (or been told) what had happened to Smyth when he finally ‘disappeared’ in 1984. And what of the barristers in his chambers? Most of course would not have been in a position requiring them to act on the information, although Makin will need to decide where that line should be drawn.

Then there are those who directly protected Smyth, inter alia by financing his move to Zimbabwe and his ‘ministry.’ The material available to Makin, from the trustees of Zambesi Trust (removed from the register in 2018) and from the very many who were interviewed as part of the Report finalised in Bulawayo in October 1993, is substantial and probably more important than the Iwerne material, given the levels of abuse that followed. Add into the mix Winchester College and Scripture Union, and others in the Church of England who may have become insiders (I used that term advisedly) at different points in time and the Review becomes a massive task.

So, I would give Mr Makin and his team all the time they need as he decides how to document and conclude on what I believe to be a massive conspiracy of silence. There is no machinery ultimately to prevent this report from being published. The lessons learned will be far reaching. Its consequences could be seismic.

Featured post

FEBRUARY 26 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [DECEMBER 4 2015] – “BISHOP GEORGE BELL, MEMORY, IDENTITY” – CHURCH TIMES – LETTERS

Bishop George Bell, memory, and identity

04 DECEMBER 2015

ISTOCK

From the Revd Professor David Jasper and others

Sir, — We write as members of the family of Dean Ronald Jasper, who wrote the official biography of Bishop George Bell nearly 50 years ago. For a long time, Bell’s presence was keenly felt in our household.

Much has been written in the past few weeks concerning the matter of justice and the need for care to be taken over every aspect of such dreadful and distressing cases. A great deal has been said in public, and yet still little clear evidence has been provided.

As a result of Bell’s courageous public ministry in the Church of England, we remain indebted to him within the tradition that he represented to such a high degree to the point of his inclusion in the Common Worship Calendar.

At Bishop Bell’s memorial service, Archbishop Fisher stated that “in days to come when the Catholic Church recovers again its lost unities [we] will still remember the debt for that recovery owed to George Bell.”

Lest we forget this in the present situation, and until there is clear evidence to the contrary, we should be mindful that we are a Church united across the ages, and if we forget what has been given to us in ages past for the sake of present expediency, we are in danger of losing our identity altogether.

DAVID JASPER, ALISON JASPER, CHRISTINE READE, NICHOLAS READE
c/o Theology and Religious Studies
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ

OTHER STORIES

Church statement on Bishop George Bell 11 Dec 2015

The Church of England media statement about Bishop George Bell 13 Nov 2015

Accusation and condemnation 20 May 2016

Featured post

OCTOBER 27 2017 – CAMPAIGN FOR THE RESTORATION OF GEORGE BELL HOUSE IN CHICHESTER [AND THE PORTRAIT IN STORAGE WITHIN THE CATHEDRAL LIBRARY]

IMG_9510This Portrait is in storage within the Cathedral Library [September 9 2017] – No Public Access [except on Heritage Open Days eg September 9 2017]

The Plaque reads:

“Bishop Bell has a worldwide reputation for his tireless work for international reconciliation, the arts, education, and church unity. The House that bears his name provides a place where work in these areas can continue and prosper. The generosity of an Anglican Order, the Community of the Servants of the Cross (CSC) has enabled the purchase of the House. Canon Peter Kefford (Treasurer of Chichester Cathedral 2003-2009) was the prime initiator in establishing George Bell House as a centre for Education, Vocation and Reconciliation” 

Photograph: Howard Coster, 1953. It is the last portrait photograph of Bishop Bell.