Monthly Archives: April 2019

April 12 2019 – “Church abuse survivors speak out over handling of Bishop of Chester misconduct complaint” – Chester Standard – Steve Creswell

https://www.chesterstandard.co.uk/news/17567171.church-abuse-survivors-speak-out-over-handling-of-bishop-of-chester-misconduct-complaint/

Church abuse survivors speak out over handling of Bishop of Chester misconduct complaint

Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster.

SPECIAL REPORT

Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster.

SURVIVORS of sexual abuse by members of the clergy have raised concerns about the Church’s handling of a formal complaint against the Bishop of Chester.

The Standard has spoken to two victims of historic abuse who fear a Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) brought against Bishop Peter Forster will not be judged objectively.

One is priest Matt Ineson who was raped in the 1980s by a Bradford vicar who took his own life on the day of his first court appearance two years ago.

CDMs are the Church’s in-house disciplinary process and are always escalated to the Diocesan bishop – or sometimes the archbishop – to pass judgement.

Critics say the lack of public accountability and ‘behind closed doors’ nature of the complaints procedure make it easy for senior clergy to cover up allegations of abuse.

The CDM filed at the end of March against Bishop Forster relates to reports that in 2009 he ignored a letter from Warrington vicar Charles Gordon Dickenson confessing to child abuse.

Dickenson, now 89, was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court last month after admitting eight counts of sexual assault against a boy in the 1970s.

Chester and District Standard:

Former vicar Charles Gordon Dickenson was jailed for historic child sex abuse.

The Diocese of Chester has accepted its failures, admitting that the letter should have been passed to the police for investigation a decade ago. Dickenson remained free to officiate in the diocese until his retirement in 2014.

The CDM against the Bishop of Chester is being brought by Sir Roger Singleton, interim safeguarding director at the Church and former chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s.

It has been confirmed that it will be considered by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

But Mr Ineson and another survivor, who wishes to remain anonymous, say that Mr Sentamu has himself been the subject of a CDM and allege he has previously ignored disclosures of abuse.

Mr Ineson was raped and abused aged 16 by former Bradford vicar Trevor Devamanikkam between 1984 and 1985.

He says his disclosures to the Church fell on deaf ears, leading him to file CDMs in 2016 against five bishops, as well as Mr Sentamu.

However, the complaints were never investigated by the Church because they were brought outside of the 12-month time limit.

Devamanikkam took his own life on June 6, 2017 – the day of his first court appearance.

Mr Ineson and others claim the Church of England (C of E) uses its own arbitrary 12-month rule to block investigations into historic sexual abuse that are more than a year old.

Indeed, permission is still being sought from the Church’s President of Tribunals to bring the CDM against Bishop Forster ‘out of time’.

Mr Ineson told this newspaper: “Victims of church abuse, including myself, have raised concern about Archbishop Sentamu handling the complaint into Bishop Forster as they say he is compromised as he himself has been subject to complaints that he ignored disclosures of abuse and left at least one priest abuser years to go unchecked.

“The priest in my case was eventually charged with six serious sexual offences and killed himself the day he was due in court. The church used the one-year rule to block any investigation into the archbishop and refuse to investigate him.”

In response, a spokesman for the office of the Archbishop of York said: “When a complaint comes to an Archbishop, he routinely considers with the benefit of advice, as to whether there are any circumstances which would make it inappropriate for him to deal with the complaint.

“If he considers there are, then he will ask the other Archbishop to deal with it. As the process has only just begun in this case– still awaiting decision on whether the complaint can be brought ‘out of time’ – there is nothing further to say on this procedure at the moment.”

Chester and District Standard:

Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

The second survivor said he had taken out a CDM against the Bishop of Durham over the handling of his own abuse case, only to see it dismissed by Mr Sentamu. However, he later received a 20-page response from the Bishop of Durham that reportedly expressed “bitter regret” at the way the case was handled.

Both he and Mr Ineson say they have heard of other complaints being either dismissed or no further action (NFA) taken.

The Standard asked the Church of England for statistics on the number of CDMs brought against bishops and archbishops, and their outcomes.

Survivors claim that no bishop or archbishop has ever been disciplined as a result of a CDM.

The only exception is former Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, Peter Ball, who was already serving jail time for sexually assaulting 18 teenagers and men between the 1970s and 1990s.

The offices of the Bishop of Salisbury and the Bishop of Lincoln were also approached for the CDM statistics as they are leading a review of safeguarding procedures in the Church.

The Church is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and clear figures have not been provided. However, a C of E spokesman indicated that some were available in the annual reports of the Clergy Discipline Commission, which oversees CDMs.

These show that between 2015 and 2017 (the last year for which statistics are available) a total of 19 fresh complaints were made against bishops or archbishops. Some also carried over from previous years.

The reports state that 11 complaints were dismissed, two were NFA, and one ‘penalty by consent’ was imposed in 2015. There was also one ‘prohibition following conviction’, thought to relate to Peter Ball.

The outcomes of the remaining CDMs are not stated and the Church spokesman has not elaborated on these. No names are given in the annual reports.

Full statistics prior to 2015 are not available as complaints records held at Bishopthorpe Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of York, were destroyed in floods at the end of that year.

Chester and District Standard:

Records held at Bishopthorpe Palace near York were destroyed by flood water in 2015.

In 2010 the C of E published the outcome of its Past Case Review (PCR), which was a two-year investigation into historic allegations of abuse across all dioceses.

A subsequent review of the PCR by Sir Roger Singleton found the Church disregarded dozens of allegations.

The PCR examined more than 40,000 files but found that just 13 cases of alleged child sexual abuse warranted formal action.

In June last year, Sir Roger said he believed the Church “downplayed” the issue in public statements to avoid damage to its reputation.

But he also found “no evidence whatsoever of a deliberate attempt to mislead” or that anyone broke the law.

The second survivor who spoke to The Standard said he has little hope that Bishop Forster will be held accountable for failing to report Dickenson’s abuse in 2009, but added that he could be made a scapegoat.

He said: “This CDM looks like selective accountability. What about other bishops who walked away from disclosures? What about the bishops who presided over an industrial-scale whitewash in the Past Case Review period (2008 – 2010) in which many dozens of cases were quietly ignored? What about bishops who’ve denied disclosures and distanced themselves from their own inertia?

“The crisis of the senior layer of the Church of England is that they haven’t found a way of putting hands up to past mistakes and owning their own failure.”

He and survivors group MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) highlighted a report published on April 4 this year by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

A MACSAS spokesman said the document “illustrates the Church of England’s comprehensive failure in the treatment of victims of its own abuse”.

SCIE’s independent research indicates that fewer than one in five people who reported abuse in the church say they received a satisfactory response, and more than half never received any meaningful response at all.

The group spokesman said: “Those of us whose lives have been devastated by clergy abuse know this from long and bitter experience. We are victimized first by our abusers, and again by the church’s ‘defensive responses’ to criticism of its failings.

“For many years the Church of England has responded to the crisis of clergy abuse by saying ‘You can trust us. We’ve got this in hand’. The SCIE report confirms what we have known all along – that the church can no longer be trusted to manage disclosures of abuse.

“We repeat our call that this work should be handed over to a fully independent body.”

There is currently no UK law that requires the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse – although campaigners have been pushing for such legislation.

However, bishops at the head of their dioceses have responsibility for safeguarding issues and are expected to pass on intelligence about suspected criminal activity to the police.

The Church has stressed it treats all complaints seriously and, aside from the CDM, Bishop Forster’s actions in 2009 are also being investigated by its National Safeguarding Team (NST).

Chester and District Standard:

The Bishop of Chester has said he will make no further public comment until after the NST review.

Bishop Forster has led the Diocese of Chester since 1997 and is said to be the Church of England’s longest serving bishop. He is due to retire by March next year when he turns 70.

In a statement released earlier this month, he said he had delegated all safeguarding matters to the Bishop of Birkenhead until the end of the NST review, which is due to begin shortly.

He said: “I have taken this decision in response to recent comment into my handling of the Gordon Dickenson case in 2009.

“An independent review will seek to identify where any failures in procedures arose, and what lessons can be learned and I look forward to contributing to the review and to giving a full account of my actions in relation to this matter.

“The Diocese of Chester takes seriously its safeguarding responsibilities at every level. Whilst an independent review into my actions takes place, I recognise that I should not continue to lead the safeguarding arrangements in the Diocese.

“I will continue in all other duties relating to my role of Bishop of Chester.

“I will not be making any further public comments in relation to this matter until the outcome of the independent review.”

Diocese of Chester twice covered up parish vicar’s abuse of young boy

Specialist lawyer’s concern over Diocese of Chester cover-up of child sex abuse

Bishop Peter Forster delegates safeguarding responsibility after cover-up reports

Bishop of Chester Dr Peter Forster could retire before outcome of abuse cover-up inquiry

Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) lodged against Bishop of Chester Peter Forster

April 10 2019 -“Never forget: Recalling the Death of Bonhoeffer” – Deacon Greg Kandra

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2019/04/never-forget-recalling-the-death-of-bonhoeffer/

Never Forget: Recalling the Death of Bonhoeffer

German Federal Archives/Wikipedia

The great preacher, writer, theologian and witness to the faith, Dietrich Bonhoeffer,was executed on April 9, 1945, just days before the Nazi camp where he was held, Flossenbürg, was liberated. He was 39.

Here’s what happened: 

On 4 April 1945, the diaries of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, were discovered, and in a rage upon reading them, Hitler ordered that the Abwehr conspirators [those who had plotted for Hitler’s assassination] be destroyed. 

Bonhoeffer was led away just as he concluded his final Sunday service and asked an English prisoner, Payne Best, to remember him to Bishop George Bell of Chichester if he should ever reach his home: “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.”

Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on 8 April 1945 by SS judge Otto Thorbeck at a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defense in Flossenbürg concentration camp.  He was executed there by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945, just two weeks before soldiers from the United States 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions liberated the camp,  three weeks before the Soviet capture of Berlin and a month before the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard where he was hanged, along with fellow conspirators Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Canaris’s deputy General Hans Oster, military jurist General Karl Sack, General Friedrich von Rabenau, businessman Theodor Strünck, and German resistance fighter Ludwig Gehre.

Eberhard Bethge, a student and friend of Bonhoeffer’s, writes of a man who saw the execution: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer… kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer…In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

His legacy has been profound:

Bonhoeffer’s life as a pastor and theologian of great intellect and spirituality who lived as he preached—and his being killed because of his opposition to Nazism—exerted great influence and inspiration for Christians across broad denominations and ideologies, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the anti-communist democratic movement in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa.

Bonhoeffer is commemorated in the liturgical calendars of several Christian denominations on the anniversary of his death, 9 April. This includes many parts of the Anglican Communion, where he is sometimes identified as a martyr.

In our own troubled time, Bonhoeffer’s courage in the face of evil, and his suffering in the face of persecution, stand as a testament to true Christian witness — the very essence of what it means to be a “martyr.”

His likeness is preserved in Westminster Abbey, alongside other martyrs, including St. Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King, Jr.

He continues to teach and inspire Christians today.

“The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them,” he wrote. “Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives God’s Word but also lends us God’s ear. . . . We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them.”

He also urged us to be open to God’s will in our lives, whatever that may be.

“We must be ready,” he said, “to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pray for us.

April 9 2019 – “Clergy burnt church files after being accused of covering up abuse” – Christian Today – Harry Farley [March 20 2018]

garden-party-in-the-deanery-garden-e1465895259248

The Deanery Garden at Chichester Cathedral

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/clergy-burnt-church-files-after-being-accused-of-covering-up-abuse-inquiry-hears/127645.htm

Clergy burnt church files after being accused of covering up abuse, inquiry hears

 

A senior clergyman burnt church files, an inquiry heard today, after he failed to report the systematic abuse of children by a priest to the police.

John Treadgold, the former dean of Chichester Cathedral, returned to the empty deanery after he retired in 2001, took files from the basement and burnt them in the garden, his former colleague Peter Atkinson said.

Peter Atkinson
IICSA – Peter Atkinson was Chancellor at Chichester Cathedral under John Treadgold and is now Dean of Worcester.

It happened as Terence Banks, the head steward of the cathedral, was convicted of 32 sexual offences against 12 boys over a period of 29 years. He was sentenced to 16 years in jail in 2001 after an investigation by Sussex police.

However it later emerged through a report conducted by Edina Carmi in 2004 that Treadgold had been told of Banks’ abuse by a victim in 2000 but had not reported it to the police, the child protection adviser or social services.

Of Banks’ 12 victims, all were under 16 years of ago and some were as young as 11. He was eventually convicted in 2001 of 23 charges of indecent assault, five of buggery, one of indecency with a child under 14 years, and  two of attempting to procure acts of gross indecency.

The current dean of Worcester, Peter Atkinson, was chancellor of Chichester Cathedral at the time, and told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse that Treadgold came back to the deanery after he had retired and burnt files that were in the basement.

IICSA
IICSAThe inquiry is chaired by professor Alexis Jay, second from left.

‘What I remember of the episode is that he returned to the deanery, which was then empty, removed a number of files from the deanery basement and had a fire in the garden,’ Atkinson told the inquiry today.

‘I don’t know what the files were,’ he added.

‘It is a bit odd that he moved away and then came back to do this. It was sufficiently troubling for us to mention this to the police.’

He said the police ‘took it very seriously’ but ‘ultimately no future action was taken’.

He described Treadgold’s dealings with the police as ‘defensive’ and said he blurred homosexuality with paedophilia in his attitude.

‘The conflict over homosexuality and abuse was, like many men of his background and his generation, there was an unease about her whole idea of homosexuality and a sort of presumption that homosexual men where unsafe in relation to other men, particularly younger men or boys.’

The independent inquiry into child sex abuse is hearing evidence into how the diocese of Chichester dealt with allegations of abuse as a case study for the wider Church of England.

April 7 2019 – Coburg Conference 2011″ – Chichester and Arundel Cathedrals – ‘The Parish Proclaimer’

download (1)

Arundel Cathedral

https://www.arundelcathedral.org/proclaimer/Proclaimer%20Lent%202012_2.pdf

ECUMENICAL COBURG CONFERENCE XIV

By Anne Dunkley & Sherien Morgan

Since the 1980s, delegates from the Anglican Cathedral of Chichester, the
Evangelical Church of Bayreuth, the Lutheran Church of Berlin, and the Roman
Catholic Cathedral of Bamberg, have met every two years to discuss current topics
which affect them.

The 25th anniversary of the first conference was held in Chichester on 16 – 19
October last year, the delegation being led by the Dean of Chichester, the Very Revd.
Nicholas Frayling and attended by the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Revd. John Hind.
There were thirty-four delegates present and the conference took place largely within
the Cathedral Close, using Vicars’ Hall and George Bell House.

The Chichester delegation consisted of eight members, one of whom had not attended before. The theme was ‘The Challenge of Secularism in the New Europe’. Once again, summaries of the texts of the two keynote presentations had been translated and circulated in advance, and this was a great help in enabling delegates to discuss points arising from the presentations, both with the speakers, and with each other in the group
sessions.

This year’s theme was ‘The Challenge of Secularism in the New Europe’.
Daily worship was led in turn by the different delegations, whether in the Bishop’s
private chapel, the Lady Chapel of Chichester Cathedral or Arundel Cathedral; also
the delegates had the opportunity to attend Evensong in Chichester Cathedral sung
by the Cathedral choir.

The second day of the conference was held in the local parish of Arundel. Bishop
David Farrer, vicar of St. Nicholas Church, welcomed the delegates to the parish
church, itself unique in being an Anglican church which is attached to the Roman
Catholic Fitzalan Chapel, property of the Duke of Norfolk, and resting place of
deceased members of the Fitzalan Howard family for many hundreds of years. Only a
glass screen separates the two places of worship. Arundel parish has an active
ecumenical partnership with the town of Stegaurach in Franconia, where the Roman
Catholic congregation shares its church building with the Lutheran community, and
both communities jointly support an Indian aid project in Tamil Nadu.

Here, seated in the Anglican pews, the delegates heard the second keynote speaker
of the conference, Bishop Kieran Conry, Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and
Brighton, in a stimulating paper on ‘The Challenge of Secularism for the Churches in
Europe today’.
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Bishop Kieran explained that if secularism means the appropriation by the state of
things which formerly belonged to the church – amongst them authority, property
and social function, including teaching and nursing – it is not entirely negative. The
media expected the Pope’s visit to England and Scotland last year to be very
unpopular, in that he is Head of a Church that is seen to be contrary to values
promoted by society today, when in fact they were quite wrong and he was
received with great enthusiasm.
Society is not openly hostile, but the problem lies with the separation of the sacred
and what might be termed ‘secular’. The natural world is governed by reason, and
the Church can no longer claim its ancient authority as being the voice of God, as
this is not open to scientific scrutiny. Modern civilisation must be tolerant of
religion, but it is preferred that it is practised in private. The great threat is the
indifference of the great majority in society for whom religion is irrelevant, and the
danger is that we start to believe it and lose our nerve. But one of the most positive
aspects of the response to the Pope’s visit is a renewed sense of confidence amongst
Catholics and other Christians, and this must be one of the first responses to the
challenge. Dialogue between religions must be promoted and deepened, enabling us
to understand their ‘otherness’ as well as transcendent ‘otherness’ of God. This
dialogue will promote living together, working together for peace and justice, mutual
understanding and sharing of spiritual riches. And finally the need for humility is
very important, with Christ as our model. The church will not be heard today if she
shouts more loudly, but may be heard if she speaks more quietly.

Delegates divided up into small discussion groups to examine questions Bishop
Kieran had suggested. Meanwhile, it was indeed heart-warming to see Anglican
Dean Nicholas Frayling, Roman Catholic Bishop Kieran, Lutheran Bishop Dorothea
Greiner, and Anglican Bishop David Farrer deeply engrossed in discussion standing
in the chancel of St. Nicholas parish church.

Then to Arundel Cathedral, where the Dean, Canon Tim Madeley, introduced both
the building and the shrine of St. Philip Howard, son of the 4th Duke of Norfolk. The
daily conference worship was led here by the Bamberg delegation, and again was felt
to be particularly relevant, as it was the feast of St. Luke, who himself brought many
secular, positive elements into the church. The delegates were warmly welcomed by
the Mayor of Arundel, Mrs Wendy Eve, to Arundel Town Hall where lunch was
provided and served by the ladies of St. Nicholas church and Arundel Cathedral
together. Both Bishop Kieran and Canon Tim were able to join the conference
5
delegates for lunch and also later for dinner. After lunch there was a visit of Arundel
Castle, by courtesy of His Grace, the Duke of Norfolk. During the tour of the Castle
the delegates learnt more about Arundel as the seat of the Earl Marshal of England,
and the home of the leading Roman Catholic family. It was remarked that many of
the portraits on the walls were of the same people whose portraits were seen in
Schloss Coburg during the last conference, and that they did not look any more
cheerful at Arundel!
The evening was dedicated to an Anniversary Dinner to celebrate 25 years of the
Coburg conferences, with the all-Sussex food being generously donated by local
producers. Guests of Honour were His Excellency Mr Georg Boomgaarden, the
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany and Mrs Boomgaarden.

The Ambassador made reference to his own keen interest in Bishop George Bell and his
work with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There were many present with long-standing and
close links with the Coburg conferences both past and present, in particular Bishop
John Hind and Canon of Honour Wolfgang Klausnitzer, and it was a very happy
occasion.

St. Nicholas Church founded a thriving and enthusiastic link in 2002 with the
Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, sited in
Stegaurach, a small town on the outskirts of the World Heritage medieval city of
Bamburg in Bavaria, southern Germany. Many friendships have been formed with
the people of Stegaurach as a result of visits both ways, in which everyone, young
and not so young, is invited to take part. This link is of particular importance, as it is
a truly ecumenical link, St. Nicholas is the first Anglican Church in their diocese to
twin with a Catholic Church, which itself is shared with the Lutheran community of
Stegaurach, and the partnership is shared with us, the parishioners of the Cathedral.

Many visits have taken place since the summer of 2003, during the summer of 2010
thirty seven of us went again, when we visited Flossenburg concentration camp with
our friends – a deeply moving experience – and it was there that Dietrich
Bonhoeffer, great friend of Bishop George Bell, was executed in 1945. Indeed we
look forward to the next visit of our German friends this summer; they will arrive on
Wednesday 15 August and remain with us until Monday 20 August.
Whilst they are here, there will be a full programme of social activities, trips out and
many opportunities to join with them and our friends from St. Nicholas in acts of
worship, and you will also have a chance to meet with them after Mass at the
Cathedral.
6
They are a very friendly group who speak English well. We have many host families
who already welcome visitors into their homes, however, this year we are looking for
even more volunteers to help with this side of the undertaking.

All we need is people to offer, for the most part, bed and breakfast. We would be
particularly delighted to hear from people who could host a young family.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please keep an eye on the
weekly parish newsletter for further details.

Editor’s Note

You can look at many photos and use the Google Translator (or similar) on the
website for Stegaurach: visit http://www.stegaurach.de

If you want to read more about ecumenism at work, you can visit a special page on
the Diocese of Chichester’s website: from their home page at http://www.diochi.org.uk
visit the ‘Activities’ section and then click on ‘European Ecumenical Committee’

IMG_1814

Chichester Cathedral

April 7 2019 – The Coburg Conferences – “From Wuppertal 1934 to Chichester 2019” – Peter Crosskey

George Bell, Bishop of Chichester

“From Wuppertal 1934 to Chichester 2019” by Peter Crosskey

The end of May 2019 will mark the 85th anniversary of the Barmen Declaration, which expressed the commitment of a small but determined group of Lutheran pastors to oppose the rise of Hitler and the National Socialists.

Meeting in the Gemarke Church, Wuppertal-Barmen, more than 130 delegates including pastors, committed Christians and theologians, issued a six-part declaration opposing mainstream German Christian acceptance of national socialism.

A full account of the historic 1934 Barmen Declaration can be found on the website of the Lutheran evangelist EKD church [ https://www.ekd.de/en/The-Barmen-Declaration-133.htm ]

Half a century later, in October 1984, an ecumenical conference in Chichester brought together German church leaders from both the FRG and GDR. Alongside Anglican theologians, they gathered to discuss practical aspects of rapprochement and Christian unity.

The event also celebrated the lives and work of Bishop George Bell and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The latter had been ministering to German-speaking congregations in London at the time of the Barmen Declaration, before returning to Germany in 1935.

The 1984 Chichester conference prepared the way for the first of the Coburg conferences in 1985, which has since been established as a rolling biennial series of ecumenical conferences hosted in rotation by three German churches  and the Diocese of Chichester.

A process that started in the wake of the 500th anniversary celebrations of Martin Luther’s birth, generated both ecumenical conferences and the 1987 Meissen Statement [ https://www.ekd.de/ekd_en/ds_doc/meissen_engl_.pdf ] – a six-article ‘road map’ for Christian unity.

The first article opens with the words: “God’s plan … is to reconcile all things in Christ…” and the second article discusses the nature of communion. The third article is a call for unity: “…to fulfil its mission the Church itself must be united.” The fourth article talks about communion as a shared act of faith, while the fifth article records a number of points of agreement and the sixth sets out the next steps for mutual acknowledgement. The final paragraph concludes with the words: “We know that beyond this commitment lies a move from recognition to the reconciliation of churches and ministries within the wider fellowship of the universal Church.”

This autumn will see Chichester hosting the next Coburg conference [ https://www.chichester.anglican.org/european-ecumenical-committee/ 

At the time of writing, Chichester cathedral’s European ecumenical 

committee had this to say about the Coburg conferences:

“The first ecumenical conference held in Chichester in 1984 to celebrate Bishop George Bell proved so valuable that the regular ‘Coburg conferences’ were born. Held every other year, delegates from the Diocese of Chichester, the Evangelical Kirchenkreis Bayreuth, the Lutheran church in Berlin-Brandenburg, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bamberg meet for discussions, lectures and workshops on a variety of topics and current issues. It is an opportunity to share and solve problems together and exchange news of parish links. A very strong bond of support, fellowship and understanding has developed.”

In his 2018 Easter sermon [https://www.chichester.anglican.org/news/2018/04/01/bishop-martins-easter-day-sermon/ ], Bishop Martin Warner talked of his conference trip to Germany in 2017, when the Lutherans were celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reformation. His visit was preceded by (Re)imagining Europe, a conference held in Rome and organised by churches across the EU. 

Bishop Martin observed: “They were drawing from a vision that was formed at the very moment when Europe was descending into the second world war, indeed when Bishop George Bell was seeking to support Christians who were separated from us by that conflict, but not in faith.”

The 2019 Chichester leg of the Coburg Conferences programme will open in October.

IMG_2554

Dear Editor

Amy Sim of Cathedral Enterprises Ltd is right to say of 4 Canon Lane (“Lots on offer in cathedral precinct”, Observer, March 28):
 
“The former archdeaconry is now a centre for vocation, education and reconciliation…”.
 
May I also add that 4 Canon Lane was formerly called George Bell House up until 2015.
 
It is hoped the restoration of that name will happen before the Coburg Conference in October at the Cathedral.
 
This international conference will celebrate the pioneering ecumenical work – especially in Germany – of the late, great wartime Bishop of Chichester, George Bell.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Richard W. Symonds
 
2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley, West Sussex
RH11 0NN

IMG_2555 (2)

Dear Editor

 

Poland’s new mayor in Gdansk states [“Decline and fall – A famed priest’s statue is toppled amid a widening clerical abuse crisis”, March 22]:

“While I value the presumption of innocence principle, there can only be one decision given the current level of emotions” 
 
This is a dangerous statement. Why?
 
Because the presumption of innocence – not the presumption of guilt – must be held sacred as a rule of international law and jurisprudence.
 
And because “there can only be one decision given the current level of emotions” is just another way of saying there can only be one rule – ‘the rule of the lynch mob’. 
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society
 
2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley, West Sussex
RH11 0NN