Author Archives: richardwsymonds37

“Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret” – BBC 2 – 9pm to 10pm – Monday Jan 13 and Tuesday Jan 14 2020

https://www.radiotimes.com/tv-programme/e/kvjb7x/exposed-the-churchs-darkest-secret–series-1-episode-1/

Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret

Exposed: The Church's Darkest Secret

Today 9pm – 10pm BBC Two

REVIEW – RADIO TIMES

by David Butcher

A two-part documentary explores a scandal in the Church of England that reaches back decades. In 2015 the former bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, received a three-year prison sentence after admitting to the sexual abuse of 18 young men, aged 17 to 25. “For him, religion was a cloak behind which he hid in order to satisfy his sexual interest in those who trusted him,” said the prosecuting QC at his trial.

But reports of Ball’s abuse had surfaced much earlier, in 1993, when he was cautioned by police. So how did a known abuser, a friend to Prince Charles and other establishment figures, escape justice and continue to work as a priest for so long? Concludes tomorrow.

SUMMARY

Part one of two. The story of the decades-long pursuit of former bishop Peter Ball by those brave individuals determined to bring him to justice for sexual abuse, and the cover-up that went to the highest levels of the Church of England. Using powerful testimony from victims, police and church officials, and dramatic reconstruction, this programme charts the story of those who fought for many years to bring a prosecution against Ball.

CAST & CREW

Director Ben Steele
Executive Producer Darren Kemp
Producer Esther McWatters

‘THINKING ANGLICANS” ON THE PROGRAMME

https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/bbc-documentary-on-peter-ball/#comments

STEPHEN PARSON’S ‘SURVIVING CHURCH’ ON THE PROGRAMME

http://survivingchurch.org/2020/01/14/the-churchs-dark-secret-reflections/

 

STEPHEN PARSON’S ‘SURVIVING CHURCH’ ON NEIL TODD AND GUIDE NYACHURU – RIP

http://survivingchurch.org/2020/01/15/neil-todd-and-guide-nyachuru-we-remember-them/

 

Dec 20 2019 – Andrew Brown on Archbishop Welby – Church Times

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Archbishop Justin Welby

An extract from Andrew Brown’s column in the Church Times 20 December 2019 about Archbishop Welby:

‘…But then he was asked about Prince Andrew — and this was after the Maitlis interview. Although he tried to avoid particulars, he did say: “I am not commenting on any member of the royal family except to say that I am astonished at what a gift they are to this country.

“They do serve in a way that is extraordinary in what is literally, for them, a life sentence. I think to ask that they be superhuman saints is not what we should do because nobody is like that. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody is human.”

This is remarkably tone deaf, even if mostly true. Obviously you could defend most other members of the Royal Family in those terms, but not Andrew, who, if he has been a gift to any country, has been one only to places like Kazakhstan.

Nor is it the way in which the Archbishop reacted to the apparently much less credible allegations about Bishop George Bell.

The Mail made it a front-page splash, under the headline “Welby: don’t expect royals to be saints”.

I think that this was one of the rare moments in which Archbishop Welby’s poshness and instinctive sympathy for the people among whom he grew up really handicaps him for the job. One of the things that the clergy and the monarchy have in common is the experience of a sense of duty, or of calling. It makes for a bond of sympathy which must be inexplicable if you haven’t ever felt it yourself. This is a culture that takes self-invention for granted, and is hostile to the idea that you don’t have any real choice about how you are, only how well you are going to be that person.

So, it’s easy to forget just how inexplicable the concept of service seems when summoned to the defence of someone such as Prince Andrew, who appeared to have few royal duties to fulfil, and now has none. Still, like every other row in the papers, it will all be over by Christmas.

Jan 24 2019 – “Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for Church of England’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations” – Daily Telegraph – Robert Mendick

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/01/24/archbishop-canterbury-apologises-unreservedly-coes-mistakes/

Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) apologises 'unreservedly' for CoE's 'mistakes' in handling Bishop Bell allegations

The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused yesterday of persisting with a “malign” attack on Bishop George Bell after he refused to exonerate him following a “copycat” allegation of historic child sex abuse.

An official report published yesterday concluded that a 70-year-old allegation against Bishop Bell was unfounded. It found that the evidence of the complainant – a woman named only as “Alison” – was “unreliable” and “inconsistent”.

Alison had written to the Church of England, claiming she had been sexually assaulted by the bishop in 1949 when she was aged nine.

The letter was sent a week after the Church of England was found to have wrongly besmirched Bishop Bell in its handling of a previous complaint brought by a woman known only as “Carol”.

The latest report suggested that Carol’s allegation had “prompted a false recollection in Alison’s mind”.

Yesterday, the Most Rev Justin Welby “apologised unreservedly for the mistakes” in the handling of the complaint made by Carol. But he declined to publicly clear the former Bishop of Chichester of any wrongdoing or retract a statement that he had a “significant cloud … over his name” and that he had been accused of “great wickedness”.

In a private letter, however, sent to Bishop Bell’s closest surviving relative, his niece Barbara Whitley, he wrote: “Once again I offer my sincerest apologies both personally and on behalf of the Church. We did wrong to you and before God.”

Bishop Bell, one of the towering figures of the Church in the 20th century, has been unable to defend himself, having died in 1958. But his supporters urged the Church to restore his reputation after two reports exonerated him.

Ms Whitley, 94, said yesterday: “I would like to see my uncle’s name cleared before I die.”

Desmond Browne QC, a leading barrister who acted for the bishop’s family and who was christened by him in 1949, said: “What is now clear is that the investigations by two experienced lawyers [have established] George Bell’s innocence. But not once [has] the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell the presumption of innocence.”

Alison had alleged that Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, had sat her on his lap and “fondled her”.

But the report by Timothy Briden, an ecclesiastical lawyer and vicar general of Canterbury, concluded that in her oral evidence “her attempts to repeat what had been written in the letter displayed, however, a disturbing degree of inconsistency”.

Alison had alleged in the letter the abuse had taken place indoors in front of her mother but in oral testimony thought she had been assaulted outdoors. He concluded that her claim was “unfounded”.

The existence of Alison’s complaint made in December 2017 was made public by the Church of England at a time when it was facing increasing criticism for its handling of the earlier allegation by Carol. Alison’s claim was passed in January 2018 to police, who then dropped the case.

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Bishop George Bell

Mr Briden also investigated a separate complaint made by an 80-year-old witness – known only as K in the report – 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 and did not have a Rolls-Royce. The report said: “The longer that the statement from K’s mother is analysed, the more implausible it appears.”

Lord Carlile, the QC who carried out the damning inquiry into the handling of Carol’s claim, was scathing of the Church of England’s decision to make public the police inquiry into Alison’s complaint.

Lord Carlile said: “I am astonished that the Church [made] public the further complaint against Bishop Bell and the error has been proved by the conclusion of this latest inquiry.”

Prof Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer and spokesman for the George Bell Group, said “the claim by Alison appeared a copycat of Carol’s complaint”. Carol was paid £15,000 compensation in a legal settlement in October 2015.

In his statement yesterday, Archbishop Welby described Bishop Bell as a “remarkable role model”, adding: “I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell.” 

But he went on: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.”

The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, also declined yesterday to exonerate his predecessor. But he accepted that a public statement he made signifying Bishop Bell’s guilt and released in 2015 after Carol’s claim was settled was probably now an error. 

“Knowing what we now do [we] would want to re-examine that and I don’t think we would [make that statement].”

Dec 22 2019 – “Church Safeguarding – Not a prayer” – Private Eye

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Church House Westminster

https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/update-on-safe-spaces-following-media-report/#comments

Update on Safe Spaces following media report

The Church of England issued the press release below today. It appears to be in response to an article in Private Eye which was tweeted here yesterday.

Update on Safe Spaces following media report
21/12/2019

A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “Safe Spaces is planned as a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse across the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

“The delay in progressing the support service, first officially discussed in 2014, is a matter of regret which the Church of England acknowledges and apologises for. But since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.

“Their knowledge, skill and personal experience in shaping the model for Safe Spaces alongside their commitment and support for the procurement process is integral to finding the right organisation to deliver the project.

“All grant money from both churches and ATL has been ring fenced for the project and no money from the £592,000 grant has been spent to date, and no new company has been set up. Pre set-up costs, procurement, project management and development are separate to this and the cost is being shared across both Churches.

“Following an initial procurement process, the Board has agreed that it would not be recommending the appointment of a preferred supplier to deliver the project; this decision was taken in partnership with the survivor representatives.

“Over the coming weeks the Board in partnership with survivors will agree the next steps and the best way forward. Survivor voices remain central to any future success of this new service and their welfare and support is an absolute priority for the Church in its continuing safeguarding work.

“Both churches are committed to supporting survivors of church-related abuse and providing an independent national service for survivors of any form of church-related abuse.”

COMMENTS
Janet Fife

‘since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.’ I’m glad they are involving survivors in this, although I suspect they aren’t asking some who have been most vocal. I’m sure Matt Ineson would have something to say – and until the Church is ready to hear him, and Gilo, and “Graham’, and others, it won’t get very far. But as the project manager and board were appointed ‘last year’ –… Read more »

Martin Sewell

The Church seems to have lost the plot on this. One cannot hear of the delay and the associated costs without a rising sense of anger. Questions must be asked and more importantly – answered. This is not said in a vindictive sense but simply to seek an answer to the plainest of questions. “ How did the main thing cease to be the main thing?” The need was there, the victims known, the resource was available. It ought to have been possible to scope and deliver something for survivors within a year, by any team of competent managers. If… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley

Presumably when she was the Chief Nurse the Bishop of London must have overseen projects far bigger than this one. Why has everyone involved been so inept, had no sense of urgency given their rhetoric on safeguarding. Old school politicians such as Lord Carrington resigned when there were serious failings such as this; why haven’t senior bishops resigned over this pitiful episode? Thank God for Private Eye and a free press!

This doesn’t look good. Depressing really. Am I a fool to be surprised at the prevarication, the EIG involvement and the procurement story, especially 2buy2. “They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.” Why not let the survivors run the project completely? OK, I know why not.

Dec 15 2019 – “Does Archbishop Welby’s pride matter more than an elderly lady’s pain?” – Peter Hitchens – Denton Daily

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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Mrs Barbara Whitley

PETER HITCHENS: Does Archbishop Welby‘s pride matter more than an elderly lady‘s pain? 

PETER HITCHENS: Does Archbishop Welby‘s pride matter more than an elderly lady‘s pain? 

This Christmas I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury 

This I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Her name is Mrs Barbara Whitley. More than three years ago, the Church of England publicly accused her beloved long-dead uncle of the filthy crime of child sex abuse.

The charge was based on the word of a single accuser, more than half a century after the supposed offence. The Church had presumed his guilt and made no serious effort to discover the truth. Key living witnesses were neither sought, found nor interviewed. A senior bishop admitted soon afterwards that they were actually not convinced the claim was true. Yet by some mysterious process, a number of newspapers and stations, all on the same day, felt safe in confidently pronouncing that Barbara’s uncle had been a disgusting paedophile. No ifs or buts. Who told them?

A later inquiry would show that this miserable episode was based on nothing more than a chaotic, sloppy kangaroo court. One of this country’s most distinguished lawyers, Lord Carlile, tore the case against Barbara’s uncle to shreds. He said there would have been no chance of a conviction on the evidence available, and made mincemeat of the shambolic committee that had published the original allegation.

After delaying the release of this inquiry for weeks, Justin Welby’s church eventually published it. But did it admit its mistake and restore the reputation of Barbara Whitley’s wrongly defamed uncle?

Nope. Mr Welby, in defiance of all the rules of British justice, sulkily insisted that a ‘significant cloud’ still hung over the name of Barbara’s uncle. Thus, just as she might have been able to rejoice that her relative’s name had at last been cleared, the Head of the Established Church made it his personal business to prevent this.

And then, a few weeks later, another supposed allegation against her uncle was said to have been made. Why then? What was it? Who had made it? Nobody would say, but it served to stifle potential criticism of Mr Welby at the General Synod of the Church of England, which was about to begin. Details of the second allegation remain a secret. After nearly a year, Mr Welby’s church (which has a bad record of sitting on reports that it doesn’t like) still hasn’t come up with its conclusions. Yet Sussex Police, given the same information, dropped their investigations into the matter after a few short weeks.

It all looks a bit as if someone is trying to save someone’s face. But the cruelty to Barbara Whitley, who was 91 when this horrible saga began, is appalling. Who cares about some prelate’s pride (a sin in any case) when Mrs Whitley could be spared any more pain?

Because the cruelty to Mrs Whitley seems to me to be so shocking in a supposedly Christian organisation, I have deliberately left till last that the object of these accusations is the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell. Bell was, as people who knew him have told me, a kind, scrupulously honest, courageous man. He was, most notably, a beloved friend of the German Christians who fought against Hitler and a brave critic of the cruelty of war. I sometimes wonder if modern bishops and archbishops are afraid of being compared with him. They have reason to be. In the meantime, Mr Welby’s church should end Mrs Whitley’s agony.

Does anyone really doubt that, if the archbishop wanted to, he could end the whole business today?

David Hopkinson RIP

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David Hopkinson

It is saddening to note the General Election has overshadowed the recent Memorial Service to David Hopkinson at Chichester Cathedral.

It is hoped Chichester Observer will right this wrong by writing a special feature about him after the Election.

It is important to remember this man’s huge contribution, not just to this Cathedral City but also to this county and this country.

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

December 2019

 

Last week’s CHICHESTER OBSERVER was an interesting read, but I was disappointed that no mention was made of the Thanksgiving Service for David Hopkinson, which took the form of Choral Evensong last Tuesday at Chichester Cathedral.

David Hopkinson, CBE, was long, and closely connected with the Cathedral – more of this below. However, nationally he was a former Clerk to the House of Commons; served on the Bank of England Advisory Committee, and for nine years was a highly successful Managing Director of M & G Investment House.

Locally, he served as Chair of Pallant House Art Gallery, and was a Deputy Lord Lieutenant. The University of Chichester bestowed on him an honorary degree, in recognition of the contribution he made to life in Sussex.

Back to his years of devoted work for Chichester Cathedral, which benefited from his acquired financial skills. A founder member of Chichester Cathedral Restoration and Development Trust, providing substantial sums of money for the preservation of the Cathedral’s fabric, he also contributed, as a Church Commissioner, to the life of the national church.

Recent coverage in the national press have recalled David’s major role in the establishment of George Bell House. (Movingly, the first hymn in David’s Memorial Service, was ‘Christ is the King! O friends rejoice’, written by the former Bishop of Chichester himself.)

George Bell, as Episcopal Visitor to the Community of the Servants of the Cross, was in close contact with the remaining Anglican Sisters of the Community of the Servants of the Cross. They gave their blessing to David, as Chairman of the Community’s Trust, to use their finances to establish George Bell House as a Conference Centre. David was, as one who knew him, commented to us, ‘the moving spirit for all the negotiations’.

In my study, sits a brass plaque, which I had designed and made. It reads:

GEORGE BELL HOUSE

“No nation, no church, no individual is guiltless

 Without repentance and without forgiveness

 There can be no regeneration.”

 Bishop George Bell 1883-1958

It is the earnest wish of the many of us, locally and globally, who have been fighting since 2016 for the restoration of Bishop Bell’s good name,  as one of the greatest of Chichester’s Bishops, and a shining light in the ecumenical movement, to have this plaque affixed to the door of what has been temporarily named 4 Canon Lane.

 

Sandra Saer                                                                                     

The Bell Society

November 2019