“It is also brave. Justin Welby is taking personal responsibility for the injustice done to the man he himself describes as “one of the most courageous, distinguished Anglican bishops of the last century”. It is a big admission“
I welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury’s gracious apology. It will not only restore the reputation of one of our greatest churchmen, but do much to heal unnecessary division in the Church of England. It sets a much needed example at a time when the presumption of innocence at the heart of English law continues to be undermined.
WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE/ CHICHESTER OBSERVER / RYE OBSERVER/ LITTLEHAMPTON GAZETTE/ WEST SUSSEX COUNTY TIMES
“Bell’s name was removed from a key building in Chichester and the Archbishop’s statement could spark requests for its reinstatement…
“In response, the current Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner said: “I greatly welcome Archbishop Justin Welby’s statement on Bishop George Bell. It is both humble and courageous, reminding us that these virtues, evident in George Bell himself, do still surface in the Church of England of our own time“
The Archbishop of Canterbury will take a sabbatical for “spiritual renewal”, The Telegraph can reveal.
The Most Rev Justin Welby, 64, will take a break from his role from May to September next year.
It is understood he will spend some of the time in his six-bedroom house in a remote hamlet in Normandy, France, which he has previously referred to as his “happy place”, and that he will focus on “study, prayer and reflection”.
While it is not unprecedented for the most senior bishop in the Church of England to take an extended break from the role, many will question the timing given the continuing challenges facing society because of the pandemic.
In 2007, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, took a three-month sabbatical to write a book: Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction. Furthermore, in 1997, Lord Carey also took a two-month sabbatical.
The Archbishop has been leading the Church during an unprecedented period. In the first lockdown, the Church faced criticism for not challenging the Government’s decision to close places of worship. Ahead of the second lockdown, the Archbishop questioned the Government over why communal worship was being banned.
News of the most senior bishop in the Church of England taking a sabbatical from his role as the 105th Archbishop emerged following the Canterbury Diocesan Synod at the weekend. Every member of the clergy, even archbishops, are entitled to apply for a sabbatical every seven to 10 years.
It is understood the Archbishop had intended to take his sabbatical after the Lambeth Conference, scheduled for summer 2020. However, this was delayed as a result of the pandemic.
There will not be an interim Archbishop of Canterbury while he is on sabbatical, rather the current Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, will step in for national duties. The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, will also assist in her role as Dean of the Southern Province.
A Lambeth Palace spokesperson said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury will be taking a sabbatical in 2021 for study, reflection and prayer.”
As the pandemic rages, Justin Welby says he’s going to take time off. How did religion become so self-centred?
Justin Welby arriving at Canterbury Cathedral, April 2019 Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PAWed 25 Nov 2020 08.00 GMT
The archbishop of Canterbury has announced that he will shortly be taking a sabbatical for three months to enjoy a period of “spiritual renewal”.
Though his two predecessors took a break of similar length while they were in office, neither was during a time of acute national crisis. So in choosing summer 2021 for his absence, Justin Welby seems to be saying that his personal wellbeing is paramount and that the anxiety, suffering, fear and grief of a country in the grip of a deadly pandemic and an economic crisis is, at best, a secondary concern.
The Buddha devised mindfulness to teach his monks that the self they prized so highly was illusory and must be discarded, but mindfulness is now used to help people feel more at ease and content with themselves.Advertisement
And, in recent years, the stern, demanding Christ of the gospels has become the “personal saviour” of a significant number of Christians, someone who functions rather like a personal trainer in the gym. I am not suggesting that the archbishop has fallen prey to such crass piety, but in putting his spiritual wellbeing before a country in pain, he comes close to it.
John Locke said that religion was a “private search” that could have nothing to do with public life. But the founders of the world religions would not have agreed with him. Jesus, for example, was preaching in Roman-occupied Palestine – a society traumatised by state violence and excessive taxation. Failure to pay was punished by confiscation of land, so peasants were forced into banditry or destitution. The crowds who thronged around him for healing were hungry, desperate and sick, many afflicted with neurological and psychological disorders that they attributed to demons.
Unlike the archbishop, Jesus could not retire to cultivate his personal spirituality because he was perpetually besieged by desperate people. We read that “the whole town came crowding round the door” of his house; they came in such numbers that “he had to stay outside in places where nobody lived”.
To be a follower of Christ cannot, therefore, mean withdrawal from the world – especially in a time of crisis. Jesus may have preached the kingdom of God, but this was not an otherworldly fantasy; it was rather an implicit but clear critique of imperial power. In God’s kingdom, unlike the Roman empire, the poor would be first and the rich last. The Lord’s Prayer was devised for people terrified of falling into debt, and who could hope only for bare subsistence, one day at a time. “Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us.” Jesus’s parables were not timeless truths, but reflected the problems of a society split between the very rich and the very poor. People were desperate for loans, heavily indebted, and forced to hire themselves out as day labourers.
The Buddha’s story is especially interesting now. He defined human suffering as “sickness, old age and death”, and historians believe that at this time there may have been a pandemic in the Ganges valley, where the newly founded cities attracted parasites that can flourish only in densely occupied environments.
The Buddha had discovered a method of living creatively with the pain that is endemic in human life, and he is usually depicted sitting in the lotus position, seemingly lost to the world. Indeed, after achieving nirvana, he was tempted for a while – like the archbishop, perhaps – to relish this newfound peace in solitude. But the god Brahma intervened, begging him to “look down at humanity, which is drowning in pain” and “to travel far and wide throughout the world” to help others deal with their suffering.
The Buddha then realised he must “return to the marketplace”, and insisted that his monks do the same. For the next 40 years, the Buddha travelled tirelessly throughout the towns and villages of India, sometimes far from his friends, helping people to deal creatively with the sorrow that is inherent in life.
I sympathise with the archbishop, because I love the solitude and study that is essential to my writing. But if you are engaged with religion, that is part of the job.
• Karen Armstrong is the author of The Lost Art of Scripture
Today, two documents have appeared in connection with the formal complaint made about the Archbishop of Canterbury by the complainant known as Graham. One is a press release from Lambeth Palace giving notice of the dismissal of the complaint
The background to this complaint was described in my last blog post connected with John Smyth. I mentioned the way that the Archbishop of Canterbury had become aware of serious accusations made against the former chairman of the Titus Trustees in 2013. This was a year after one of his victims, Graham, had made a disclosure to a senior clergyman in Cambridge involved with the Titus Trust.
We have already made reference to the fact that Archbishop Welby knew John Smyth personally. He has admitted visiting his house on one occasion. It has never been claimed that they were close friends, but Welby’s own conversion and background within the Christian faith owed much to the evangelical Christian networks in Cambridge in the 1970s. Here Smyth also had many links. The network that is now known as ReNew was very strong in Cambridge. Mark Ruston and Jonathan Fletcher both exercised an influential ministry among undergraduates in that city through the Round Church. Many of the officers who worked at the Iwerne camps were undergraduates in Cambridge at that time, including the young Justin Welby and Nicky Gumbel. Networking is something that the REFORM/ReNew network have always done very successfully. The conservative evangelical world which originally nurtured Welby always strongly sustained a sense of camaraderie. Archbishop Welby, although later broadening out in his churchmanship sympathies, did not appear to lose these connections and friendships with those in the world of conservative Anglicanism.
The 2013 complaint about John Smyth should have been a alarm call for Archbishop Welby. As I indicated in a previous blog on this topic, he certainly knew many people in Smyth’s network to ring up and ask what the story was all about. I mentioned before an extraordinary lack of curiosity on Welby’s part. Do we perhaps detect an attitude of fear and the desire not to know what was being revealed? Anyone who lived, as Welby did, on the periphery of the world of Jonathan Fletcher and John Smyth must have had some inkling that they were personalities which were at the very least controversial and possibly dangerous.
While we can take Welby’s claim that he did not know John Smyth well, we would have expected that, as a newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, he would have wanted to investigate how far the scandal might go. One of the principles of safeguarding, and well established as good practice by 2013, is to establish whether an individual poses any kind of risk. Although Smyth was a long way away in South Africa, he was still a potential risk in safeguarding terms. What did Welby do? He asked the Bishop of Ely to look into the matter. A letter was written in 2013 by the Bishop of Ely to the Bishop of Table Bay outlining the risks posed by Smyth. No reply was ever received. No follow-up was made, either by Welby or the Bishop of Ely. Neither was there another letter written, as far as we know.
On a television programme in 2019, Welby claimed to have sent another letter at the same time to the Archbishop of Cape Town. In spite of enquiries, no copy of this later letter has ever been produced to confirm this claim. Smyth was active in legal circles in South Africa to within months of his death in 2018, and there was no attempt by him to hide from either the Church or the civil authorities in South Africa.
The complainant, Graham, has two major issues with the core group who examined his complaint against Archbishop Welby. In the first place he, as the complainant, was never formally interviewed to establish the facts from his perspective. Both as a survivor and a safeguarding complainant he felt that he should have been properly heard. It was as though the core group had no interest in establishing facts. In the second place it was stated today in the Lambeth statement that the complaint was simply about safeguarding practice. From Graham’s perspective, the complaint was much wider than this. Archbishop Welby was in a position to stop John Smyth from having access to young people at any point between first hearing the about his misbehaviour in 2013 right down to the moment when the whole story came fully into the public domain in February 2017.
Graham was also critical of the way that the chief of staff at Lambeth Palace, David Porter, approached him directly in an apparent attempt to interfere with the complaint process. This approach appeared to have the authority of the chairman of the Welby Core Group., Zena Marshall. She is also the Deputy Director of the National Safeguarding Team. Graham has made this effort to subvert the process the topic of a further complaint.
As an outsider, I write my commentary based on the written documents before me. I do not have the face to face interviews with the parties concerned. With the evidence before me, I confess feeling considerable unease about what I see. Even when stripping out all the details of who knew what and when they knew it, something deeply dysfunctional is being revealed in these two documents. In 2013 (or possibly a year earlier) a huge destructive scandal came to the attention of the most senior leaders of the Church of England. This was not just about a vicar at the other end of the country committing some criminal offence. This was a complaint about an individual who was (or had been) influential and widely known to considerable numbers of clergy in the Church of England. Worse than Smyth’s original offences, which have never been contested, was the fact that these crimes were covered up for 30 years.A young man in Zimbabwe died at one of Smyth’s camps and there were some attempted suicides as well as many ruined lives. It is hard to understand how a person with enormous influence in the Church, as Welby had, did not see this as a matter of extreme priority and deal with it decisively. For a core group later to say that there had been no safeguarding concerns about his actions in 2013 and later seems rather feeble. This weak lack of response suggests that there may have been, as with recent scandals in the Catholic Church, a desire to bury wrongdoing in the hope that it would just go away. I, for one, am deeply disappointed in the way that these documents reveal a lack of transparency, candour and honesty in facing up to the appalling abuse legacies of the past. There are, I believe, at least 22 victims of John Smyth who will all be re-abused by reading these documents and the institutional failures they will see in them. Graham’s complaint against the processes set up by the NST has not been to all appearances properly answered. For all of these survivors this day, 12 November 2020, will be a day which they will remember forever as a moment when the Church of England has failed them once again. It did this by not providing anything in the way of justice or a proper path to healing.
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.
5 thoughts on “Safeguarding Complaint against Archbishop Welby dismissed”
Rowland Wateridge Martin Sewell has contributed relevant information about this today on ‘Thinking Anglicans’. I expect Stephen will provide the link in the usual way.A few days ago I posted on the earlier thread a video of Smyth appearing on South African public television in late 2014, or possibly 2015, on the subject of the then contemporary Pistorius murder trial (which, coincidentally, is back in the public eye as a result of the documentary currently being shown by the BBC). Significant matters are the date: post-2013, Smyth’s cool self-confidence, and the considerable deference shown to him by the television interviewer. As I said last time, anyone who has suffered at Smyth’s hands may prefer not to view this. I believe it provides an insight into Smyth’s character: a consummate double-act, one might say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-huJL5tdek
Janet Fife We have, sadly, become inured to the dishonesty and lack of compassion in the Church’s dealing with safeguarding complaints. What I can’t understand is the sheer stupidity of this kind of process and statement. Did they really think anyone would be convinced this was a good, thorough, and fair process? Did they think it would genuinely make either the Church or Abp. Welby look good – or even less bad? Maybe they feel so safe from repercussions that they just don’t care. But that’s dangerous – for them. Because institutions that lose their credibility eventually die; and because the individuals involved will one day have to give account to God.
Stephen Parsons The rhetoric about putting survivors at the heart of safeguarding practice seems not to be followed through, ever. From the moment Lambeth knew about Smyth in 2013 up till today, everything that has been done at the centre has been seemingly about institutional reputation and protecting individuals from the accusations of culpable blame. I wish that there had been a moment when we saw the institution and its leaders moving a little towards survivors with real compassion and a desire for justice. I am not aware of a single occasion when such a thing happened. Individuals in the system may have shown Christ-like humanity but this has never been shared across the board.
IN August we reported that the Church of England was dealing with a complaint against Archbishop Justin Welby (Eye 1529). The complaint alleged that Welby had failed to act on information he received in 2013 about abuse by his friend John Smyth QC.
A victim of Smyth had disclosed his abuse to the church in 2012, and the information was passed to Welby in August 2013 by the Bishop of Ely. The details arrived at Lambeth Palace via Welby’s chaplain, along with a note pointing out that Smyth was an old camping buddy of the archbishop.
Welby chose not to report the abuse to the police or social services, leaving it to Ely to eventually do the job. So confident was he that the right thing to do was to do nothing that he didn’t consult his safeguarding advisers, or even pick up the phone to his old friend Smyth to ask what was it all about.
The complaint also raised the question of, er, mis-statements that Welby has made about the case in the past couple of years, such as his assertion to Channel 4 News that Smyth was not an Anglican at all [he was], and that Welby had written to the Archbishop of Cape Townto warn him of the abuser on his patch [he hadn’t].
Saints be praised, the Eye learns that the complaint against Welby has now been dismissed. The core group of church staff formed to adjudicate on their boss decided that whatever he had done or left undone in 2013 is not a safeguarding matter and so doesn’t need to be investigated. Nor does the question of his untrue statements on the case. The only thing that matters is whether Welby is likely to cause harm today, and they concluded that he currently poses as much risk as a damp flannel.
Whatever one’s views on whether archbishops should tell the truth, it’s hard to see why Welby’s failure to act on a report of abuse by an old friend doesn’t constitute a safeguarding risk – especially since that 72-year-old friend was continuing to induce young men to share naked showers with him and swap masturbatory tips.
Smyth had managed to evade justice in the UK and then in Zimbabwe, where he is thought to have abused as many as 90 children.
By the time of his death in 2018, Hampshire Police had asked Smyth to return to the UK for questioning. In the five years between Welby’s documented knowledge of the abuse and his friend’s death, Smyth had made at least two visits to the UK, in March 2014 and December 2016, during which he could presumably have been arrested and his abuse stopped.
If Welby was not at fault for failing to act on what he knew about Smyth, presumably he will now feel no need to fess up to what he knows about other abusive friends, such as Revd Jonathan Fletcher (Eye 1499).
He clearly disagrees with the witness who told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) last year:
“Nobody can say ‘it is not my fault’. It is so absurd. To say ‘I have heard about a problem but it was someone else’s job to report it’ – that is not an acceptable human response, yet alone a leadership response”
That witness was Archbishop Justin Welby.
Archbishop Justin Welby
“the core group, specially chosen [they say ‘formed’] from Archbishop Welby’s staff, decided to try to bury it!” – CH
Four months ago, there was a formal complaint by ‘Graham’ against the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby [June 12 2020].
Three months ago, Paul Handley – Church Times Editor – wrote an article ”NST considers safeguarding complaint against Welby [CT, July 28], and quoted the NST [National Safeguarding Team]: “Since a formal complaint has now been received by the NST, it is reviewing the information and will obviously respond on this to the person who brought the complaint and take any further action if needed.” A core group had been set up, according to the Church Times report, which also quoted ‘Graham’ as saying “there is no evidence that Archbishop Welby took steps to ensure that the allegations [against John Smyth] were known to the authorities in South Africa”. Lambeth Palace was contacted about the allegations against Smyth in 2013 – five years before his death in 2018.
“The key person who seems missing in action is…Justin Welby” ~ Stephen Parsons
This raises serious safeguarding concerns:
(a) ‘Safeguarding’ is the responsibility of all – including Archbishops.
(b) John Smyth was left to abuse others in South Africa for a further five years.
(c) Public interest in the outcome of a serious complaint against a Church of England Archbishop.
NB Archbishop Welby has not been suspended for these safeguarding failures, whereas the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson was suspended, and the Permission To Officiate [PTO] of former Archbishop George Carey revoked.
FROM THE ARCHIVES – ARCHBISHOP WELBY REFUSES TO PUBLICLY CLEAR BISHOP BELL, REFUSES TO RETRACT “SIGNIFICANT CLOUD” REMARKS AND REFUSES TO WITHDRAW “GREAT WICKEDNESS” COMMENTS – DAILY TELEGRAPH – JANUARY 24 2019
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.
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].”
Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop said: “An independent investigation into allegations that the Dean, Martyn Percy, failed to fulfil his safeguarding responsibilities has concluded the Dean acted entirely appropriately in each case. The National Safeguarding Team, NST, followed the House of Bishops guidance when the four separate allegations were referred earlier in the year relating to the Dean, a senior office holder. At no point was there any allegation or evidence that the Dean presented a direct risk to any child or vulnerable adult.
I am aware this has been a very difficult time for all parties, particularly Martyn and his family, and I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation. There will of course be lessons to learn about the processes, as there are with any safeguarding case, and that is an essential part of our guidance to make the Church a safer place for all. We welcome the Dean’s commitment to taking part in this. Now the investigation has concluded and the Dean has been exonerated of these safeguarding allegations, the NST’s involvement has come to an end. I continue to pray for his ministry and the life of the Cathedral and its mission in the diocese and wider Church.
As I have said before, the NST has no view about, and is not involved in, the wider issues relating to the College and the Dean at Christ Church, Oxford and this remains the case.
The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy Statement on Christ Church, Oxford from the Bishop of Oxford 8 September 2020
In March this year it was alleged that the Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy, a senior member of the clergy and Dean of Christ Church Oxford, had not fulfilled his safeguarding responsibilities. The National Safeguarding Team (NST) duly appointed an independent safeguarding person, who was asked to investigate and report back. The report has concluded that the Dean acted entirely appropriately in each case. The Bishop of Oxford has issued the following statement:
“I welcome the news that the investigation by the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has concluded and that Martyn is exonerated. The investigation process was not without pain, and could have been concluded more quickly, but it is entirely right that allegations against clergy and church officers are properly investigated when they are made. This investigation brings full closure to the matter put before the NST, though these continue to be testing times for all at Christ Church. My prayers remain with Martyn and Emma, the Chapter and wider College at the start of this new academic year.”
“The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team has announced the outcome of its independent investigation into the handling of four disclosures to the Dean of Christ Church, made by survivors of sexual assault. The NST has now informed Christ Church that its report concludes there has been no breach of the Church of England’s protocols.
“Safeguarding is of the utmost importance at Christ Church, and it is our obligation to report such concerns appropriately. After a query from a national newspaper regarding a serious sexual assault, an independent QC advised that a referral should be made to the Church of England as the handling of such disclosures fell within its jurisdiction. It is vital that everyone has the confidence to report safeguarding concerns. We will be reviewing the NST’s findings with regard to Christ Church’s safeguarding responsibilities.
“Our thoughts are with all survivors of abuse. If anyone affected by this news requires support, they should contact the police or the relevant safeguarding authority.
“Lest anyone urge us to swiftly move on, suggesting that a good outcome is sufficient closure, let us remind ourselves that a man and his family have been put through the most awful experience by powerful, well-resourced bullies using other people’s money to pursue their own grievances and protect their own vanities. That they failed is good, but both the University of Oxford and the Church of England have a moral duty to look carefully into how this happened, and to ensure it cannot not happen again” ~ Martin Sewell
The signs aren’t promising when the public statement concludes “If anyone affected by this news requires support, they should contact the police or the relevant safeguarding authority.” (My italics.) Reply
A number of questions need to be answered by Christ Church: (i) who was responsible for and/or authorised the above statement on the College website? (ii) will the remainder of the Governing Body now disown the censors who made the wholly misconceived complaint about the Dean to the NST? (iii) who was the ‘independent QC’ who advised referral of the matter to the Church of England and will the College publish his/her advice and the instructions setting out the basis on which it was sought? (iv) what has been the cost to the College (legal fees and those of the… Read more » Reply
I am baffled by the final sentence of the Christ Church statement quoted above. Who, in these circumstances, would require ‘support’ – for which they are told they should contact the police and ‘relevant’ safeguarding authority? Is this further mischief-making or just incompetence – using a ‘standard’ wording irrespective of the circumstances – I wonder? Reply
Sam Jones 1 day ago
It is good that Martyn Percy has been cleared, but his position is untenable if the governing body have no confidence in him. Reply
I think this is right. I am an alumnus of Christ Church, and deplore what has happened. I agree with many of the pro-Percy comments (notably that of Interested Observer). However, the relationship between dean and governing body has become so bitter, so envenomed and so visceral that it is difficult to see how Dr Percy can be an effective leader of the ‘college’. Other heads of house have resigned, and in far milder contexts, when they have lost the confidence of their respective governing bodies. Whilst Dr Percy may be entitled to a feeling of victory, he might lose… Read more » Reply
Many thanks. I really don’t think that anyone believes that the sovereign would be involved personally. What is more likely to happen is that the private secretary to the sovereign, or perhaps also (and more probably) the privy council, would be petitioned about a possible formal visitation or the creation of a dispute resolution mechanism (there is also an outside chance that they might act of their own motion after taking ‘soundings’). Then, following receipt of that petition and/or consultations, the sovereign (i.e., the prime minister) would secure appointment of a deputy, who will probably be a retired senior judge.… Read more » Reply
I don’t know how many times I have dealt with these points on earlier TA threads! The procedure for Visitations is all set out in Statute XXXVI (at pages 37-39 of the Christ Church Statutes), and far too long to repeat here. It provides for both a ‘routine’ Visitation every ten years (at Her Majesty’s option) or by intervention. I’m unsure about the machinery for appointing Her Majesty’s Commissary. A retired senior judge seems a likely appointee. There has always been a direct right of appeal to the Crown, which I quote again below, but for whatever reason it has… Read more » Reply
“In another unfortunate piece of heritage, the Visitor is the Queen, whom nobody wants to involve.”
Her Majesty is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England!
Dominic Barrington 20 hours ago Reply to Fr Gustavo
I think you are making a false assumption about the powers of the bishop in relation to this unique (and utterly dysfunctional) cathedral. Reply
Interested Observer 1 day ago
It isn’t actually Confucius, although often credited to him (or James Bond, either will do): “before setting off on revenge, first dig two graves”. It strikes me that there is no way that this ends well for either Christ Church corporately or for Martin Percy’s persecutors. Even “victory” is hollow (Tacitus actually did write “ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant”), if their definition of “victory” is Martyn Percy’s departure; the resulting employment tribunal looks increasingly difficult and the attempt to use CofE safeguarding as a weapon can only backfire in both the short and long term. The loss of credibility for… Read more » Reply
Pete Broadbent 1 day ago
Martyn Percy cleared of all [trumped up] “charges” This is very good news! But it can’t end there – a full interrogation of how the NST became the patsy of the CC Oxford dons/plotters & into the procedures the NST employ must now take place. Reply
There’s an issue of the waste of money for legal proceedings on behalf on the college, which raises the issue of whether the complaints should be required to repay that amount. There’s also an issue of the fees that Percy incurred. I haven’t read anything about that. Is the college liable for those? Reply
“An independent investigation into allegations…” Come on, it was hardly that, was it – and since when has the NST been in any way “independent”? Was the Bishop at Lambeth and Ecclesiastical Insurance in the room? While I share the widespread delight that this aspect of the burden Martyn Percy and those closest to him are carrying, if there had not been a significant challenge to the way the NST Core Group for this complaint was set up, there could have been a catastrophic miscarriage of justice. So, to my mind, nil points for the C of E over this… Read more » Reply
This is very welcome news- especially to those of us who have witnessed with growing amazement the chutzpah of Dean Martyn Percy’s accusers. One hopes they will do the right thing now and meet all of Martyn’s legal expenses. They should also be responsible for some substantial monetary compensation for what Martyn and his family have suffered during this unfortunate breach of common justice. Reply
Catholic priest equates ‘white privilege’ with white supremacy
LAMBETH, England (ChurchMilitant.com) – Despite being mocked for “self-flagellation” by a distinguished Indian parliamentarian after he apologized for Britain’s colonial past, the archbishop of Canterbury is now apologizing for his “white privilege” in the wake of Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots.
“I acknowledge that I come from privilege and a place of power as a white person in this country,” Anglican archbishop Justin Welby announced Tuesday in a video posted on Twitter. “But I feel within me, again today, that great call of Jesus that we are as a Church to be those who set our own house in order and who acknowledge our own historic errors and failings.”
“I come back to the fact that, in the New Testament, Jesus says be angry about injustice, repent of injustice — that means go the other way, take action against injustice,” Welby said, beginning his brief apology by reflecting on the parable of the Good Samaritan.
“It must never involve the creation of more injustice, by seeking to damage other people,” Welby noted, barely acknowledging the widespread BLM-led violence and iconoclasm against statues of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Edward Colston in London and other British cities.
“Justin Welby seems to have made it his trademark to apologize for everything and anything which the ‘wokeratari’ will applaud,” Anglican cleric Melvin Tinker told Church Militant.
“But the archapologizer of Canterbury is very selective about what he will apologize for. Most ordinary people couldn’t care less for what he has to say anyway,” said Tinker, a well-known critic of cultural Marxism and author of That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost.
“There is no personal apology for the character assassination of Bp. George Bell or the dreadful sexual abuse of Fr. Matthew Ineson — both left lying wounded on the road while the archbishop happily passes by on the other side leaving it to other ‘Good Samaritans’ to take up their causes,” the vicar of St. John Newland Church in Hull remarked.
Welby had tarnished the name of Bp. Bell, who stood against Hitler by insisting that Bell was guilty of pedophilia, even after the Lord Carlile Review exonerated him. Ineson was repeatedly raped by an Anglican vicar when he was 16 years old.
Meanwhile, openly gay Catholic priest Bryan N. Massingale claimed he could equate “systemic racism” with “white supremacy, although I know that white people find that term even more of a stumbling block than white privilege.”
“You realized that, if you wanted, by being white you could make things hard — much harder — for others, especially black folks,” Fr. Massingale, professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University wrote in the leftwing National Catholic Reporter on June 1.
The archapologizer of Canterbury is very selective about what he will apologize for. Most ordinary people couldn’t care less for what he has to say anyway.Tweet
“The only reason for racism’s persistence is that white people continue to benefit from it,” he fulminated. “Demand that your parish and diocese sponsor not just an evening on race, but a whole series,” and “Tell your priests and religious education directors to make anti-racism a staple feature of their homilies and your children’s religious formation.”
Massingale added to his diatribe:
While you’re at it, write your bishop and ask how anti-racism is part of your church leaders’ formation for ministry. Ask how he is actively educating himself to become anti-racist. Let him know that if seminarians and candidates for ministry and religious life are unwilling or unable to be actively anti-racist, then they do not have a vocation for church leadership since they haven’t embraced a fundamental requirement of Christian discipleship.
Speaking to Church Militant, Dave Brennan, director of pro-life Brephos, explained that “real repentance and true courage would entail confronting the greatest, most hidden, most accepted injustice of our day — the industrial-scale slaughter of babies in the womb.” This includes a disproportionate number of black babies, especially in America.
“But sadly, the Church of England has no track record of confronting the accepted evils of the day when it actually matters — only jumping on the bandwagon of retrospective virtue-signaling once it is felt to be politically expedient to do so,” lamented Brennan, an associate of the Center for Bioethical Reform UK.
“So it seems we must wait for the secular media and mob to finally clock that ripping babies to pieces is wrong, and then, like clockwork, we can expect to see Welby appear saying how everyone needs to ‘repent,'” he added.
Former Anglican bishop Gavin Ashenden told Church Militant that “the archbishop of Canterbury’s capacity to betray Jesus” seems “unbounded.”
Dr. Ashenden elaborated: “Jesus demands personal responsibility, the betrayers speak about privilege. Jesus speaks about personal repentance, the betrayers speak about corporate apology. Jesus concentrates on the individual person, the betrayers focus on group guilt by association.”
“Welby’s legacy and his current obsession are all consistent with the great betrayal,” the former Queen’s Chaplain and recent convert to Catholicism commented.
“If you drive Jesus out of the Church and replace him with Marx and Engels, you get not a Church, but a political party. You get not Jesus but Judas. Tragically, Welby appears to have sided with Judas,” he pointed out.
In 2019, on his visit to India, Welby fell prostrate at the Jalianwalla Bagh memorial in Amritsar and apologized for the massacre of 1919, where British soldiers shot dead at least 379 people.
Real repentance and true courage would entail confronting the greatest, most hidden, most accepted injustice of our day — the industrial-scale slaughter of babies in the womb.Tweet
But Indian parliamentarian Swapan Dasgupta, recipient of the Padma Bhushan (India’s third highest civilian award) for literature, derided Welby’s Amritsar apology as “a form of self-flagellation that may appeal to multiculturalism … but doesn’t alter the [positive] way India thinks of contemporary Britain.”
“Indians are not obsessed about the Raj [British colonial rule]. It was a reality but I don’t think it is seen as a national catastrophe,” he observed, not hesitating to mention the “chuckles over the many Indians who actively propped up the Empire.”
“Welby jumps on bandwagons more nimbly than any of his predecessors. Meanwhile, only 870,000 attended C of E [Church of England] services every week, and that will shrink when the churches reopen. Note that so far only 250 people have retweeted the ‘spiritual leader of 80m Anglicans,'” Catholic journalist and presenter of the Holy Smoke religion podcast tweeted.
“The biggest and the deepest way of being transformed is through stepping outside the company of those who reinforce our views and listening to those who disagree with us profoundly. Listening, not so as to speak, but so as to hear”
Archbishop Justin Welby [Church of England’s General Synod – Church House Westminster – Thursday, Feb 21 2019]
“‘Pot, kettle, black’ comes to mind with these pontifications by Archbishop Welby, especially when it comes to that ‘Elephant at Synod’ called Bishop Bell. There are many of us outside the General Synod ‘bubble’ of Church House Westminster who have no wish to be cynical, nor dampen any non-cynical spirits therein, but Archbishop Welby’s exhortations are becoming a little too hard to digest by those of us who take Matthew 7 v 5 seriously. I’ve now lost both confidence and patience in an Archbishop who wilfully and inexcusably refuses to take a leader’s responsibility for Bishop Bell’s character assassination; nor has he the moral courage to apologise for perpetuating an injustice which is staring in everyone’s face except his own”