Category Archives: Roman Catholic Church

NOVEMBER 12 2020 – “I HOPE LAMBETH GOT DISCOUNT FOR THE AMOUNT OF WHITEWASH USED!” ~ JOHN WALLACE ON THE ARCHBISHOP-QC SCANDAL –

Update on safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury

on Thursday, 12 November 2020 at 11.11 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Church of EnglandSafeguarding

The following statement has been issued by Lambeth Palace this morning.

Update on safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury
12/11/2020

The abuse carried out by the late John Smyth was horrific and support continues to be offered to survivors. The Makin review is currently looking at the Church’s handling of allegations about his abuse, including the response of other organisations involved.

A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated. The complaint referred to Lambeth’s response to allegations which first came to attention in 2013 and information relating to the specific issues raised has been reviewed. Information relating to a further complaint sent to the NST in August, about wider issues, has now also been reviewed and no safeguarding concerns have been identified. All the information reviewed will now be sent to the Makin Review, due to publish next year, for further scrutiny.

Archbishop Justin is deeply sorry for the abuse that was carried out by John Smyth. The Archbishop has committed himself to leading the change needed in the Church of England relating to safeguarding and is personally keen to listen to survivors and striving to keep developing and learning in his own ministry.

Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors. Support can be offered to victims through the National Safeguarding Team’s survivor engagement worker Emily Denne, who can be contacted at emily.denne@churchofengland.org or do contact Keith Makin, the independent reviewer, direct at keith.makin@independentreviews.live. Subscribe 

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Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds 

“A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated”

A Church of England Core Group has decided the complaint against Archbishop Welby “has not been substantiated”.

Does the Church hierarchy honestly think anyone – especially a ‘Thinking Anglican’ – takes seriously any decisions by a Church Core Group – especially in the light of the George Bell, George Carey and Martyn Percy moral and legal disgraces?!

As Richard Scorer, a solicitor at the law firm Slater and Gordon who represents abuse survivors, said this week [regarding Roman Catholic Church abuses paralleling that of the Church of England]:

“This is an absolutely damning report. It highlights the shocking scale of abuse, the disgraceful slowness of the church’s response, the abject failures of leadership by Cardinal Nichols, and the Vatican’s appalling refusal to cooperate properly with the inquiry. Cardinal Nichols needs to resign right away – in any other walk of life he would be gone immediately. This is a church that cannot be trusted to protect children. The only way forward now is a mandatory reporting law, so that abuse cannot be covered up, and independent external oversight of church safeguarding. The church cannot be relied on to put its own house in order, and so without these changes, children will continue to be at risk”

John Wallace

John Wallace Reply to  Richard W. Symonds

So agree with this, Richard. I hope Lambeth got discount for the amount of whitewash used! 

Simon Sarmiento

Admin Simon Sarmiento 

The complainant in this matter has issued a press release in reply:
https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pressrelease.pdf

Fr. Dean Henley 

As ever the Church comes out of this looking so grubby. The list of things the Archbishop ought to have resigned over gets ever longer but it’s clear that he’s determined to cling onto his office come hell or high water. He was a dormitory officer at the Iwerne holiday camps he must surely have been aware of the children’s scars.

Martin Sewell to  Fr. Dean Henley

I have been closely involved in this story for some time and am not afraid to make straight criticism where that is justified. I have not heard anyone who knows the facts seriously suggest that ++ Justin knew of the abuse at the time it was happening. I do not believe it. If that were to change I would be content to say so. I do not expect to do so. The problems lie elsewhere. 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to  Martin Sewell

Martin, you say: “I have not heard anyone who knows the facts seriously suggest that ++ Justin knew of the abuse at the time it was happening”

I don’t think it relevant whether Archbishop Welby knew of John Smyth’s abuse “at the time it was happening” or not. Probably not, but that’s not the point.

I don’t like repeating myself [Opinion – 31 October 2020], but in this instance I will because I don’t think “the problems lie elsewhere”.

‘Let me be very specific about Archbishop Welby’s safeguarding failure regarding Smyth – which needs to be addressed now [not by the Makin Review next year]:
It was for the Archbishop of Canterbury to contact the Archbishop of Cape Town, after the Bishop of Ely had brought the matter to Lambeth’s attention.
“The Bishop of Ely wrote to the Archbishop of Cape Town to tell him, in some detail, the issues around Smyth [2013? – Ed]. The letter I have seen made it easy to find him by enclosing his current South African address. The idea that Smyth was uncontactable was patently absurd since he was an active figure in South African legal circles, working for the Justice Alliance of South Africa.  The Bishop of Ely received no replies and in May 2015 the DSA wrote to Graham to say that he ‘had no power to compel agencies in South Africa to respond to my concerns.’ This somewhat feeble response was the best that Ely could come up with in spite of seven letters from Graham between May 2014 and August 2015 to get the Church to take the whole issue seriously. The Titus Trust, although they knew that Smyth was entering Britain regularly on visits, refused to accept that they had any moral or legal obligations over his behaviour. From that point until the Channel 4 programme in Feb 2017, the story was like a ‘pass the parcel’ game. Nobody wanted to accept responsibility for enquiring too deeply into the abusive legacy of this man or the danger that he potentially posed for the church in the future’..

Rowland Wateridge Reply to  Richard W. Symonds

Richard: I’m not defending the Archbishop or speculating about what he may or may not have known, but just pointing out that although primus inter pares in the Anglican Communion, he has absolutely no jurisdiction outside England. If, as you say, the letter was sent to South Africa and there was no response from that end, then any culpability must rest there. You are absolutely correct that Smyth continued to hold a position of considerable public respect in South Africa after 2013. I have posted a very significant video of him on the ‘Surviving Church’ blog which illustrates this. He was a supreme ‘double-act’.

I think that everyone who has contributed so far on this thread ought to consider Martin Sewell’s post. 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

Another whitewashed safeguarding failure which should lie heavy on the conscience of Archbishop Welby is the case of 96-year-old Barbara Whitley – Bishop Bell’s only-surviving niece up until five weeks ago [Oct 9 2020].

In 2017, Mrs Whitley said “I’m determined to clear his name before I die”.

Her dying wish was not granted by the Archbishop who maintained – even after the Church-commissioned Carlile and Briden reports proved the abuse allegations “unfounded” – that a “significant cloud” still hangs over the wartime Bishop of Chichester.

If any “cloud” exists, it now hangs heavy over the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Rowland Wateridge  Reply to  Richard W. Symonds

Richard: I have always been with you on the subject of Bishop Bell. My comment, inevitably, is based on what little we know about the present complaints which have been dismissed.

Some of the other comments on this thread have been highly speculative. Everyone should wait for the Makin report which will contain both a chronology and an executive summary. 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to  Rowland Wateridge

RW, I do not agree with you that we should wait for the Church-commissioned Makin Report which, it seems to me, will simply be a “chronology and executive summary” of what we clearly already know.

Also, I have a built-in scepticism of Church-commissioned reports – borne of 5 years bitter experience of Church PR/Propaganda – which can be published/delayed at the whim of whoever is ‘pulling the strings’ at the time.

Rowland Wateridge Reply to  Richard W. Symonds

Richard: This is not a place for making bets, but I shall be amazed if Mr Makin’s report runs to less than 300 pages! I suspect it could be many more. He has faced a daunting task from the outset, and ‘developments’ on the way have added greatly to it. I don’t understand why you aren’t prepared to grant Mr Makin’s report the same status as Lord Carlile’s and Mr Biden’s. Both of those reports were commissioned by the Church. Can we leave it there? I understand your strength of feeling, particularly about Bishop Bell, which, to repeat, I share. 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to  Rowland Wateridge

RW, of course I will grant the Makin report the same status as that of Carlile’s and Briden’s. It’s just that I don’t think the Makin report will fundamentally change anything within the Church hierarchy, just as the Carlile and Briden reports have not fundamentally changed anything within the Church hierarchy – especially relating to Bishop Bell.

Kate

Kate Reply to  Rowland Wateridge

We do know though that IICSA recommended dioceses needed a DSA instead of a DSO – ie someone independent of the diocesan bishop. The spirit of that recommendation has not been kept here as those who led the handling of this complaint don’t appear to be independent of Lambeth Palace, especially as Lambeth Palace published the outcome. Irrespective of whether there was any underlying wrongdoing by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the process seems to flout the IICSA recommendations and IS a whitewash.

There were two options for proper governance
a) ask someone independent to review the complaints – ABC is a member of the House of Lords so maybe the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards could have helped
b) Justin Welby could have been suspended for a few months

So, in summary, we don’t know whether the complaints should have been upheld but I believe we do know that the process by which they were dismissed was inadequate.

The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards normally only considers complaints relating to Parliamentary duties but, almost uniquely, the Archbishop of Canterbury is ex officio a member of the House of Lords. I think it is therefore possible to argue that anything connected with the performance of his office by which he became and automatically remains a member of the House of Lords is within scope. Do those here with a legal background feel that is a sufficient nexus to get a complaint reviewed by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards? Indeed, if the Archbishop of Canterbury, or others on his behalf, have argued that communications with Cape Town lie outside his authority as Archbishop of Canterbury, that would strengthen an alternative argument that he had instead been approached in the matter as a Lord Spiritual. It seems to me that if the Dean of Christ Church was supposed to follow Church of England rules when approached with a safeguarding issue even in an academic context, that equally any safeguarding issue (because it involves possible criminality by the alleged perpetrator) which reaches the Lord Spiritual his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury should be handled under the standards of the House of Lords (as well as those of the Church of England) and that therefore a complaint to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards by those who know the facts might be in order?

Kate

Kate 

IICSA tells us that as a generality there have been serious problems relating to the handling of safeguarding complaints within the Church of England. The investigation published all the information it considered.
.

Set against that truly independent background, an investigator (presumably) appointed and paid for by the Church of England concludes in a particular case there is “nothing to see here” but publishes no information to support that conclusion.
.

Can the Church of England really not see that an independent observer might struggle to believe a carefully worded denial without evidence when set against the culture identified by IICSA?

Janet Fife Reply to  Kate

Kate, the complainant has asked me to post this reply to you: “It was not given to an independent investigator, but was looked at by NST themselves, under the Chair of Zena Marshall. It appears that Zena tried to undermine the process by condoning an approach by the Archbishops Chief of Staff direct to the complainant, presumably to persuade him to call off the dogs. There was no independent investigation. In fact, NST were at pains to point out there WAS no investigation”

Kate Reply to  Janet Fife

Janet, that is even worse then. It is impossible to see this as anything other than a whitewash.

Janet Fife

Janet Fife Reply to  Kate

You’re right. Industrial quantities of whitewash. 

Marise Hargreaves

Marise Hargreaves 

This is why the church cannot be allowed to continue investigating and judging its own. This has not been a fair, balanced, independent process given the reply by the complainant who again is sidelined as an inconvenient truth. It is an exercise in face saving and preservation of the hierarchy yet again. The only lessons learned is how to put together yet another statement which has a lot of words but no substance. Reply

Michael O’Sullivan

Michael O’Sullivan

How is it that the Archbishop of Canterbury seems to be going about suspending people left right and centre for things they may or may not have done – I’m thinking his illustrious predecessor Lord Carey and, for example, the Bishop of Lincoln- when he’s clearly up to his ears in it himself? Reply

Stanley Monkhouse

Stanley Monkhouse 

I wonder how Private Eye was able to print this over a week ago. Lambeth Leaks?

David Lamming Reply to  Rowland Wateridge

As an exemplar of a comprehensive chronology, see pages 7-19 of the Pearl Review on Bishop Hubert Whitsey, A Betrayal of Trust (currently “taken down temporarily [from the website] because a legal issue concerning the report has been raised which needs to be considered carefully”: see the note dated 11/11/2020 on the News and Media pages of the C of E website. Rather like shutting the door after the horse has bolted since many people will doubtless have already downloaded the full report.) 

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge 2 hours ago Reply to  David Lamming

I know it sounds blasé, but such detailed chronologies are bread and butter routine for lawyers handling complex child and vulnerable adult abuse cases. This, to my mind, is the principal criticism of the Church’s hopeless bungling of the Bishop Bell case by trying to handle something in-house which was entirely beyond their capabilities. It should have been outsourced, or someone with the necessary experience brought in. There was, and is, no shortage of such expertise. I don’t want to labour the point, but there are comments on this thread about the present complaint which fall as the chronology is… 

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge Reply to  Anthony Archer

Second reply: As late as 2015, possibly later, Smyth was living a publicly ‘respectable’ life in South Africa. He is known to have visited the UK in those years. This video of him appearing on South African public television in late 2014, possibly 2015, is revealing: full of aplomb and self-confident, and the deference of the TV interviewer to Smyth is striking:

htpps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-huJL5tdekLast edited 11 hours ago by Rowland Wateridge Reply

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge Reply to  Rowland Wateridge

The link does not appear to work, so this is a second attempt. I urge people to watch this video – it’s very revealing indeed. Smyth does mention his legal colleagues back in England as though nothing at all had happened as late as 2015. It’s significant that he himself had survived a charge of manslaughter in Zimbabwe years earlier. He left Harare in 2008.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-huJL5tdek 

Matthew Ineson

Matthew Ineson 

Of course Welby was cleared. Why? Because once again the CofE is marking its own homework, the investigation was conducted by the CofE. There is no way they will find him guilty of anything…because reputation is much more important than victims. Always has been, always will be.
Why wasn’t the investigation conducted by someone outside of, and totally independent of, the church? Because the church wouldnt dare allow it in case the truth wer
e exposed.

Rowland Wateridge 

May I, as my final contribution, add here something which I have posted on the corresponding ‘Surviving Church thread:

I’m going to boldly assert that people might have got hold of the wrong end of the stick about this latest ‘investigation’. I may be wrong, but my understanding is that it relates to past events and not current or future safeguarding failures. Smyth’s death in 2017 put an end to the latter, so a complaint made on those grounds in 2020 would not succeed.
 
Past misdemeanours can be misconduct and a matter for a CDM, but I don’t think the complaint was made in that way. There are, unsurprisingly, quite high hurdles (‘a proper interest in making the complaint’) in a CDM brought against an archbishop.
 
Much of the problem for the public at large, clergy and laity alike, is that we are never told any details other than a bald ‘guilty’ or ‘not ‘guilty’ outcome. People can, and I fear do, sometimes make wrong assumptions. If I have done so in this post, I will be happy to be corrected.

Janet Fife

Janet Fife 1 hour ago Reply to  Rowland Wateridge

Rowland, the complainant has asked me to reply as follows:

“Part of the complaint did refer to past behaviour, particularly Welby’s failures to investigate or stop Smyth in his tracks, and bring him to justice. I have been told that past behaviour cannot be looked at under the current Practice Guidelines. The “wider issues” relate to the fourteen untruths ( er……lies ?) that Welby said on the Channel 4 interview. Again, I was told, this is not a safeguarding matter. However, I argued that his failures and cover up of Smyth was not a one-off in 2013, but was repeated with cover up and failure to investigate his friend Jonathan Fletcher in 2016. This is a pattern of behaviour. Would he repeat it ? The Core Group was not prepared to address this, boldly asserting he is not currently a safeguarding risk. With regard to his inability to tell the truth, I asked whether he would tell the truth in the future. I was told this was not a safeguarding issue, but would be subject to “learnings” in the future ( and I think the Lambeth statement makes a nod to this with the phrase “striving to keep developing and learning in his own ministry”). Yes, so in one sense you are absolutely right: the Core Group would not look at the past, they just addressed “is the Archbishop currently a safeguarding risk ?” And decided not. However, they were not prepared to address the issue of “the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour” and deemed his failure to give a full, frank disclosure of his knowledge and actions over Smyth as of no concern to them. I will add a PS: three NST people asked why I had not taken out a CDM, as that would have been more effective. I have been offered help filling out the forms. I may do so”

‘Gilo’

A telling sign when the CEO of a professional safeguarding organisation (dependent on CofE for much of its work) calls out CofE structure for dishonesty and injustice.

Tweet by CEO thirtyone:eight

In a structure with almost no accountablity (variable and ineffective at best) how does this vital component become part of necessary culture change? As part of my submission to the Interim Support Scheme I am calling for published apologies from a raft of senior figures for their cruelty and dishonesty, and their complicity with the dissembling by the Church’s agents, and for frankly rotten sets of behaviour.

This may be one of the ways forward – a procession of apologies across much of the senior layer published in Church Times. Survivors gradually bringing accountability to a structure – to hopefully shift the chaos, dysfunctionality and quiet corruption which we see yet again in the car crash of the Welby core group. And which so many of us are familiar with. These infamous core groups operate like a kind of Star Chamber with foregone conclusions. But I suspect the latest attempt to shield Archbishop Welby from questions might now be considered a home goal by Lambeth Palace advisors who have made an omnishambles of this cul-de-sac situation.

We have to find a way to hold individuals who consciously hide behind dysfunctional processes to account. Bishops are clearly not going to hold themselves voluntarily to account, and Lead Bishops are not able to tackle the problem. Complaints are a waste of time. The NST, unfit for purpose, protects the hierarchy within a fortress of bewildering confusion, and perhaps hope that bishops will address their own culture. So survivors must take the lead. As burnt out and exhausted as many of us are – we will have to do the necessary work of continuing to fight through the fog and corruption, until the bishops’ house becomes the culture it should already have been.

As example, a letter was signed by 7 of us about one senior figure, and sent to the Lead Bishops, Chair of the NSP, and Director of Safeguarding. Further letters were sent in connection with this complaint by two others. Those supplementary letters were if anything written in stronger tones than the original. Response? A ‘holding’ acknowledgement sent four months ago – and nothing since. This kind of protection enables senior figures to hide behind a cordon sanitaire.

My own view is that change is unlikely until figures across the top of the Church resign. There has been too much lack of integrity, too much investment in reputation management, and too much wilful reliance on bad process – over and above basic decency and honesty.

Richard W. Symonds to  Gilo

The words of ‘Gilo’ remind me of what Revd Graham Sawyer said at the IICSA in July 2018:

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

Richard W. Symonds to  Gilo

“As part of my submission to the Interim Support Scheme, I am calling for published apologies from a raft of senior figures for their cruelty and dishonesty, and their complicity with the dissembling by the Church’s agents, and for frankly rotten sets of behaviour. This may be one of the ways forward – a procession of apologies across much of the senior layer published in Church Times” ~ ‘Gilo’

I call upon all ‘Lords Spiritual’ [active Bishops and Archbishops] to offer their resignations en masse to the Supreme Head of the Church of England Her Majesty The Queen – just as the Bishops of Chile offered their resignations en masse to the Pope in 2018:

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2020/08/30/may-18-2018-chiles-bishops-offer-to-resign-en-masse-over-sex-abuse-cover-up-los-angeles-times/

FURTHER INFORMATION

PRIVATE EYE

UNDER A CLOUD

Matthew Ineson

NOVEMBER 11 2020 – RICHARD SCORER – SOLICITOR AT SLATER AND GORDON – “THE ONLY WAY FORWARD NOW IS A MANDATORY REPORTING LAW, SO THAT ABUSE CANNOT BE COVERED UP, AND INDEPENDENT EXTERNAL OVERSIGHT OF CHURCH SAFEGUARDING. THE CHURCH CANNOT BE RELIED ON TO PUT ITS OWN HOUSE IN ORDER, AND SO WITHOUT THESE CHANGES, CHILDREN WILL CONTINUE TO BE AT RISK”

Catholic Church ‘turned blind eye’ to child sexual abuse and prioritised reputation, Inquiry finds

Between 1970 and 2015 there were more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse

By Gabriella Swerling, SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR 10 November 2020 • 1:33pm

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales CREDIT: Scavuzzo/AGF/REX/Shutterstock /Copyright (c) 2016 Rex Features. No use without permission. 

The Pope’s representative in England and Wales failed to show “personal responsibility and compassion” for child sex abuse victims and instead focussed on Church reputation, an Inquiry has concluded. 

In its final review of the Catholic Church, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found that it “betrayed” its moral purpose by proriotising its reputation above children who had been sexually abused by priests. 

“Child sexual abuse,” the damning 162-page report concluded, “was swept under the carpet”, as authorities “turned a blind eye and failed to take action against perpetrators”.

However the IICSA also found Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, to be personally responsible for the damage. 

“There was no acknowledgement of any personal responsibility to lead or influence change,” the report said. “Nor did he demonstrate compassion towards victims in the recent cases which we examined.

“His acknowledgement that ‘there is plenty for us to achieve’ applies as much to him as it does to everyone else in the church. 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, leaves after giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in London, as part of the IICSA investigation of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. Monday February 13, 2017.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, leaves after giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in London, as part of the IICSA investigation of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. Monday February 13, 2017. CREDIT: Kirsty O’Connor /PA 

“He did not always exercise the leadership expected of a senior member of the church, at times preferring to protect the reputation of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales and in Rome.”

“As the most senior Catholic leader in England and Wales, Cardinal Nichols should be leading by example”, the report added. “However, when he apologised for the Catholic Church’s failings in our 2018 hearing, he did not acknowledge any personal responsibility or show compassion for victims in the recent cases we examined.

“At times, the report finds, Cardinal Nichols has shown he cares more about the impact of child sexual abuse on the Catholic Church’s reputation than on victims and survivors.”

Between 1970 and 2015, the church received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse against more than 900 individuals, including priests, monks and volunteers. 

Over that period, there were 177 prosecutions resulting in 133 convictions. Civil claims against dioceses and religious institutes have resulted in millions of pounds being paid in compensation.

Since 2016, there have been more than 100 reported allegations each year. 

However the Inquiry said that the true scale of abuse over the last 50 years is likely to have been far higher.

The report also found that the Catholic Church repeatedly failed to support victims and survivors, while taking positive action to protect alleged perpetrators, including moving them to different parishes. 

Victims described the profound and lifelong effects of abuse, including depression, anxiety, self-harming and trust issues.

Furthermore, The Holy See and the Apostolic Nuncio, its ambassador to the UK, did not provide a witness statement to this Inquiry despite repeated requests. 

They had been asked about the Apostolic Nuncio’s involvement in handling child sexual abuse allegations at Ealing Abbey, as well as other issues. The Inquiry said it “could not understand their lack of cooperation”.

The IICSA report made seven recommendations to better protect children in future, focusing on key issues including leadership, training and external auditing.

Professor Alexis Jay OBE, Chair of the Inquiry, said:“For decades, the Catholic Church’s failure to tackle child sexual abuse consigned many more children to the same fate.

“It is clear that the Church’s reputation was valued above the welfare of victims, with allegations ignored and perpetrators protected.

“Even today, the responses of the Holy See appear at odds with the Pope’s promise to take action on this hugely important problem.

“While some progress has been made, there still needs to be lasting change to culture and attitudes to avoid repeating the failures of the past.

One victim who gave evidence, identified by the inquiry only as A711, said the report sheds “light on the abysmal failings of the church in its dealings with victims and survivors of abuse”. 

“This must not be written off as a historic issue. It continues to this day.

“The church needs a seismic shift in culture, especially at the top. If there is any hope at all of real change it will require a relinquishing of power, and a will to treat survivors as human beings.”

She added: “I have experienced an ongoing struggle to retrieve material that the Diocese holds about me. When I asked the Diocese for information I was met with the full force of its legal team. 

“Yet again, the Church has fought to protect its reputation, and silence the voice of victims and survivors. It could not get much worse. 

“In my own case, thousands of pounds have been spent by the Diocese of Westminster in employing lawyers to keep me at arm’s length.” 

Richard Scorer, a solicitor at the law firm Slater and Gordon who represented 32 survivors, said: “This is an absolutely damning report. It highlights the shocking scale of abuse, the disgraceful slowness of the church’s response, the abject failures of leadership by Cardinal Nichols, and the Vatican’s appalling refusal to cooperate properly with the inquiry.

“Cardinal Nichols needs to resign right away – in any other walk of life he would be gone immediately. This is a church that cannot be trusted to protect children. 

“The only way forward now is a mandatory reporting law, so that abuse cannot be covered up, and independent external oversight of church safeguarding. The church cannot be relied on to put its own house in order, and so without these changes, children will continue to be at risk”

Despite facing calls to resign from victims following the publication of the damning report, Cardinal Nichols said he will continue in his role as Archbishop of Westminster.

He said he recently offered his resignation to the Pope because of his age, but that the offer was turned down.

“I was 75 very recently, a few weeks ago as according to the law of the Church, I sent my resignation into Pope Francis and I have received a very unequivocal reply, and that is that he tells me to stay in office here,” he said.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis CREDIT: REMO CASILLI /REUTERS 

“So that is what I will do, that is where my orders come from. I’m staying.”

He said his resignation was offered on the basis of his age and not to do with anything contained within the report “which has already been in the public domain”.

Asked if he was the right person to lead the Catholic Church in England and Wales despite the report, he added: “I do what I’m told. The Holy Father put me here and he tells me to stay here – that’s enough for me.”

He said: “I’m not here to defend myself … I am here to say we accept this report, we are grateful to IICSA for bringing the light and giving public space to those who have been abused, we are deeply sorry this happened.

“Together as a body we are really sorry – really sorry – for all that has happened over these years and I want to assure everyone we are here to learn and improve, and to keep that steady improving response going.

“Today is more about me saying again, on behalf of everybody in the Catholic Church, how deeply, deeply regretful and sorry I am that anybody suffered, and that so many suffered is a terrible shame with which I must live and from which I must learn.”

JUNE 11 2018 – “POPE ACCEPTS CHILEAN BISHOPS’ RESIGNATION OVER ABUSE SCANDAL” – BBC NEWS

 

Pope accepts Chilean bishops’ resignation over abuse scandal

Published 11 June 2018

Bishop Juan Barros (C) attends his first religious service as people protest against him at the Osorno cathedral, south of Santiago, Chile, 21 March 2015IMAGE COPYRIGHT REUTERS Bishop Juan Barros has been accused of covering up child sexual abuse, which he denies
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops, including the controversial Juan Barros, in the wake of a child sexual abuse scandal.
Bishop Barros was accused of covering up sexual abuse committed by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s.
Pope Francis has said that he made “grave mistakes” by originally defending Bishop Barros.
All of Chile’s 34 Roman Catholic bishops had offered their resignations.
The decision by the Pope to accept the resignation of three of the 34 was announced in a statement issued by the Vatican on Monday.
Apart from Bishop Barros of Osorno, Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt and Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso will now be replaced.
It was not clear if the move meant that the remaining 31 resignations would not be accepted.
Pope Francis became involved in the scandal surrounding Juan Barros when he defended the bishop during his visit to Chile in January. At the time he said that allegations against the bishop amounted to “slander”.
“The day I see proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?” the Pope had said at the time.
In this file photo taken on May 02, 2018 Chilean sexual abuse victims Jose Andres Murillo (R), James Hamilton (C) and Juan Carlos Cruz (L) pose at the end of a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome on May 2, 2018.IMAGE COPYRIGHTAFP image caption Victims of sexual abuse Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo have spoken out in public about what happened to them
He later apologised to victims, saying: “I apologise to them if I hurt them without realising it, but it was a wound that I inflicted without meaning to.”
The installation of Juan Barros as bishop of the southern city of Osorno in 2015 met with stiff resistance.
More than 1,000 people wrote to Pope Francis asking him to review the appointment and hundreds showed up at the bishop’s installation ceremony in protest.
They accused Bishop Barros of using his position in the Church to cover up the actions of his mentor, Fr Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty by the Vatican of sexually abusing children.
Victims of Fernando Karadima said Juan Barros had been present when the priest had abused them. Bishop Barros denies any wrongdoing.
One of the victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, told Chilean radio that by accepting the resignations, Pope Francis had “sent a message to the world that this culture of abuse and cover-up won’t be tolerated any longer”.
The Pope’s move comes after he received two groups of victims of Fernando Karadima at the Vatican.
About 80 Roman Catholic priests have been reported to authorities in Chile for alleged sexual abuse over the past 18 years.
Under Pope Francis, a Vatican committee has been set up to fight sexual abuse and help victims.

More on this story

AUGUST 29 2020 – RESIGNATIONS EN-MASSE TO THE SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN ?

elizabeth-2-29-638

RESIGNATIONS EN-MASSE TO THE SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN?

‘Gilo’ concludes his Surviving Church article:

“At what point will someone cry out on the floor of the House of Bishops: Enough of all our broken pretence. We must apologise collectively, publicly and authentically for our failure to treat so many survivors honestly; for our insistence on distancing from their stories, our disclosure denials and “no recollections”, our reliance on dysfunctional processes; and in too many instances for our behaviour worse than denial – gaslighting and really cowardly and mean behaviour. Enough. We must do real penance, seek truth and reconciliation, and must reform our episcopal culture and reform our structures right to their bones”

The Catholic Bishops of Chile did just that two years ago – May 2018 – offering their resignations en-masse to Pope Francis:

“We have put our positions in the hands of the Holy Father and will leave it to him to decide freely for each of us,” they said. “We want to ask forgiveness for the pain caused to the victims, to the pope, to God’s people and to our country for the serious errors and omissions we have committed”

Something of the same magnitude must happen here – Bishops and Archbishops – by offering their resignations to Her Majesty The Queen – The Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

img_6370 (1)

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

“CARDINAL PELL: NATURAL AND INALIENABLE RIGHTS” – ‘Philosophical Investigations’ – April 20 2020

“The legal cases of Cardinal George Pell and Bishop George Bell are very different, but there are parallels which cannot be ignored – such as the critical importance of Presumption of Innocence in the endless quest for justice and fairness”

~ Richard W. Symonds

8036450380_eb7fb07697_b

http://www.philosophical-investigations.org/2020/04/cardinal-pell-natural-and-inalienable.html

Monday, 20 April 2020

Cardinal Pell: Natural and Inalienable Rights

by Richard W. Symonds

The Church of St Cyriac, Lacock, by GB_1984

The principle of the presumption of innocence is of extreme importance, and the case of Cardinal George Pell has implications for the respect for—and security of—this principle.That one is considered innocent until proven guilty is a vital pre-condition for our survival and well-being within a civilised society. Undermining such jurisprudence can lead to catastrophic miscarriages of justice which ultimately threaten our humanity—in fact, yours and mine.

The accused is not required to defend or prove their innocence—it is for the accuser to prove guilt—beyond reasonable doubt. It is one of the foundational legal principles—a bedrock of our civilisation: ‘The burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies’. Or Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat in the ancient Latin.

Presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and an international human right embodied under Article 11 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A just law must be a fair law, which punishes the guilty, not the innocent. Presumption of innocence is an immunity against unjust accusations.

In the case of Cardinal George Pell, a disturbing and dislocating miscarriage of justice has been exposed within Australia’s justice system—and presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined.

A basic history of events—a timelined chronology if you will—would help:

• July 16 1996 — Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. A former choirboy later testifies that the bishop molested him and his friend—both aged 13—in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne that year, after Mass.
• March 26 2001 — Archbishop Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.
• October 21 2003 — Pope John Paul II makes Archbishop Pell a Cardinal.
• February 25 2014 — Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Pell as his Finance Minister — Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
• April 8 2014 — One of the choirboys dies aged 31, of a heroin overdose, without alleging the molestation by Pell, in fact telling his mother he had not been abused by Pell.
• August 5 2014 — Victoria police establish a task force to investigate how religious and other non-government organizations [NGO’s] deal with abuse accusations.
• June 18 2015 — The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to the police, claiming sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell.
• December 23 2015 — The Victoria Police task force appeals publicly for information relating to allegations of sexual abuse while Cardinal George Pell was Archbishop fo Melbourne.
• March 1 2016 — Cardinal Pell testifies by video link from Rome, to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell is critical on how the Church has dealt with paedophile priests in the past, but *denies he had been aware of the extent of the problem.
• October 19 2016 — Victoria police go to Rome to question Cardinal Pell, who hears details of the choirboy’s abuse allegations against him for the first time.
• June 29 2017 — Police charge Cardinal Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual abuse. This makes him the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged in the Church’s abuse crisis. Pell denies the accusations and takes leave of absence from the Vatican to return to Australia to defend himself.
• July 26 2017 — Cardinal Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations are not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.
• May 1 2018 — A Magistrate commits Cardinal Pell to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to all charges.
• May 2 2018 — A Judge separates the charges into two trials; the first dating to his tenure as Archbishop of Melbourne, and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat during the 1970’s.
• December 11 2018 — The jury unanimously convicts Cardinal Pell on all charges in the Melbourne case.
• February 26 2019 — A suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon trial on the Ballarat charges.
• March 13 2019 — The judge sentences Cardinal Pell to six years in prison, on five sex abuse convictions, in which he must serve 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole.
• August 21 2019 — Victoria Court of Appeal rules 2–1 to uphold the convictions, but there is ‘stinging dissent’ by that Court’s leading criminal law expert.
• The High Court, Australia’s top court, in an unusual procedural move, agrees to hear Cardinal Pell’s leave to appeal, and his actual substantive appeal, concurrently.
• April 7 2020 — All seven judges of the High Court of the Australian Court of Appeal quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. In a volte-face, they unanimously agree the appeal has succeeded, dismiss all convictions, and release Cardinal Pell immediately—after he spent 13 months in high-security prisons. 

In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, ‘acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted’.There was ‘a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted, because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof’. The High Court referred to what it called ‘the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses’ at the 2018 trial, which suggested there was cause for doubt.

This case has attracted world-wide attention for good reason.

What lies at the heart of our justice system is Lord Sankey’s ‘golden thread’ which runs through criminal and common law: Guilt must be proved by the accuser’s prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt. This undoubtedly did not take place in before the High Court judges intervened this April 2020 to make just the injustice.

It is better many guilty go free rather than one innocent is wrongly convicted and jailed for a crime they did not commit.

The Cardinal is entitled to be presumed innocent because that is what the Presumption of Innocence is all about—innocent until proven guilty.

Beware the spirit of the age. Alan Ryan, a professor of politics at Princeton University, sounded the alert thirty-two years ago: ‘Natural and inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have fallen into disrepute, along with a faith in reason and reason’s dictates.’

COMMENTS

Keith said…
The essay focuses on the underlying legal principle of the ‘presumption of innocence’. Fair enough; that’s a just guiding rule; and my understanding is that the Australian legal system abides by that.

However, in looking down the chronology, as an impartial reader with no dog in the fight I see nothing that explicitly proves that the presumption of innocence was denied the defendant when the jury arrived at its verdict in December 2018.

Without categorical evidence to the contrary, I have to assume the empanelled jurors — a ‘jury of one’s peers’, as they say, with preemptory strikes by both sides — went into the trial and into their deliberations honoring the defendant’s presumed innocence.

Likewise regarding the presumption of innocence by the appeals court that apparently upheld the verdict, by a split decision, in August 2019.

I have no opinion whether the defendant was or was not guilty; that’s not appropriate for me to weigh in on, particularly given the dearth of evidence here. I defer to Australia’s legal system.

But, again, what’s important is I see nothing in either the chronology or surrounding narrative that supports the charge that, as the post says, ‘the presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined’. The material proof of that assertion is omitted.

“In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, ‘acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted’”

The Hight Court judges ruled that “the jury ‘ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt”.

That means the jury “entertained” a Presumption of Guilt, which is why I assert “the presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined”.

Martin Cohen said…I think the presumption of innocence is particularly important with events so far off and subject to distorted memories and recall. In particular, witness evidence is even more prone to confused recollections than shortly after the event, while someone who is accused will have great difficulty defending themselves with regard to what “they did” when (if innocent) they can hardly be expected to remember much. Ironically, a guilty person has much more reason to remember events and be able to produce a coherent but false narrative…20 April 2020 at 13:24

Richard W. Symonds said…

Indeed, “the presumption of innocence is particularly important with events so far off and subject to distorted memories and recall…”. And now there is a fresh abuse allegation against Cardinal Pell which has come just after his acquittal – alleged to have taken place over 40 years ago “back in the 1970s”.

20 April 2020 at 14:51 

In our complex societies, we ‘prioritise the principles of social life’, as Yves Simon put it. Together with procedures which support those principles, this removes passions and prejudices as the basis for the system — rather artificially, one might add.

I asked myself how plausible it is that someone should bring false charges against a Cardinal. Does that really happen? Indeed it does, and it has been proved. See The Australian, ‘Cardinal George Pell convicted for a lacklustre display of empathy,’ by Angela Shanahan. Which is not to say that all charges are false, including those where there is acquittal.

This past week, my neighbour was taken from his home and jailed. When we checked, the police had failed to follow Standard Operating Procedure. For instance, they failed to ask him for a statement, and it looks as though there wasn’t a valid statement against him. Here is an example of what happens where passions and prejudices are allowed any room.

20 April 2020 at 16:50

Richard W. Symonds said…

“I asked myself how plausible it is that someone should bring false charges against a Cardinal. Does that really happen? Indeed it does…”

Yes, indeed it does. In the case of the Southampton football manager Dave Jones, falsely accused of abusing his children [recounted in his autobiography ‘No Smoke, No Fire’ – 2009], the police were forced to ‘trawl’ in prisons to find inmates to come forward to back up the accuser’s story. The presiding judge – Judge David Clarke – concluded: “No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire. I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong”

20 April 2020 at 18:55 

OCT 14 2020 – FIRST VATICAN PAEDOPHILE TRIAL BEGINNING – CARDINAL GEORGE PELL MEETS POPE

“CARDINAL PELL AND THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE” BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS

Cardinal George Pell released from Australia’s Geelong prison – April 7, 2020. 
 (James Ross/AAP Image via AP)

 

I have been prompted to write this article because of the close parallels with the Bishop Bell case. [See ‘Afternote’ at end of article].

Richard W. Symonds

CARDINAL PELL AND THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE” BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS OF THE BELL SOCIETY – 

The principle of the presumption of innocence is of extreme importance, and the case of Cardinal George Pell has implications for the respect for – and security of – this principle. 

That one is considered innocent until proven guilty is a vital pre-condition for our survival and well-being within a civilised society. Undermining such jurisprudence can lead to catastrophic miscarriages of justice which ultimately threaten our humanity.

‘Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat’ is one of the foundational legal principles – a bedrock of our civilization: ‘the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies’. The accused is not required to defend or prove their innocence; it is for the accuser to prove guilt – beyond reasonable doubt. 
Presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial and an international human right embodied under Article 11 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
A just law must be a fair law which punishes the guilty, not the innocent. Presumption of innocence is an immunity against unjust accusations.
In the case of Cardinal George Pell, a disturbing and dislocating miscarriage of justice has been exposed within Australia’s justice system – and presumption of innocence has been lethally compromised and undermined.
A basic history of events – a timelined chronology if you will – might help:
July 16 1996 – Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. A former choirboy later testifies Bishop Pell molested him and his friend – both aged 13 – in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne that year, after Mass.

March 26 2001 – Archbishop Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.

October 21 2003 – Pope John Paul II makes Archbishop Pell a Cardinal.

February 25 2014 – Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Pell as his Finance Minister – Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

April 8 2014 – One of the choirboys dies aged 31 of a heroin overdose, without alleging the molestation by Pell and telling his mother he had not been abused by Pell.

August 5 2014 – Victoria police establish a Task Force to investigate how religious and other non-government organizations [NGO’s] deal with abuse accusations.

June 18 2015 – The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to the police, claiming sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell.

December 23 2015 – The Victoria Police Task Force appeals publicly for information relating to allegations of sexual abuse while Cardinal George Pell was Melbourne Archbishop.

March 1 2016 – Cardinal Pell testifies by video link from Rome to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell was critical on how the Church had dealt with paedophile priests in the past, but denied he had been aware of the extent of the problem.

October 19 2016 – Victoria police go to Rome to question Cardinal Pell who hears details of the choirboy’s abuse allegations against him for the first time.

June 29 2017 – Police charge Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual abuse. This made him the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged in the Church’s abuse crisis. Pell denied the accusations and took leave of absence from the Vatican to return to Australia to defend himself.

July 26 2017 – Cardinal Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations were not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.

May 1 2018 – A Magistrate commits Cardinal Pell to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to all charges.

May 2 2018 – A Judge separates the charges into two trials; the first dating to his tenure as Melbourne Archbishop and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat during the 1970’s.

December 11 2018 – Jury unanimously convicts Cardinal Pell on all charges in the Melbourne case.

February 26 2019 – Suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon trial on the Ballarat charges.

March 13 2019 – Judge sentences Cardinal Pell to six years in prison on five sex abuse convictions in which he must serve 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole.

August 21 2019 – Victoria Court of Appeal rules 2-1 to uphold the convictions, but there is “stinging dissent” by that Court’s leading criminal law expert.

The High Court, Australia’s top court, in an unusual procedural move, agrees to hear Cardinal Pell’s leave to appeal, and his actual substantive appeal, concurrently.

April 7 2020 – All seven judges of the High Court of the Australian Court of Appeal quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. In a volte-face, they unanimously agree the appeal has succeeded, dismiss all convictions, and release Cardinal Pell immediately – after he spent 13 months in high-security prisons. 

In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted”. There was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”. The High Court referred to what it called “the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses” at the 2018 trial, which suggested there was cause for doubt.

This case has attracted world-wide attention for good reason.

It is clear Cardinal George Pell should never have been convicted. It is clear he should never have spent 13 months incarcerated behind bars. It is clear there was a miscarriage of justice in the December 2018 jury conviction. It is clear Victoria’s Court of Appeal upholding the judge’s March 2019 conviction was wrong.

What lies at the heart of our justice system is Lord Sankey’s ‘golden thread’ which runs through criminal and common law: Guilt must be proved by the accuser’s prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt. This undoubtedly did not take place in the case of Cardinal Pell, before the High Court judges intervened this April to make just the injustice.

It is better many guilty go free rather than one innocent is wrongly convicted and jailed for a crime they did not commit.

The unanimous High Court judgement makes explicit the standard of reasonable doubt and makes implicit criticisms of the Victoria Court of Appeal for not understanding what that means. There was a presumption of guilt on their part, but he has now been found ‘not guilty’ beyond reasonable doubt.The Cardinal is therefore entitled to be presumed innocent because that is what  the Presumption of Innocence is all about – innocent until proven guilty.

AFTERNOTE

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph carried an item about a new abuse allegation having just been made against Cardinal Pell, following his recent acquittal [“New child abuse police inquiry into cardinal”, DT, April 14 2020 – Page 15].

IMG_5446

This reminds me particularly of the events of Jan/Feb 2018, immediately following the Carlile Review (see Chronology below) – and has prompted the “Cardinal Pell and the Presumption of Innocence” piece.

Sept 5 2019 – Bishop Bell and “Human respect trumps justice in persecution of Cardinal Pell” – ‘Lifesite’ – Joseph Shaw

 

https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/human-respect-trumps-justice-in-persecution-of-cdl-pell

Human respect trumps justice in persecution of Cdl. Pell

September 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — As I have written before, the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, despite being upheld on appeal, is difficult to understand. On the one hand, as Pell’s legal team painstakingly explained, it was essentially impossible for Pell to have abused two choristers (as alleged) in a sacristy, while still vested, without anyone noticing, at a time when he would actually have been outside the front of the cathedral talking to Mass-goers. On the other hand, the only evidence against him is the word of one accuser; the other alleged victim denied that the abuse took place.

However the jury and two court of appeal came to their decisions, doubts will continue to be voiced, especially in light of the carefully argued dissenting opinion by one of the appeal-court judges.

In England we have been through the whole range of emotions about the credibility of alleged victims of sexual abuse, particularly in the context of the alleged ‘VIP pedophile ring’. The accuser, whose testimony was prematurely described by the police as ‘credible and true’, is now beginning a prison sentence of 18 years for perverting the course of justice. (He has appealed.)

A parallel case arose in the context of the late George Bell, an Anglican Bishop of Chichester. Bell’s posthumous reputation was destroyed by a single accuser who was paid compensation by the Church of England. Bell’s supporters demanded an investigation into the matter, and reports commissioned by the Church of England have cast doubt on the credibility of the accusations.

‘Believing the victim’ sounds attractive, until you realize that until matters are investigated, and ideally tested in court, it is impossible to say who the victim is. It is facile to talk of ‘striking a balance’ between accusers and the accused. What is needed, instead, is a degree of moral seriousness about these cases, which has not always been on display.

Terrible cases of abuse have not been promptly or properly investigated because of concerns about damaging race relations. Again, the local prominence of an abuser has stifled investigations. In the cases noted earlier, it was political or public relations concerns which led to accusations being investigated, and even individuals condemned, without sufficient scrutiny. The problem in all cases is that a concern for justice is being brushed aside by a concern about human respect, public opinion, and emotions. Past failures in one direction lead to new failures in the opposite direction, because instead of coming to see the moral seriousness of these cases, those in authority were too concerned about looking good in the newspapers.

It is not a question of being harsh or lenient. It is a question of being genuinely open to the truth, however painful that might prove to be.

April 14 2019 – The Bell Tower – Tower of London – Charles Bailly [1542-1625]: “Wise men ought to se what they do, to examine before they speake; to prove before they take in hand; to beware whose company they use; and, above all things, to whom they truste”

bell-tower-tower-of-london-england-photo-by-amy-cools-12-jan-2018-1

The Bell Tower – Tower of London

 

http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/tower_london_14.html

The Bell Tower

 

The Bell  Tower

The Bell Tower is situated immediately adjoining the Queen’s House. The tower was constructed to reinforce the defensive wall of the inner bailey and was built during the late twelfth century, making it the second oldest tower after the Norman White Tower and may have been built on the orders of King Richard the Lionheart (1189-99).

The Bell  Tower

The Bell Tower derives its name from the small wooden turret situated on top of the tower which contains the Tower’s ‘curfew bell’, used to inform prisoners given the liberty of the Tower that it was time to return to their quarters. Today it is sounded at 5.45pm each day, to warn visitors that the Tower is about to close.

Several famous prisoners were held in the Bell Tower during Tudor times, including Sir Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher and the Princess Elizabeth. More and Fisher were sent to the Tower by Henry VIII for their refusal to subscribe to the Act of Supremecy, which made the monarch Head of an English Church which was divorced from Rome. The situation had arisen through Henry’s desire to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon to enable him to marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope could not grant Henry the required annulment, as Catherine’s nephew, Charles V, the powerful Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain held him in his power.

Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More

The brilliant Sir Thomas More (pictured), King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor and the author of Utopia, spent a period of incarceration in the Bell Tower. The staunchly Catholic More refused to take the Oath of Supremacy and swear allegiance to the King as Supreme Head of the Church in England for which on 17th April 1534, he was imprisoned in the Tower.

At first, More’s imprisonment was not overly harsh. His family were allowed to bring drink and warm clothing, and his wife Alice and daughter, Margaret Roper, were allowed to visit him. However as More continued to refuse to be persuaded to sign the oath, the fire in his cell, then his food, warm clothing, books and writing implements were all removed. On 1st July 1535, More was tried at Westminster, charged with high treason and sentenced to death. More was executed on Tower Hill on 6th July, 1535. He is buried in the nearby tower chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Bishop Fisher

The Bell  Tower

Imprisoned in the Tower on 16th April 1534, the Catholic martyr John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, is believed to have been lodged in the Upper Bell Tower, directly above More’s lodgings.

Fisher was the only English bishop who had refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, although captive in the same tower, they communicated by means of messages delivered by their servants. The Pope promised to create Fisher a cardinal, to which the enraged Henry famously declared that Fisher would have no head to wear his cardinal’s hat on. Bishop Fisher’s trial took place on 17th June, he was found guilty, and executed on 22nd June 1535.

Princess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I) also suffered a term of imprisonment in the Bell Tower at the age of 21, during the reign of her elder sister Mary I. Suspected of underhand involvement in the Wyatt Rebellion, Elizabeth was arrested and taken to the Tower of London by boat, landing at Traitors Gate, the princess angrily proclaimed that she was no traitor. During a heavy down pour of rain, Elizabeth had no choice but to enter the Tower. She passed under the arch of the Bloody Tower where she may have seen, across the inner ward, the scaffold left over from the execution of Lady Jane Grey, who was also implicated in Wyatt’s Rebellion.

CHARLES BAILLY

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Baillie_(papal_agent)

In the spring of 1571, Baillie was about to leave Flanders with copies of a book by the bishop of Ross in defence of Queen Mary,[2] which he had got printed at the Liège press, when Roberto di Ridolfi, the agent of Pope Pius V, entrusted him with letters in cipher for the queen, and also for the Spanish ambassador, the Duke of Norfolk, the Bishop of Ross, and Lord Lumley. They described a plan for a Spanish landing on Mary’s behalf in the eastern counties of England. As soon as Baillie set foot on shore at Dover, he was arrested and taken to the Marshalsea. The letters were, however, conveyed in secret by Lord Cobham to the bishop of Ross, who, with the help of the Spanish ambassador, composed other letters of a less incriminating nature to be laid before Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth’s chief advisor.

The scheme might have been successful had Burghley not made use of a traitor, named Thomas Herle, to gain Baillie’s confidence. Herle described Baillie as “fearful, full of words, glorious, and given to the cup, a man easily read”.[3] Herle had also gained the confidence of the bishop, and a complete exposure of the whole plot was imminent when an indiscretion on Herle’s part convinced Baillie that he was betrayed. He endeavoured to warn the bishop by a letter, but it was intercepted, and Baillie was conveyed to the Tower of London, where he refused to read the cipher of the letters, and was put on the rack. The following inscription, still visible on the walls, records his reflections inspired by the situation: “L. H. S. 1571 die 10 Aprilis. Wise men ought to se what they do, to examine before they speake; to prove before they take in hand; to beware whose company they use; and, above all things, to whom they truste. |— Charles Bailly.”

One night, the figure of a man appeared at Baillie’s bedside. He claimed to be John Story, whom Baillie knew to be in the Tower awaiting execution. In reality the figure was that of a traitor of the name of Parker, but Baillie fell into the trap with the same facility as before. On Parker’s advice he endeavoured to gain credit with Burghley by deciphering the substituted letters of the bishop of Ross. He revealed also the story of the abstracted packet, and sought to persuade Burghley to grant him his liberty by offering to watch the correspondence of the bishop of Ross. That he gained nothing by following the advice of his second friendly counsellor is attested by an inscription in the Beauchamp Tower as follows: ‘Principium eapientie Timor Domini, I. H. S. X. P. S. Be friend to no one. Be enemye to none. Anno D. 1571, 10 Septr. The most unhappy man in the world is he that is not pacient in adversities; for men are not killed with the adversities they have, but with ye impacience which they suffer. Tout vient apoient, quy peult attendre. Gli sospiri ne son testimoni veri dell’ angolcia mia, aet. 29. Charles Bailly.’

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.