Tag Archives: Archbishop Welby

May 3 2019 – “Panorama on C/E. Further reflections” – Stephen Parsons – ‘Surviving Church’

Panorama on C/E. Further reflections

Panorama on C/E. Further reflections

 

It is perhaps unfortunate for the Church of England and other public bodies that iPlayer was ever invented.  It allows the curious and those obsessed by detail to go back and watch small sections of a programme over and over again.  The Panorama episode on the Church of England last Monday was a case in point.  Certain things within it jarred for me and I needed to check out what had really been said as well as the demeanour of the person uttering the words.

This blog piece has to assume that the reader saw the programme (or at least read my previous blog) as space does not allow me to run through the things said.  Three people were especially prominent in the programme, in addition to the valiant survivors who appeared.  One was the investigating Lincolnshire Superintendent, Rick Hatton.  The other two were Bishop Alan Wilson and Bishop Peter Hancock.  All three came over as having individual sincerity and honesty.  Each, in different ways, conveyed emotion and this drew the viewer in to feel with them the sentiments of sorrow they were experiencing.  The emotional connection between Superintendent Hatton and the viewer in particular was unexpected, but it made for powerful television.  The other two individuals mentioned also drew us into their personal emotional world.  We felt caught up in the way they had reacted as human beings to the horrors of sexual abuse by clergy.

However, this spell of identification was partly broken in the final few moments of the programme.  One of the bishops showed himself to be unable to answer a straightforward question about the statistics of abuse.  Suddenly the good rapport that Bishop Hancock had built up with the viewer over the programme was shattered.  His evasive response to the interviewer changed the way we related to everything he had previously said in the earlier parts of the interview.  Instead of being a man of feelings and integrity, Bishop Hancock suddenly showed himself as someone who was there to perform in front of an audience.  He was there not to speak for himself but on behalf of others. 

On the Twittersphere this question has been asked by several people.  Who was Bishop Hancock representing and who was he speaking for?  The evasiveness of the final moments of the programme showed that all his earlier answers were in all likelihood rehearsed and controlled by other unseen people.  Unlike all the other people in the programme, the Bishop’s words came to be revealed as the words of a corporate entity.  We were, in other words, hearing from, not a live independent human being but rather we were witnessing a stage-managed, damage limiting show.   The story of the Wizard of Oz immediately comes to mind.

Whenever an individual has the task of standing up on stage and presenting views for someone else, particularly when they are likely to be challenged at a later date, one can feel sorry for that person.  I felt sorry for Bishop Hancock on Panorama just as I had felt for Archbishop Welby when he spouted out nonsense about the Smyth scandal to Channel 4 barely three weeks ago.

Whoever are the hidden forces who pull strings behind the scenes, one feels an atmosphere of desperation in the system when half-truths and palpably false information are fed to the public.  In this age of Twitter, Facebook and email, information travels as fast as light.  How anyone can expect to hide truth in 2019 is a mystery?  The story of spiritual/sexual abuse in the Church is far too big to be buried in a flurry of misleading statistics.

The revelation in 2010 that there were only 13 cases of serious abuse to be examined in the entire C/E was palpably false information but it had the effect of damping down criticism of the institution for a period.  Control of information was then power for those in charge of the Church and they used it effectively to delay the day of reckoning that seems now to be very close.

The truth of the full extent of the abuse scandal within the Church of England is, for the moment, hidden from most of us.  The IICSA hearings did prise open numerous cans of worms and give us a glimpse of what appear to be outrageous manipulations of information which were used to protect the institution.  I am still haunted by what was revealed at the hearing about Chichester when a detective investigating the crimes of Bishop Ball was actively obstructed in the course of his duties by the then Bishop of the Diocese.  The IICSA hearings of last year lead us to suspect that next Monday’s reports and conclusions on the Diocese of Chichester and Peter Ball are likely to be fairly dire. 

Somehow the horror of what churchmen (it does seem to be men) will do to try to protect the church from scandal and malfeasance has now limited power to shock.  It is a bit like the situation in the States where presidential lies have become so much the norm that no one expresses any shock at a new one.  But even the negative conclusions of IICSA towards the Church may be survivable if the Church finally comes to the realisation that it cannot prosper when information in this area is suppressed or manipulated. 

The interviewer on Panorama upset Bishop Hancock (and presumably his minders) when she scratched at potentially the greatest scandal of all – the statistics of abuse across the whole Church. What was being discussed was sensitive information about the full extent of abuse in the Church. Not being ready to share that information suggests that Church authorities know that it cannot yet be revealed without a great deal of spin and preparation.  The need for the application of extensive communication skills suggests that the news in this area is very bad indeed.  Some months ago, it was suggested to me by someone ‘in the know’ that the Church dealing with abuse scandals was a bit like fighting forest fires which keep erupting all over the place.

Panorama indicated to us that control of information is a tactic of power still actively employed by the central Church authorities.  The originators of this tactic do not appear to be the bishops themselves but the highly paid Church House officials at the centre of things.   Unfortunately for them, their control of the levers of power was all too easy to spot in both the recent television interviews. 

The interview of Archbishop Welby on Channel 4 was, like that of Bishop Hancock, unconvincing and somewhat contrived.  The bishops themselves both had personal integrity and human warmth but nothing could disguise the fact that they were speaking for someone other than themselves.  The Church cannot continue to go down a path of fielding individuals to act as spokesmen for the institution.

The public want, as far as possible, to encounter real human beings who can speak for the church.  The people of England relate to real people, people who, like them, are living lives of joy mixed with pain.  They will never want to identify with a group when they suspect that the information put out is being manipulated and managed before it is shared with them.  In short, let bishops be bishops, shepherds of the flock, not puppets being controlled by forces that are invisible and are not necessarily working for the good of all.

Wow. Thanks, Stephen. There’s an article in the Church Times about safeguarding where Bishop Stephen Cottrell says the Church now has “Marvellous guidelines and policies”. No comment.

Jan 25 2019 – “The Perilous Plight of the Church of England” – The Rev. Roger Salter – ‘Virtueonline’

Jan 25 2019 – “The Perilous Plight of the Church of England” – The Rev. Roger Salter – ‘Virtueonline’

https://www.virtueonline.org/perilous-plight-church-england

THE PERILOUS PLIGHT OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

By Roger Salter
Special to Virtueonline
www.virtueonline.org
January 17, 2019

When the British philosopher Cyril Joad returned to Christian faith and membership of the Church of England, he paid fulsome tribute to the unassuming clergy of the hundreds of ordinary parishes throughout the land.

The faith and fortitude of these lowly men of God was a major factor in sustaining Christian belief and character in the life of the nation. Sincere but unspectacular ministry held the church together and maintained the good health of the institution. The troops of the church were of more value than the titled, pretentious, liberal senior clerics.

These men, acknowledged by the former atheist, had no prominence in church affairs and received few plaudits for their sacrifice and loyalty. They had little access to the media and limited participation in the making of church policy. The overall impression of the Church of England was created by noted communicators of striking ability, or notorious skeptics who loved to bathe in the gratifying glare of publicity.

There must be many pastors of similar ilk to those highly regarded by Joad who remain active in the Church of England today. When criticism is made of the Church of England it is leveled principally, forcibly, and deservedly, at those in positions of leadership, and also those followers who heartily approve of them. There is great cause in our time to weep at the poor quality of spiritual leadership in the Established Church.

Canterbury and York are of no encouragement whatsoever and we are saddled with a bevy of bishops that seems utterly useless to the promotion of the true Gospel and who are a distinct danger to the souls who are cruelly hoodwinked by them. They happen to be the daftest set of clerics ever to exist en masse throughout our checkered history. They neither impart nor share in a sure way of salvation through our beloved Redeemer and his mission of human reclamation to God and criminally omit any valid preparation of the soul for eternity. “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways” (Psalm 95:10). Some very plausible names come within this category.

Many of our professional scholars fail to evince a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ or any sincere reverence of his name. Their sophisticated mode of theologizing, purely on the plain of natural wisdom, i.e. folly, amounts to the scoffing of his divine status, obfuscation of his truth, and the proud, superior, patronization of traditional believers who enjoy converse with him, through the voice of the Spirit in Sacred Scripture. Rather than being servants of Christ they are in the service of an enemy genius whose sole and temporary reward (for he ultimately turns with savagery on his hapless lackeys) is the flattery of their flatulent egos through their “black-inspired” assisted display of intellectual acumen and stunning (they hope) originality that attracts great attention, and the admiration, of the gullible or lovers of obscurity or novelty. The human mind will devise any convoluted or contrary thesis to avoid the force of truth.

Welby and Sentamu are shockingly unsuited to their roles of headship, and the C of E now wallows in shame and uselessness.

Is it now time to “uproot, tear down, to destroy and overthrow” the errors and follies of the Church of England and then “to build and plant” in the right way”? (Jeremiah 1:10). Is it now time to launch a bold Luther-like corrective – the fearless, faithful preaching of the Word, the naming of error no matter the source, and quit all this fumbling, over-polite, soft-spoken, cautious, gentle concern of the bulk of current evangelicalism. The straight talk of the Bible is being eroded by those who have vowed to be its guardians: “The Church is a witness and guardian of Holy Scripture” (Article 20).

It is hard to detect any sound preaching to the nation on the part of our appointed Primates on soteriological issues that matter above all else that they could ever possibly aver. The fact and efficacy of the cross that preoccupied and animated the apostle Paul (but we preach Christ crucified) seems alien to the worldly mindset of our contemporary representatives. They are neither prime advocates of the eternal word or mates to those who love the scriptures. From their elevated pulpits, and great advantage in addressing the populace, they preach nothing but earthly concerns and pronounce on matters usually beyond their expertise and essential divinely ordained brief. How many of the lost will imagine, in their frenzied minds in the flaming abyss, the edifices of Canterbury and York cathedrals and make the accusation, “They never warned me, but majored mainly on the concerns of this short life on earth.” The momentous Gospel dimension simply is not mentioned to their vast potential audience.

A visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London will yield an accurate illustration of the essence of authentic Anglicanism in the portrayal of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer positioned within reach of two of the most treasured volumes in his ample library – the New Testament and an edition of the writings of St Augustine.

The Bible and the doctrines of grace of the Berber Bishop of Hippo constitute the genius of Anglicanism affirmed with clarity at the English Reformation. Anglican thought and practice derives principally from Holy Scripture; its doctrine is in alignment with the studied reflection on revelation of the Catholic creeds, and this historical inheritance is articulated more precisely through a confessional agreement with the core convictions of 16th century emergent Protestantism, both native and Continental. The resurgence of Augustinianism gave rise to the phenomenon of the reformed Church of England.

How far gone from this model is the prevailing spectacle of a deviant and dysfunctional substitute – the wayward institution that is the Church of England, drowning in the tidal wave of godless culture and amoral paganism. Daily, it seems, this effete organization plunges more deeply into the waters of destruction, its reputation and credibility besmirched by inane pronouncements and insane appointments to office and authority.

The so-called guardians of the Church, and guides of its people, seem to be attacking it vicious -ly with wrecking balls, and flummoxing the flock with tweaks, dilutions, and distortions of the testimony of Holy Writ with witless abandon. Scripture is quoted as intriguing narrative devoid of instructive propositions for logical arrangement in consistent conviction. It is quoted as mere embellishment of humanly invented and ornate orations designed to charm the imagination and tickle the fancy rather than charge minds to strive towards the real Kingdom of God rather than the Utopia envisaged by men.

The Church of England is a massive “let down” and key persons of ecclesiastical influence should be indicted for its collapse. The so-called peacemaker of Lambeth is a principal agent in its dismantlement, rendering into shattered pieces the noble edifice to the glory of God and well-being of sinners it once happened to be. Instead of being the Church militant the CoE is now becoming, at a rapid rate, the church emasculated and mutilated.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._E._M._Joad

The Rev. Roger Salter is an ordained Church of England minister where he had parishes in the dioceses of Bristol and Portsmouth before coming to Birmingham, Alabama to serve as Rector of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church. He is a regular contributor to Virtueonline

Anne Dawson on “Bishop Bell – Mistaken Identity?”

mistakenidentity

Anne Dawson on “Bishop Bell – Mistaken Identity?”

Rebuilding a bridge is a delicate, and at times hazardous, undertaking. Repairing a bridge over troubled waters is not a task for the faint-hearted. The issues around Bishop Bell are complex, but the intention of the Church Authorities is straightforward: to come out appearing in the best possible light.

On a trajectory intending to reverse the decades of harm the C of E inflicted by indifference and denial concerning sexual abuse, the result is that the balance is tilted too far towards favouring claimants. The policy of the NST [National Safeguarding Team], that allegations will be believed and accepted without evidencehas had catastrophic consequences.

The sequence of decisions leading to settling ‘Carol’s’ claim has entrenched the NST into a position from which it is difficult to back track. It is tragic to have reached this point, which could have been avoided, by a more fairminded approach from the NST. 

Memories of a child, reported after a time lapse of over four decades. are NOT facts. However, I think that ‘Carol’s’ uncorroborated memories have a kernel of truth in them. Believing her account in its entirety is unsafe, as there is too great margin of error to uphold such a serious matter as destroying the reputation of Bishop Bell.

Reconstruction of childhood events over a long passage of time are viewed through the lens of subsequent life experiences. ‘Carol’ – or anyone looking back on their childhood many decades ago – has ‘anchor points’ for memory reconstruction that are highly subjective. Working with children for many years, I have seen children easily get confused about the  hierarchy of who is in charge. It is common error to ascribe the lead person associated with a place, or institution, with other adults. What I mean is, ‘Carol’ may have thought a man was a Bishop because she came across him in the Bishops house. With this hypothesis, a random cleric would not even have deliberately feigned to be Bishop Bell, but have assumed that character in the mind of Carol. This theory maintains ‘Carol’s’ credibility, and her personal truth as she understands it. 

Having raised this hypothesis with Richard Symonds, he put me in touch with Geoffrey Boys, whose account is compelling concerning mistaken identity.  Mr Boys has given evidence to the Core Group which I understand is in the Briden report…

The NST maintain they place a high priority on transparency but do not conduct themselves with transparency. The following statement by Colin Perkins demonstrates this.

“From my point of view, from the perspective you just described, that would have
effectively been saying, ‘We are not accepting your claim. We are not going to apologise. We are going to perhaps provide some monetary settlement and we are
going to require you to sign a non-disclosure agreement’. That is exactly the opposite of where I think the church should be on this issue” 
[ IICSA Transcript – March 16 – Page 30]

There was a simple solution by stating, ‘We have heard the claimant’s story and believe she has suffered abuse. We admit admission of liability and apologise, but we cannot determine the identity of the abuser. We have made a settlement on this basis and wish to maintain the reputation of Bishop Bell.We have nothing to hide.’ The NST just needed to come clean about saying as it is; there are no facts, but they compensated Carol because they believe she was abused, albeit without proof of by whom. 

The historian Herodotus, 2500 years ago, observed that of all rites performed by humans, those concerninthe dead are most sacrosanct. This holds true for all people throughout all ages. I was shocked that Archbishop Welby, as head of our national church, has it within him to hurt Bishop Bell’s legacy so grievously (statement dated 22.1.2018.) A person’s worth does not diminish by death, unless you are the Archbishop of Canterbury and you feel empowered to say what you like about the dead. Defaming George Bell, without evidence, reverses the universal value in all cultures and faiths of honouring forefathers – which is one of the defining features of humanity

Archbishop Welby“I think the greatest tragedy of all these cases is that people have trusted, very often, those who were locally, in diocesan terms, or nationally Titanic figures, and have then found that they were not worthy of their trust. The fact that someone is a titanic figure doesn’t tell you anything at all, except that they have done remarkable things in one area. It doesn’t tell you about the rest of their lives. And it is not something that we can take into account [IICSA Transcript – Wednesday March 21]

The Archbishop is entitled to his opinion, even if it is controversial and incongruent with many within the church. But his words are not backed by investigating the factsIF the Archbishop had invited he historian, Andrew Chandler(author of Bell’s biography 2016) to the Core Group and IF there was legal representation of Bishop Bell’s family (whom the Core Group failed to trace), then the Archbishop could claim some validity to his statement. However, the lack of representation on behalf of George Bell and his niece Mrs Barbara Whitley, demonstrates that Archbishop Welby has no authentic understanding of the man he demolishes. His rigorous dismissal of the collective wisdom of the scholars and theologians who have written open letters to the Archbishop (letters 16/17/24.1.2018suggest reckless defamation. I am reluctant to criticise the Archbishop, but he has side-stepped fully examining George Bell’s life. 

In conclusion, I do not want to be angry or sad, but to celebrate the life of Bishop Bell, despite the efforts of Archbishop Welby and the NST to destroy his legacy. The case of Cliff Richard displays how disproportionally empowering claimants has caused deep trauma. Thankfully Sir Cliff has been fully cleared of abuse, but the toll on his physical and mental health habeen very high. The Archbishop’s statements about George Bell are spoken with the authority of his role, but entitlement does not equate with truth and justice.

Anne Dawson​​​​​​​​19th January 2019