Tag Archives: Bishop of Chichester George Bell

June 6 2019 – Archbishop Welby again called upon to apologise for his “significant cloud” remark against Bishop Bell – following the ‘Welcome to George Bell House’ event in Chichester.

 

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The Bell Tower – Chichester Cathedral – RWS Photography

Following the “Welcome to George Bell House” event at 4 Canon Lane Chichester on Thursday June 6, Archbishop Welby is called upon to apologise for his “significant cloud” against Bishop Bell – again.

June 4 2019 – Revd Nick Flint – Rector of Rusper

Witness Name:  The Reverend Nick Flint

Statement No.:  1

Exhibits:   ​​

Dated:​​   24 May 2018​​

INDEPENDENT INQUIRY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

___________________________________________________________________

Witness Statement of The Reverend Nick Flint

___________________________________________________________________

I, Nicholas Angus Flint, will say as follows:-

1. I make this statement in connection with the Inquiry’s Anglican Church investigation and in particular the Peter Ball case study.

 

Background

2. I am currently the Rector of Rusper, which is a village in West Sussex. I have been in this role for 21 years.

3. I attended Chichester Theological College from 1984-1987. Then, from 1987-1991, I was in training in Aldwick, in Sussex. In the early 1990s, I was the Bishop of London’s assistant chaplain for homeless people. Immediately prior to my current role as Rector, I held a position as Team Vicar of Bewbush, in Crawley, for 5 years. I have been ordained for 31 years.

Statement given to Brian Tyler

4. I have been shown a copy of the statement that I gave to Brian Tyler, dated 29 December 1992, which is referred to as CPS000796. Brian Tyler was a retired police officer conducting an investigation relating to Peter Ball. I confirm that the statement is a true and accurate record of what I said to Brian Tyler at that time and in that particular context. However re reading it in May 2018 for the first time in more than 25 years it strikes me that my comments are a response to a series of closed questions and that overall the document reflects at best a lack of understanding and experience of homosexuality, at worst a borderline homophobia, from which I would now distance myself and wholly and utterly refute. Historically, homosexuality has had to be closeted in secrecy and that very secrecy has been a cloak for unacceptable behaviour.  Part of the remedy for this must be for the church to be open and accepting of homosexuality, rather than continue to scapegoat homosexuals as being the problem. 

Statement given to the Independent Peter Ball Review 

5. On 9 June 2016, I spoke to Kevin Harrington, a member of the Independent Peter Ball Review team (the ‘Review’). I have been shown a copy of the note of the meeting, which is referred to as INQ000633. I confirm that this is an accurate summary of the meeting.

6. At the meeting, I read aloud a statement which I had prepared in advance. I have been shown a copy of this statement, which is referred to as INQ000632. I confirm that the statement was true and accurate at that time. However, since the publication of Dame Moira Gibb’s report in June 2017, I have become aware of additional information about Peter Ball and can no longer hold all of the views I expressed in my statement at INQ000632. 

7. I read Dame Moira’s report shortly after it was published. I broadly accept her findings. However I did contact the Review team with deep concern when I realised that it drew substantially on the comments [unreliable in my view] of James Francis AKA Mr A. [see below at 9]

8. In 1993, Peter Ball accepted a caution and in 2015, he pleaded guilty prior to a trial. Although I had accepted at that point that Peter Ball was guilty, I was not fully aware of the extent of his offending behaviour. Dame Moira’s report revealed to me for the first time the extent and serious nature of Peter Ball’s offending, but also crucially how much was known by many other people and how early on they had become aware of this information. 

Additional information

James Francis

9. At the outset of Sussex Police’s investigation in 2012, I made myself known to them. I was brushed off by the Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Carwyn Hughes. I had information about sexual and other offending by James Francis, but the police did not want to speak to me about him. At the time of Peter Ball’s resignation from Gloucester [1993 – Ed], the Archbishop as well as the Bishops of Chichester, London and Southwark were all aware of his [James Francis or Peter Ball? – Ed] immoral and illegal activity. I had forensic knowledge of the layout and occupancy of the house where Peter Ball’s offences were alleged to have taken place but this offer of help was peremptorily dismissed.

10. Shortly after [2012? – Ed], I wrote to the Bishop of Chichester [became Bishop in 2012 – Ed], Martin Warner. I provided him with information about James Francis. The response that I received was disappointing . [Letters attached.] It seems that Bishop Warner did not pass on the information to the police. I have made enquiries of the Diocese and Lambeth Palace to find out whether Bishop Warner did pass on the information to the police, but I have not received any clear answers. I gave this information face to face to Bishop Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham who subsequently told me had been personally ‘warned off’ investigating Francis.

11. In or around June 2016I was contacted by the Metropolitan Police Service (‘MPS’) and interviewed in connection with James Francis. The MPS had only contacted me by chance and because I was still in contact with one of his victims, not through the agency of Bishop Warner despite his knowing I had ‘useful’ information. James Francis had been arrested and the police wanted to gather information from my knowledge and experience of him. I relied to some extent on the information that I had learned from Bishop Eric Kemp, [I can provide two very brief letters he wrote at the time, if this is helpful] and I shared everything that I knew or thought I knew in my interview with the MPS. The puzzling question remained as to why despite the knowledge of several bishops of his activities which led to a significant delay in his ordination, did he yet go on to be ordained. [granted lesser sentence if he gave evidence against Ball reward for ‘shopping’ Peter Ball? – Ed]

 

General

12 In October 2015, I attended a meeting with Bishop Warner. I had arranged to see him so that I could discuss with him my frustration about not being able to move post within the Diocese. He advised me that he did not have anything for me in his diocese and that I should look in the Church Times as this was where other dioceses advertised their vacancies. The meeting took place shortly after Peter Ball had been sentenced and Vickery House was still on trial. It was  therefore an additionally difficult time for me since Fr House was an old friend who had preached at my First Mass and at my wedding. After his arrest he had attended my church until this had been unilaterally halted by the intervention of Archdeacon Douglas McKittrick without reference either to me or the Police. In an email the Police stated they were happy for Fr House to continue attending my church. I sought to query this and my concern that a man at the time presumed innocent had been scared off by the Archdeacon but he ignored my messages and Bishop Warner did not offer a satisfactory explanation for that decision or lack of communication. I was struck at this meeting by the Bishop’s total absence of any regard for my well being. Indeed as far as I was concerned it was at this point he crossed the line from previous neglect to actual bullying. If he had read his notes before this meeting he would have known how vulnerable I was. Either he couldn’t be bothered to inform himself or he took advantage of my vulnerability. As well as my parish posts I have since 2002 been part of the Deliverance Ministry Team in Chichester Diocese. Members of this team are advisers to the bishops in the field of the paranormal. From this specialist background and experience I would identify what I see in the diocese as ‘occult activity’.  By this I do not of course think that senior clergy are dabbling in arcane pagan rituals, but that they have been known to abuse power through knowledge, rather than modeling transparent holiness.

12. Before and since the Review [which Review? 2016 Harrington?], I have experienced little to no engagement from the Diocese of Chichester and Lambeth Palace. I contacted the latter in 2016 [James Francis arrested in 2016 but no publicity – protected by Church & Police because he ‘shopped’ Ball?]] as I was getting nowhere with my own diocese. The diocese did not encourage me to share my experience with Gibb [Gibb Report 2017]. Although I am not a direct victim in this case, I consider myself to be ‘collateral damage.’ By this I mean that since 2012 I have suffered undue anxiety, marked loss of confidence, even doubts about my priestly vocation and life purpose. I have experienced bizarre sleep walking behaviour and fears that as a key person in the Litlington community I might even be wrongfully arrested by the Police. I have found myself supporting others who identify as supporters of Peter Ball as well as those who consider themselves his victims. I have found myself supporting victims of Francis one of whom took his own life. In most cases neither of these groups have felt the way the church dealt with Peter Ball then and now has helped them. I have respected all their stories but holding such apparent opposites in tension has caused immense strain on me personally. I have felt silenced as I have had to listen to people who weren’t even there tell someone like me who was, what was going on at Litlington. My formative religious experience has been reduced to ‘ a cloak of fraudulent Christianity’, and if such is really the case I have been surprised that no bishop has required me to give account of my involvement in such a scenario. As recently as 2018 a senior member of Lambeth Safeguarding told me she ‘didn’t have time to talk with [me] or answer [my] difficult questions.’ I interpreted this as implying that as an employee of the church, an insider I should make allowances and hold back from criticism. As far as I am concerned this repeated and sustained attitude amounts to me being spiritually abused. I have been reduced to a condition where I do not believe I would now be fit to undergo interview for a new post. Why should Lambeth treat me as a second class complainant?
13. Essentially, I have felt senior churchmen would prefer it if I did not exist, as metaphorically I am neither black or white in my response to safeguarding failures and so challenge their panicked desire for a tidy response to the complex and unsettling reality. Their default position seems to be to sideline and talk loudly over my experience.

14. I was for over twenty years a public supporter of Peter Ball, but I now feel that I was set up as such by the Diocese of Chichester. There were opportunities where I think the Diocese should have spoken to me about Peter Ball but chose not to. I was not given the full truth. I feel betrayed by both the Church of England and the Diocese of Chichester. Recently Colin Perkins finally explained that he had not been at liberty to meet and talk with me because potentially both of us might have been witnesses in the case involving James Francis, yet he or someone else in the department could have told me this far earlier and pointed me in the direction of help. My decades of loyalty to Chichester, even if partially misguided, should have been reciprocated. In fact I feel I have been punished for trying to do the right thing and following my conscience.

15. I believe it is possible that I have been and continue to be discriminated against due to my previous association with and support of Peter Ball. I have put this suggestion to Archdeacon Philip Jones,  a few times and he categorically denies it. However, I think it is the most likely explanation for the poor treatment that I have received, and I have often expressed myself open to a more plausible reason, but none has ever been offered. I would have been far happier and satisfied with an admission of incompetence than with the guilty silence that screams conspiracy. All I have sought is an open conversation on the matter, which might address that fear and if I am mistaken lay it to rest. Firmly in the Catholic tradition I work happily across the broad churchmanship spectrum and support the ordination of women and same sex marriage. Many of my tradition are allied to ‘The Society’ which according to its website requires the ‘submission’ of its members to the bishop. I find the language of submission deeply troubling and out of place. Modern bishops claim to themselves a management rather than pastoral model to their role. In what other organisation would someone have a line manager who hasn’t spoken to them since 2016? Archdeacon Jones did after some years apologise for not standing up for me when he witnessed Bishop Wallace Benn humiliate and bully me. His inability to do so at the time indicates the underlying culture of bullying of which even he was a victim. I can provide a document ‘I am Rev B’ which details much of the discrimination of which I am a victim and which I have shared with Lambeth Safeguarding.
15 In 2017 I sought legal advice from a solicitor’s firm. My concern related to appointments. Positions within the Diocese of Chichester are rarely openly advertised, and sometimes roles are handed out without the appropriate processes being followed. In October 2015 I did challenge Bishop Warner face to face on the lack of transparency I was witnessing specifically in relation to clergy appointments, but he made clear he did not accept this insight and would not discuss the matter.
I also sought to raise the same matter with Lambeth Safeguarding staff and a number of bishops on the basis that such transparency was a requirement of the Archbishops Visitation to Chichester. My offer of evidence to back this up was ignored and I have been passed from pillar to post with no one showing the slightest interest in taking any action. I was criticised by Lambeth Safeguarding for ‘talking to too many people’  but this was precisely because no one would offer consistent advice or take responsibility for my concerns.
On a personal note my CV is such that those outside Chichester diocese have had no hesitation in offering me interviews for posts in which I have shown an interest, while according to Warner my name had not even ever been considered for a single one within Chichester, where I have always made clear I wish to stay in Sussex for family reasons.

16 I witnessed the closing statement made on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council at the Inquiry’s Chichester hearing. They seemed to be saying that although they had got it wrong in the past they will do better in the future. I felt this was false. I do not think that they are doing better now, and I do not think that there is sufficient will to change the cultural attitude. The recent George Bell case shows the church not only doing things by its own rules but even trying to police the Police! Despite the abusive pressure I am still experiencing, I believe I have for the most part responded with graciousness yet firmness. I may have had occasional lapses into anger under the constant strain, but I would be happy for any independent body to have full access to all correspondence I have had in these matters in order to judge whether my words have in the circumstances been inappropriate. The church has had to face some painful truths. It now needs to be unflinching in proclaiming its core message of reconciliation and finding ways of putting that that into practice, otherwise it has no reason for continuing to even exist.

Statement of Truth

I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true.

Signed: _________Nicholas Flint SMMS ________________________________

Dated: ____________24 May 2018___________

 

TIMELINE

1992/3 – Ball resigns from Gloucester – “The Jimmy Savile of the Church of England – Ball conned and duped everyone – including Bishop Bell” – RWS

2012 – Flint provides Warner [and Police] with info about James Francis. Neither are interested, it seems.

2015 – James Francis alerts Police to the extent of Ball’s abuse. Ball pleads guilty. Flint was unaware of extent of Ball’s abuse. Flint close friend with Vickery House. Flint’s meeting with Warner.

2016 – Pre-Gibb Harrington police investigation. Flint approached by Police for information about James Francis. Francis arrested.

2017 – Gibb Report. Flint now fully aware of extent of Ball’s abuse. Gibb very reliant on the testimony of James Francis (who felt Francis was “unreliable” and said so]

 

 

Nick, I note with concern your comment: “In my evidence I also record my repeated concern that as recently as 2016 Martin Warner had not passed on to the Police information I gave him about a suspect.”

Nobody has picked up on this. Not surprisingly the discussion has focussed on the finer details of patronage, as this was the subject of the article.

It’s troubling if any bishop is not acting on information reliably given by a member of clergy or officer within the diocese. And astonishing really that after many layers of failure and cover-up in this diocese have been brought into daylight – this lack of response might still be happening under a current bishop.

I hope the situation has now moved forward a considerable pace since the time of your statement. I’d be surprised if it hasn’t. I imagine you have had help from the IICSA lawyers to ensure a definite response. To my mind the bishop’s inaction would be grounds for a CDM. But that piece of structure has been brought into considerable disrepute with dismissals within the purple circle, time limits, ‘floods’, etc.

Two CDMs brought against Bishop Wallace Benn by the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group (DSAG) were dismissed on the basis of 12 month time limits. It is worth reading the IICSA summary to be reminded just how dysfunctional Bishop Benn’s approach was. And startling to see how easily the time-bar protects bad practice.

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/reports/anglican-chichester-peter-ball/case-study-1-diocese-chichester/b6-complaints-under-clergy-discipline-measure

IICSA says the CDM “is not a suitable tool to deal with ongoing issues of risk management.” That seems a right assessment. But in the absence of anything else that might hold bishops to account, it’s all there is. Sir Roger Singleton brought a recent CDM against the Bishop of Chester for failing to respond to a letter ten years ago. If there’s any consistency, that will be dismissed by the Clergy Discipline Tribunal. And the Measure descend into more of a farce than it already is. One can only assume that Sir Roger’s reason for bringing this CDM was to highlight the farce and demonstrate the total collapse of the CDM. And force the church to address glaring unaccountability.

At the very least, Bishop Martin Warner should be asked to explain his reasons for the inaction. I’m not surprised the media did not pick up on this at the time, as there are so many documents on the IICSA website. Unless a witness lands in front of Counsel in a hearing, much goes past the media who tend to report the ‘big stuff’. The material on IICSA might be source for historians and theologians in the future….

It charts a church in breakage, a gospel in collapse.

Gilo

June 1 2019 – “Patronage and Power Abuse in the Church” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

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Patronage and Power Abuse in the Church

Patronage and Power Abuse in the Church

While studying the life and times of Joan of Arc for a lecture I was giving, I was reminded of one distinctive feature of Western mediaeval society.  The whole of that society was held together through a complicated system of patronage.  Power was not only possessed by those who commanded the most soldiers, it was also exercised by those who possessed the legal and traditional right to put others in positions of power.  To possess the power of patronage was to control others and to be the focus of influence right across society.  Joan of Arc was only able to make headway in her short meteoric career having persuaded individuals possessing the power of patronage to back her. 
Patronage, the right to raise up or cast down another person, is still a power that we find in our society.  The Church of England is one contemporary institution that still openly exercises the power of patronage in its affairs.  Arguably this manifestation of patronage is less salient than it was in the days of Jane Austen when Mr Collins, in Pride and Prejudice,used all his charm to flatter his patron, Lady De Bourgh for the right to occupy a particular vicarage and the substantial income that went with it.  My old parish in Gloucestershire was under the patronage of a Cambridge college and its endowed income of £800 was sufficient in Victorian times to keep a vicar in style.  Other parishes were worth a quarter of this and the vicars who occupied lesser posts scrambled to survive, like Mr Quiverful in the Trollope novels, in a permanent state of genteel poverty.  It was no fun to live in a falling down vicarage with inadequate resources to heat the building or keep out the rain.
The traditional power of patronage that was exercised by bishops and others over the parishes of England was arguably the greatest source of power that they possessed.  Keeping on the right side of this power was perhaps the only way clergy had to escape out of abject poverty into a position of relative affluence.  A black mark against your name could mark your record for ever and prevent you ever finding a post which would keep you in reasonable comfort.  Clergy were rightly in awe of those who had this power to create or destroy a career and a livelihood.
Anthony Trollope’s novels are also, in many ways, an exploration of the way that the exercise of patronage power was exercised and experienced in Victorian times.  Today things have changed for the better.  In the first place, stipends of the full-time clergy below the level of Archdeacons and Deans are largely the same.  When I was ordained fifty years ago, there were vicars in some parishes earning seven times the level of their curates and living in far superior accommodation.   Inflation has destroyed these differentials of income.  A second change today is that posts are now mostly advertised in the church press and the appointments system is far more open.  A transparent interview process takes place for most posts, even for bishops.  But, as a recent letter in the Church Times points out, the exercise of patronage is an issue that is still a live one as we ask questions about how Bishop Peter Ball was elevated to Gloucester in 1991.  It transpires that two other dioceses, Norwich and Portsmouth, had both refused to consider his candidature on the grounds of Ball’s known predilection for the company of young men.  The CT letter from the retired bishop, Colin Buchanan, hints at political interference in this appointment.  Patronage on the part of the ‘great and the good’ was thus apparently allowed to override normal checks and balances.  To become a diocesan bishop in 1991 did require impeccable references.  One of those who provided such a reference had to be his Diocesan bishop, the then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp.  Are we to believe that Bishop Kemp had no insight or knowledge of the rumours around Peter Ball?  Kemp’s legacy of having allowed Bishop Ball’s translation to Gloucester and later obstructing the police enquiries into his conduct have left a mark against the bishop’s historical legacy which is unlikely ever to be erased.
The power of patronage in the church may be indeed weakening in the way that democratic processes reach further into the management of the church.  And yet, even as it weakens, we need to have a full awareness of how important a role patronage has played in the church in the very recent past.  In some dioceses all posts are advertised, even for senior clergy such as archdeacons and residentiary canons.   Other dioceses, such as Chichester, appear to advertise relatively few of their posts.  Most appointments seem to be done ‘in-house’.  For one clergyman at least, this near total episcopal control over livings in Chichester has been experienced as an abuse of power.
Among the many documents released by IICSA in the course of its hearings was a witness statement by one Fr. Nicholas Flint, a Chichester incumbent. His testimony strongly criticises the way he felt he had been treated by the diocese.  His complaints directly and indirectly touch on issues of patronage power.  Flint had for a long time felt drawn with others in the diocese to support Peter Ball after he was cautioned in 1992.  The eventual conviction of Ball in 2015 and the revelation of the full extent of his offending left him and other supporters in considerable confusion and dismay.  His self-description was that of being ‘collateral damage’ to the whole sad affair. Eventually he obtained an appointment to see the Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, in October 2015 and he hoped to receive some pastoral care and support.  He needed some understanding for all he had suffered in trying to respond to local perpetrators and victims who were part of the wider abuse scandals in the diocese.  He was also looking for a possible move within the diocese after being in the same post from 21 years. 
The Bishop stated, in Flint’s words, that ‘he did not have anything for me in his diocese’. 
Whatever else was being communicated, this declaration by the Bishop is of interest because it indicates that the Bishop regarded himself at the sole dispenser of patronage in the diocese.  This old-fashioned approach to the filling of appointments also runs counter, according to Fr Flint, to one of the recommendations of the Archbishop’s Visitation to Chichester Diocese a few years earlier.  I have no figures on the dioceses where a bishop could make such a statement about appointments, but I would hope that these dioceses are now firmly in the minority.  Centralised control of the power of patronage may be one of the factors that had helped to create the Chichester ‘scandals’ in the first place.  It is strange as well as regrettable that the current Bishop of the diocese has no apparent insight into the possibility that a secretive structure from which outsiders are excluded is also one where malefactors can most easily hide.   The old-fashioned feudal attitudes which exemplified the ‘reign’ of Bishop Kemp have no place in the 21st century.  The current Bishop of Chichester should be making every effort to transform that culture in every possible way.  The interaction with Fr Flint in 2015 suggests that the old culture of patronage and patriarchal power was then still very much alive in the Chichester Diocese. 
This blog invites the reader to become better sensitised to the existence of a silent power in the Church.  This is present in church patronage.  When used corruptly, patronage power can quickly create situations of abuse, secrecy and rampant bullying.  In the case of the Chichester Diocese, we would claim that any continued exercise of an unlimited patronage by a bishop over a whole diocese is, in 2019, something now totally inappropriate.  The recent IICSA report on the recent history of their diocese, now in the in-tray of the Bishops and senior staff at Chichester, should surely be driving forward a new openness.  Is the Diocese of Chichester to be a place that resists, as the Bishop of Burnley puts it, ‘deep-seated cultural change’? The episode that took place account of the Bishop of Chichester’s study a mere 3 ½ years ago is an example of reactionary attitudes that have no place in a post-IICSA church.  This post-IICSA church is watching and waiting to see evidence of ‘learnt lessons’, transparency and a new penitential atmosphere involving real care by all bishops for their clergy. 

About Stephen Parsons

Stephen is a retired Anglican priest living at present in Northumberland. He has taken a special interest in the issues around health and healing in the Church but also when the Church is a place of harm and abuse. He has published books on both these issues and is at present particularly interested in understanding the psychological aspects of leadership and follower-ship in the Church. He is always interested in making contact with others who are concerned with these issues.

10 thoughts on “Patronage and Power Abuse in the Church”

  1. Thank you for pointing this out in the case of Chichester Diocese. Patronage by those who wish to exclude women priests is still prevailing and controlling appointments in many rural parishes. I wonder if, when our present incumbent leaves, the parish will be granted a fair and open access to candidates from ALL the Church of England, not just those who belong to ‘The Society’? St Hilda should rise up and crown them with her episcopal staff!

  2. There is unofficial patronage, too. Even a humble vicar can put someone forward for training, and what they say will be believed. I witnessed a situation where someone was put forward for basic training as a lay minister with a whole raft of things they were supposed to have done, working with young people here and there signed off by the incumbent. When in fact it was all completely fictional. And of course, reverse patronage. Someone says you are not suitable, and that’s that. Accuse a cleric, and you are a priori not believed. If you are accused by a cleric, they are.

  3. Thank you for sharing my story. In my evidence I also record my repeated concern that as recently as 2016 Martin Warner had not passed on to the Police information I gave him about a suspect.

    Since giving my evidence he has made one other attempt, fortunately bungled, to remove me from my one remaining supra parochial responsibility in the diocese.

    At my age I have another 7- 13 years in full time ministry, but the experiences have been so traumatic that I cannot now face the thought of moving on in ministry. I am blessed to be in a supportive village and to be affirmed by my parishioners and other priestly colleagues.

    1. Nick, I found your statement to IICSA painful to read. I’m so sorry you’ve had such a rough time. I’m glad your parish is supportive, at least that’s one positive.

      I’m from Chichester Diocese; Gordon Rideout was my vicar and Peter Ball my bishop. I don’t want to go into the story here but I too regard myself as collateral damage.

      And yes, what you say about patronage is absolutely true, and still goes on.

  4. I dont know the facts of the Chichester case that you refer to but I am aware of this sort of ‘patronage’ being operated in other dioceses and across a variety of levels of seniority. This aids and abets the clericalism that is rife in the Church of England much to it’s shame. As a state institution in receipt of state and public funds as well as the infamous seats in the House of Lords that it holds, it is high time that this self serving institution was brought to book and excluded from these ‘perks’ until its house, or houses, are in order in the same way that we would expect from any other national or local government body or associated quango. The fact that the state church, or ‘ministry of religion’ is allowed to be exempt from the equality act is laughable, but very scary at the same time.

    1. I’d agree about the exemptions from the equality legislation! But isn’t a government or state organisation, nor does it get government money. Only the tax breaks any charity gets. The seats in the House of Lords are because some church legislation has to go to the House. So the Bishops have to have a say. The Chief Rabbi and various other religious Heads also have seats. It’s all very odd, I grant you.

      1. I think what I mean by state/public funding is the historical financial endowments that make up the basis of the CofE’s financial wealth including things such as Queen Anne’s Bounty, the land that it owns, and schemes like the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, as well as its large receipt of lottery money.

        It is the established church of the state and is therefore intrinsically linked to state bodies and it is through this that it has 26 Lords Spiritual, this is not offered to any other faith or Christian body although as you say the current chief rabbi is a Lord Temporal.

        I think any other body that received these advantages would be expected to comply with all employment, equality, bullying, pay and other legislation that somehow the CofE manages to navigate around.

        1. Wouldn’t disagree, broadly. Saying that the clergy are self employed also means they end up working ridiculous hours. Exploitation, basically.

  5. Thank you for this. The single best article – by far – that I have encountered on the subject of preferment and its origins is by the extremely distinguished student of the medieval church, A. Hamilton Thompson (1873-1962): https://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/downloads/1941-2/1941-42%20(22)%201-32%20Hamilton%20Thompson.pdf

    Historically, the patronage of the bishops of Chichester was very slender – for example, the 1841 Clergy List indicates that they had the gift of only thirty benefices (though four of these were plural) outside the cathedral dignities in a diocese with approximately 320 (or so) parishes extant at that time. I haven’t done a calculation of the current patronage rights of the bishops – inflated naturally by the foundation of many more recent parishes and the disposal or exchange of advowsons by former lay or corporate patrons – but thirty livings was obviously a relatively slender base on which to start, though not as extreme as the bishops of Peterborough, who had the gift of only four parochial cures in their own diocese, or Llandaff (five) or Oxford (six) (within the legal structures prevailing in Wales prior to 1921 and the expansion of the Oxford diocese beyond the confines of the eponymous county).

    Also, it is worth noting the relative financial distress of the Chichester diocese, occasioned in part by the fact that it still has far too many two or three parish benefices in rural situations, where benefices in excess of ten are now routine in nearby dioceses like Canterbury and Winchester.

    It’s therefore possible that when Dr Warner says “we have nothing for you”, what he might mean is that, given the way in which benefices need to be amalgamated in order to reduce the stipendiary headcount (and thus relieve pressure on the budget), and the pressing economic need to discount certain forms of churchmanship in order to effect any such rationalisation, the preferment cupboard is bare.

    Of course, it is also possible that there is something else going on, and that having certain associations can lead people, however blamelessly and unwittingly, into a sort of purdah. I have read Mr Flint’s witness statement, which speaks for itself. There is no biography in Crockford. However, I note that he is a long-serving incumbent of Rusper, between Crawley and Horsham (which you have pictured), and where I attended a service in 2009 as part of a pilgrimage I have been undertaking. Until recently it was in plurality with Colgate, where I have also attended a service. To my knowledge Rusper might now be the only rural single parish benefice in the diocese, absent Cowden (following the recent closures of Holtye and Hammerwood) where the incumbent has been part time; until 2015 Heyshott was also on its own, but it was led by an SSM. Knowledge of this will, I suppose, create its own pressures.

    Richard W. Symonds [unpublished]

    This disturbing case of the use and abuse of Church power has other implications. For example: If Archbishop Welby [and Bishop Warner] insist there is still a “significant cloud” hanging over the deceased Bishop Bell accused of sexual abuse, even though the accusations have been proved to be unfounded, then that Archbishop and Bishop are falsely accusing the deceased Bishop and thus is an abuse of power on their part – as well as breaking the Ninth Commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness”.