Truth is the scapegoat for Pilate Welby
March 24, 2018
It is a week before Good Friday. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are re-enacting the Passion Play. The prelates take the part of Pontius Pilate – the archetypal political opportunist around whom pivots the denouement of the Passion. Pilate’s melodramatic and stunningly symbolic ritual of washing his hands has become a colourful and compelling metaphor for the artful evasion of responsibility at the highest level of authority.
Archbishop John Sentamu is standing in a queue before Pilate’s washbasin. He is waiting his turn. A bevy of bishops are dipping their hands into the shallow pool of sophistry and prevarication. They are chanting the absolution from the Church of England’s liturgy for Safeguarding and Child Protection. ‘It’s not my problem. It’s someone else’s problem.’ Amen.
They are shepherds and guardians of the flock. Fr Matthew Ineson is a member of that flock. Ineson complains that another vicar repeatedly raped him when he was 16 years old. He wants the Pilates in purple to give him justice. He appeals to Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster. ‘That bishop did nothing,’ says Ineson. ‘Nothing.’
Ineson hopes that the other magnificent men in mitres will shield him with their staff and apply the balm of Gilead to his wounded soul. Like Bunyan’s Pilgrim he sets off to meet Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield; Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester; Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverly; Roy Williamson, Bishop of Bradford (retired); and finally the Archbishops of York and Canterbury. But each time he says he is shoved into the Slough of Despond and the bishops ceremoniously wash Fr Matt’s muck off their hands.
‘It’s not my problem. It’s someone else’s problem.’ Amen – Absolution from the New Liturgy of Safeguarding
Ineson is calling on the bishops to resign over their handling of his complaints. This month he has been parading Sentamu before the judiciary of the mainstream media, social media andblogosphere. A Data Protection Act request has unearthed amemo that would make Pilate look like an amateur.
The memo deals with Ineson and the suicide of his alleged abuser. It is headed: ‘For the attention of the Archbishop.’ It ends with THERE IS NO NEED FOR YOU TO TAKE ANY ACTION. THE NATIONAL TEAM ARE MANAGING THE CASE. The last box on the memo is for ‘Archbishop’s Response’. The second highest-ranking cleric in the global Anglican Communion sums up his response to the suicide of one priest and the alleged rape of another in a single word: NOTED.
Earlier in the week, Justin Welby has been dragged before theIndependent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Welby is not so foolish as to stand on the balcony of Lambeth Palace with a washbasin and towel. He has watched Sentamu and other bishops wash their hands using distilled water and carbolic soap. He has observed the media backlash.
At the hearing, Fiona Scolding QC socks it to Welby. ‘The other thing that we have seen a lot of in respect of leadership, or some people would say we have seen a lot of, is shifting the blame,’ she says. ‘Yes,’ replies Welby, carefully picking his monosyllable. Scolding lands an uppercut on the archbishop’s jaw. ‘Everybody admitting that it was partly their responsibility and they’re sorry for that, but actually, “It wasn’t really my responsibility and these are the 15 reasons why somebody else was responsible for it”.’ Welby knows when he’s out for the count. ‘Sure,’ he mumbles his second monosyllable.
A Data Protection Act request has unearthed a memo that would make Pilate look like an amateur.
But soon, with Machiavellian cunning, Welby spins Pilate’s washbasin strategy at dizzying speeds like a schoolboy spinning his top. He spits righteous outrage at Pilate’s washbasin. ‘Nobody can say it is not my fault. It is so absurd,’ says Welby. ‘To say, “I have heard about a problem but it was someone else’s job to report it”, that is not an acceptable human response, let alone a leadership response. If you know a child is being abused, not to report it is simply wrong, for every human being.’ Bravo, bravissimo, Archbishop Justin!
Ineson tweets back to the Arch of Cant: ‘Tell that to @JohnSentamu who ignored my disclosure & 5 years on (5 years my abuser was left to abuse again) now says it wasn’t his job, it was @Steven_croft’s. Problem is neither of them have the decency to apologise & @c_of_e hasn’t got the decency to hold them to account.’
He’s right. Aren’t these just ‘words, words, words’ that sicken Eliza Doolittle? Why isn’t Welby calling for the resignation of his opposite number in York?
Ah! But what if this is precisely what Welby is doing? The mob on the portico of Pilate’s palace is baying for Jesus’s blood. The best way to feed the hungry sharks is to throw them a steak. Pilate gives the mob a choice. He lines up a terrorist named Jesus Barabbas alongside Jesus of Nazareth. Pilate is not too fussed about whom the crowd will choose. After all, they have the same first name, ‘Jesus’!
Why isn’t Welby calling for the resignation of his opposite number in York?
Barabbas is Pilate’s joker in the pack. With Faustian foresight Welby has struck a bargain with Mephistopheles and crucified other bishops at the altar of public relations – the dead Bishop George Bell and former Archbishop George Carey. Now it’s time to throw Sentamu to the sharks. If he has not shredded every fibre of self-respect, though, Sentamu should resign immediately.
Pilate is a postmodernist. He has three principles. Power is absolute. Truth is relative. Survival is non-negotiable. Pilate makes Jesus of Nazareth the scapegoat that allows him to survive in power at the expense of truth.
After scapegoating Bell and Carey, Welby magically produces a number of sacrificial lambs he can lead straight to the slaughter. He pretends the problem is factionalism. ‘A lot of it goes down to tribalism within the Church. Different groups who felt the liberty of defending their own position, right or wrong.’ To claim that tribalism leads to sexual abuse is a high jump of faith only an Olympic athlete would attempt. Welby’s solution is to ‘introduce diversity in training’.
He blames clergy and laity in the parish. The Twitterati erupts with indignation. ‘This is appalling deflection. It’s not PCCs, CWs and Parish Clergy who have routinely undermined safeguarding protocols, passed the buck and allowed space for child abuse to continue is it. No, it’s Bishops and Archdeacons. Blame the small guys. Nothing changes,’ tweets Gareth Jones, Crown Court Chaplain.
Ultimately, the real scapegoat is truth. ‘What is truth?’ asks Welby, in his poshest Roman accent. Pilate survives to this day. Every time we recite the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed we remember that Jesus was ‘crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate’. And at every rock concert when the heavy metal group Megadeth belt out their song Elysian Fields from the Youthanasia album, they are singing the line ‘Pontius Pilate is still washing his hands . . .’
One of the beauties of sport is that it populates its landscape with young people dreaming of making it into the big time. Among its darkest aspects is the violation of those dreams by predators who see aspiration as a vulnerability they can exploit.
From the depravity of Barry Bennell right down to the spiv who tries to get rich on the back of a child’s talent, young people are in need of protection by families, institutions, vigilant individuals and of course the rule of law, which has caught up with Bennell – jailed at Liverpool Crown Court for 30 years for abusing 12 young footballers between 1979 and 1991.
Those protective structures failed abysmally for a generation of children who were defenceless against Bennell’s brazen and routine sex crimes, which, as the court heard, occurred on an “industrial scale.” As we know from the Jimmy Savile case and others, this level of sexual criminality is not possible unless those with the power to stop it are blinded by the perpetrator or place their own self-interest first.
In this case, parts of the Football Association, Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra – in that period – refused or failed to see Bennell’s interest in scouting and coaching was incidental to his main reason for working in football. His chief purpose was to gain access to children. He played a double game to satisfy his appetites, conning the clubs into thinking he was a talent-spotter par excellence and the children and their families into believing he held the key to a future in the game.
The NSPCC’s statement after sentencing pointed out that Bennell “ruthlessly preyed on the hopes and aspirations of young footballers who believed he held the key to their dreams”.
Procedures are much tighter in football now. Awareness has improved exponentially since the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. Yet, as the many recent welfare-in-sport scandals have demonstrated, there is still a phase in which young people are vulnerable if they have not attained full adulthood or the power that comes with success.
That stage of life, where children are most open to being exploited, is the one that requires the most careful policing, because sex offenders are drawn to professions in which they have access to, and can exploit the ambitions of, young people. Thus it falls not only to governing bodies but also coaches, parents – all of us, in fact – to recognise the danger signs and intervene, as opposed to merely muttering our concerns.
From Bennell’s perspective, reptilian deceit was effective. One member of City’s staff called him “the star-maker”. Concerns raised by Len Davies at City and Hamilton Smith at Crewe gained no real traction. Now, a further 86 alleged victims have reportedly come forward, which accentuates one of the truly shocking features of this tragedy: the impunity with which Bennell abused children, and the breadth of his crimes, in homes, holiday camps, football clubs and even on the pitch at Maine Road.
Only the victims who came forward to testify can know how long the “relief” will last. And relief was certainly the most conspicuous first response. No quest for justice – even one so obviously grounded in fact – guarantees the kind of outcome that exposed Bennell’s sadism and perversion.
The first emotion, one assumes, is one of vindication. The lie has been broken. An expectation now, however, is that thoughts will turn quickly to those who excused Bennell’s paedophilia, looked the other way, or facilitated it in ways that require them to be held to account.
Lord Carlile, one of the country’s leading legal figures, has said Bennell’s behaviour was “brushed under the carpet” by Crewe.
These failures, where they existed, cannot be marked down as unfortunate accidents. The victims are entitled to justice from football as well as the legal system. The FA bear a responsibility in their forthcoming report to show that negligence and complicity have consequences, not least for the FA of that time.
The societal nature of this crime was grimly apparent when a “Cambridge-educated” geophysicist from a “privileged” background, Matthew Falder, was jailed for 32 years at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting 137 offences including blackmail, voyeurism, encouraging child rape and sharing indecent images – on the same day Bennell began his latest prison sentence.
Football is not uniquely blighted by child sex abuse, and its safeguards now are better. But in all cases it needs to think first of child protection, of child welfare, and punish those who have failed in that duty.
Monday, November 28 2016
West Sussex PO19 1PY
Dear Dean and Members of Chapter
We write concerning the recent publication of the Pitkin Guide to the Cathedral. In common with many people locally and nationally who have read it, we find your stance on the text concerning the late Bishop Bell unhelpful. We are given to understand the copyright is your responsibility and that you wrote the text in question.
When every effort is being made to heal the hurt and divisions occasioned by the way the Church locally and nationally has handled this affair, it seems to us unwise to leave in place any potentially damaging text about Bishop Bell.
As concern grows nationally regarding the handling of sexual abuse cases, we await the investigation into the Church of England’s handling of this affair.
In the meantime, we would suggest three possible courses of action:
1. The withdrawal of the Guide from sale pending the Review by Lord Carlile QC
2. The re-printing of the Guide, excluding – or re-writing – the text in question
3. The insertion of a Slip into every copy of the Guide, stating something along the lines of: “The accusation of child sexual abuse which has been made against Bishop George Bell is now the subject to an investigation – led by Lord Carlile QC – which will report in 2017”.
Thank you for giving this letter your consideration.
Professor Peter BILLINGHAM
Rt. Rev and Rt. Hon THE LORD CAREY OF CLIFTON
Dr Colin CLARK
The Rt Hon THE LORD DEAR
The Reverend David EVANS
The Reverend Dr Jules GOMES
Dr Ruth Hildebrandt GRAYSON
Professor James GRAYSON
The Reverend Professor Martin HENIG
SIR JOHN AND LADY MACLURE
LADY [BRIDGET] NIXON
The Very Reverend Professor Martyn PERCY
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
Richard W. SYMONDS
THE LADY KENYA TATTON-BROWN
Dr Geoffrey THOMAS
The Reverend John TIBBS
For any reply and/or further information, please contact:
Richard W. Symonds The Bell Society 2 Lychgate Cottages Ifield Street, Ifield Village Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf)
cc The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
A retired Church of England priest has been found guilty of a string of sex offences dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.
Vickery House, 69, from West Sussex, had denied eight counts of indecent assault against six males aged 14 to 34, between 1970 and 1986.
He told the Old Bailey he was ashamed of his actions but claimed they were not sexual assaults.
House, of Brighton Road, Handcross, will be sentenced on Thursday.
The former vicar in Berwick, East Sussex, worked under Bishop Peter Ball, who was jailed for 32 months earlier this month after he admitted molesting young men between 1977 and 1992.
Sex abuse priest Gordon Rideout jailed for 10 years
20 May 2013
An Anglican priest who abused children in the 1960s and 70s has been jailed for 10 years.
Canon Gordon Rideout, 74, from East Sussex, who is now retired, was found guilty of 36 separate sex offences by a jury at Lewes Crown Court.
The attacks took place between 1962 and 1973 in Hampshire and Sussex.
Most of them were carried out at Ifield Hall children’s home in Crawley, when he was an assistant curate. The charges related to 16 different children.
Rideout, from Polegate, had denied 34 indecent assaults and two attempted rapes.
He was acquitted of one charge of indecent assault against a five-year-old child.
‘Position of trust’
Rideout was the assistant curate at St Mary’s Church in Southgate, Crawley, from September 1962 to September 1965.
During that time he regularly visited the Barnardo’s children’s home, Ifield Hall, which has since been demolished.
The majority of the offences took place there, although he was also convicted of four charges of indecent assault on two girls at the Middle Wallop army base, where he was a padre at St Michael’s Church on the site.
In 1972 he was accused of three indecent assaults at the base, but was cleared by a military hearing.
He was also the subject of a police investigation in 2001.
Nigel Pilkington, head of the CPS South East complex casework unit, said: “As an assistant curate and then chaplain, Gordon Rideout was in a position of trust which he systemically abused, indecently assaulting the vulnerable youngsters that he met over a number of years.
“He was able to wander through Ifield Hall and the gardens, even visiting children when they were sick and alone in bed.
“One victim recalled how the children would hide under their covers when he came into their dormitories.”
Mr Pilkington said a number of his victims attempted to speak out about the abuse, but were subjected to “brutal beatings” when they did.
“Some of his victims told police in interviews that it simply ‘wasn’t worth complaining’ because of the punishment they would receive in return,” he said.
“Instead the victims hid what happened to them for many years and none of us can begin to imagine the impact that has had on their lives.”
Barnardo’s director of children’s services, Sam Monaghan, said: “We are extremely saddened by this case and our deepest sympathies go out to those who have suffered; it has taken great courage for them to step forward and relive their experiences.
“We are glad that justice has been served and believe it is critical that abusers are held to account for their crimes, regardless of when they took place.”
Following the sentencing, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said Rideout had caused “immeasurable and destructive suffering over a long period of time”.
“He has also betrayed the trust and respect of many who have valued his ministry,” he said.
But in a statement, Dr Warner noted that the Diocese of Chichester was left with the question of why it had taken so long for “these grave accusations to be taken seriously and brought to trial”.
“What lessons do we all have to learn from this terrible catalogue of abuse about the strength and effectiveness of our communication within and between agencies that have responsibility for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults?
“In the Diocese of Chichester we shall continue to interrogate those procedures and to do our very best to ensure that we deliver the quality and standard that others expect of us.”
Gordon Rideout child sex abuse victims not believed
Jury retires in Gordon Rideout sex abuse trial
Canon Gordon Rideout denies child sex attacks in Sussex
Report into paedophile priests Cotton and Pritchard investigated
19 July 2011
The Church of England is starting an investigation into how inaccurate information was published in a report on two paedophile priests.
The report, by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss for the Church, looked at how historic claims of abuse by two Sussex priests were handled.
Lewes and Hastings Archdeacon, the Ven Philip Jones, denied there had been a cover-up.
“The Church has gone to great lengths to make sure that is not the case.”
The report followed a review by Baroness Butler-Sloss into the cases of Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard, who abused children in the 1970s and 1980s.
Pritchard served as the vicar of St Barnabas, Bexhill, until 2007 after being arrested over sex abuse claims. In 2008 he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys and was jailed for five years.
The offences took place while he was parish priest at St Andrew’s Church in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.
The court heard that Cotton had been involved in the offences but died in 2006, two weeks before Pritchard was arrested. Cotton worked as a priest in Brede, near Rye, in the 1990s.
Cotton was ordained in 1966, despite having a conviction for indecently assaulting a choir boy in the 1950s, and went on to abuse at least 10 boys from Eastbourne.
Inaccuracies in the Butler-Sloss review came to light after a BBC investigation.
Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes, told the baroness that he had given Cotton permission to officiate in 1999 to permit him to celebrate communion in the nursing home where he was then living.
But the BBC discovered he was not admitted to the nursing home until September 2003.
A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Chichester said last week new information had come to light since its publication of the report, adding Cotton had been ill from 1999 onwards and may have spent some time in hospital.
The archdeacon said Bishop Benn “maintained consistently” that he had understood his information he gave to be accurate.
And he said the report was still credible.
“The main thrust of the report relates to safeguarding practice and the recommendations she has made are full and entirely to the point,” he said.
“We have taken the recommendations on board in their entirety.
“Ultimately our priority is for the safeguarding of children.”
Bishop Benn is away on sabbatical and was not available for comment.
Church ‘sorry’ for abuse failings
CofE agreed paedophile ordination
Church criticised over sex abuse
Review into sex abuse ‘failings’