Tag Archives: Church of England Core Groups


“Gibbs: independent body will supervise Church’s safeguarding” – Church Times – Hattie Williams

INDEPENDENT trustees will hold the National Safeguarding Team of the C of E to account, the lead bishop of safeguarding, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, has confirmed. In addition, an independent panel will be set up to approve support packages for survivors. “Whatever it costs, the money will be found,” he said.
Dr Gibbs, who is also the Bishop of Huddersfield, was speaking on Monday after the House of Bishops unanimously endorsed a motion to accept the investigation report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), and “unreservedly apologise” to victims and survivors for the harm done by the Church. The House also committed itself to “urgently implementing” the Inquiry’s recommendations.
One of these recommendations was to upgrade the post of diocesan safeguarding adviser (DSA) to diocesan safeguarding officer (DSO) in order to allow them to be able to take the lead on safeguarding matters, including reporting serious incidents and commissioning investigations and risk-assessments.
To do this, the House agreed unanimously to establish an independent safeguarding structure, with a new trustee body, to take over responsibility from the Archbishops’ Council. The Bishops also agreed that an interim arrangement be put in place for additional independent oversight of safeguarding before the new trustee body is established.
Dr Gibbs explained after the meeting: “The key thing is that we are all agreed that safeguarding needs to be independent: we can’t have bishops, diocesan secretaries, making decisions about safeguarding for two reasons: because they are not professionally qualified in safeguarding, and because there is an element of structural conflict of interest. They have a diocese to look after and to run, so there is always a potential conflict.”
He reported full support among the Bishops for the independence of diocesan safeguarding advisers. The Bishops were “very happy to explore changing their name and status to diocesan safeguarding officers, but really in order to be affective that needs to be picked up in terms of how we structure the whole question of independence. . . and accountability.”
He clarified that under current guidance, DSAs are already able to report safeguarding issues without seeking permission; “but the reality is that they are employed within the diocese and line-managed by diocesan secretaries and bishops, and we need to cut that.”
It was an issue of balance, Dr Gibbs said. “You need people to have a proper degree of independence; but, on the other hand, they need to be rooted and integrated in the diocese if they are really going to bring about culture change.”
The new trustee body would oversee the National Safeguarding Team and hold it to account, rather than the Archbishops’ Council, as at present. Whether or not the independent trustees would have any relationship to the Church was “still to be worked out”, he said. “It has to be credible, partly that they are not answerable to and being line-managed by the National Church Institutions.”
The Church Times understands that the body would be established, and members appointed by an independent body, such as the Charity Commission.
Dr Gibbs said that both Archbishops were keen to implement this “very soon”. There would be a management board with an independent chair and the equivalent of non-executive directors. “You then have to think who represents the Church on that; some have suggested the lead bishop; but there clearly needs to be a majority of independent members on that board who are holding the NST to account on their safeguarding work.”
The NST has been criticised recently for its handling of safeguarding cases, particularly in relation to core groups, as in the case of the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy (News, 11 September). Dr Gibbs said that a full review and consultation on the core group process was “imminent”.
“The [2017] guidelines were written for someone who had been alleged to have abused someone; the complicated cases we have been dealing with recently are whether this senior church person has properly handled the process: that is a different issue. . . We certainly need to clarify at what stage and how are people represented; what are the procedures for making sure that things are being done properly; what is the process for appealing.” There was “a lot to do”.
Asked about the interim redress scheme for survivors to provide immediate financial and pastoral need, Dr Gibbs said: “We are aware of particular cases where there is urgent financial need and for other kinds of support . . . counselling, therapy, life coaching, debt advice. . . We recognise that we have a lot to learn about how we do this, which is why it is a pilot scheme.”
He described a system designed to repair the damage caused not by the original abuse but by how complaints were handled subsequently. “We are not revisiting at this stage the original claim; that may come later in the [full] redress scheme. What we are looking at is what has happened to [survivors] since they have first disclosed: in particular how has the Church responded to them?
“Sadly, some survivors have found that the whole process of disclosure — and how that has been handled by the Church and its representatives, i.e. insurance companies and lawyers — has left them in a worse place than before they disclosed. That is deeply shocking.”
A “package of support” would be decided upon and offered by an independent panel, which is currently being convened so that decisions about the case are not made by the lead bishops or by members of the NST.
“That would include an independent chair who has worked with survivors, a survivor voice in the panel, and someone with expertise in understanding trauma: a psychologist background.”
There was a fund to get this started, and the Church Commissioners had been approached to work out when and how redress might be costed, Dr Gibbs said. “Even in the interim phase, we need access to serious money to do this job. The needs of survivors will be funded to the extent that they need to be funded; this is about compassion, justice, and, dare I say it, generosity.
“Whatever it costs, the money will be found. That is a matter of honour as far as I am concerned. We have failed people dreadfully in the past.”
A new “more demanding” suite of training had also been developed to change attitudes to safeguarding on the ground. It brought people face-to-face with the kind of clericalism and deference highlighted in recent television documentaries, he said, which were also used in training. Recruitments processes were also being revised.
What was significant at the meeting on Monday, Dr Gibbs said, “was the fact that we had 100-per-cent support from the bishops — to recognise not only the need for cultural change, but their role in helping to drive and lead cultural change.”
Dr Gibbs, who has two more years as lead safeguarding bishop, said that there was “a small window of opportunity” to listen to survivors in order to bring about cultural change and establish training and independence. He did not want to waste it.
“We are starting from a very low base of trust. I am well aware that there is a well of frustration, anger, hurt, about the way that survivors have been treated in the past. I am very grateful for their willingness to work with us at all. I am very conscious that we have a very small window of opportunity to take this forward.”
While his role is primarily strategic, he said, “my contacts with individuals also massively influences my whole perspective.”
The House of Bishops is due to release a full response to the IICSA report in the coming weeks.




“Core Blimey” – Private Eye No 1529 – 28 August – 10 September 2020


FOLLOWING our report in Eye 1527 that there are currently 27 national “core groups” investigating safeguarding concerns about bishops and deans in the Church of England, the church’s lead bishop on safeguarding, Rt. Revd Jonathan Gibbs, quickly put out a correction.

There are in fact 30 such groups, three more having been created since the last count in mid-July. He added that “about three-quarters of current national cases are about senior clergy failing to act appropriately rather than a direct allegation of abuse.”

This isn’t as reassuring as he seems to think: it implies that seven or eight of the most senior figures in the Church of England are being investigated over allegations of first-order abuse.

Some of these may be retired, but as far as we know only two – former Archbishop George Carey and current Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson – are currently barred from acting as bishops, and their cases don’t involve any “direct allegation of abuse”.

Lord Carlile QC said two weeks ago that the C of E’s core group system is “the most incompetent and unjust form of investigation I have ever seen.”

Carlile led the 2017 review of how the church mishandled claims against the late Bishop George Bell. He concluded that its George Bell core group had been “unmethodical, confused and unstructured”, with the membership and chair changing from meeting to meeting. The whole process was predicated on Bell’s guilt and resulted in “catastrophic damage” to his posthumous reputation. (The mistaken allegation that Bell was a paedophile was reported as fact in the Daily Telegraph by religious-affairs editor John Bingham – who was subsequently punished for his error by being appointed the C of E’s head of media.)

Carlile is among 65 lawyers, clerics and abuse survivors who signed a letter to the Charity Commission this month, asking it to challenge the C of E over “the continuing flow of cases of injustice”. The signatories accuse core groups of acting “in ways reminiscent of the Star Chamber, synonymous with the selective use of arbitrary unaccountable power”.

Last month, for example, a victim of John Smyth QC made a formal complaint against Archbishop Justin Welby for failing to act on information about his old friend’s violently abusive behaviour, and was duly told that an investigation would be held. But he now learns that Welby has already been the subject of a secret investigation into the claim in 2017 – in which the complainant was not even consulted. The new inquiry is nothing more than an internal review of that process – which could be tricky since no-one will say who conducted the investigation or what it discovered.

Ultimately, the judgement on whether Welby should be disciplined rests with the new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who has himself been recently investigated by a core group; and the judgement on whether Archbishop Cottrell should be disciplined for his safeguarding failure rests with Archbishop Welby.

What could be fairer than that?






Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner

October 22 2015 – Church of England Statement by the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner on the Rt Revd George Bell (1883-1958):
“In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties…The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim”
Ponder this if you will, then decide what action to take.
In Chichester, action has already taken place by restoring 4 Canon Lane back to George Bell House:
More action is to follow.




“We seem to be witnessing evil and corruption on a grand scale” ~ Stephen Parsons – ‘Surviving Church’

Some updates on safeguarding matters

Several developments relating to safeguarding in the Church of England.

The Insurance Post reports that Ecclesiastical Insurance had an apologetically-worded statement in its annual report, published not long after its appearance at the IICSA hearings: Briefing: Ecclesiastical’s child abuse claims shame – CEO Hews’ admission too little too late? Scroll down in the article for the full text of the EIO statement.

The Church Times reports: Two members are removed from core group in Percy case, owing to conflict of interest

TWO members of the core group set up to examine accusations of safeguarding breaches by the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy, have been removed after they were deemed to have a conflict of interest in the case, the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has confirmed…
…In May, Private Eye reported that the core group established by the NST of the Church of England earlier this year included two members of the college who had supported complaints against Dean Percy, including the Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson (News 29 May). The Dean is not represented on the core group, although one of the two college members was reportedly asked to represent him and declined. It is assumed that these are the two members removed from the core group…

The article goes on to report the question asked by Martin Sewell (and answered by the Bishop of Huddersfield) at the General Synod meeting on 11 July about whether, by including complainants in the core group, the Church had “embraced the concept of ‘unconscious bias’”.

Martin Sewell also had a letter in the Church Times last week Anonymity and representation in safeguarding (scroll down)

Sir, — The inauguration of the ministry of the new Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, was a great joy to many in the Church who know his writings and enthusiasm for spreading the gospel. It is a shame that, for reasons outside his control, it occurred under the shadow of the suspicion that he enjoyed the privilege of anonymity while a safeguarding complaint was considered against him, whereas Lord Carey found the fact of his investigation in the hands of the press within three hours of his being notified.
This was wholly unnecessary. Had the recommendations of the C­­­arlile report been accepted and implemented in full, everyone under inquiry would have enjoyed anonymity pending investigation and there would have been a level playing field for both men.
Furthermore, Lord Carlile recommended that the respondent be given representation at the core group table: a recommendation that, had it been implemented, would have avoided the current débâcle over Dean Percy. In his report on Bishop Bell, Lord Carlile wrote: “There was no discussion whatsoever of the need to ensure the justice of the case by examining the facts from Bishop Bell’s standpoint. This issue seems to have been totally abandoned.”
One suspects that this is equally true in the Percy case, but we cannot know, as the Dean is refused access to the minutes.
Finally, the House Bishops Guidelines have not been updated over two years after they accepted the Carlile recommendations — except the one about anonymity –though they have applied that one in favour of someone they wish to advance.
I hope and believe that Archbishop Cottrell has the commitment to justice to drive forward the necessary change, by implementing all review recommendations, from the office to which he has now been called.

Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church has a detailed further analysis of the NST’s Core Groups and the Carlisle recommendations in Revisiting the Carlile Review: A Critique of Church Core Groups? This deserves reading in full, but he concludes thus:

…Can we detect in any way that the Core Group was being ‘managed’ to satisfy the needs of the Church communications department and its desire for good PR?  Were the Archbishop and Bishop of Chichester making statements suggested to them by their highly remunerated reputation managers?  If Carlile’s critical Review is pointing us in this direction, then it follows that similar pressures will also be at work in the 2020 Percy Group.  Are Core Groups, in other words, subject to being managed to suit the purposes of the reputation launderers working for the Church? In the comments I made about Bishop Jonathan’s responses to questions at the recent Synod, I suggested that the management of safeguarding issues was being handed over to a team of lawyers.  Such lawyers would be the ones seeking to defend the Church and protect its good name.  Now, after reading the Carlile report again, I am left wondering whether it is in fact the power of reputation managers and communication departments that we see operating behind the scenes and making the decisions for our Church.  If that is the case, then our Church will not be taking too seriously the cause of transparency, justice and truth.  These and other Christian values like honesty and right dealing may only ever be paraded in public when they can serve the purposes of good PR!

This rereading of the Carlile report and the way that it revealed rampant ‘unconscious bias’, to quote from Martin Sewell’s question at last Synod, allows us to point once again to our ongoing concerns over the Percy Core Group. Conflicts of interest still abound there. Quite apart from the inappropriate placing of two complainants in the Group, there are the collusions we have pointed to before between firms of lawyers, reputation managers and those at Christ Church who have manipulated the Church and the NST to operate in their interests. If the incompetence of the Bell Core Group was a scandal, the sheer apparent malevolence at work in this present Percy Group is one which is driving out all pretensions to ethical behaviour and Christian values. We seem to be witnessing evil and corruption on a grand scale. Will the Church at the national level be able to rescue this situation and allow it to come through this appalling crisis?


Martin Hislop
More evidence as to why an Independent Ecclesiastical Ombudsman needs to appointed.
Richard W. Symonds

“We seem to be witnessing evil and corruption on a grand scale”

If that is the case, then we all have a responsibility to act. To do nothing – or not enough – is not an option.

Last edited 3 hours ago by Richard W. Symonds


An apparent conflict of interest on this scale and nature should be a resigning issue for those who allegedly accepted places without declaring it, and for those who asked them to be on the committee.




‘They’: A Talking Head

(Apologies to Alan Bennett)

An offering to Surviving Church from an anonymous contributor who speaks of the Kafkaesque experience of being at the wrong end of a Church of England Core Group

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

‘First They Came’ is the oft-quoted and adapted poetic form of the post-war confession in 1946, from the German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller. His confession was about the cowardice of intellectuals, Christians and most clergy for saying nothing in the face of injustice, even when it was right in front of them, in plain sight.  They all chose to look away. This included, and by his own admission, Niemöller himself.  Niemöller’s prose raises two questions for us today. First, who are they? Second, who are we? In what I describe below I seek to address that question.  I write anonymously, but I do so autobiographically, with some details changed.


They wrote to tell me that they had formed a Core Group. It was all about me, apparently, and my ‘practices’. Not now, of course.  But something done or not done in the past.  The person writing told me that they couldn’t say anymore at this stage. They had decided I would have to be investigated. They couldn’t tell me what it was about in detail. I would understand that they had to maintain their confidentiality.

They told me to step back from a number of duties, voluntarily.  Or I would be punished with some suspension. They told me this was non-negotiable, but they were just asking. Nicely. But that if I didn’t comply, there would be trouble.

They told me they would allocate me some support. They had selected someone for me. I was in too much shock to take notice. This person, they said, would help me. With what, I asked? At this stage, they said, they could not say anything further. But they had allocated me some support. Did they know anything, I asked? No, they said.  The support person was picked for me, but remains outside the ‘process’.

Then they sent a letter. There would be a statement on the website and an agreed announcement about the process I ‘had agreed to enter into’. But I protested, I hadn’t ‘agreed’ to anything. I’d been given no choice: forced. They replied I did have a choice. Comply, or lose your job, they said. I asked who wrote the statement?  They said the Core Group had ‘agreed it’, and that there was nothing I could do about it. 

The letter, they said, would be helpful. It wasn’t. It outlined some specimen ‘accusations’ against me, and told me this meant I would be categorised as a ‘risk’ for the time being. But I was not to worry. Being suspended was a purely ‘neutral act’ – it did not imply any guilt on my part. This was merely a ‘routine’ process, so I should not be concerned about my reputation. They told me I could not talk to anyone about what was happening. That I had to keep this confidential. That I was not allowed to say anything about this to anyone.

I asked if I could have an advocate – some legal advice, perhaps?  They said that would not be necessary. They said I was not ‘on trial’ in this process. Although, they did add that if the ‘investigation’ concluded that I was a ‘risk’, then I could lose my role, home and livelihood. I asked if I would have input into that decision?  They said that would be a matter for the Core Group. They added that I could take my own legal advice – if I wanted.  But at my expense, of course.

I asked, who was on the Core Group? They could not say at this stage: it was confidential. I asked how the Core Group was formed? They could not say, as it was confidential to the Core Group. I asked if it was free from conflicts of interest, bias, or people using it for vindictive purposes, or making vexatious and ruinous allegations? They said the Core Group managed these things, and there was a process. I asked if I could see a transcript or details of what I was accused of? They said that was confidential to the Core Group.  I asked if there was a process of appeal, or perhaps a complaint process? They told me they would think about that.

I asked what would happen if they got things wrong? They seemed puzzled by this question.  The process was agreed. The Core Group had met. Accusations and allegations had been made. There would have to be an investigation. Surely, they said, I could see they had to continue with their process until it was completed?

I told them that some people committed suicide when faced with the shaming of such allegations and accusations. Many people who did not take their own lives became depressed instead, and signed off sick.  Or just resigned. Or both.  It could take years to recover from the trauma of being falsely accused.  Reputations might never be restored.  They said nothing. So I asked again. They still did not answer. I asked again. They reminded me that they had allocated me a support person. If I did not want the one they allocated, I could choose my own.  That was it, they said.

I told them that this could be financially ruinous for me. They said, ‘the process must come first. We cannot run this around concerns for you, your wellbeing, welfare reputation or your family. Victims must come first!’. I said that there weren’t any victims. No-one had complained. That this was all made up, and just malicious. 

They just said that everybody had to be treated the same, and there could be no special pleading.  I had to be investigated in the same way as anyone else who ‘potentially posed a risk’.  Could I not see that this was ‘fair’?

I protested. Fair on who, or what, I asked?  Do I have to prove my innocence, lest I be presumed guilty?  Are we not all ‘potential risks’?  I could not see any fairness in their process. I could see no transparency, accountability or truthfulness.  I could not see any evidence of concern for me, due process, or for the interests of the victims or survivors of abuse. They said that the church had to ‘look like it was doing the right thing’. It can’t be seen to be letting some people off lightly.

So I gave them a list of people who they had already let off lightly. Or in some cases, had decided to not investigate at all. These people were all known abusers. They had caused untold damage to dozens, even hundreds of people. Over many decades.  People had known about their abuse for years. But nothing had been done to them, or to the people who knew about it. So I asked, why was I being singled out?

They did not answer. They said that each Core Group came to its own conclusions. That they could not comment on individual cases. That if no investigation of a known abuser had taken place, there must have been good reasons in the process for this to have been decided at the time. The fact that these people were eventually found to be abusers, and had now been named was, of course, ‘regrettable’.

I asked if there was ever any apology for the victims in these cases? They said that if they had decided not to investigate such people then, they could not possibly be held responsible for the actions of abusers now, or for what they had done to their victims. They said that was ‘obvious’.

I asked them why they put out a media statement about me, but not about others who were being ‘investigated’?  That was a Core Group decision, they told me. So I asked who made decisions about who was to be named and shamed, and who was to be shielded from any exposure to the media? There was no answer.

I asked again. They told me these decisions were made on a case-by-case basis. They ‘reassured’ me that there was no hidden ‘agenda’ against me. Everything that was done, is being done, and will be done to you, is done for the sake of the victims and survivors, who ‘must come first’, they said.

I said, ‘it looks like you are just protecting your own reputation here…I mean, you throw a few people to the wolves to make it look like you have got robust structures, but you just operate secretly and with no sense of accountability or justice…’. Again, they did not answer me.

So I went to the bible, and I read them these words from Nicodemus in the Gospel of John (7: 51): “Does our law seriously judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out the facts, and discover what they are doing?”  I said that word “seriously” like John McEnroe did – a kind of shouted, sarcastic, sulky squeal.

They didn’t like this. I knew that, because by now I had figured out that anything they didn’t like, or any question they didn’t want to answer, meant that they just kept silent.  They did not need to speak to me, or answer me. They are not answerable to anyone. They are unaccountable.

They could do what they liked with me and to me. The process allowed them to suspend me; to recommend my removal; to name and shame me; to draw on evidence against me, but refuse to hear evidence or testimony for me. They could go after anyone they liked. No-one was above them.

I asked, ‘seriously…how is any justice served by this?’.  They just told me that they operated with their own processes. They were not like healthcare, government, social care or other bodies. So, they did not need to follow the good practices of other organisations and institutions, because they were not like them. They did not need to operate justly or fairly, because they self-audited, judged themselves, and worked with their own standards and protocols. This all worked well for them, they said.

I asked them about all the illness and trauma they were causing me. I mentioned the sleepless nights, the stress to my family, the medication, the financial costs and the reputational damage they were inflicting. They said ‘we can see that this must be a difficult time for you’. But they said nothing more. And they did nothing more. They carried on with their process.

I no longer know what they are doing. I know nothing about the new Core Group they set up to investigate me. I don’t know who they are.  I don’t know if they are doing this to me deliberately to cause me harm, or because they are incompetent, and too proud to admit their failings.  But I do know that I no longer trust them. I do know that I no longer believe them. I do know that none of their statements can be taken at face value anymore. I do know that they are bungling – but also dangerous.  I do know that when your church hierarchy can’t be trusted any longer, something deeply corrupt has taken root in that body. 

As I reflect, I wonder how we ever arrived at this sorry state of affairs. When you can’t believe and trust your bishops and other high-ranking officials in the church, because they cannot demonstrate truthfulness, transparency and fairness, what is left for us?  Just questions, I think. And a group of people – I have only referred to them as ‘they’ – who don’t answer to anyone, or think they need to answer anything. 

That question comes round again: “Does our law seriously judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out the facts, and discover what they are doing?”  Poor Nicodemus.  He never got an answer from the Pharisees and Sadducees. Nor would Nicodemus get one from our church today.  Authorities know how to keep silences – that is their main mode of violence.

They had pursued others before me; but I said nothing. I assumed the authorities knew what they were doing then; that they must be right. In getting rid of these others, it showed they must have done something wrong to deserve such treatment.  But then they came for me.

They may come for you too. Who are they? Who are we?  I am not longer very sure.  But please remember this: I have warned you.



They haven’t learnt much have they? https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/7745-2/

This was at end of 2017 and the issues of contamination and corruption persist unresolved. Needless to say Bishops Hancock and Mullally did nothing to examine the issues, but imagined that everything in the hands of the NST was safe, above board and fully functional. Both bishops abdicated responsibility to a group and culture inside Church House which was anything but above board. The hallmarks of dishonesty and dysfunctionality were those of its senior management and overseers.

Finally this past week, we saw a bishop (Pete Broadbent), who I’m told is a considerable power in the land, tweet in recognition of core group dysfunctionality:

“There are major issues about the way the National Safeguarding Team Core Groups operate. Even if you don’t agree with all the points made here, there must be a agreement on a proper review and overhaul of process. Too much of this is Kafka-esque.” https://twitter.com/petespurs/status/1279730076943355904?s=20

They might be getting it finally. But it’s probably too late to rescue a misappropriated NST from the train wreck of the Martyn Percy core group. It should be better called the Christ Church/Winckworth Sherwood/Luther Pendragon core goup. They seem to be running this scurrilous circus.


Richard W. Symonds to Rod Gillis:

“+ York is providing a strategic narrative. Such are particularity important to an entity when it is at a turning point or has reached a crisis or is in danger of catastrophic decline” 
Steve Lewis [over at ‘Surviving Church’]:
“Hiding behind lawyers can be the sign of an organisation in death throes. The lack of humanity…and evasion of answers to persisting questions is indeed pathognomonic”
‘Leslie’ [over at ‘Surviving Church’]
“Nigel Davies who has recently restarted blogging on his site concerning Trinity Church Brentwood has brought to mind a safeguarding issue from 2005 in the USA. Of particular interest in light of this present correspondence is the instructions of the Insurance company to the Church leadership after abuse allegations surfaced: –
‘….not make any statements, orally, in writing or in any manner, to acknowledge, admit to or apologise for anything that may be evidence of or interpreted as (a suggestion that) the actions of Vienna Presbyterian Church caused or contributed to any damages arising from the intentional acts /abuse/ misconduct’
“Happily the leadership rejected the instruction”

Rod Gillis

Looked over your comment and the attached link to the blog. I don’t see the connection with my comment. In the comment I’m referring to what are called ‘strategic narratives’. These are used for the purposes of corporate planning, sometimes H.R., and what is euphemistically called ‘visioning’ and the like. I left it as an open question as to whether or not my comment has particular relevance to the C of E. If there is a connection with the legal issues you are pointing to, I don’t get it.

Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Rod Gillis

An institution is in terminal decline when it hides behind ‘lawyer-speak’ and “strategic narratives”

Rod Gillis

Ok thanks, Richard. I think I’ve clued into the connection you are making between your analysis and mine. One of my interests is rhetorical criticism (see link) including the adaptation of PR blah blah to church-land. So, I was interested in the President’s address as a ‘genre’ together with the fact that journalists immediately picked up on the contentious use of ‘tribal’, not simply to spin a headline but because its use is a fragment that may be a clue to the whole.   To re-iterate, the political back story to many C of E comments here is often over… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds

Steve Lewis: “Hiding behind lawyers can be the sign of an organisation in death throes. The lack of humanity…and evasion of answers to persisting questions is indeed pathognomonic” 
Another sign is the callous disregard of the sacrosanct law of the Presumption of Innocence.

Rowland Wateridge

Steve Lewis is an accountant and not a lawyer. You didn’t quote this from his comment (also referring to his own profession) on ‘Surviving Church’:
“I don’t denigrate these professions incidentally. It would be stupid to ignore legal considerations or financial ones for that matter. I would go further and recommend getting the best advice you can afford. But they can’t run the show for you wearing their particular hats. They are advisory only. As leader you must have courage to stick to the key thing you believe in.”
To which I would add, based on personal experience, that anyone in a position of authority must act within the law. The case I have in mind brought people (who thought that they knew better and disregarded legal advice) perilously close to being in contempt of court, with what that implies. And it took strong legal advice, emphatically delivered, to rescue them!

Richard W. Symonds

‘Rotten At The Core Group’
“I no longer know what they are doing. I know nothing about the new Core Group they set up to investigate me. I don’t know who they are. I don’t know if they are doing this to me deliberately to cause me harm, or because they are incompetent, and too proud to admit their failings. But I do know that I no longer trust them. I do know that I no longer believe them. I do know that none of their statements can be taken at face value anymore. I do know that they are bungling – but also dangerous. I do know that when your church hierarchy can’t be trusted any longer, something deeply corrupt has taken root in that body”
~ Anonymous

Richard W. Symonds

Church of England Core Groups have become Kafkaesque and Orwellian all rolled into one Purple Circle.
In Surviving Church’s recent ‘They’ article, Stephen Parsons gives an insight as to the reasons why Bishops and the like are unwilling to ‘rock an already-sinking boat’.
Noam Chomsky did much the same – in greater depth – in his ground-breaking article ‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals’, written over 60 years ago. It’s a challenging, uncomfortable read [like that of Stephen P’s] – and if the word “Intellectuals” is replaced by “Moral Intellectuals” [such as Bishops and the like], it becomes even more challenging and uncomfortable: