Tag Archives: Church Times

March 2 2018 – “IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, Church of England safeguarding officials say” – Church Times – Hattie Williams

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/2-march/news/uk/iicsa-hearing-more-disclosures-abuse-church-of-england-safeguarding-officials

IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, C of E safeguarding officials say

02 MARCH 2018

IICSA

Professor Alexis Jay and members of the Inquiry panel

THE Church of England must be prepared for new revelations and disclosures of clerical sex abuse during, and in the wake of, a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), a spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has said.

Starting on Monday, the public hearing in London will consider the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Anglican Church.

It will use the diocese of Chichester as a case study to examine the “culture of the Church” and whether its “behaviours, values, and beliefs inhibited or continued to inhibit the investigation, exposure, and prevention of child sexual abuse” (News, 2 February).

An NST spokesperson said on Tuesday: “High-profile cases that we have been involved with before, such as independent reviews, have led to more disclosures. We must assume that people will come forward for the first time: we would not want to rule that out.”

The public hearing is due to conclude on 23 March.

It is one of 13 investigations included in the IICSA — the largest public inquiry ever undertaken in the UK, which is looking into several institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church and local-authority children’s homes.

The Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed last week that he had been called to give evidence at the Chichester hearing. He said that the Church had to acknowledge “where it went wrong” — but that this did not mean that Christian values were wrong.

“It doesn’t mean that our Christian heritage was somehow totally misguided from beginning to end: it means that the Church did awful things (as well as many good things), but that it failed badly around the issues of the care of vulnerable children and adults,” he said.

“We have to face the consequences of that, [learn] to be genuinely transparent and honest, and we have to be repentant. We need to use religious language to repent.”

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, and the current Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner — who have both submitted statements — are also expected to be called to give evidence at the hearing, although the final timetable has yet to be confirmed.

The hearing will also examine C of E safeguarding policies, training, leadership, recruitment, and disciplinary processes, how effectively it has worked with statutory organisations, and its treatment of survivors, including the handling of allegations against a former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell.

Professional support will be made available by the IICSA to those present at the hearing. The NST has arranged for at least one bishop to be there on each day to provide pastoral support, as well as a private room for quiet reflection.

A spokesperson for the NST said that it had been working towards openness and transparency. “Given the history and legacy of poor practice, we have taken the issue of transparency into our approach to the inquiry: we have commissioned independent reviews, built a culture of continuous learning, and independently audited each of the 42 dioceses, all of which are being published.

“The Inquiry will be a difficult experience for survivors, the Church, and society, but we have to approach it as an opportunity to improve, to learn, to build on the work we are doing, and, hopefully, accelerate that work for the future.”

Ongoing safeguarding allegations. It was revealed this week that The General Synod was misinformed last month about the number of safeguarding allegations being handled by the dioceses, it was revealed this week.

There are in fact about 2600 cases ongoing, not 3300, as previously reported by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, in a written question to a Synod member, Kat Alldread, last month (News, 16 February).

More than half of these 2600 cases involved children, and more than a quarter related to church officers — not 18 per cent as previously reported, the clerk to the Synod, Dr Jacqui Philips, confirmed in a letter to Mrs Alldread this week.

A church officer is defined as anyone who is appointed or elected by or on behalf of the Church to a post whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid.

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February 26 2018 – “The Church of England should stand up for Bishop Bell” – OXSTU [Oxford Student]

http://oxfordstudent.com/2018/02/25/church-england-stand-bishop-bell/

The Church of England should stand up for Bishop Bell

A short biography of George Bell, who had been Bishop of Chichester for 27 years when he died in 1958, begins by acknowledging a recurring pattern regarding the reputation of notable people. It points out that after such people die, their reputations are often reshaped and defamed by harsh criticism not voiced during their lifetimes – but that the Bishop had managed to be an exception to this rule.

This claim, published in 1971, would no longer be written today. Whilst the memory of George Bell has been cherished over the past 60 years due to his significant support of the Protestant opposition to Hitler, his work in bringing over many non-Aryan refugees from Germany and his emphatic opposition to the bombing of civilians during the Second World War, Bell’s reputation is now at risk of being utterly decimated. A complaint made to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013 accused Bell of having committed grotesque acts of child abuse in the 1940s and 50s. In response, the Church apologised and paid the accuser £16,800 in compensation. Various memorials, such as one proclaiming him a ‘champion of the oppressed’ in Chichester Cathedral, faced removal. An Eastbourne school, formerly known as the Bishop Bell Church of England School, has changed its name altogether.

Most would agree that this sort of action would be justified in the face of conclusive evidence against Bell. But it has since transpired that the church acted far too hastily. Following their acceptance of the abuse claims, a robust movement was sparked to defend Bell’s reputation, involving major journalists such as Charles Moore and Peter Hitchens. The Church then initiated an independent inquiry, led by Lord Carlile (one of the country’s top legal experts), which concluded that they had “rushed to judgement” and that the damage to Bell’s reputation was “just wrong”. Lord Carlile even went so far as to say that had he been prosecuting a case against Bell in court, Bell would have won. Nevertheless, this report was withheld by the Church for two months. After its eventual release, Justin Welby insisted that a “significant cloud” still hangs over Bell’s name in spite of Lord Carlile’s conclusions.

We should be equally concerned for protecting Bell’s reputation against false accusations as we are for spoiling his reputation over true accusations

This strange outcome highlights an element of mystery that has surrounded the Bell case. The initial claim against Bell was anonymous and the church revealed no details about the accusation when making their apology. As mentioned, it took two months for the Church to release the Carlile report after having received it. Once it was released, Justin Welby did not follow the logical implications of the report, but refused to retract his statements because of a vague belief in a “cloud”. On the 31st January, the enigmatic plot thickened when the Church announced that a further anonymous and unspecified accusation had been made and was being investigated. Some felt the timing of this was suspicious, given that a motion to debate the restoration of Bell’s reputation was due to be voted on at the Church’s General Synod the following week. Lord Carlile, who knew nothing of this accusation during his investigation, described the announcement as ‘unwise, unnecessary and foolish’. At the very least, we can all recognise the strange and stark asymmetry between the previous withholding of the completed Carlile investigation report and the eagerness of the recent announcement of an incomplete investigation. Things got worse when it emerged that the Church of England had refused to allow Mrs Barbara Whitley, Bell’s 93-year-old niece, to have the lawyer of her choice represent her side in the proceedings – instead choosing on her behalf someone who is neither a lawyer nor known to Mrs Whitley.

At this point, while many will sympathise with the active supporters of George Bell, which now includes leading groups of historians, theologians and church leaders who have written public letters asking for Welby to retract his statement, others feel a sense of unease. After all, it is of course possible that the accusations are true. Justin Welby, in a recent interview with the Church Times, said that the alleged victims should be “treated equally importantly” as the reputation of George Bell. Some would say this does not go far enough: surely we must be more concerned for the alleged victims, who are still living, over the reputation of someone who died 60 years ago?

The general nervousness of the Church of England’s handling of the Bell case must be related to the fact that the Church currently faces over 3,000 complaints of sexual abuse

Perhaps a better way of framing this would be to say that we should be equally concerned for protecting Bell’s reputation against false accusations as we are for spoiling his reputation over true accusations. The trouble is that most people have an instinctive tendency to find the latter much easier than the former. When the Church of England apologised and paid the first alleged victim in 2015, The Guardian ran the story with the headline “Church of England Bishop George Bell abused young child”. At that stage, nothing was known about the identity of the accuser nor the accusations, and yet headlines announced the claims as fact. Once the Carlile report was made public, it would have been no less factual to run the headline ‘George Bell declared innocent of abuse claims’, yet nobody did so. In fact, most would consider this overstepping the mark.

The general nervousness of the Church of England’s handling of the Bell case must be related to the fact that the Church currently faces over 3,000 complaints of sexual abuse (including both long-standing and recent accusations). Other high-profile cases of clergy committing child abuse, such as that of former bishop Peter Ball, have highlighted the shocking failures of senior clerics to listen to victims and pass allegations on to the police. Taking into consideration the sharp spike in awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse in society more broadly, following Weinstein, Larry Nassar and the #MeToo movement, it is not hard to imagine why the Archbishop of Canterbury would not want to stick his head above the parapet and defend the innocence of an archetypal establishment figure: a dead, white, male clergyman.

Courage, after all, comes at a cost. George Bell discovered this himself when his opposition to the bombing of innocent civilians during the Second World War put him on the wrong side of Winston Churchill, probably the main reason why he was never appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. In the absence of substantial evidence in support of the accusations against him, Bell’s reputation deserves to be defended. This is not only in the interest of truth, but also in the interest of maintaining a legacy of courageous leadership which is desperately needed among Bell’s clerical successors today.

February 24 2018 – “Proof, not reputation, is crux of Bell affair” – Church Times – Letter – Marilyn and Peter Billingham

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/23-february/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-abuse-nuclear-disarmament-brexit-border-control-bell

Proof, not reputation, is crux of Bell affair

From Marilyn and Peter Billingham

Sir, — Canon Angela Tilby (Comment, 16 February) is indeed right to say in her column that those fighting for Justice in the George Bell case would be naïve to rest the case for his defence on his fine reputation. But they don’t.

The George Bell Group, the theologians, the lawyers, historians, academics, journalists, and, indeed, the independent reviewer Lord Carlile QC together present an overwhelming case that the evidence against Bishop Bell would not find its way to the criminal court at all were he to be alive.

Further, the evidence does not even meet the lower standard of proof, “the balance of probabilities”, required by the civil courts, now that he has passed away. In English law, he is innocent. The evidence would be too weak to take to court at all. Character references would not be required. Nevertheless, since when have character references been inadmissible in a court of English law?

MARILYN BILLINGHAM
PETER BILLINGHAM
Chichester

July 2014 – “Diocese and Cathedral turned deaf ears to victims’ complaints” – Church Times – Madeleine Davies

IAN CHRISMAS

Dean Treadgold: he “could not act on mere allegations” of child abuse

A DEVASTATING report on the failure of Chichester Cathedral and the diocese of Chichester to protect children from abuse over a 29-year period was published on Tuesday, ten years after its completion.

The CARMI report, written by Edina Carmi, a social-work consultant, was finished in 2004. It had been commissioned by a former Bishop of Chichester, Dr John Hind, after Terence Banks, head steward at the cathedral, was convicted of 32 sexual offences against 12 boys between 1971 and 2000. In 2004, only the recommendations of the report were published.

A new foreword to the report, written this month by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, explains that, in 2004, “Serious Case Reviews were not published in their entirety.”

The decision to publish it now had been informed by “our interaction with victims of sexual abuse in churches, who have consistently asked for the full facts to be brought to light, so that lessons are learned, and everything possible is done to ensure these awful events are not repeated”.

Dr Warner said that he and other clergy were “profoundly ashamed of abuse that has happened in church or church institutions”, and offered “our most sincere apologies to survivors and their families, though we know that this can never repair the damage done”.

The report had informed safeguarding practice, he said, and had begun a process of learning which continued with the publication of subsequent reports ( News, 3 May 2013, and News, 27 May 2011). Safeguarding practice had “moved on enormously since 2004”.

Mr Banks was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment in 2001, after an investigation by Sussex police. He was convicted of 23 charges of indecent assault, five of buggery, one of indecency with a child under 14 years, and two of attempting to procure acts of gross indecency.All of the 12 victims were lessthan 16 years of age, and somewere as young as 11. All were involved in activities at the cathedral.

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The CARMI report details how Mr Banks used alcohol and pornographic material to “break down the boys’ inhibitions”. In 1973, he was banned from a school after an allegation of abuse against a child. Even though the school’s governing body was composed entirely of cathedral Chapter members, no action was taken to limit Mr Banks’s contact with children. No action was taken after he was seen embracing a victim in the cathedral grounds in the 1980s.

In 1991, a 12-year-old alleged that he had been shown a pornographic video at Mr Banks’s house. It was reported to the wife of the Bishop of Chichester (Dr Eric Kemp, referred to in the report as Bishop A), and the parents were summoned to speak with a canon who was “reported to have made the parents feel they were making too much of a minor incident”.

In 2000, a victim and his mother went to see the Dean of Chichester Cathedral, the Very Revd John Treadgold (referred to in the report as Dean A), to make allegations. This victim later told the police that Dean Treadgold had advised him to “act on his conscience, as the Dean could not act on mere allegations”. Dean Treadgold did not report the matter to the child protection adviser, the police, or social services.

The father of another victim told the police, and Mr Banks was then arrested. The CARMI report states that the Dean’s “lack of action on hearing of the abuse was at variance with West Sussex Child Protection Procedures, and ‘The Protection of Children’, which was implemented in the diocese in 1997”.

Dean Treadgold told the CARMI review that, on his return from Germany, he had recevied a letter stating that the police were involved, and that he must “do nothing”. Until 2000, he had “never been informed of any concerns relating to [Mr Banks]”.

While pastoral support was offered to Mr Banks and his wife after his arrest, victims and their families reported being shunned by clergy and members of the con-gregation. The report speaks ofa “hostile environment, which appeared to blame victims and families, rather than be grateful for their courage in reporting the matter to the police”.

Highlighting the disparity between safeguarding practice elsewhere and within the cathedral and diocese, it refers to a number of “mistaken beliefs”, including that “it was entirely up to the individual to decide whether or not to report concerns to the responsible authority”; and it also refers to a lack of recognition of the Church’s responsibilities.

It warns of “confusion between homosexuality and child abuse. Until the Church is able to confront prejudice about sexuality, and provide an environment where individuals are able to be openabout this area of their life, the risk is that this mistake will happen again.”

The report suggests that, afterthe report was commissioned, “limitations [were] imposed on making contact with stakeholders”. For example, although the review was publicised in Cathedral Notes, Mr Banks was not referred to by name, and there was no offer of confidentiality for any of the contributors.

February 7 2018 – “Archbishop of Canterbury says George Bell’s accuser is as important as late Bishop’s reputation” – Christian Today

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/archbishop-of-canterbury-says-george-bells-accuser-is-as-important-as-late-bishops-reputation/125411.htm

Archbishop of Canterbury says George Bell’s accuser is as important as late bishop’s reputation

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said the woman who alleged that Bishop George Bell abused her should be ‘treated equally importantly’ as the reputation of the late bishop, and that she is ‘not an inconvenience to be overlooked’.

In an interview with the Church Times ahead of a gathering of General Synod, which is like a church parliament, Archbishop Welby defended the decision, made by the Church of England with Welby’s involvement, to publicise the £16,800 payment it made to the woman, known as ‘Carol’.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Reuters Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has defended the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late Bishop George Bell.

That decision and the ‘rush’ that led up to it was heavily criticised in a review published in December by Lord Carlile into the handling of the allegations made against Bishop Bell, regarded as a 20<sup>th Century giant of Anglicanism who died in 1958.

Since then, Archbishop Welby has come under growing criticism from historians and academics for insisting that a ‘significant cloud’ remains over Bell’s name.

Speaking to the Church Times, Welby acknowledged that the Carlile report ‘points out some of the quite severe weaknesses in the initial investigation of George Bell’ and he said that he ‘accepted its recommendations — all except half of one recommendation’ [the naming of those accused of abuse].

But he added: ‘Let’s just have a hypothetical situation in which Chichester diocese had not declared its payment [to Carol] two years ago. With the Independent Inquiry [into Child Sexual Abuse]…that confidentiality undertaking would certainly have become public. Now, the first question, when I give evidence, would then be asked: ‘What else are you hiding? What do you really know about George Bell that you are not telling us, because you’re so anxious to keep it secret?’ It’s a lose-lose…

Welby continued: ‘We have to treat both Bishop Bell, his reputation — we have to hold that as something really precious and valuable. But the person who has brought the complaint is not an inconvenience to be overlooked: they are a human being of immense value and dignity, to be treated equally importantly. And it is very difficult to square that circle.’

Last week, the Church of England’s national safeguarding team announced that it had received ‘fresh information concerning Bishop George Bell’ and said that Sussex police had been informed, without providing any details of the ‘new’ information about the late Bishop of Chichester. It was subsequently reported that a new complainant had come forward.

The following day, the Bell Society convened a conference at Church House in Westminster, with the keynote speaker  as Dr Jules Gomes, the controversial pastor of an independent Anglican church on the Isle of Man.

Bishop George Bell
Courtesy of Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

This led the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, to attack the meeting as ‘outrageous’ when speaking to Christian Today.

The General Synod will discuss safeguarding policy at its meeting in Church House on Saturday morning.

Reflecting on the past five years in office, Archbishop Welby said that safeguarding was the hardest thing that he had to deal with. ‘It’s the hardest because you’re dealing with the Church’s sin. You’re dealing with profound human weakness. You’re dealing with the consequences in damaged people, in people who’ve been terribly, terribly hurt. And it’s heart-breaking. . .

‘I think we’ve sought to address it, both in mechanistic ways but also spiritually, in prayer, in attitude and culture. We’ve sought to address it in every way we can.’

Archbishop Welby has taken a leading role in defending the Church of England’s approach to Bishop Bell, having been involved in his name becoming public in relation to allegations. The Carlile report reveals an email from the Bishop of Durham on April 29, 2014 to the so-called ‘Core Group’ in the Church of England, which reads: ‘Dear All, At the meeting of Archbishops & Diocesans Archbishop Justin decided that he should inform those gathered of the possibility of the name of the person concerned becoming public in due course.’

The full interview with Archbishop Welby will appear in the next issue of the Church Times.

February 6 2018 – “Bishop Bell’s accuser cannot be overlooked, says Welby” – Church Times

Bishop Bell’s accuser cannot be overlooked, says Welby

06 February 2018


richard watt – Archbishop Welby at Lambeth Palace on Monday

THE woman who alleged that Bishop George Bell abused her is “not an inconvenience to be overlooked”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Monday. Instead, she is someone who should be “treated equally importantly” as the reputation of Bell.

In an interview with the Church Times, Archbishop Welby defended the Church of England’s decision to publicise the £16,800 payment it made to the woman, known as “Carol”, who, in 1995 and again in 2012 and 2013, told church officials that Bishop Bell had abused her as a young girl.

The decision to make Bell’s name public was criticised by Lord Carlile’s independent review (News, 22 December 2017). Since the publication of the review, Archbishop Welby has been fiercely criticised for saying that he could not, with integrity, clear Bell’s name (News, 26 January).

Speaking to the Church Times, the Archbishop acknowledged that the Carlile report “points out some of the quite severe weaknesses in the initial investigation of George Bell”; and he “accepted its recommendations — all except half of one recommendation” [the naming of those accused of abuse].

He said: “Let’s just have a hypothetical situation in which Chichester diocese had not declared its payment [to Carol] two years ago. With the Independent Inquiry [into Child Sexual Abuse] . . . that confidentiality undertaking would certainly have become public. Now, the first question, when I give evidence, would then be asked: ‘What else are you hiding? What do you really know about George Bell that you are not telling us, because you’re so anxious to keep it secret?’ It’s a lose-lose. . .

“We have to treat both Bishop Bell, his reputation — we have to hold that as something really precious and valuable. But the person who has brought the complaint is not an inconvenience to be overlooked: they are a human being of immense value and dignity, to be treated equally importantly. And it is very difficult to square that circle.”

Campaigners for George Bell have cast doubt on the account given by Carol (News, 24 March 2016). But on Wednesday of last week, the Church of England’s national safeguarding team announced that it had received “fresh information concerning Bishop George Bell”. It did not give any further details.

The following day, the Bell Society convened a conference at Church House, Westminster. The keynote speaker was Dr Jules Gomes, pastor of an independent Anglican church on the Isle of Man.

There has also been press coverage of Julian Whiting, a survivor of private school and church abuse, who wrote to Archbishop Welby last month to complain about the settlement that he had received.

“I have struggled for years to obtain appropriate compensation, which despite huge efforts over many years I have failed to receive”, Mr Whiting said on Monday. “Even direct approaches to Justin Welby have proved fruitless.”

Accounts by other survivors were published in a booklet on Tuesday, We Asked for Bread but You Gave Us Stones.

The General Synod will discuss safeguarding policy at its meeting in Church House, Westminster on Saturday morning.

Archbishop Welby, reflecting on his first five years in office, said that safeguarding was the hardest thing that he had to deal with. “It’s the hardest because you’re dealing with the Church’s sin. You’re dealing with profound human weakness. You’re dealing with the consequences in damaged people, in people who’ve been terribly, terribly hurt. And it’s heart-breaking. . .

“I think we’ve sought to address it, both in mechanistic ways but also spiritually, in prayer, in attitude and culture. We’ve sought to address it in every way we can.”

 

Read the full interview in next week’s Church Times. See our special subscription offer: ten issues for a tenner.