Tag Archives: Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM)

AUGUST 22 2020 – DAVID VIRTUE DD, IN HIS EXCORIATING JUDGEMENT OF THE VIOLATIONS OF LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, JOINS GROWING NUMBER CALLING FOR THE RESIGNATION OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY JUSTIN WELBY

The Church of England has admitted that there are about 30 separate safeguarding inquiries under way into senior clergy — bishops or cathedral deans and some retired clergy. There are only 104 active bishops in the whole Church of England and 42 deans. This raises serious questions about the depth of spiritual depravity found in the Church that will not soon go away. It is not just an Anglo Catholic like Bishop Ball and two evangelical leaders, John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher, but massive cover ups of sexual abuse that is ringing alarm bells and causing such harm that it is emptying churches.

It is now very apparent that The Archbishop of Canterbury is a sniveling, groveling managerial fop, and the Church of England has become so incredibly embarrassing that GAFCON bishops will have nothing to do with it or him. I have blamed Welby, as I have done on occasion, for being a thin-skinned, theologically lightweight chancer who should never have been given the keys to Lambeth Palace. He now faces a safeguarding inquiry himself; he has publicly endorsed and embraced the most corrupt archbishops and bishops in the Church of South India; he has privately flailed against George Carey and he has betrayed his own evangelical roots. He has caused brilliant evangelical minds like Melvin Tinker, Peter Sanlon and Gavin Ashenden to leave the Church of England. You can read my entire article here: https://virtueonline.org/why-global-south-anglicans-will-have-re-evangelize-west

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The Church of England’s clergy discipline scandal is symptomatic of a deeper problem. A new report which has branded the Church of England’s disciplinary system “toxic” will come as no surprise to everyone who has been following the story.

The paper by Dr. Sarah Horsman, warden of Sheldon — a retreat center and clergy support organization — described the C of E’s Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) as symptomatic of a wider “toxic management culture”. It also called for any replacement system “to be much more distinctively Christian, wiser, more transparent and… simply kinder”.

The report’s findings included the shocking facts that more than a third of clergy undergoing a CDM, considered suicide; only 18 per cent felt they were treated as innocent until proved guilty; and just about half “strongly disagreed” with the statement “I felt supported by the diocese through the process”. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/cofes-clergy-discipline-scandal-symptomatic-deeper-problem

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Abuse by two prominent British evangelicals – Jonathan Fletcher and John Smyth (since deceased) – is raising eyebrows in England, coming as it is from two prominent evangelical priests who were formerly in the CofE but have now left.

A much-anticipated ‘lessons-learnt’ review into the activities of former church minister, Jonathan Fletcher, will be published in September. The independent Christian safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight, has been carrying out the review.

Fletcher, an influential evangelical, was last year said to have been involved in physical beatings, massages and other activities which he called ‘light-hearted forfeits’ — a claim dismissed by other evangelicals, including Melvin Tinker and Pete Sanlon, Justin Humphreys, chief executive of Thirtyone:eight, has now withdrawn as a speaker at the Anglican evangelical ReNew Conference on 14 September, saying it would cause victims further distress.

Meanwhile the Church of England is also investigating the Archbishop of Canterbury’s handling of allegations of abuse by the late John Smyth QC, who was well-known to Fletcher. All three were involved in the Iwerne Camps for top public schoolboys.

An “outrageousness of the silence” by senior evangelicals over Fletcher and Smyth are claims made by Melvin Tinker and Peter Sanlon respond to Evangelicals Now’s report on the Jonathan Fletcher affair. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/fletcher-findings-way

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For another eminent piece on Feeding the Flock and Fighting the Wolves, I would point you to a brilliant piece by Melvin Tinker. Here is a sample paragraph: “The solemn task of the pastor to promote the kindness of orthodoxy and counter the cruelty of heresy is an onerous one. It requires diligent study and careful communication. It will draw opprobrium in a culture where ‘it is forbidden to forbid’ and the unholy trinity of pluralism, relativism and subjectivism hold sway so that truth, like beauty, is considered to be in the eye of the beholder. It will almost certainly be a barrier to ‘preferment’ in the established church.” You can read more here:
https://virtueonline.org/genuine-ministry-feeding-flock-and-fighting-wolves

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APOLOGISE. RESTORE THE NAME OF GEORGE BELL HOUSE. OR RESIGN

 

OPEN LETTER – To Be Released August 2020

Dear Editor

The evidence against Bishop George Bell has been gathered and thoroughly examined. Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden have declared the allegations are unfounded and there is no case to answer . It follows, therefore, that no “significant cloud remains” hangs over Bishop Bell’s head – it hangs elsewhere.

Bishop Bell’s name has now been fully vindicated, so there is no good reason why an apology should not be forthcoming and the name of George Bell House restored.

But Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner continue to perpetuate this injustice against the wartime Bishop of Chichester by wilfully and arrogantly refusing to admit they were wrong. There is no willingness on their part to right that wrong. They display no humility in acknowledging that wrong. They have no intention to lift that “significant cloud”.

As Stephen Parsons says in ‘Surviving Church’: “Incompetence whether caused by ignorance, conceit or malevolence, is a particularly important matter when the individual refuses to admit to it and own up to it”.

After Archbishop Welby’s comment last year: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet” – a few of us did not ignore or sweep under the carpet those allegations against Bishop Bell. We fully investigated the clear likelihood of ‘mistaken identity’ – especially after the IICSA brought to light the “bonfire” of John Treadgold Dean of Chichester. Our findings are one reason why we are so critical of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner – especially relating to excising the memory of Bishop Bell in Chichester].

Bishop Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley, the only surviving relative and in her 90’s, and the Rev Peter Mullen and Andrew Morse have already called for resignation.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, now call for the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner, unless an immediate and full public apology is forthcoming regarding Bishop Bell and the name of George Bell House in Chichester is restored.

Yours sincerely

ATKINS, Forrest William

BOYS, Geoffrey

CHARMLEY, Professor John

DONALD, Revd. Steve

GOMES, Dr. Jules

INESON, Revd. Matthew

MARTIN, Terry

MORGAN, Dr. Gerald

MULLEN, Revd. Dr. Peter

OSBORNE, Noel

RAVEN, Revd. Canon Charles

ROBINSON, Steven

SIMS, Kevin

SYMONDS, Richard W.

VIRTUE, David W. DD

WATKINS, Lindsay

For further information regarding this Open Letter and its Signatories, please contact:

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley – Gatwick

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only – Very deaf]

Email: richardsy5@aol.com

JUNE 16 2020 – THE CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS OF DEAN MARTYN PERCY OF CHRIST CHURCH AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL OF CHICHESTER

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THE CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS OF DEAN MARTYN PERCY OF CHRIST CHURCH AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL OF CHICHESTER

 

The Martyn Percy affair – further comments

What can I say by way of comment over this conflict?  It is quite clear that Martyn has in the past upset the equilibrium and status quo in two powerful institutions.  In the first case, at Christ Church Oxford, a group of senior members have complained about him in his role of Head of House or Dean on two separate occasions.  We, as outsiders observers, have no detailed understanding of the first allegations made against him.   All we do know with some certainty is that a Tribunal was convened under the chairmanship of a retired judge, Sir Andrew Smith.  This found him innocent of the accusations made against him – all twenty-seven charges were dismissed.  Our sympathy for Martyn’s cause is aroused by the fact that he had to endure two years of pressure and stress.  We feel for anyone who, in the course of allegations against them, is suspended from his work and made the object of a campaign of vilification and slander.  Moreover, who was denied the opportunity of even having a preliminary investigation before the Tribunal against him was convened. 

This Tribunal involved the spending of huge resources of charitable money, thought to be over £2 million. Martyn’s own legal costs have been huge.  When the Tribunal verdict was announced, we hoped that the problem would go away.  We might also have hoped that the original accusers might express a little remorse for having spent so much charitable money to further their cause.  But no, the current situation is that the same accusers among the governing body have re-emerged to continue the campaign against the Dean.  This time they are using a quite different set of accusations and a different method of harassing and undermining Martyn.  Having exhausted the procedures afforded to them by the college statutes, the complainants have moved on to attack him using the tools of the quasi-legal structures of the Church of England.

Those of us who support Martyn and his principled stand over a variety of topics in current church debates, are aware that he has made enemies.  As an avowed progressive, he is not easily going to fit in with the prevailing opinions of a largely conservative bench of bishops.  The one particular issue over the past five years that has rattled many cages is the George Bell affair.  Martyn has prominently identified himself with those who regard the posthumous trashing of Bishop Bell’s reputation as contrary to the laws of justice and historical truth.  Many of us, with Martyn, regarded the alacrity with which Church leaders assigned guilt to Bell as being an attempt to show a decisiveness while many other more recent safeguarding allegations were being mishandled.  

The method of assessing and evaluating the Bell evidence was the infamous core group, the same tool that is now being deployed against Martyn himself.  It would not be hard to suggest, to use Gilo’s expression, that, in both case, the core group has been ‘weaponised’ against the subject of the investigation.  This is especially true when the person at the heart of the enquiry has no representation to speak on their behalf.  Again, in both Bell’s case and Martyn’s, similar church establishment mechanisms can be seen at work.  The NST have put Martyn “on trial” without conducting even the most minimal inquiry or interview with him.  The core group contained people who were prosecuting him for their own ends, and were heavily invested in pre-judging the outcome of any investigation.  This is identical to what the Dean had to endure at Christ Church from 2018.

As with Christ Church, so with the NST.  The Dean is forced to pay for his own defence to protect his reputation and integrity.  It was noticeable that the Anglican hierarchy were largely mute when the original Christ Church accusations were aired.  There was a sense that, while support was being expressed by hundreds of individuals across the country and £100,000 raised for legal costs, official support from the Anglican hierarchy was largely absent.

The appeal to the Church of England and its National Safeguarding Team by complaining Christ Church dons to examine accusations against the Dean of Christ Church, has already been explored in Gilo’s piece.  The mention by Gilo of the ‘right part’ of the NST hints at private conversations and plotting at the highest levels of the Church of England taking place with the complainants at Christ Church.  I understand that as far as the lawyers acting for Martyn are concerned, the NST has absolutely no jurisdiction in Martyn’s case.  Martyn is not an employee of the Church of England; he is not being accused of being a danger to children or vulnerable adults.  We also note the “vulnerable adult” terminology used by the NST.  The correct term is “adults-at-risk”, which is defined and deployed in higher education, local government and the NHS.  The NST are out of touch.  The safeguarding issues that are the focus of the enquiry had already been dealt with properly by Martyn, according to University and college protocols. 

Once again, a core group is being used to achieve a particular end.   What we see in the process seems to run counter to natural justice and fairness.  It also seems to take no notice of Lord Carlile’s remarks and the recommendations that were made by him in 2017.  We refer particularly to those that laid out how all interested parties should be represented. These were accepted in total by the Church of England and now they are ignored in what has become a notorious case, ensuring that the whole world is watching (and judging!) the Church of England as it stumbles ahead with a faulty grasp of proper procedures in this complex case.

If Martyn can stand up to the pressure currently being put on him, it could help expose the evident power abuses and appalling misuses of procedure which seem to be operating in the NST.  If the NST were to see sense and pull out of its involvement in the Christ Church debacle, this would have a desirable outcome.  it would allow the NST to be regarded as a properly accountable organisation. No longer would the considerable power of this body be used against individuals without clear and consistent protocols in the way that it operates.  Someone made the decision to allow the NST to enter the treacherous waters of internal Oxford collegiate politics. 

Who was it and what are the systems in place to query and even put a block on such a risky, even impetuous, decision? If, as is likely, the NST comes out of this disastrous intervention with egg on its face, who is going to take responsibility for this financial and ethical car-crash? In many ways this whole episode goes far beyond what Martyn may or may not have done to upset members of his college.  The issue has become one of the church using its legal structures in ways that deny compassion, natural justice and the basic qualities of care.  Once again the Church of England seems incapable of handling its power without hurting and damaging people.  Legalism, the power of money and privilege seem to be prominent.    If the general public sees some of this behaviour and is unimpressed, can we really blame them? 

Another question that is being asked by many of us is this.  If Martyn Percy deserved investigation over safeguarding issues with apparently such flimsy evidence being offered, then why not are other more pressing cases given attention?  There are several outstanding CDM claims against serving bishops which lie on file.  Presumably these can now be activated by victims and complainants? There is the case of Jonathan Fletcher which seems to be ignored by central church authorities, even though it reached front-page headlines of the Daily Telegraph.  If the allegations against Fletcher are even half-true, he still poses a safeguarding threat which should be a priority for the NST.  To focus on Martyn, who poses no such threat, and ignore Fletcher can only be described as a deeply political choice. 

Unless someone explains the real basis for NST involvement in the Christ Church factional disputes, Martyn’s supporters will conclude that the NST has become a political tool at the service of certain unaccountable factions within the Church of England.  If that surmise is correct, one would hope that the General Synod would wake up to this fact and vote the NST out of existence.  We cannot afford to have a rogue structure within the Church which operates with so much secrecy, factionalism and sometimes overt bullying.  Whoever authorised the unleashing of the NST on Martyn Percy has been responsible for taking an enormous gamble with the Church’s assets and reputation.  They have gambled on an outcome which, even if successful at one level, does no credit to the Church.  If the anonymous power brokers are, however, unsuccessful in what they are doing in Oxford, this may have the effect of destroying the NST structure altogether and their future ability to exercise power through it.

6 thoughts on “The Martyn Percy affair – further comments”

  1. Martyn Percy’s intervention re. the appointment of Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, in the same year his views on the Bishop Bell case were expressed, was another example of his getting up the noses of the powers that be.

    His blog https://theore0.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/abstaining-a-lenten-reflection-on-sheffield-by-martyn-percy/ was widely influential and many saw it as the turning point in the North/Sheffield affair. I have a feeling his card was marked then.

    Though, to be honest, I think almost anyone with real principles in the C of E gets their card marked pretty promptly.

     

  2. I know both men. And consider both to be people in the hierarchy of the Church who speak with integrity in relation to the abuse crisis. And I know that church-context abuse survivors have strong support from each. Martyn was approached by us to write a chapter in Letters to a Broken Church – and wrote an excellent chapter following the Chichester hearings at the Inquiry.

    Philip would have been one of very few bishops we could have approached for a chapter. His interview on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme was unlike anything we’d heard from any other bishop (with the exception of Alan Wilson). A remarkable interview and one that all Synod members should listen to if they haven’t already. Sadly, our book was already by that stage at print process – so we couldn’t include Philip.

    https://www.thinkinganglica

    Their political or tribal differences aside – both Martyn Percy and Philip North have given their voices courageously as allies to the plight of survivors. I salute them both.

  3. “I understand that as far as the lawyers acting for Martyn are concerned, the NST has absolutely no jurisdiction in Martyn’s case. Martyn is not an employee of the Church of England;”

    I am not an employment lawyer and do not wish to dip into the vexed question of whether office holders are employees, but I am concerned that this line of argument being advanced by Dr Percy’s lawyers will probably consume more costs than most of the other issues in contention.

    The dean of Christ Church is, unusually, paid by Christ Church rather than the Commissioners. Although I don’t have copies of Doe, Hill, Cripps, etc., to hand, he is an ecclesiastical office holder and there are a plethora of statutes and measures which make specific reference to Christ Church as an ecclesiastical corporation, even if there are usually specific provisions in each measure to differentiate Christ Church from other capitular bodies.

    What I suspect has happened is that the students have tried to refer the Woodward case to the NST as a lever to eject Percy. They are gaming the system, and as Stephen notes it is opportunistic and unedifying. The students are probably past caring about that, however, and have reasoned that the ends justify the means.

    Since there is no clear distinction between the position of dean as head of the cathedral and as head of the college they probably approached the NST telling the latter that they have to do something. The NST, no doubt panicked, will have referred the question to the Legal Office. The Legal Office (currently led by a clergyman who was at Christ Church) will probably have advised the NST that they do have standing insofar as Percy is an ’employee’ or ‘office-holder’ qua his position as head of the cathedral, and the want of any distinction between the two aspects of his office means that his safeguarding responsibilities might therefore apply to the entirety of his office.

    Curiously, it is not so long ago that the then second commissioner disclaimed any involvement of the Church of England in the resolution of the dispute:

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-11-29/debates/6DA9CB26-1373-470D-AAD3-CE9BEDE88743/DeanOfChristChurchOxford

    This question will no doubt consume a great deal of the ET’s time. I strongly suspect that it will result in the office being split in twain, which is probably what a majority of the students now want. Legislation severing the provostship of Oriel from a stall at Rochester was passed in 1875; similar legislation was passed severing the mastership of Pembroke (Oxford) from a stall at Gloucester in 1937, and the mastership of St Catharine’s (Cambridge) from a stall at Norwich in 1927. Many other headships at both universities had been tied to college livings and the headships of all the old colleges bar Merton, Downing and Trinity Hall (plus Keble, St Peter’s and Selwyn) had been reserved to clerics. Splitting the deanery would be the last act in that process.

    1. Sorry, I should have added that the head of the Legal Office was also chancellor of the Oxford diocese until last year (when he became head of the Legal Office), although he is based in London and assists at Holy Redeemer Clerkenwell.

      1. Froghole

        And, of course, it is perfectly possible that the head of the Legal Office had nothing to do with the decision that the NST assume responsibility for this matter, or indeed that the NST sought advice from the Legal Office at all. My statements above were mere conjecture.

         

        MORE INFORMATION

        Thinking Anglicans

JUNE 6 2020 – PHILOSOPHICAL AND THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS – 1: “CLOSED CHURCHES AND SILENT BELLS”

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CLOSING CHURCHES

Our Finest hour?

 I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

The Battle of Britain and “the blitz” were campaigns (although viewed as one single offensive by the Nazis) that Sir Winston Churchill knew were more than simply about a conflict between two nations. During the Second World War we fought an ideology, and seventy five years’ ago Churchill spoke from the Ministry of Health balcony to a vast crowd (an ironic location seventy five years on):

The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child in the country had no thought of quitting the struggle. London can take it”.

One such bomb came down close to St John’s Church, Kensal Green on November 16th 1940 blowing out most of the stained glass in the church and causing severe damage to the roof. In 1944 the church celebrated its centenary. Fr Tipper, Vicar during the war years, recalled many years later the moment he entered his bombed church: “I went into the church with a working man. He was crying and I was too. He said ‘cheer up Father. We’ll build it up again’ and we have done that”. In March at the last assembly in church before schools closed I told the pupils about Fr Tipper He was proud that not one service was cancelled following the bombing, even with a part of the roof blown off and the glass blown out, and as bombs still fell.

Seventy five years after VE Day is a good day to reflect on how much we have changed. Could London “take it” today if bombs came down again? Our risk averse, micro-managed, centralized, committee loving and tick boxing culture – in every area of life – makes the answer uncertain. We should remember, however – as any who has seen darkest hour will know – that had there been no Churchill there may have well been no victory. However much we have changed we are the same nation, as Her Majesty recently said: “the pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future”.  I saw a war time poster recently advising people if they were gassed: wash your hands and go to work. Clearly one thing has changed is the notion of risk.

A renewal

What, I have wondered in recent weeks, would Fr Tipper, let alone Churchill, make of the Church today? In August 1944 Geoffrey Fisher, the then Bishop of London, wrote to Tipper a letter congratulating the church on celebrating its centenary “in the throes of a new period of human history”:

Let this Centenary renew your faith in the unchanging things – God’s love, our redemption in Jesus Christ, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in the Church, the duty to bear our faithful witness. For these things your church stands. There, through the ministry of word and sacrament, there in the unity of the Church’s prayer and worship, you are fortified in the grace of God”.

I think Fr Tipper would have found it incomprehensible that a church could be closed, and even more incomprehensible that Geoffrey Fisher would “advise” him to do so. Tipper had served in the first war and knew about both risk and the law, not simply as rules in a book, but as the rule of love that is summarised in Fisher’s letter above.

The Worship of God is a response to His love and a commandment. The celebration together of the Eucharist on the day we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection is a command not a choice; how we bear witness to Christ, the ministry of Word and Sacrament, the Church’s prayer – all spring from the story of redemption. St Paul notes the law often: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5, 22). We live under the law, but the law is only as strong as that which it is based upon and inspired by.

Better Days

It would seem strange to Fr Tipper that Clergy would willingly deny themselves the ability to care so they could stand in solidarity with those at home. In the war he was known for visiting people whose homes had been bombed and many years later upon his retirement it was for this, rather than anything he might have ever preached, that he was remembered. A visit, a word of support, doing what a parish priest has always done.

I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge” said The Queen in that memorable address “and those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any”. As footage showed key workers, shop keepers, delivery drivers, nurses, soldiers, and postmen, how good it would have been to see a priest. I cannot describe the profound anger I felt as I feared an aunt might die in hospital , when the Archbishop designate of York suggested clergy should not volunteer to go into hospitals. I cannot comprehend how risk, symbolised by the cross, became something that so overpowering.

Of course prior to this episode relations between clergy and bishops were not ideal. There can be a tension between the needs of a parish and of a diocese. No parish is alike and serving parishes can become a never ending puzzle as to how we can sustain a parochial system with less resources. The more recent addition of national Church institutions adds another layer of complexity. Interestingly Geoffrey Fisher, he of the above letter, was the last to oversee a revision of the Canons, to fit a Church for a new world. He knew put the rules in first and everyone knows what they are doing (he had of course been a Head Master).

Fr Tipper lived in a less complex culture and four years after the war his glebe was purchased by Paddington Borough for housing – it was where the bomb landed. Today three blocks of flats stand on it. His Vicarage is now sold. We should not of course look back to a past generation and be wistful but we can ask the question whether what we think people want is the same thing as the pastoral care they are given. Where people know whom as well as what to turn to relationships are easier, as well of course as the place to visit. In recent weeks I am sure people have been aware of their parish church, and that it has been locked might make people cherish it the more. Might they too become a bit more involved with its life? A little more assertive of what they might attend? It might be a little too traditional for some but if we are to serve the nation a good start would be to listen, and start at the base.

These past weeks have renewed my faith in the unchanging things: God’s love, our redemption in Jesus Christ, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and the duty to bear our faithful witness. Like many these past weeks have also taken my mind back to my youth and the church of my youth. The Church of England can be what it once was, with confident clergy in their parishes secure in the knowledge of their roles supported by pastors of all churchmanships, working alongside laity clear in their responsibilities, supported by a diocese that is vital in so many areas. It would be a tragedy if business as usual resumed, there is required now a middle way which is after all a very Anglican way to go.

Her Majesty’s address to the nation was a voice of sanity amidst the fear and confusion. “While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us. Better days will return”. Better days will return and perhaps as we see young people demonstrating against racism in large numbers they have woken up to what previous generations knew. Yes a virus is a risk, but discrimination and not listened to is worse for the vast majority. May they, like Fr Tipper, surveying the many mistakes of a risk averse culture build things up again, and for the better.

David Ackerman

Kensal Green, June 2020

JUNE 5 2020 – AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN – FROM A CLERGYMAN OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN

My Lord,

Following a year’s suspension you have learnt that you will face proceedings under the Clergy Disciplinary Measure, the tool favoured in past months to threaten clergy if they dared enter their churches. It is reported that proceedings were instituted by Melissa Caslake, the National Head of Safeguarding. Except of course as you know this is not true. The Archbishop of Canterbury has instituted proceedings against you, just as he suspended you. He will be the one who, if a case is found, will “administer discipline”. He is the Archbishop you made your oath of obedience to as a bishop within his province.

As the Measure states:

a person on whom functions in connection with the discipline of persons in Holy Orders are conferred by this Measure shall, in exercising those functions, have due regard to the role in that connection of the bishop or archbishop who, by virtue of his office and consecration, is required to administer discipline”.

You may feel that Melissa Caslake has acted with the highest probity yet only a few days’ ago it was reported that a core group of the National Safeguarding Team has been set up to look into the Dean of Christ Church Oxford, oddly someone whom the Archbishop of Canterbury is at odds. This is against the House of Bishops’ own guidelines.

It must be a difficult job to judge whether someone “failed to respond appropriately to safeguarding disclosures”. Any response could be judged as inadequate, but how can we judge best intentions or doing the best as one sees fit at a particular time? How can one be judged fairly? How can anyone judge what an “appropriate” response is? It is hard for a judge to make a window into a man’s soul.

You may feel that you have been treated fairly by the Church of England in making you wait a year to be given the news you have but if you look at Article 6 of the Human Rights Act it says any public hearing (as yours shall be) must be fair. Furthermore it is only fair if:

  • is held within a reasonable time

  • is heard by an independent and impartial decision-maker

  • gives you all the relevant information

  • is open to the public (although the press and public can be excluded for highly sensitive cases)

  • allows you representation and an interpreter where appropriate, and

  • is followed by a public decision.

You also have the right to an explanation of how the court or decision-making authority reached its decision.

No wonder you are bewildered.

Criticisms of bishops for making the decisions they did in the past fail to afford them the rights you have. What they might have thought appropriate would have stood up in the past. But is it something from the past that might prevent you having a fair hearing? The desire perhaps for a living bishop to be paraded about by Justin Welby as an example, given his failures to pin anything on Bishop Bell?

If after disclosures about the National Safeguarding Team being prepared to seek to go for a Dean, are you satisfied your own hearing will be fair? Have you confidence that the Team is independent of bishops? Are you satisfied that the process of clergy discipline is fair? The Archbishop is both judge and jury, and we might also add the CPS. What other organisation would be permitted to act in this way. Will such a process treat you fairly?

Surely you would be a support of clergy everywhere if you challenged the CDM and indeed the role of the National Safeguarding Team on Human Rights grounds. You would become a hero to many if you brought the lot crashing down. Expose the rotten culture of a church in captivity to the vindictiveness of those for whom power has been perverted.

The bishops of the Church of England signed up to “Promoting a Safer Church”, its safeguarding policy, and it says:

The Church of England is called to share the good news of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. The life of our communities and institutions is integral to how we address this task. The good news speaks of welcome for all, with a particular regard for those who are most vulnerable, into a community where the value and dignity of every human being is affirmed and those in positions of responsibility and authority are truly trustworthy. Being faithful to our call to share the gospel therefore compels us to take with the utmost seriousness the challenge of preventing abuse from happening and responding well where it has’.

In March when the Bishops, you excluded, ordered the churches to be closed what happened to “promoting a safer church”? What happened to the vulnerable when bishops ordered clergy to ignore protections in law for the vulnerable set out in the Coronavirus Act 2020:

(5) A person who is responsible for a place of worship must ensure that, during the emergency period, the place of worship is closed, except for uses permitted in paragraph (6).

(6) A place of worship may be used—

(c)to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services (including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or support in an emergency).

It meant nothing. Do you think they responded appropriately to the opportunities afforded to churches to serve most in need? Is it not surely they, not you, who should be facing a CDM if not a charge of misconduct in public office?

My Lord, rather than be bewildered, be brave and you may well be the saviour of the Church of England.

July 19 2019 – “Why has no one resigned?”

July 19 2019 – “Why has no one resigned?” – Church Times Letter – 19/07/2019

2000px-Logo_of_the_Church_of_England.svg

‘After a rape, reputation should not be the first priority’ – Church Times Letter – July 19 2019

Sir, — On 4 July 2019, in the course of taking evidence relating to the Church of England, IICSA considered issues raised by the case of Tim Storey, a youth worker in a central London Anglican church, and subsequently a ministerial student at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He was convicted, in 2016, of two offences of rape and sexual assault. Our daughters are two of his victims.

When, in 2009, our daughter first told the diocese of London what had happened to her, she did so with the overwhelming priority that Storey should be stopped from ever abusing anyone else. She relied on the diocese to do the right thing.

What in fact happened was that there was “a wholesale failure by those responsible to recognise whose interests they [the diocese of London] should be safeguarding…

The whole process by all involved, from the Bishop downwards, was a buck-passing, incompetent, self-protecting, and reputation-preserving one…The diocese and named individuals were severely criticised by the trial judge in 2016 (News, 22 April 2016), and the statement of the diocese at the end of the trial was described as a “shameful misrepresentation of the truth”…..Anyone reading the CDM will conclude that it is very outdated. Worryingly, the letter from Margery Roberts (Letters, 12 July)* shows what scant regard is given to the prescribed procedures, whatever the issue. Ignorance and a lack of professionalism reign.

 

We are immensely proud of our daughters for speaking up and having the courage to go through the ordeal of giving evidence in two criminal trials, which led to a 15-year sentence for Storey.

But they are angry about the continued procrastination of the Church of England, and that no one has really felt any consequences for the catastrophic mistakes made.

In the 21st century, no organisation whose repeated organisational failure facilitated further serious sexual offending should expect to go unsanctioned.

Why has no one resigned?

Why only now, ten years on from my daughter’s first report, is a working group being set up to consider the fitness for purpose of the CDM in relation to safeguarding, and without commitment to a speedy time-line.

Why is the default mindset that “nothing happens hurriedly in the Church of England” tolerated?

Why is no one senior enough getting angry enough to “turn over some tables” and urgently push through the wholesale change that is required?

Name and address supplied

 

* I can tell you a little bit more about the Timothy Storey abuse case.  After Judge Katz’s scathing criticism of the Diocese of London, the diocese felt obliged to commission an independent case review from Mr David Marshall QPM. However, the completed review report (which appears to have also been adversely critical of the diocese) was circulated only to the Bishop of London and a small circle of senior clergy and staff.  I was at that time a member of both the diocesan synod and the Bishop’s Council.  At the diocesan synod meeting held on 28 November 2016, I put a formal question to the Bishop of London, asking why the full report, appropriately redacted, had not been circulated to the members of the Bishop’s Council, who were the trustees and directors of the diocese.  In his reply, the Bishop said, inter alia, that ‘a prime consideration was the privacy of the survivors’.  In a supplementary question, I asked why the terms of reference had not stipulated that the report should be written in such a way that it could be redacted to hide the identity of the victims, thus enabling the trustees who were responsible for the running of the diocese to consider it. The Bishop gave an evasive answer but another member challenged him further and asked for future cases to be dealt with differently.
I have always believed that this was a cover-up and the correspondent’s letter in the Church Times this week only confirms that view. Those of us who were becoming deeply concerned about the culture prevailing in the diocese did not wish to know the identity of the victims but we did want to know the sequence of events, and the failures, which had led to those young people being abused.
In 2018, I resigned from the diocesan synod and Bishop’s Council, on principle, over a completely different matter.
There is now a strong case for the whole clergy discipline structure to be replaced with something far more transparent, far more independent and far more honest.
~ Margery Roberts – 19/07/2019
Additional Note – 19/07/2019
In commissioning a review but not making it available even to the diocese’s own trustee body (a shortened sanitised version appeared on the diocesan website), the diocesan hierarchy was trying to have its cake and eat it. One really irritating aspect of their response was their insistence that the secrecy was for the benefit of the victims.  This is a convenient ploy but it doesn’t convince a) because we did not wish to know the identity of the victims, and b) because the lack of transparency was itself harmful to the cause of justice, and therefore the wellbeing of the victims.
It’s interesting what you say about Eric Banks. It would be difficult to find reliable evidence, I should think.
~ Margery Roberts

 

July 7 2019 – “Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding” – Church Times

Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding

07 JULY 2019

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock (centre) with Meg Munn and Phil Johnson

 

 

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/12-july/news/uk/bishop-hancock-challenges-the-synod-on-safeguarding

VAGUE and evasive talk of culture change” over safeguarding is “not enough”, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, told the General Synod on Sunday.

In a presentation, the Bishop said that the Church’s approach to survivors had been “inadequate”, and that all had a part to play in improving safeguarding practice.

“Vague and evasive talk of culture change is not enough,” he said. “It is driven by structures, appointments, and decisions. . .

“My challenge to Synod is that, if you are concerned about safeguarding in the Church, now is the time up to stand up, be counted, and get involved.”

A survivor who formed part of the presentation group, Phil Johnson, was one of the first to come forward, in 1996, with allegations of sexual abuse by a former Bishop of Gloucester and Lewes, Peter Ball. Mr Johnson is a member of the National Safeguarding Panel.

Mr Johnson told the Synod that safeguarding should be simple. “It is about vigilance, protection, and compassion,” he said. “It is not about endless bureaucracy.”

He said that the Church should not think that its safeguarding was necessarily better simply because it was spending more money on it.

Mr Johnson went on to say that the work to create a survivors’ reference group was very difficult, largely because so many victims had an “immense lack of trust” in the Church and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).

He was glad that the Safe Spaces project was close to completion, although he noted that he had first proposed it nearly six years ago, and, although money had been allocated for it, not a single penny had yet been spent on survivors. “This typifies how the Church does things,” he said. “We all need to come together to make things simpler, more efficient, quicker, and more cost-effective.”

The session began with a period of silence, and the Bishop said a prayer that had been written by a survivor of abuse: “Teach us to thirst for justice and righteousness in our Church . . . We lament the safeguarding failures of our Church. . . Helps us to repair broken lives so that those our Church has harmed may no longer survive but thrive.”

Safeguarding questions had been split from the rest of the questions, which were heard on Friday, to allow proper space for them. Bishop Hancock thanked the Business Committee for this approach; a presentation on safeguarding was given by the bishop, Mr Johnson, and Meg Munn, the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel.

In response to a question from Carolyn Graham (Guildford) about safeguarding cases’ being “passed around from diocese to diocese”, Bishop Hancock said that work was under way on an information-sharing system. A national case-management system would mean wider access to information lodged centrally. This would bring rigour. Asked by Canon Gavin Kirk (Lincoln) about survivors whose experience had led them to distrust the diocese where they lived, Bishop Hancock said that the voices of survivors must be heard in the process of redrafting safeguarding guidance.

He told Canon Rosie Harper (Oxford), who asked about the “moral imperative to restore and heal”, going further than “bare minimum legal redress”, that one part of the answer was to have a “standards-based approach to safeguarding”, and another was a charter “to provide survivors with confidence there is going to be consistency across dioceses”.

Some responses to safeguarding issues had been “woefully inadequate”, he said. He also reported that there had been attempts to establish mediation between survivors and the NST and some work had recently been commissioned on “restorative justice”.

In his presentation, Bishop Hancock said that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearings had not been an easy experience for the Church. Some “justifiably difficult questions are being asked of us”, he said. But the inquiry had shone a “helpful light” on the C of E’s safeguarding procedures and failings.

He strongly urged every member of the Synod to read the two interim reports already released by IICSA: one on the case study of Chichester diocese and Peter Ball, and one on child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions. The key findings in both reports, which were “harrowing and difficult to read”, were that clericalism and deference were causing “significant harm” (News, 9 May

A new case-management system for both national and diocesan safeguarding teams, which had been “sorely lacking”, was finally almost ready and would be rolled out next year, he reported.

He also said there would be three new lessons-learned reviews of the cases of John Smyth, the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, and the late former Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey (News, 10 February 201716 June 201724 May).

A working group had been convened to examine whether the Clergy Disicpline Measure (CDM) was fit for its purpose in relation to safeguarding, he said. The group would have its first meeting in October (News, 31 May).

Ms Munn paid tribute to the three survivor representatives on the panel, who, despite being so damaged by their experiences of abuse, were still able and willing to help the Church become a safer place.

“The Church is late to this work: it needs to catch up; it has a lot to do,” she said. “I see a lot of people with good intentions, but you all need to do more, and do more, more quickly.”

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES Phil Johnson

Mr Johnson praised the leadership of Ms Munn and said that he was hopeful that this increased level of scrutiny would bear fruit. In particular, he was convinced that the CDM procedure was inadequate and needed reform.

The proposed redress scheme was very important for survivors and would need to be well funded, Mr Johnson said. It must include all cases of abuse, including those that had already come to financial settlements; many of these were agreed out of fear that the survivor might be landed with the Church’s “astronomical” legal costs.

He also supported the introduction of mandatory reporting of abuse allegations, along the lines developed by the pressure group Mandate Now. Two-thirds of current safeguarding cases were still dealt with exclusively in-house, he noted. Without actual sanctions for people who failed to pass on disclosures, the culture would never change.

In the questions following the presentations, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, on a point of order, asked the view of the Synod on mandatory reporting, to which a majority raised their hands in favour. It was one of the recommendations of the IICSA report on Chichester diocese.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked whether the Church still had a problem with clericalism, and whether it hindered good safeguarding practice.

Mr Johnson said that there had been a lot of deference, but that this was not a problem only for the Church. He gave the example of football clubs, where coaches had a great deal of authority. This was evident in the conviction of Barry Bennell, a former coach at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, and the conviction of Bob Higgins, the former Southampton coach, both for child sexual abuse.

The natural tendency to keep things in-house was a problem, Mr Johnson said. “Watching IICSA this last week, there’s clearly evidence that this remains,” he said. It was everyone’s responsibility to address this, and to make these subjects non-taboo. “Things should be recorded in a routine manner,” he argued.

He received a standing ovation for his words during the Synod debate.

There was criticism that there was not a full Synod debate on safeguarding. Last week, Martin Sewell, a representative from Rochester diocese, called the Synod “lazy and incurious” (News, 5 July).

Matthew Ineson, a survivor, who was handing out leaflets outside York Minster on Sunday morning, said: “The Archbishops blocked the debate [on safeguarding]: they are manipulating the Synod.

“There is a cover-up going on from the very highest parts of the Church; Archbishop Welby has persistently taken no further action. The way victims are treated is just diabolical.”

At the end of the service, before the blessing was given, Dr Sentamu led the congregation in prayer for those who were part of IICSA, and for survivors.

June 30 2019 – “Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting” – BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

synod london Tint

Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting

Bishop of Burnley calls for Mandatory Reporting

Thinking Anglicans

See our earlier article Senior Blackburn clergy reflect on IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an interview by Donna Birrell with the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North (starts at 32 minutes, 45 seconds).

BBC Radio Cornwall has a longer version of this interview, listen over here.

A transcript of this (longer) interview is copied below the fold.

Transcript of full interview with Bishop of Burnley, Philip North. (Shorter interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4, longer version on BBC Radio Cornwall.)
Jesus puts a child in front of the disciples as a model of discipleship, Jesus cared for children, put them at the centre of His community….and yet ….. as a church we’ve been complicit in appalling acts of abuse and of cover-up of children and I think we need a spirit of repentance now and to change the language and think through the structural changes this might entail.
DB : It’s very interesting you say that because you also make the point that this is about the whole Church and it’s about today…..
I do not doubt that things are infinitely better than they were 10/20 years ago in terms of training of clergy and parishes and safeguarding policies and procedures and good structures and systems in place, BUT to try and think that everything is historical and there are no longer vulnerabilities is just the kind of complacency which allows manipulative people to abuse children. We MUST look very honestly at the Church today a see what further steps we need to take and I think there’s a whole series of structural changes that we still need to consider, which is what we’re pointing to in this letter.
DB : Well you certainly have, in fact, in the letter, and I quote the letter, you say ” Does a de-centralised structure with independent parishes, diocese and cathedrals, create gaps that manipulative people can hide in? So therefore, Bishop Philip, would you be in favour of an independent safeguarding structure and mandatory reporting?
I think in terms of an independent safeguarding structure, that is where we need to have a very serious debate and personally, I would, because separate structures in each diocese don’t allow checks and balances that are needed and it means that safeguarding teams can always be prey to budgeting cuts. There is no evidence of that, but it is going to be a temptation in straightened financial times. It seems to me that an independent national safeguarding team with locally deployed safeguarding officers working in dioceses but answerable to the national team, is going to provide the kind of checks and balances that we need.
I think in some churches there is excellent practice, in others, safeguarding is still a matter of ticking boxes and we need to be very clear that every single local church is absolutely safe for children and families. And I think also we need to look at the way we engage our clergy, so does common tenure allow the level of accountability that is required now?
Is the Clergy Discipline Measure efficient and speedy and fit for purpose? These are big areas that we need to look at.
Evasive talk of culture change just won’t do, because culture is determined by appointments and by structures and by decisions and that is what we’ve got to look at.
DB : Well indeed, in fact the letter refers to “vague and evasive talk of culture change.” So you’re also suggesting that there is an inappropriate culture of deference to clergy, especially senior clergy, which has resulted in “cover-up” and I’m quoting your letter again, and the voices of the vulnerable being silenced?
That’s a significant concern. I think clergy are often unaware of the power they hold, but actually especially senior clergy, occupy extremely influential powerful positions. Abuse is all about the abuse of power and I think we need to be very aware of the power we hold. And I think we need to be much more serious about the checks and balances on power – an unhealthy clericalism, an unhealthy deference to clergy, especially in senior positions, undermines that.
DB : Very interesting. that you as a diocese have chosen to write this letter, it’s been signed and put together by all the senior clergy  within the diocese…and a few weeks back, other Bishops, including the Bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull, also came out and was scathing in response to the Independent Inquiry report into the Diocese of Chichester and in her words, she said that that culture of tribalism and clericalism still exists today. So it’s quite something that senior figures such as yourself are beginning now to speak out against the culture within the Church, but do you think you will be listened to?
Yes, I think we are. What I’d love to see is that people are beginning to see survivors not as a nuisance that needs to be managed, but people speaking with a prophetic voice to the Church. And I think they need to listen to the voices of survivors and hear very clearly what they’re saying to us. It’s absolutely essential. It’s one thing I’ve learned in 25 years of priestly ministry, it’s the voices that are most worth hearing are the ones that are the most difficult and the most grating. Those important voices, I think if we can hear those who have been abused multipley, because survivors have been abused by a priest or a church leader initially, but then the slowness of the church response, a culture of cover-up, all these things re-abuse and re-abuse and those are the people that I think we now need to hold in the centre of the Church, just as Jesus held that child at the centre of His community.
DB : Why do you think its taken so long to reach this point then, when senior figures such as yourself will actually speak out about it?
I think we’ve been ashamed of our past, I think we’ve blamed and scapegoated perpetrators, rather than thinking about our own structures and about our own culpability and responsibility. I think this is an issue the Church of England has not wanted to face up to and it’s high time we did.
DB : Right, well Bishop Philip, let’s go back to the culture and the structure of the Church, because survivors do indeed say that the process of bringing a case against the Church for sexual abuse is so damaging that it is almost a type of re-abuse. They talk about the process of going through the insurers, of going through the forensic psychiatric reporting which many survivors, I’ve spoken to, have said it is so damaging that effectively it has caused mental health problems, in some cases, it has also caused them to consider taking their own lives, how can the Church try to look again at the way it deals with survivors and their claims?|
I am embarrassed by some of the stories that I’ve heard from survivors – people being told they have a pre-disposition to mental health problems, people being told that the priest who abused them was not acting in his capacity as a priest at that time. People being told they are simply chasing the money – all of this is re-abusive. And I’m embarrassed to be honest, to be part of a Church which has said those things to people. And I think one thing that IICSA, I hope, will look at clearly is the relationship between the Church and its professional advisers – its lawyers and its insurers- to ensure that what comes first is the pastoral response, so survivors are treated properly as victims, so that their voices are heard and they have much easier access to the compensation that is their due.
DB : But there’s a lot of money involved isn’t there? the whole structure and the whole insurance culture s worth millions and millions of pounds. Do you really think that in reality, the Church will go some way to reforming this system?
Compensation needs to be moderated to the level of what happened to somebody, but if church leaders have been responsible for ruining someone’s life, then there needs to be financial compensation and that needs to be generous and appropriate and if that has financial implications for us as a Church, then that’s something we have to swallow, I’m afraid.
DB : And will you be asking the Church as well and in the light of IICSA indeed, to perhaps look again at the way it responds to survivors, particularly with regard to the insurers?
What I’ve read from some survivors is alarming and I do hope that those in those positions will look seriously at those relationships.
DB : OK and we touched upon a little earlier the Clergy Discipline Measure. You suggest that it needs reforming, what would you like to see done to that?
I think it needs to be sped up hugely and I think we need to be much more aware of voices of survivors who are involved in often very long processes. From the point of view of a Bishop, it’s a very, very difficult process to implement, it’s very slow and it’s particularly difficult where there is ambiguity, where the level of evidence is uncertain, where you’re sure in your heart that things aren’t quite right.
DB : And as you mentioned, the Independent Inquiry is about to hear another two weeks of evidence into the way the Anglican Church handles allegations of child sexual abuse. How hopeful are you that its findings and recommendations will lead to a safer Church?
I’m sure there will be critical engagement with whatever they find, I’m sure there’ll be proper debate, but I think the mood is changing. I think in the Blackburn Diocese, it’s interesting that it was not difficult to get the six senior clergy to sign up to a letter which said some quite far-reaching things and I’m hearing other Bishops and other senior leaders speak similarly, so I think the culture is changing . I think we’ll be very receptive to what IICSA has to say.
DB : How much notice will the powers that be..for example, Church House and Lambeth Palace, how much notice do they take of something like this do you think?
I think they listen very, very seriously and we look to see what happens. It would be good to see perhaps other dioceses writing similarly and responding similarly to keep the debate going, but the response we’ve had so far, has been a positive

June 4 2019 – Revd Nick Flint – Rector of Rusper

STATEMENT DELETION – 2/10/2019

 

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 – X provides Warner [and Police] with info about Y. Neither are interested, it seems.

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

2016 – Pre-Gibb Harrington police investigation. X approached by Police for information about Y.

2017 – Gibb Report. X now fully aware of extent of Ball’s abuse. Gibb very reliant on the testimony of Y.

 

 

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

April 12 2019 – “Church abuse survivors speak out over handling of Bishop of Chester misconduct complaint” – Chester Standard – Steve Creswell

https://www.chesterstandard.co.uk/news/17567171.church-abuse-survivors-speak-out-over-handling-of-bishop-of-chester-misconduct-complaint/

Church abuse survivors speak out over handling of Bishop of Chester misconduct complaint

Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster.

SPECIAL REPORT

Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster.

SURVIVORS of sexual abuse by members of the clergy have raised concerns about the Church’s handling of a formal complaint against the Bishop of Chester.

The Standard has spoken to two victims of historic abuse who fear a Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) brought against Bishop Peter Forster will not be judged objectively.

One is priest Matt Ineson who was raped in the 1980s by a Bradford vicar who took his own life on the day of his first court appearance two years ago.

CDMs are the Church’s in-house disciplinary process and are always escalated to the Diocesan bishop – or sometimes the archbishop – to pass judgement.

Critics say the lack of public accountability and ‘behind closed doors’ nature of the complaints procedure make it easy for senior clergy to cover up allegations of abuse.

The CDM filed at the end of March against Bishop Forster relates to reports that in 2009 he ignored a letter from Warrington vicar Charles Gordon Dickenson confessing to child abuse.

Dickenson, now 89, was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court last month after admitting eight counts of sexual assault against a boy in the 1970s.

Chester and District Standard:

Former vicar Charles Gordon Dickenson was jailed for historic child sex abuse.

The Diocese of Chester has accepted its failures, admitting that the letter should have been passed to the police for investigation a decade ago. Dickenson remained free to officiate in the diocese until his retirement in 2014.

The CDM against the Bishop of Chester is being brought by Sir Roger Singleton, interim safeguarding director at the Church and former chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s.

It has been confirmed that it will be considered by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

But Mr Ineson and another survivor, who wishes to remain anonymous, say that Mr Sentamu has himself been the subject of a CDM and allege he has previously ignored disclosures of abuse.

Mr Ineson was raped and abused aged 16 by former Bradford vicar Trevor Devamanikkam between 1984 and 1985.

He says his disclosures to the Church fell on deaf ears, leading him to file CDMs in 2016 against five bishops, as well as Mr Sentamu.

However, the complaints were never investigated by the Church because they were brought outside of the 12-month time limit.

Devamanikkam took his own life on June 6, 2017 – the day of his first court appearance.

Mr Ineson and others claim the Church of England (C of E) uses its own arbitrary 12-month rule to block investigations into historic sexual abuse that are more than a year old.

Indeed, permission is still being sought from the Church’s President of Tribunals to bring the CDM against Bishop Forster ‘out of time’.

Mr Ineson told this newspaper: “Victims of church abuse, including myself, have raised concern about Archbishop Sentamu handling the complaint into Bishop Forster as they say he is compromised as he himself has been subject to complaints that he ignored disclosures of abuse and left at least one priest abuser years to go unchecked.

“The priest in my case was eventually charged with six serious sexual offences and killed himself the day he was due in court. The church used the one-year rule to block any investigation into the archbishop and refuse to investigate him.”

In response, a spokesman for the office of the Archbishop of York said: “When a complaint comes to an Archbishop, he routinely considers with the benefit of advice, as to whether there are any circumstances which would make it inappropriate for him to deal with the complaint.

“If he considers there are, then he will ask the other Archbishop to deal with it. As the process has only just begun in this case– still awaiting decision on whether the complaint can be brought ‘out of time’ – there is nothing further to say on this procedure at the moment.”

Chester and District Standard:

Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

The second survivor said he had taken out a CDM against the Bishop of Durham over the handling of his own abuse case, only to see it dismissed by Mr Sentamu. However, he later received a 20-page response from the Bishop of Durham that reportedly expressed “bitter regret” at the way the case was handled.

Both he and Mr Ineson say they have heard of other complaints being either dismissed or no further action (NFA) taken.

The Standard asked the Church of England for statistics on the number of CDMs brought against bishops and archbishops, and their outcomes.

Survivors claim that no bishop or archbishop has ever been disciplined as a result of a CDM.

The only exception is former Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, Peter Ball, who was already serving jail time for sexually assaulting 18 teenagers and men between the 1970s and 1990s.

The offices of the Bishop of Salisbury and the Bishop of Lincoln were also approached for the CDM statistics as they are leading a review of safeguarding procedures in the Church.

The Church is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and clear figures have not been provided. However, a C of E spokesman indicated that some were available in the annual reports of the Clergy Discipline Commission, which oversees CDMs.

These show that between 2015 and 2017 (the last year for which statistics are available) a total of 19 fresh complaints were made against bishops or archbishops. Some also carried over from previous years.

The reports state that 11 complaints were dismissed, two were NFA, and one ‘penalty by consent’ was imposed in 2015. There was also one ‘prohibition following conviction’, thought to relate to Peter Ball.

The outcomes of the remaining CDMs are not stated and the Church spokesman has not elaborated on these. No names are given in the annual reports.

Full statistics prior to 2015 are not available as complaints records held at Bishopthorpe Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of York, were destroyed in floods at the end of that year.

Chester and District Standard:

Records held at Bishopthorpe Palace near York were destroyed by flood water in 2015.

In 2010 the C of E published the outcome of its Past Case Review (PCR), which was a two-year investigation into historic allegations of abuse across all dioceses.

A subsequent review of the PCR by Sir Roger Singleton found the Church disregarded dozens of allegations.

The PCR examined more than 40,000 files but found that just 13 cases of alleged child sexual abuse warranted formal action.

In June last year, Sir Roger said he believed the Church “downplayed” the issue in public statements to avoid damage to its reputation.

But he also found “no evidence whatsoever of a deliberate attempt to mislead” or that anyone broke the law.

The second survivor who spoke to The Standard said he has little hope that Bishop Forster will be held accountable for failing to report Dickenson’s abuse in 2009, but added that he could be made a scapegoat.

He said: “This CDM looks like selective accountability. What about other bishops who walked away from disclosures? What about the bishops who presided over an industrial-scale whitewash in the Past Case Review period (2008 – 2010) in which many dozens of cases were quietly ignored? What about bishops who’ve denied disclosures and distanced themselves from their own inertia?

“The crisis of the senior layer of the Church of England is that they haven’t found a way of putting hands up to past mistakes and owning their own failure.”

He and survivors group MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) highlighted a report published on April 4 this year by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

A MACSAS spokesman said the document “illustrates the Church of England’s comprehensive failure in the treatment of victims of its own abuse”.

SCIE’s independent research indicates that fewer than one in five people who reported abuse in the church say they received a satisfactory response, and more than half never received any meaningful response at all.

The group spokesman said: “Those of us whose lives have been devastated by clergy abuse know this from long and bitter experience. We are victimized first by our abusers, and again by the church’s ‘defensive responses’ to criticism of its failings.

“For many years the Church of England has responded to the crisis of clergy abuse by saying ‘You can trust us. We’ve got this in hand’. The SCIE report confirms what we have known all along – that the church can no longer be trusted to manage disclosures of abuse.

“We repeat our call that this work should be handed over to a fully independent body.”

There is currently no UK law that requires the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse – although campaigners have been pushing for such legislation.

However, bishops at the head of their dioceses have responsibility for safeguarding issues and are expected to pass on intelligence about suspected criminal activity to the police.

The Church has stressed it treats all complaints seriously and, aside from the CDM, Bishop Forster’s actions in 2009 are also being investigated by its National Safeguarding Team (NST).

Chester and District Standard:

The Bishop of Chester has said he will make no further public comment until after the NST review.

Bishop Forster has led the Diocese of Chester since 1997 and is said to be the Church of England’s longest serving bishop. He is due to retire by March next year when he turns 70.

In a statement released earlier this month, he said he had delegated all safeguarding matters to the Bishop of Birkenhead until the end of the NST review, which is due to begin shortly.

He said: “I have taken this decision in response to recent comment into my handling of the Gordon Dickenson case in 2009.

“An independent review will seek to identify where any failures in procedures arose, and what lessons can be learned and I look forward to contributing to the review and to giving a full account of my actions in relation to this matter.

“The Diocese of Chester takes seriously its safeguarding responsibilities at every level. Whilst an independent review into my actions takes place, I recognise that I should not continue to lead the safeguarding arrangements in the Diocese.

“I will continue in all other duties relating to my role of Bishop of Chester.

“I will not be making any further public comments in relation to this matter until the outcome of the independent review.”

Diocese of Chester twice covered up parish vicar’s abuse of young boy

Specialist lawyer’s concern over Diocese of Chester cover-up of child sex abuse

Bishop Peter Forster delegates safeguarding responsibility after cover-up reports

Bishop of Chester Dr Peter Forster could retire before outcome of abuse cover-up inquiry

Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) lodged against Bishop of Chester Peter Forster

All is not well in Man [Isle of]

http://www.virtueonline.org/sodor-and-man-how-anglican-shariah-law-trumped-democracy-isle-man

Sodor and Man: How Anglican “Shariah” law trumped democracy on the Isle of Man

Revd Dr Jules Gomes

Sodor and Man: How Anglican “Shariah” law trumped democracy on the Isle of Man

NEWS ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

By David Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
November 6, 2016

This is a black week for democracy and Christianity in the British Isles. In Belfast, a court ruled against Christian bakers who refused to bake a gay a cake with a slogan “Supporting Gay Marriage.” Just across the water, on the Isle of Man, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, used Anglican “Shariah” law to subvert the democratic process and pervert the course of justice in the world’s oldest Parliament.

Aided and abetted by his Archdeacon Andie Brown, “professional” victim Andrea Quine, ordinand Mark Payne who was offended by having his preaching critiqued, and two disaffected churchwardens, Alan Grace and Timothy Henwood, Bishop Robert Paterson used the Clergy Discipline Measure to silence the island’s Canon Theologian and scupper his Petition of Doleance to Tynwald, the Isle of Man’s parliament–the longest continually functioning parliament in the world.

In 2015, the Revd Dr Jules Gomes took two Petitions of Doleance to the island’s open parliament on Tynwald Day. The custom of bringing a petition before the island’s parliament in full view of the nation is a remarkable custom that continues to be celebrated on the Isle of Man. It is a vehicle for citizens to address a grievance when all other avenues of justice have been exhausted.

One of Dr Gomes’ petitions called for an investigation to assess if clergy had adequate protection from bullying and harassment. Speaking to the press on that day, Dr Gomes made it clear that he had been bullied and harassed by Bishop Robert Paterson over the last two and a half years.

The bishop responded by filing a Clergy Discipline Measure against Dr Gomes. In a court of law, the credibility of the plaintiff and witnesses are indispensable to justice being done. Such a system of Western jurisprudence has its origins in our Judeo-Christian heritage. The book of Deuteronomy requires two or three witnesses to establish a charge. It warns against a ‘malicious witness’ (19:15-19).

Malicious witnesses have malicious motives. Bishop Paterson’s motives are obvious. If Tynwald appointed a Select Committee as a result of Dr Gomes’ petition, witnesses would have privilege to testify against him without fear of reprisal. A number of cases of bullying and harassment of clergy would tumble out of the closet.

Did the cabal cloistered around the bishop have malicious motives? If so, what were they? The bishop and his chaplain, Margaret Burrows, instigated Andrea Quine to complain against Dr Gomes after he allegedly shouted at her one evening. The matter would have been resolved internally. Dr Gomes offered to apologize through his churchwarden. Quine initially accepted. The bishop then stepped in and asked her not to accept Dr Gomes’ apology, but to lodge a formal complaint.

A number of churchgoers on the Isle of Man describe Andrea Quine as a “serial complainer” and a “professional victim.” ‘She has been a “serial” worshipper who drops out of a congregation, goes on to the next one and complains that she has been thrown out of every church on the island,’ a vicar’s wife told VOL.

She accused her ex-husband of beating her up and breaking her bones. She accused a friend, Jillian Carran, of trying to run over her with her car and kill her after a Sunday service. She accused a staff member at the Buchan School, of sexual harassment. She accused people at the Cathedral, where she now worships, of trying to take her voluntary role as Verger. ‘Andrea is completely mixed-up and is often on medication for mental health issues,’ women at her former church in Castletown said. Sources say that she has now returned to St Mary’s on the Harbour in Castletown and has left the Cathedral.

So why did Mark Payne, an ordinand who was training under Dr Gomes, change his testimony to implicate Dr Gomes? Payne is Head of Charitable Services for the Children’s Centre on the island. He is a self-confessed liberal. He is divorced and married to a non-Christian. After withdrawing from ordination training many years ago, he was recently granted a special dispensation that would allow him to be ordained as a divorced man.

Dr Gomes made it clear to Mr Payne that he would not let him preach in his pulpit without first vetting his sermons. Dr Gomes allowed Payne to preach only one sermon at St Mary’s on the Harbour and that, too, after asking him to rewrite it at least three times. The quality of the manuscript was so poor that Dr Gomes asked a ‘critical friend’ to make comments so he would not offend Payne.

In his report on Payne’s sermon, the critical friend stated: ‘If I had to be very honest, I would almost describe this sermon as “indulgent.” It has been written with the priorities of the speaker clearly paramount and very little discernment shown for the needs of the listener. 90% of the important theology from this extremely rich passage has been ignored completely so that the preacher can get his (slightly left-wing) message across. The impression gained is that “although Jesus obviously didn’t think the family was important, I still do.”‘ Did Payne express his grievance by betraying Dr Gomes and handing him over to Pilate like Judas did?

What about Alan Grace? Mr Grace, who was Dr Gomes’ churchwarden, had not been attending any church for around three years before Dr Gomes invited him to be a member of his church. Grace, who is divorced and remarried, part of a Hindu guru cult and took drugs at one point in his life, was also a Methodist lay preacher and resigned his position. A Methodist minister told VOL that Grace created trouble in every church he visited.

One of the most serious miscarriages of justice was made when another of Dr Gomes’ churchwardens, Timothy Henwood, accused him of swearing against the bishop and archdeacon in a private phone conversation. There is no evidence for this since there are no witnesses in a private phone conversation. Instead of dismissing the charge as hearsay, the tribunal ruled in favour of Mr Henwood. Henwood joined Dr Gomes’ church after he fell out with the Revd Paul Mothersdale, the former and now deceased of the Parish of Malew and Santon.

Bishop Paterson triumphantly announced the verdict against Dr Gomes this morning. The tribunal concluded Dr Jules Gomes had an over-inflated view of his self-importance, lost his temper and displayed anger–even with those who supported him. Speaking on Manx Radio, Dr Gomes hit back by accusing Bishop Robert Paterson of taking a dictatorial line on discipline issues, tantamount to Shariah law–the strict legal code of Islam governing public behaviour.

However, the most important charge against Dr Gomes, that of doctoring his Resume was thrown out by the Tribunal, thus vindicating Dr Gomes’ integrity.

So what? Is this a civil or a criminal offence? Wasn’t there a more Christian way of resolving this conflict? Why did the bishop spend thousands of pounds and use the Clergy Discipline Measure to punish a vicar he found problematic?

The real lesson to learn is, will the Church of England now make attempts to restrict the tyrannical abuse of the Clergy Discipline Measure for the personal and petty ends of a peeved bishop and archdeacon?

An investigation is to be carried out by the Church of England to investigate possible misuse or abuse of CDMs by bishops since the measure was first introduced in England in 2003.

*****

St. Augustine’s Church, Douglas, Isle of Man:

RECORD OF A STATEMENT BY SIR LAURENCE NEW, CHAIRMAN OF St AUGUSTINE’S CHURCH MANAGEMENT TEAM TO THE CONGREGATION AFTER SERVICE ON SUNDAY 30 OCTOBER 2016.

There can be no doubt that the attacks and counter attacks between the Diocese and ourselves are being viewed with less and less sympathy by many church-goers on the Island. Accordingly, the Management Team have authorised me to make the following statement and issue the request in the final paragraph below to us all:

When the original announcement was made on 2 September 2015 that The Bishop and the Archdeacon were launching a Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) against Dr Gomes, the legal advice which he received from eminent ecclesiastical lawyers, one of whom is a senior clergyman and member of General Synod, was, and has remained, that because Dr Gomes was not ordained by the Church of England (C of E) and that after due notice on 31 December 2015 he had resigned from all his offices within the C of E, the CDM would be “meaningless”.

Before going on to discuss the complaints and the findings of the Tribunal, it is relevant to note there have been only four (CDMs) launched in the UK against priests within the C of E in the past thirteen months, one for theft of £30,000 from Church Funds, two for fornication with female members in the priest’s congregation and one for assault and fornication with a male and a female member of that Priest’s congregation. To undertake a CDM against Dr Gomes on the complaints indicated below would be seen by many as a significant misuse of the Clergy Discipline Measure and a clear indication not only of further intimidation and harassment, but that a separate agenda was being pursued, notably the suppression of the Tynwald Petition by Dr Gomes.

Because the legal advice has been unequivocal and consistent, Dr Gomes decided to have nothing to do with the CDM and not to defend himself or be represented. A Tribunal chaired by an officer of the Diocese paid by the Bishop, and without any defence being heard, was even more “meaningless”. Unsurprisingly, this combination led to a one-sided set of conclusions. An example of this is that the Tribunal found “no evidence whatsoever of bullying by the Bishop or the Archdeacon” (paragraph 88-89 of the Tribunal Report). They claimed that this assertion was borne out by the evidence before them that neither Dr Gomes nor his supporters had ever complained officially. In fact, two CDMs had been launched in protest against the Bishop, one by Mrs Gomes and one by Fr Robert Ferguson on his own account, detailing between them some twenty-seven specific instances of bullying by the Bishop. Both of these CDMs, incidentally, were dismissed by the Archdiocese of York. Nor was the Tribunal made aware that several very specific letters of complaint about the Bishop’s behaviour had been written to the Archbishop of York, and that there was an on-line petition which revealed that more than 129 identifiable Manx residents asserted that there had in fact been extensive bullying by the Bishop. Such omissions by the Tribunal reduced its credibility and any claim to impartiality.

In its early form, the CDM contained six complaints against Dr Gomes, trawled by the Archdeacon going back, in one case, over eight years. Two complaints were deleted on the advice of the lawyers employed by the Bishop. The remaining four complaints were:

a. That he had embellished his CV. The Tribunal found him not guilty of misconduct on this complaint.

b. That he had accused a member of the clergy of referring to him as a “darkie”. The evidence was inconsistent, but accepting the word of the clergywoman against Dr Gomes word and that of a witness statement which was not before them, the Tribunal found Dr Gomes guilty of misconduct.

c. That he had lost his temper with a church cleaner and had spoken strongly on several occasions to other individuals. Dr Gomes tried to offer an apology to the cleaner, but was told by her that she had been instructed by the Bishop not to accept it unless he was present. Dr Gomes admits and accepts this complaint, apologizes for his action and is determined that it will not recur. The Tribunal found him guilty of this misconduct.

d. That at Tynwald in July 2015 he spoke out about the Bishop and the Archdeacon’s bullying. The Tribunal found him guilty of this misconduct. Dr Gomes maintains that his remarks were not only true, but were within his democratic rights to free speech, and that a significant number of people agreed with him.

It follows that if the CDM is legally “meaningless, so, too, are the threats by the Bishop to damage or restrict Dr Gomes’ career as a preacher of the Gospel. The Bishop has no legal jurisdiction over Dr Gomes, neither has the Diocese. He remains the trusted and esteemed minister of St Augustine’s Church, a uniquely gifted preacher and Biblical scholar. In the eight months since our founding, he has brought a real joy in the Gospel to our church family.

The Management Team Prayer and Planning Meeting on Friday 28 October decided that once the recording already made by Marion Kenny with Dr Gomes had been broadcast on 31 October’s Mandate, the members of the Management Team would decline thereafter to respond in any way, on Manx Radio, in the newspapers or in social media. It would be a complete cease-fire to limit further damage and distress. They have authorized me to request that all of us, as individuals or as a church should commit to the same restraint, whether it be unilateral or not.

END

Christian Concern