The summary of the report by the Church of England into ‘Christian anti-Semitism dating back centuries’ gives immediate cause for concern on at least two counts. First, it is staggering to read that hymns that ‘convey the teaching of contempt for Jews’ include Charles Wesley’s renowned Advent hymn ‘Lo, He comes with clouds descending’. The reference in that hymn to Christ’s crucifixion cannot be interpreted as in any way anti-Semitic. For one thing, it was the Romans, not the Jews, who crucified Jesus; and for another, it is meant to imply that all of us – who, like the multitudes who heralded His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – could like them turn against Him at a moment’s notice, especially if being seen to follow Him might place us in any danger ourselves. We are all, especially at this time of year, waiting to see the ‘true Messiah’, who we believe will indeed one day return (as Revelation 1 states) in clouds of glory. Or are we to take from this report that Revelation itself is anti-Semitic?
Secondly, it would appear from this summary that there is no mention in the report of those Church members, including senior clergy, who spoke out in this country against the persecution of Jews under the Third Reich during the 1930s and 1940s. Such individuals rank among their numbers the late Bishop George Bell of Chichester, who personally supported many Jews and non-Aryan Christians to come to this country, including my own father. Bell had a difficult time persuading politicians and Church colleagues alike that not all Germans were Nazis, and it is likely that his stance cost him the most senior post that the Church had to offer. It would be an act of true Christianity if more of the present-day Church of England leaders were to follow his self-sacrificing example.
Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson
CRANMER’S ‘CURATE’S EGG’ COMMENTS
“No justification for lack of name” – Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson – Chichester Observer Letter – June 20 2019
Sir – I think I may be able to enlighten Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson (Letters, March 24) who writes about the case of Bishop Bell, as to the Church of England’s thinking on safeguarding.
At a recent parochial church council meeting in the Chichester diocese, a parish safeguarding officer gave a briefing on the introduction of a programme being trialled in the diocese. Bishop Bell and others were mentioned, along with the stance taken by Archbishop Justin Welby.
The meeting was told that a change of mindset is needed. The old idea that one is “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply when dealing with a safeguarding complaint; the view has to be that there is a case to answer, and the defendant must prove his innocence.
Clearly Lord Carlile was operating under the old rules and Bishop Bell can never comply with the new rules.
In this way, church leaders are able to accept almost all of Lord Carlile’s report but still maintain there is a shadow over Bishop Bell.
Storrington, West Sussex
“Bishop Bell’s memory”
Sir – Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson’s letter (March 24) puts the case for the late Bishop George Bell very well.
Those of us who live in the Diocese of Chichester suffer a further frustration. Within days of the Church’s original finding being published, orders were given to remove almost all memorabilia to George Bell. In places where this was not possible, such as in the south aisle of the cathedral, a notice was displayed for many months referring to being a cloud over George Bell’s name.
At the same time, a building in Canon Lane that had been refurbished with nearly £1 million pounds of funds and named “George Bell House” was renamed “4 Canon Lane”.
Dr Hildebrandt Grayson asks how long we shall have to wait for the Archbishop to have the grace to admit that the Church made “the most colossal error of judgement”.
We in Chichester are asking how long before we can see the restoration of his name, and particularly of George Bell House.
Chichester, West Sussex