MAKING A CASE FOR THE INDEPENDENT SAFEGUARDING SERVICE
CASE 1 – GEORGE BELL – BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
CASE 2 – MARTYN PERCY – DEAN OF CHRIST CHURCH
CASE 4 – REVD CHRISTOPHER LOVELESS
CASE 5 – REVD DEREK SPENCER
Update on Safe Spaces following media report
A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “Safe Spaces is planned as a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse across the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
“The delay in progressing the support service, first officially discussed in 2014, is a matter of regret which the Church of England acknowledges and apologises for. But since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.
“Their knowledge, skill and personal experience in shaping the model for Safe Spaces alongside their commitment and support for the procurement process is integral to finding the right organisation to deliver the project.
“All grant money from both churches and ATL has been ring fenced for the project and no money from the £592,000 grant has been spent to date, and no new company has been set up. Pre set-up costs, procurement, project management and development are separate to this and the cost is being shared across both Churches.
“Following an initial procurement process, the Board has agreed that it would not be recommending the appointment of a preferred supplier to deliver the project; this decision was taken in partnership with the survivor representatives.
“Over the coming weeks the Board in partnership with survivors will agree the next steps and the best way forward. Survivor voices remain central to any future success of this new service and their welfare and support is an absolute priority for the Church in its continuing safeguarding work.
“Both churches are committed to supporting survivors of church-related abuse and providing an independent national service for survivors of any form of church-related abuse.”
An open letter has been published by Justin Humphreys, chief executive of the charity now known as thirtyone:eight (formerly Churches Child Protection Advisory Service):
An open letter to the leadership of the Church of England following BBC’s Panorama.
…It has been clear for some time that the past cases review conducted between 2007 and 2010 was flawed in a number of respects. For there to be any confusion or uncertainty about what happened to those cases that were identified, often referred to as the ‘Known Cases Lists’ is also inexcusable. The Panorama program did well to uncover what were clearly points of discomfort for the church hierarchy. For key representatives of the Church to either not be able to respond clearly to questions about the number of cases or be unprepared to do so, calls the management of these cases into serious question and makes one wonder who exactly is in control? The need for transparency and true accountability has never been as needed as it is today.
What is needed within the Church of England (and frankly elsewhere across the wider Church and beyond) is authentic leadership. Leadership that is prepared to lead by example in a proactive exercise of self-reflection that leads to open and honest dialogue (particularly with survivors). Leadership that is not governed, coerced or muzzled by either insurers, lawyers or any other stakeholder that may stand to lose from just exposure and open remorse and repentance. This would be the right thing to do!
We may ask, what (or who) is being served by this ongoing catalogue of failures, missed opportunities and resistance to effective change concerning past, present and future safeguarding matters? It certainly cannot be said that survivors are being well-served. It is also of great concern that the Church itself is being further damaged by a continual denial of the truth and avoidance of any tangible reparation.
If the public at large is ever again to say of the Church that it is a safe place, a haven or even a sanctuary for those who are suffering, the Church must be prepared to be laid bare and be held accountable for those things it has failed to do well. This humility would be the greatest strength of the Church in seeking to deal with this sad catalogue of shame. The time has come for those that stand in the way of what Jesus would so clearly have done to be challenged, held accountable and where needed placed elsewhere – where they have less opportunity to exert their negative influence and to stand in the way of the restoration that is desperately needed…
Do read the whole letter.
Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church has written a second blog, this one is titled: Panorama on C/E. Further reflections. Again it’s worth reading in full, but the concluding paragraph says:
…Panorama indicated to us that control of information is a tactic of power still actively employed by the central Church authorities. The originators of this tactic do not appear to be the bishops themselves but the highly paid Church House officials at the centre of things. Unfortunately for them, their control of the levers of power was all too easy to spot in both the recent television interviews. The interview of Archbishop Welby on Channel 4 was, like that of Bishop Hancock, unconvincing and somewhat contrived. The bishops themselves both had personal integrity and human warmth but nothing could not disguise the fact that they were speaking for someone other than themselves. The Church cannot continue to go down a path of fielding individuals to act as spokesmen for the institution. The public want, as far as possible, to encounter real human beings who can speak for the church. The people of England relate to real people, people who, like them, are living lives of joy mixed with pain. They will never want to identify with a group when they suspect that the information put out is being manipulated and managed before it is shared with them. In short, let bishops be bishops, shepherds of the flock, not puppets being controlled by forces that are invisible and are not necessarily working for the good of all.
The Church Times has published a letter from Andrew Graystone which can be found here (scroll down)
Panorama programme won’t be the last scandal
Sir, — Church leaders, from the Archbishops up, acknowledge that the Church is failing in its care of victims of clergy abuse. But ask them who is responsible for sorting out the mess, and nobody knows. Is it the job of the Archbishops’ Council? or the General Synod? or the National Safeguarding Steering Group? or Lambeth Palace? or the House of Bishops? Or is it, perhaps, a matter for each individual diocese?
Everybody points to someone else. Nobody steps forward. After a decade or more of crisis, which continues to eat away at the Church’s standing in society, there has been a complete failure from those in authority to grasp the issue. One reason that some survivors of church abuse are so painfully vocal is that they are filling a vacuum of leadership on this most crucial of issues for the Church.
Monday’s Panorama, with its focus on the shameful mismanagement of abuse in Lincoln diocese, was entitled Scandal in the Church of England. It could have been made at any point in the past decade, and it could have focused on almost any diocese. Stories will continue to emerge, and the scandal of abuse past and present will continue to undermine the Church’s wider mission, until some individual or body takes responsibility and institutes decisive action.
In the mean time, it is victims of abuse, past and present, who bear the cruelty and pain of the Church’s failure.
Church Times – Letters
From the Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills
Sir, — When responding to atrocity cases, for which it was set up, the International Criminal Court — like other courts, for that matter — focuses primarily on the perpetrator, seeking to call out, name, and punish criminal acts, that they never happen again. Of course, they still do. The survivor’s testimony is a means to that end, treated as tools of witness — and no more.
But when it comes to building resilience in a community, in the aftermath of atrocity, the criminal court is only the first step in any work of reconciliation. For a community to thrive, it needs to listen to the stories and the needs of survivors of any abuse, crime, or atrocity. It is not just about retribution, but about flourishing: flourishing for the survivors and for the whole community as witness.
What the Church’s National Safeguarding Steering Group has done in rejecting the recommendations of the independent reviewers (News, 12 April) is to choose a path of self-protection rather than recognise the needs of survivors and give priority to them, and to the health of the Church and society.
There is a well-documented pattern of continued structural secrecy. This is a failing common to large organisations in a position of power and influence, and is defined in the book Crime and Human Rights: Criminology of atrocity and genocide by Joachim J. Savelsberg (Sage Publishing, 2010):
“Here we benefit from the work of a scholar, who has greatly contributed to our understanding of the ‘dark side of organisations,’ the many instances of regular rule breaking behaviour that is characteristic of life even in legitimate organizations.
“Sociologist Diane Vaughan stresses that members of organizations are always exposed to structural pressures resulting from competition and gaps between goals and legitimate means. They are likely to resort to the violation of laws, rules and regulations in order to meet organizational goals.
“Such rule violations become more likely as necessary structural features of organizations such as hierarchy or specialized subunits, create ‘structural secrecy,’ meaning they provide settings intra-organizationally where risk of detection and sanctioning are minimized. In addition, organizational processes such as the ‘normalization of deviance’ (ie, acceptance of deviant behaviour as normal) provide normative support for illegality, a pattern that has been documented” (page 78).
The best means of checking ourselves and our Church is through a system of accountability, as recommended by the reviewer, with the collaboration of survivors. All of us would be better served and safeguarded, including senior leadership, by listening to these survivors’ recommendations. It is a specialist area, which takes in much more than those assumed to be one-to-one cases at a parish level.
If our rhetoric is one of “All are welcome and all are loved,” we need to live up to the love we offer — a love that demands vulnerability and a willingness to listen to the voices of those in pain. When someone is hungry for bread, we should not then hand them a stone.
http://survivingchurch.org/2019/02/19/elephant-at-general-synod/ (Stephen Parsons – ‘Surviving Church’)
“You cannot preach repentance until you have repented” [Booklet “We Asked For Bread But You Gave Us Stones – One Tear (sorry, Year) On” by Andrew Graystone]
“Was this not the process that created the Bishop George Bell debacle? The Church of England leadership will still not follow the plain and increasingly irritated advice of its independent investigator Lord Carlile, who said: “The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him….
“If witnesses accounts and denials of knowledge (if appropriate) are not captured in a timely way, may not their reputations be placed “under a cloud” of complicity in the cover-up by some future archbishop without evidence, just as Justin Welby has tainted the memory of Bishop George Bell? Justice requires due process to victims and those under suspicion alike. We are woefully failing many in this case”
“The church in trying to preserve its reputation has all but lost it. Kicking allegations ‘into the long grass’ and then throwing long dead Bishops ‘under the bus’ has all added to the loss of credibility of the church and its hierarchy…“