Tag Archives: Sarah Mullally Bishop of London


Archbishop Justin Welby


Archbishop of Canterbury to take summer sabbatical for ‘spiritual renewal’ in 2021

Between May and September, the Most Rev Justin Welby will take a break for study, reflection and prayer

By Gabriella Swerling, SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR 21 November 2020 • 9:30pm

The Archbishop of Canterbury will take a sabbatical for “spiritual renewal”, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, 64, will take a break from his role from May to September next year.

It is understood he will spend some of the time in his six-bedroom house in a remote hamlet in Normandy, France, which he has previously referred to as his “happy place”, and that he will focus on “study, prayer and reflection”.

While it is not unprecedented for the most senior bishop in the Church of England to take an extended break from the role, many will question the timing given the continuing challenges facing society because of the pandemic. 

In 2007, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, took a three-month sabbatical to write a book: Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and ­Fiction. Furthermore, in 1997, Lord Carey also took a two-month sabbatical.

The Archbishop has been leading the Church during an unprecedented period. In the first lockdown, the Church faced criticism for not challenging the Government’s decision to close places of worship. Ahead of the second lockdown, the Archbishop questioned the Government over why communal worship was being banned.

News of the most senior bishop in the Church of England taking a sabbatical from his role as the 105th Archbishop emerged following the Canterbury Diocesan Synod at the weekend.  Every member of the clergy, even archbishops, are entitled to apply for a sabbatical every seven to 10 years.

It is understood the Archbishop had intended to take his sabbatical after the Lambeth Conference, scheduled for summer 2020. However, this was delayed as a result of the pandemic.

There will not be an interim Archbishop of Canterbury while he is on sabbatical, rather the current Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, will step in for national duties. The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, will also assist in her role as Dean of the Southern Province.

A Lambeth Palace spokesperson said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury will be taking a sabbatical in 2021 for study, reflection and prayer.”

Dear archbishop, now is not the time to take a sabbatical

Karen Armstrong

As the pandemic rages, Justin Welby says he’s going to take time off. How did religion become so self-centred?

Justin Welby arriving at Canterbury Cathedral, April 2019

Justin Welby arriving at Canterbury Cathedral, April 2019 Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PAWed 25 Nov 2020 08.00 GMT

The archbishop of Canterbury has announced that he will shortly be taking a sabbatical for three months to enjoy a period of “spiritual renewal”.

Though his two predecessors took a break of similar length while they were in office, neither was during a time of acute national crisis. So in choosing summer 2021 for his absence, Justin Welby seems to be saying that his personal wellbeing is paramount and that the anxiety, suffering, fear and grief of a country in the grip of a deadly pandemic and an economic crisis is, at best, a secondary concern.

Perhaps it is not surprising that faith is in decline in the UK – only about 8% of the population attend a Christian service regularly – because this attitude strikes at the heart of the religious dynamic.

Religion is extremely demanding, but in the west it has sometimes become indulgent and self-centred. Hindu sages, for example, originally crafted the exacting disciplines of yoga to extirpate egotism, but in the west yoga has become little more than an aerobic exercise, designed to induce calm.Archbishop of Canterbury to take sabbatical for ‘spiritual renewal’Read more

The Buddha devised mindfulness to teach his monks that the self they prized so highly was illusory and must be discarded, but mindfulness is now used to help people feel more at ease and content with themselves.Advertisement

And, in recent years, the stern, demanding Christ of the gospels has become the “personal saviour” of a significant number of Christians, someone who functions rather like a personal trainer in the gym. I am not suggesting that the archbishop has fallen prey to such crass piety, but in putting his spiritual wellbeing before a country in pain, he comes close to it.

John Locke said that religion was a “private search” that could have nothing to do with public life. But the founders of the world religions would not have agreed with him. Jesus, for example, was preaching in Roman-occupied Palestine – a society traumatised by state violence and excessive taxation. Failure to pay was punished by confiscation of land, so peasants were forced into banditry or destitution. The crowds who thronged around him for healing were hungry, desperate and sick, many afflicted with neurological and psychological disorders that they attributed to demons.

Unlike the archbishop, Jesus could not retire to cultivate his personal spirituality because he was perpetually besieged by desperate people. We read that “the whole town came crowding round the door” of his house; they came in such numbers that “he had to stay outside in places where nobody lived”.

To be a follower of Christ cannot, therefore, mean withdrawal from the world – especially in a time of crisis. Jesus may have preached the kingdom of God, but this was not an otherworldly fantasy; it was rather an implicit but clear critique of imperial power. In God’s kingdom, unlike the Roman empire, the poor would be first and the rich last. The Lord’s Prayer was devised for people terrified of falling into debt, and who could hope only for bare subsistence, one day at a time. “Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us.” Jesus’s parables were not timeless truths, but reflected the problems of a society split between the very rich and the very poor. People were desperate for loans, heavily indebted, and forced to hire themselves out as day labourers.

And, of course, Jesus was finally put to death by the Roman authorities after staging a provocative procession in Jerusalem at Passover (always a touchy time in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, because it celebrated the ancient Israelites’ liberation from the imperial power of Egypt).Bishop says C of E change of stance on sexuality would spark exodusRead more

The Buddha’s story is especially interesting now. He defined human suffering as “sickness, old age and death”, and historians believe that at this time there may have been a pandemic in the Ganges valley, where the newly founded cities attracted parasites that can flourish only in densely occupied environments.

The Buddha had discovered a method of living creatively with the pain that is endemic in human life, and he is usually depicted sitting in the lotus position, seemingly lost to the world. Indeed, after achieving nirvana, he was tempted for a while – like the archbishop, perhaps – to relish this newfound peace in solitude. But the god Brahma intervened, begging him to “look down at humanity, which is drowning in pain” and “to travel far and wide throughout the world” to help others deal with their suffering.

The Buddha then realised he must “return to the marketplace”, and insisted that his monks do the same. For the next 40 years, the Buddha travelled tirelessly throughout the towns and villages of India, sometimes far from his friends, helping people to deal creatively with the sorrow that is inherent in life.

I sympathise with the archbishop, because I love the solitude and study that is essential to my writing. But if you are engaged with religion, that is part of the job.

• Karen Armstrong is the author of The Lost Art of Scripture

Dec 22 2019 – “Church Safeguarding – Not a prayer” – Private Eye

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Church House Westminster


Update on Safe Spaces following media report

The Church of England issued the press release below today. It appears to be in response to an article in Private Eye which was tweeted here yesterday.

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.”

Janet Fife

‘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.’ I’m glad they are involving survivors in this, although I suspect they aren’t asking some who have been most vocal. I’m sure Matt Ineson would have something to say – and until the Church is ready to hear him, and Gilo, and “Graham’, and others, it won’t get very far. But as the project manager and board were appointed ‘last year’ –… Read more »

Martin Sewell

The Church seems to have lost the plot on this. One cannot hear of the delay and the associated costs without a rising sense of anger. Questions must be asked and more importantly – answered. This is not said in a vindictive sense but simply to seek an answer to the plainest of questions. “ How did the main thing cease to be the main thing?” The need was there, the victims known, the resource was available. It ought to have been possible to scope and deliver something for survivors within a year, by any team of competent managers. If… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley

Presumably when she was the Chief Nurse the Bishop of London must have overseen projects far bigger than this one. Why has everyone involved been so inept, had no sense of urgency given their rhetoric on safeguarding. Old school politicians such as Lord Carrington resigned when there were serious failings such as this; why haven’t senior bishops resigned over this pitiful episode? Thank God for Private Eye and a free press!

This doesn’t look good. Depressing really. Am I a fool to be surprised at the prevarication, the EIG involvement and the procurement story, especially 2buy2. “They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.” Why not let the survivors run the project completely? OK, I know why not.

December 18 2017 – “The Archbishop of Canterbury has come under fire; but there are things to celebrate too” – Heathcliff O’Malley – The Daily Telegraph

The Archbishop of Canterbury has come under fire; but there are things to celebrate too

Justin Welby has come under criticism from several sources CREDIT: HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY FOR THE DAILY TELEGRAPH/HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY


It has been a difficult time for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby has been criticised by one of his predecessors, Lord Carey, for sacking him over the way sexual assault allegations against a bishop were investigated.

This came just days after an independent report from Lord Carlile QC found the Church had besmirched the reputation of George Bell, the late bishop of Chichester, by failing “to engage in a process which would give proper consideration to his rights” when he was accused of sexual abuse.

Archbishop Welby apologised for the procedure but declined to exonerate Bishop Bell, as many of the latter’s supporters wanted.

Some will see both this and the treatment of Lord Carey as unjust; but the Archbishop will doubtless have had in mind the likelihood that he will have to represent the Church at some point next year before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is unlikely to be a comfortable experience.

So it must have come as a great relief to the Church hierarchy to be able to focus again on its pastoral preoccupations with the appointment of Sarah Mullally as Bishop of London in succession to Lord Chartres. A former chief nursing officer, she is the 133rd occupant of the London post and just the third woman bishop in the Anglican communion.

In truth, it was not a choice designed to be uncontroversial given the opposition to the ordination of women prelates on the Church’s conservative and evangelical wings.  But it is an inspired appointment and the inevitable corollary of the procedure to which the Church is now fully committed.

Indeed, how long will it be before a woman is ordained Archbishop of Canterbury or of York?