Tag Archives: The Guardian

Aug 1 2019 – “Boris Johnson and a warning from history” – Guardian Letters – Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher

Boris Johnson and a warning from history

I pray for our PM and hope that I am needlessly crying wolf, writes Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher, who fled the Nazis as a child.
 1931: National socialist demonstration in Berlin. The banner reads ‘Only a strong Germany can provide employment to its people’. Photograph: Imagno/Getty Images

I was born in 1931 in the small German town of Meiningen, famous for its theatre, much like Stratford-upon-Avon. Its mainly middle-class citizens were deeply disillusioned, tired of the infighting of the political parties. Germany seemed to be in a state of social and moral disintegration, crying out for healing and reconciliation. People were drawn to a charismatic, unconventional power-hungry leader who read their minds and promised what they wanted to hear. I know history never quite repeats itself, but the analogies are frightening.

The single issue was the exceptionalism (Opinion, 29 July), the superiority of the German race. The good, mainly churchgoing citizens easily voted his Brown Shirts onto the regional council (think the Brexit party). Two years later they voted nationally in sufficient numbers to enable Hitler to seize total power. It was all perfectly legal, too late to effectively protest. Dissent was now treason (think the Daily Mail). My father’s parents were Jews. Outcasts now (think our non-Brits), a few years later we had no choice but to flee and my grandmother to take poison. I pray for our PM and hope that I am needlessly crying wolf.
Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher
Brighton

July 24 2019 – “Professional Bullies” and the Church of England

2000px-Logo_of_the_Church_of_England.svg

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”
~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA Inquiry – July 2018

1. “An ethically challenged Church? Bullying and threats” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

Among the many documents attached to the recent IICSA hearings was an email correspondence dating back to 2015 between a survivors’ group and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  I would not have picked up on this exchange but for an alarming article last Friday in the Church of England Newspaper by Sheik Muhammad Al-Husseini.  Al-Husseini has core status in the IICSA hearings and although he is not directly involved in the Anglican side of the hearings, he seems remarkably well-informed about the detail of what is going on in our church.  He has also spoken to several survivors and their lawyers.

The correspondence, to which Al-Husseini refers, mentions that in 2015 one of the things that survivors were complaining about to the Archbishop was the use by some dioceses of a particular company to protect their interests, Luther Pendragon, a specialist in crisis management.  Without knowing anything further about this firm, one is immediately concerned to discover that at least two dioceses are spending considerable sums of money on this kind of advice.  If any institution brings in professional help to protect its interests then it means that this institution has decided that it needs to ‘circle the wagons’ to protect itself against a perceived enemy.  Who is this enemy?  The enemy is evidently none other than the survivors themselves.  These are the same people, whose interests the Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to put right at the centre of the Church’s concerns.

The letter addressed to the Archbishop on the 12 June 2015 claims that ‘scandal management companies like Luther Pendragon Limited  .. are known to have acted to obstruct, apply pressure and threaten survivors, whistleblowers and others who have spoken out about Anglican clergy abuse’.  Even without reading the letter detailing the techniques used by this firm, we seem to be entering a very dark place. A diocese of the Church of England (two are mentioned, London and Winchester) has felt it right to use the services of what can only be described as professional bullies to protect its reputation.  The victims of this bullying are among the most vulnerable group in society – the sexually and spiritually abused.  How can this be ethical, let alone Christian?  One survivor I know was informed that it was normal practice for the Church or its agents to collect personal information about complainants to assist in the potential legal defence processes which might lessen the potential liability of the Church.  A particularly nasty attack that survivors have had to face is the suggestion that, before their abuse, they were in some way already mentally fragile.  Thus, any symptoms of post-traumatic stress they may now be suffering, were already present.

Al-Husseini’s article also mentions the fact that the Church of England nationally employs one particularly aggressive law firm to protect its interests.  A particular lawyer in this firm has acquired from survivors the nickname the Pitbull on account of her techniques of intimidation and merciless interrogation of survivors.   The article overall gives us some insight into a thoroughly unpleasant culture.  On the outside there are pleasing soft words, tears of remorse and apology.  Inside we find a ruthless machine full of hard-headed professional reputation people aligned to aggressive lawyers desperate to defend, at all costs, the institution.

It is to be hoped that this inclusion by IICSA of the 2015 document naming, and hopefully shaming, the underhand methods of Luther Pendragon, shows that the Inquiry is fully aware of hypocritical goings-on in the Church.  A further area of injustice remains to be resolved.  This is the way that the Church has tried, through its professionals, to discredit a highly respected international expert on safeguarding, Ian Elliott.  In 2015 Ian produced a comprehensive report about the treatment of one particular survivor, known to IICSA as A4.  In his report which has not been published in full, Ian criticised the advice given to the Church by lawyers and others to withdraw pastoral and other support from A4.  The Church, after initially enthusiastically receiving the report and promising to implement its findings in full, started to draw back from this support.  We do not know of course what was said behind closed doors at meetings of strategists and advisers but evidently senior people desperately wanted to discredit the report’s recommendations.  Within six to nine months it became just another report to be shelved and forgotten.  By that time the bishop who had been asked by the House of Bishops to oversee its implementation, Sarah Mullally, had been promoted from Crediton to London.  Here her new responsibilities made the task of overseeing the implementation of the Elliott report impossible to fulfil.  The criticism that Elliott had made in his report about the withdrawal of pastoral care for A4 was not picked up by the Church or responded to.  Nevertheless, there were enough denials and rumours around to suggest that this was not a true record of what had happened and this allowed the Church to wriggle out of any obligation to implement any part of the report.  No one in the leadership of the Church attacked Elliott, but neither did they, in the end, do anything to support him or put his recommendations into practice.

The doubts which had been cast over the Elliott report were finally confronted as the result of detective work presented to the IICSA enquiry.  Documents were uncovered which showed that there was, as he had claimed, written advice in circulation which gave clear advice to dioceses that A4 and other survivors were to be cut off from all communication with the Church if they made civil claims against it.  This included the withdrawal of pastoral support just as Ian Elliott had accurately reported.  This whole story was explored in the BBC Sunday programme on July 21st.

When we take an overall view of the way the Church has been behaving in regard to the survivors of sexual abuse it is hard not to use a series of adjectives which would include the words murky, disreputable and dishonest.  The gall needed to spend the Churches’ money on a company such as Luther Pendragon, which has made its name on defending tobacco companies and the nuclear waste industry, suggests that there are a considerable number of senior clergy who are in danger of losing their moral compass.

Every time a lie is told to a survivor, or a committee listens to ethically doubtful advice from an expensive lawyer, corruption enters in.  Individuals may have arrived at a meeting decent and honourable.  By the end of a meeting when they may have colluded in a blatant piece of expedient management of a survivor, there has been a slippage into colluding with evil activity.  This makes them participants in the evil themselves.

The saga of Jonathan Fletcher rumbles on.  Many people are asking how an individual with a history of doubtful behaviour and no PTO was able to access many pulpits in Britain and abroad over the past 2 ½ years.  Every such invitation involved another person in authority defying the rules of the Church.   Were these invitations made in conscious defiance of church rules or is it a case of information not being shared?  Then there is the deliberate ‘cleansing’ of mentions of Fletcher on various websites.  Who had the authority to perform such an act?  One author of a piece which had mentioned Fletcher in his original piece, only to see the name disappear, protested to me personally about this underhand and unauthorised editing.  The censorship shows every sign of being coordinated.  Thankfully no one has access to my blog posts so that my, no doubt provocative, posts on the topic remain up for anyone to read.

The Church at the institutional level and through its non-official manifestations seems to be going through a crisis of morality.  In spite of thousands of sermons preached each Sunday, the response to abuse survivors is apparently sometimes mired in shady, often shameful activity.  At the heart of this activity, as we have said many times before, is the need to preserve the good name of the structure.  How long will it be before this reputation polishing exercise collapses in total failure and the questionably ethical behaviour of so many church people becomes manifest?  That will be possibly the beginning of the end for our national Church.

COMMENTS

  1. Rowland Wateridge

Quoting what you say about survivors’ pre-existing conditions (if any) “A particularly nasty attack that survivors have had to face is the suggestion that, before their abuse, they were in some way already mentally fragile. Thus, any symptoms of post-traumatic stress they may now be suffering, were already present.”

That goes entirely against the long-standing legal concept that “you take your victim as you find him” (the word ‘victim’ may seem unfortunate in this context) also known as the “Egg-shell Skull Rule . This is a legal principle that the frailty, weakness, sensitivity, or feebleness of a victim cannot be used as a defence to a civil claim by the victim. In other words, put as simply as possible, it doesn’t avail an assailant, an abuser or a negligent car driver that they have injured someone who might be pre-disposed to injury due an existing condition. If someone has brittle bones, the law treats a broken leg as a broken leg regardless of the existing condition.

I’m sure others will have views on the wider topic here.

  1. But if the vicar/Archdeacon/bishop thinks it is a defence, it will work. And the survivor will still recognise they have been reabused. And I’ve been lied to and lied about. Corruption is not an unreasonable word. Brilliant post Stephen.

  1. No vicar, archdeacon or bishop may disregard the law of the land (the ‘Eggshell-skull Rule’ is equally the law in some other jurisdictions), and if they ‘think’ differently, that is immaterial. I have to say there is a question mark in my mind whether the Church itself has adequate legal advice sometimes, or if it is even sought, when matters of this kind arise.

    The point you make really goes to the question of proper and adequate representation and assistance to the survivor. If he or she had automatic access to legal advice, this spurious talk about pre-existing conditions would be knocked on the head very quickly.

    Luther Pendragon are not solicitors, although it is possible that they might have staff lawyers. If so, they, in turn, will know the Eggshell-skull Rule.

2. 02/03/2018 – Church of England faces ‘deep shame’ at child abuse inquiry” – The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood

 

3. 13/07/2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance – The Church of England and the IICSA

Photo John Titchener (left) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]. David Bonehill (right) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [EIG]

InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019 – Page 29 & 30

Q. = Nikiti McNeill [IICSA]
A.1 = John Titchener [Group Compliance Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office]
A.2 = David Bonehill [UK Claims Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group]

MS McNEILL: Do you think…A4, as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

MR BONEHILL: No.

MS McNEILL: Finally, I want to read directly…the guiding principles that you told us about last week from Ecclesiastical. The first of those guiding principles is that policyholders…should respond to victims and survivors in such a way that it is not experienced or seen as negative, resistant or unhelpful, because this can create relationship difficulties and may worsen their well-being. Do you think that in managing this entire issue, Ecclesiastical has lived up to that guiding principle?

MR BONEHILL: Could we have done it better? Yes, I accept that point.

MS McNEILL: …as a statement of principle, it is a good one, isn’t it?

MR BONEHILL: Yes, it is. I agree entirely.

MS McNEILL: Do you think that you lived up to that principle?

MR BONEHILL: I think we could have done better 

MS McNEILL: Thank you.

 

Above in summary form by #AnglicanHearing

Q. – Do you think that as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

A. – No
Q. – Ms McNeill reads from the guiding principles of Ecclesiastical, focusing on the fact that treatment of survivors should not be negative or worsen their well being. She asks, in their handling of the A4 issue, does he consider Ecclesiastical to have lived up to these principles?
A. – The witness acknowledges that they have not

 

 

@InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr. Rory Philips QC [Counsel for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office – EIO] 

“Where the Inquiry has not sought a specific answer to criticisms made, then as a matter of basic fairness, it is not possible for you to arrive at a conclusion as to whether these criticisms are well founded….
“Because that would offend the guiding principle if I can use that phrase again, which must inform all of the work of this, as of any inquiry, namely fairness….

“EIO is an insurer. It is a commercial organisation. And perhaps some of the difficulties for claimants here arise because they expect EIO to behave towards them rather more as if it was the church”

 

“IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry” – Church Times – 12/07/2019 – Hattie Williams

 

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA – July 2018

 

IICSA Anglican Church hearing day 10

Today, the final Friday,  was originally intended to be used only for closing statements from the lawyers representing the various parties. However, it was announced at the end of Thursday that an additional witness would be called first on Friday morning. This turned out to be David Bonehill, Claims Director of EIG and and John Titchener, Group Compliance Director of EIO.

The Church Times has a report of what happened: IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry

Transcript of day 10 hearing.

List of documents adduced on day 10 (but none have as yet been published)

 

July 13 2019 – “The Matt Ineson Story – Archbishops challenged” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

“The truths about Matt’s ‘shabby and shambolic’ treatment by the church after his original assault thirty + years ago will probably never be completely known.  What we have seen is at best incompetent treatment but at worst dangerously cruel”
The words of Revd Graham Sawyer are not to be forgotten – said at the IICSA Inquiry last year – July 2018:
“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

July 28 2018 – IICSA Transcript – Final Day – July 27 2018

Mr William Chapman, counsel for complainants, victims and survivors represented by Switalskis and also who represents MACSAS:

Page 135-136: “He [George Carey], in the words of Andrew Nunn, did try to sweep it under the carpet. If George Carey thought by doing so he served the reputation of the church, it was a gross misjudgment. The tactics deployed by the church were at the very edge of lawfulness. We heard how Bishop Kemp attempted to compromise Mr Murdock. We heard how several bishops telephoned Ros Hunt to ask her to tell the young men who had made complaints not to speak to the police or the press. We heard how Michael Ball, Bishop of Truro, had been contacting witnesses and, in Mr Murdock’s view, trying to influence them. We do encourage the police to review whether any of these matters, in particular the actions of the bishops who contacted Ros Hunt, disclose offences of perverting the course of justice”

Mrs Kate Wood

Page 89-92

Q. How would you characterise the emails you received from Neil Todd? You received a number I think at this time?

A. I did. He, I think, was surprised this was being raised again. He was very calm about it, I felt. He wanted information, and why wouldn’t he? I wanted to give him as much information as I could, but, for the reasons you have outlined, I had to be a bit careful. I didn’t have any emails from him that showed any great distress at that point. He was obviously anxious, and he wanted information. But he was very calm and composed with his emails. I could tell he was also very angry at the church, and, again, why wouldn’t he be? So I tried to support him through that.

Q. In your witness statement at paragraph 149 you refer to the fact that in his later emails in particular he was clearly angry with the church —

A. Yes.

Q. — and was feeling anxious. You refer to an email — I think the reference is wrong, but the correct reference is ACE001870. This is an email to Jeremy Pryor. Why is it that you have this email, Mrs Wood?

A. I can only think that Jez, Jeremy, copied me in on it, I think.

Q. You think Jeremy copied you in or did Neil Todd copy you in? The reason I say that is in your summary you seem to think that Neil copied you in when he wrote this to Jeremy?

A. I don’t know, sorry.

Q. That’s all right. Don’t worry about that. If we can go down to the fifth paragraph of the long email that begins, “So the difficulty”. I think this is the email you are referring to in your witness statement:

Neil Todd’s Email to Mrs Kate Wood/Jeremy Pryor

“So the difficulty of the black-and-white events of Peter Ball’s behaviour are not in the acts themselves — but the fact that he corrupted my genuine search for something good with acts which were obviously intentional for his own sexual gratification in the guise of a wise teacher nurturing and caring of a young seeker, aspiring to good intentions.

“When he denied his behaviour, this struck at my deepest conscience — it was then that the reality of what I allowed him to do — was not moral. The reality that his behaviour was not for my good or inspirational guidance.

“He only had to admit that what he did — actually occurred — this would then have made some sense to me. If he could admit that lying on top of me naked, his ejaculations, the naked showers under his instruction, the threat of physical beatings was all part of his unique path to spiritual guidance, was normal, then maybe we could have accepted that his intentions were good, just unusual. But his denial of all that occurred resulted in deep disillusionment. I personally felt ashamed for allowing this behaviour to occur, for allowing myself to be so gullible and not question or seek guidance earlier. This could have redirected my path. I could have joined a true community and been guided appropriately. The church should also have showed a greater deal of support but to dismiss me after the incident with no due care, simply resulted in full disillusionment with the institution as a whole. I genuinely felt the church was covering up, but at the worst it affected my personal relationship with God and my genuine search in faith. When Peter accepted a caution, he stated with penitence and sorrow he was accepting the police caution, but, again, the church was saddened by his resignation.

“All I want is the truth to be known without suspicion. I want Peter to admit in black and white that the events that took place did take place — that none of this was my imagination — nor my fault. I want the black-and-white questions to be answered.

“I would also request that the church take responsibility for not acknowledging nor supporting nor investigating my concerns.

“I heard that Peter had a new candidate when I was based in London — I wonder if he too experienced similar behaviour.

“I have survived all this, led a normal life — I changed direction after a few years of rebellion, to say the least, and commenced training as a registered nurse. I have been qualified since 1999 and have been working as director of nursing for indigenous communities in Australia. I have a loving and supportive partner of 18 years and am generally considered normal.

“Unfortunately, I never had counselling to deal with nor work through the emotions that occur after such a personal incident — but, yes, I can accept that Peter Ball’s behaviour has left its mark. I am not a vindictive person — I only wish for an acknowledgement that my experience was a reality and that all Church of England hierarchical parties take a share in the responsibility of their inaction.

“Regards, Neil.”

Closing remarks by Fiona Scolding QC

Page 175-176

Chair and panel, obviously it is not the role of counsel to the inquiry to sum up. I just have a very few brief remarks. I would like to thank everybody — in particular the legal teams and all the witnesses who have attended — for their patience and cooperation. I would also like to thank everyone for the courteous and respectful way in which this hearing has been conducted and in their approach and role towards us as counsel to the inquiry.
Just a few statistics, so that everyone can feel that they have earned their fees: 108,000 pages of documents were received by the inquiry during this investigation, and 53,244 pages were disclosed; 118 witness statements were obtained from 23 97 individuals; we have heard 14 live witnesses and three read witnesses.
Last, but by no means least, we want to hold and remember Neil Todd and his family and hope that they are able to find peace and solace after what must have been a painful reawakening of their memories.
We also wish to thank all the other victims and survivors, whose courage in speaking to us and whose insight, wisdom and understanding is both central and essential to the work of this inquiry. We apologise for any distress and upset that this week may have caused to them. Thank you very much

 

March 2 2018 – “Church of England faces ‘deep shame’ at child abuse inquiry” – Guardian – Harriet Sherwood

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/church-england-faces-apos-deep-114904515.html

Church of England faces ‘deep shame’ at child abuse inquiry

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent
The Guardian
The former bishop Peter Ball, who was jailed for sexual abuse in 2015.
The former bishop Peter Ball, who was jailed for sexual abuse in 2015. Photograph: David Jones/PA

The Church of England is braced for two years of “deep shame” over its handling of child sex abuse cases, with allegations of cover-ups, collusion and callous treatment of survivors under scrutiny from Monday at the UK’s biggest public inquiry.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will be cross-examined in person during three weeks of hearings this month. Two former archbishops, serving bishops and other senior church figures are also to give evidence or submit witness statements to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA). Further hearings will follow in July and next year.

Survivors of sexual abuse are expected to accuse the church of failing to act on disclosures and failing to treat them with compassion. Their lawyers are likely to call for independent oversight of the C of E’s safeguarding processes, claiming that the church has shown itself incapable of dealing properly with allegations and disclosures.

Welby himself has said the church must acknowledge where it went wrong. “[We] failed really badly around the issues of the care of children and vulnerable adults. We have to face the consequences of that and learn … to be transparent and honest – and genuinely repentant,” he recently told reporters.

Peter Hancock, the bishop of Bath and Wells and the C of E’s lead bishop on safeguarding, who will also give evidence, told the Guardian he expected to feel “a deep, deep sense of shame” during the hearings.

The church had cooperated fully with the IICSA, but the inquiry would ask “challenging questions and I don’t run from that”, Hancock said. The church needed to learn and that meant “not just new policies, but new courage and resolve” to change.

As well as Welby and Hancock, among those expected to give evidence, either in person or by written statement, are former archbishops of Canterbury Rowan Williams and George Carey, and the current bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner.

In preparation for the hearings, the church has submitted more than 25,000 documents and 36 witness statements.

This month’s hearings will focus on abuse in the diocese of Chichester, where there have been multiple allegations of sexual abuse, some dating back many years. The church’s handling of a controversial abuse allegation made against George Bell, the former bishop of Chichester who died 60 years ago, will be examined. But the issue is far from historical: in 2016, the C of E was dealing with more than 2,600 reports of sexual abuse within its parishes, with more than 700 relating to church officers.

As well as hearing accounts of abuse from survivors, the inquiry is also expect to be told of the “secondary abuse” experienced by many at the hands of church figures who allegedly ignored, disparaged or covered up their disclosures.

“The church is guilty of two distinct crimes: cover-up and its treatment of survivors,” said the Rev Graham Sawyer, a survivor who gave evidence against Peter Ball, the former bishop of Gloucester jailed in October 2015 for sexual abuse. “The corporate narcissism and hubris of the C of E’s leadership has meant they’ve made horrendous mistakes.

“The [IICSA] hearings are going to be immensely uncomfortable for the church, but the key question is whether they will bring about change.”

Gilo, another survivor, said the C of E hierarchy was “likely to go into meltdown” in the coming weeks and months.

“The damage is self-inflicted and centres around denial and dishonesty across the top of the church. The public imagines that cover-up is a thing of the past; I’m not so sure. I suspect we’ll see senior figures in difficulty. There are likely to be resignations. The C of E will need a reboot at the end of all this.”

He hoped the hearings would “shine a spotlight on a broken culture” and usher in a legal requirement to report abuse disclosures to the police. “I do not expect the C of E will look the same in a year’s time. If it does, then IICSA will not have achieved much.”

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said the hearings were likely to be “highly damaging” for the church.

“They will expose the mistreatment and denigration of victims which happened over many years, and the culture of abuse which was prevalent in the Chichester diocese and the church generally. They will expose the cover-up of abuse allegations, in relation to Peter Ball and many other cases.”

The fundamental problem for the C of E in dealing with abuse was that bishops were not accountable, he said. “A bishop is king in his diocese. If a bishop is resistant to safeguarding there is no real way to overcome this.

“We need external oversight of safeguarding and external handling of complaints, and mandatory reporting of all allegations to police and social services. Until these are put in place the church will continue to have a serious problem. Unfortunately the church is currently unwilling to face up to this reality.”

The church says it has professionalised its safeguarding processes and acknowledges it needs to strengthen its response to survivors. Safeguarding officials see the IICSA hearings as an opportunity to learn from past mistakes with humility and courage.

Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, who has pressed for cultural change within the church on abuse, said the IICSA hearings would only “examine the tip of a large iceberg”.

He added: “[The inquiry] has promised to go beyond individual failures and the processes by which they were handled and examine habits, attitudes and beliefs that made them so possible and pervasive. An ounce of culture is worth a ton of policy.”

February 17 2018 – “With piety and steel, Justin Welby has the church in his firmest grip” – The Guardian – Andrew Brown

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/16/justin-welby-church-archbishop-canterbury

With piety and steel, Justin Welby has the church in his firmest grip

The Archbishop of Canterbury has shaped the CofE to his will with a skill of a politician – and made it all the better

 

Last Saturday in central London, two archbishops joined a small group of people protesting about sexual abuse. Though you might expect – or at least hope – to find archbishops on the side of the angels, what was remarkable was that they were protesting against their own church. The building in question was Church House, in Westminster, where the Church of England’s General Synod was meeting, due later that day to discuss the problem of sexual abuse, with the church facing more than 3,000 historical claims. By standing with the protesters, the Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu were making a loud statement about where their sympathies lay. You had to listen very carefully under the noise to notice that the synod debate was in fact a presentation of a report and there were no survivors speaking in it.

The day before, there had been two other announcements on the subject: the church passed over its papers on the diocese of Chichester, where most of the scandals have come from, to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – 75,000 documents in all. What needles might be concealed in this haystack will be for the commission to discover. More sensationally, it announced that a second allegation against the late, and almost sainted, Bishop George Bell of Chichester had been passed to the police.

This came in the wake of unprecedented public criticism of Welby by heavyweight legal figures for his apparent assumption of Bell’s guilt on the word of one pseudonymous accuser. He has refused to back down despite Lord Carlile QC’s scathing verdict of the church’s inquiry. Welby has refused to say either that Bell was guilty or that his name can be cleared. So you might say that this is a typical Anglican fudge, but it is very much more hard-edged than most of those.

The whole show was typical of Welby’s style as Archbishop of Canterbury: he combines energy, ruthlessness and a determination to get the church moving, through a mixture of public theatricality and arm-twisting behind the scenes. He has been archbishop for five years and next month will publish a fat state-of-the-nation book that covers almost all the current areas of political and cultural dispute in the church. The early coverage of him concentrated first on the unashamed poshness of his background – an Etonian whose mother had been one of Churchill’s secretaries and who had worked for 10 years in the oil industry – and then on his attacks on payday lending. The church, he promised, would outcompete Wonga in helping the poor. This was a successful piece of outrageous bluff. The church did no such thing, but in pledging to do so Welby captured the public imagination.

Since then he has proved more effective than any of his immediate predecessors in pushing the church in the direction he wants, despite the lack of formal power in the role. He told the Church Times: “Don’t waste time looking for levers to pull [in this role], because there aren’t any. It’s a process of persuasion, of example, of blessing and withholding blessing for particular things.”

On the other hand, he loves the work of nudging and manipulation. When he was trying to get the bishops of the worldwide Anglican communion to agree to meet again after decades of wrangling over gay sex and female bishops, he spent much of his annual holiday ringing the heads of the member churches for 20 minutes each – not how most people would choose to spend their holidays. And though he disclaims the ability to select bishops, ever since he drove through the legislation to make women bishops in 2013, the holy spirit has somehow ensured that half of the bishops appointed have been women, among them Sarah Mullally to the prominent see of London, and Jo Bailey Wells, his former chaplain, to be bishop of Dorking.

His manner is austere, somewhere between oil industry executive and crisp infantry officer. His temper is widely feared (“I haven’t been spoken to like that since I was at school,” said one victim), but at the same time it’s difficult to talk to him seriously without glimpsing beneath the armour of success, self-discipline and charming self-deprecation, the clever and miserable boy he must once have been. His critics say he is trying to turn the church towards soulless managerialism, devoid of mystery or imagination – and this stings him deeply. He is immensely proud of the small monastic community he has established inside Lambeth Palace, where young people spend a year doing nothing much but praying and thinking.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the Eucharist at York Minster in York.
Pinterest
‘Justin Welby has done an enormous amount to centralise the church’s institutions and make it more of an organisation.’ Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Behind the scenes, Welby has done an enormous amount to centralise the church’s institutions and make it more of an organisation, although it will never in fact become one. He has hired high-profile PR advisers from Buckingham Palace and the City of London and given them substantial budgets. He works enormously long hours and is unsparing of failure in others. His treatment of one of his predecessors, Lord Carey, was startlingly ruthless. Carey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1990s, had much the same diagnosis of the church’s ills as Welby and many of the same answers, but entirely lacked the political and presentational skills to carry them out. He also had a much greater respect for the establishment than the Etonian Welby, who sometimes burns with an insider’s scorn and anger at the fools he went to school with.

While in office, Carey connived at the partial rehabilitation of the paedophile bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball; he gave him money, and tried to get him a job in South Africa under Desmond Tutu. When this came to light last year, Welby promptly sacked Carey from his retirement job as an unpaid priest.

Whether any or all of this will be enough to stem the long-term decline of churchgoing remains to be seen. The problem facing the Church of England is that it hardly ever makes converts of adults, while those born into it are not very concerned with passing the faith on to their children. In fact, for many congregants the church seems to be a place of refuge from the modern world: in a recent case where parishioners objected to their priest’s attempts to install toilets in a medieval church, one reason given was “toilets attract children”.

Changing that is beyond the power of any archbishop; it will require a profound cultural revolution that starts in the parishes. But what he can justifiably claim after five years is that he has done nothing to make the task more difficult and much to make it seem more urgent. That may not seem much but it’s more than any other archbishop has managed for a long time.

Andrew Brown is a Guardian columnist

January 23 2018 – “Archbishop refuses to retract George Bell statement” – The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/22/archbishop-canterbury-refuses-to-retract-george-bell-statement

Archbishop refuses to retract George Bell statement

Justin Welby said child abuse claims had left ‘significant cloud’ over ex-bishop’s name

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury has refused to retract a statement saying that a leading church figure of the 20th century had a “significant cloud” over his name because of allegations of child abuse, despite mounting pressure from historians who believe the claims are untrue.

Reinforcing comments he made last month about the former bishop of Chichester George Bell that the historians described as “irresponsible and dangerous”, Justin Welby described Bell as “one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th century” but added: “I cannot with integrity rescind my statement.”

Welby pointed out that the Church of England had covered up or denied the abuse of children and vulnerable adults for decades.

In December an independent inquirycriticised the church for its handling of an accusation of child sexual abuse made against Bell, who died in 1958. The inquiry said the church had “rushed to judgment” and accepted claims against the bishop “without sufficient investigations”.

The church accepted nearly all the inquiry’s recommendations about its processes, but Welby said a “significant cloud” was left over Bell’s name.

Bell was once tipped as a possible archbishop of Canterbury, although his vocal opposition to the bombing of German civilians by the RAF during the second world war was thought to have counted against him.

Following the inquiry’s findings, the archbishop said: “No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget good.”

Last week seven leading historians wrote to Lambeth Palace saying Welby’s comments were irresponsible and dangerous and “offend the most basic values and principles of historic understanding”.

The letter said the allegation against Bell was “not only wholly uncorroborated but is contradicted by all the considerable, and available, circumstantial material which any historian would consider credible.”

It added: “We urge you, in all sincerity, to repudiate what you have said before more damage is done.”

Among the letter’s signatories were Ian Kershaw, a leading authority on the Third Reich, and two biographers of former archbishops of Canterbury.

Responding to the letter, Welby said: “I cannot with integrity rescind my statement. Our history over the last 70 years has revealed that the church has covered up, ignored or denied the reality of abuse on major occasions … As a result, the church is rightly facing intense and concentrated scrutiny” in the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA).”

Advertisement

Welby pointed out that a settlement made in 2015 to “Carol”, who first made an allegation of abuse against Bell in 1995, was based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability, rather than the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt.

He said the church disagreed with the Bell inquiry’s suggestion that the settlement should have been made on condition of confidentiality.

“The confidentiality would have been exposed through the IICSA process, and the first question we would have faced, both about Bishop Bell and more widely, would have been: so what else are you concealing? The letter from the historians does not take into account any of these realities, nor the past failures of the church.”

Welby referred to the case of Peter Ball, the former bishop of Lewes and later of Gloucester, who is serving a prison sentence for sexual abuse. An independent inquiry into the Ball case concluded there had been collusion at the highest levels in the church to protect the bishop.

Welby’s statement on Monday said: “The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic. But … the complaint about Bishop Bell does not diminish the importance of his great achievements and he is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th century.”

IICSA is to hear evidence into child sexual abuse in the Church of England in March.

December 20 2017 – A Call for the Archbishop of Canterbury to “carefully consider his position” – Letter Submission – The Guardian – Richard W. Symonds [The Bell Society] – Dec 18 2017

Dear Editor

So, a representative of the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says: “the independent review of the (Bishop) Ball case spoke for itself” (‘Carey lambasts Welby over church sexual abuse case’, Guardian. Dec 18).

As a result, a former Archbishop George Carey was forced to resign after the current Archbishop requested he should “carefully consider his position”.

An independent review of the Bishop Bell case also spoke for itself last week, through Lord Alex Carlile QC, severely criticising the Church for destroying the reputation of the respected wartime Bishop of Chichester.

Perhaps the current Archbishop himself should now “carefully consider his position”, after failing to apologise for the Church’s unjust trashing of Bishop Bell’s reputation.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages
Ifield Street, Ifield Village
Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf)
Email: richardsy5@aol.com

URGENT NEWS UPDATE – TODAY – DECEMBER 20 2017

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/december-20-2017-why-the-churchs-response-to-the-george-bell-inquiry-is-so-shocking-the-very-revd-professor-martyn-percy-dean-of-christ-church-oxford/

http://archbishopcranmer.com/long-dead-archbishop-justin-welby-accused-child-abuse/

 

December 18 2017 – “Former Archbishop of Canterbury lashes out at Justin Welby in letter / Carey lambasts Welby over church sexual abuse case – [Welby’s] decision is unjust and eventually will be judged as such” – The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/17/former-archbishop-of-canterbury-george-carey-justin-welby-letter

Former archbishop of Canterbury lashes out at Justin Welby in letter

George Carey says it is ‘shocking’ that his successor asked him to quit honorary post over role in sexual abuse case

George Carey
 George Carey said the decision was ‘quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such’. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has launched an extraordinary broadside against his successor, Justin Welby, in a Christmas letter to friends.

In a letter headed “Greetings from the Careys 2017”, Lord Carey, 82, lashes out at the “shocking” and “quite unjust” demand by Welby that he resign an honorary post because of his involvement in a high-profile sexual abuse case.

In recounting key events of his year, Carey tells friends of the “shocking insistence by the archbishop that I should stand down from ministry ‘for a season’ for mistakes he believes were made 24 years ago when bishop Peter Ball abused young potential priests. His decision is quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such.”

He adds: “Just as well, then, that we are surrounded by a large and wonderful family who give us great support and pleasure.”

The former archbishop, who retired from the post in 2002, resigned as honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford in June after a damning independent inquiry criticised the Church of England’s handling of the Ball case.

He quit after Welby made an unprecedented request for him to “carefully consider his position”. The inquiry found the church had “colluded” with Ball, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, “rather than seeking to help those he had harmed”.

Ball was released from prison in February after serving 16 months for the grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse of 18 vulnerable young men who had sought spiritual guidance from him between 1977 and 1992.

The inquiry found that Ball’s case was dealt with at the highest level of the C of E. “The church appears to have been most interested in protecting itself,” its report said.

Carey “set the tone for the church’s response to Ball’s crimes and gave the steer which allowed Ball’s assertions that he was innocent to gain credence”. Carey had failed to pass six letters raising concerns about Ball to police and in 1993 wrote to Ball’s identical twin brother, Bishop Michael Ball, saying: “I believe him to be basically innocent.”

After the inquiry made its findings public, Carey apologised to Ball’s victims, saying: “I believed Peter Ball’s protestations and gave too little credence to the vulnerable young men and boys behind those allegations.”

Carey, who sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher, has now hit back against Welby in a Christmas missive from him and his wife, Eileen, to “our dear friends”.

The letter, seen by the Guardian, says “two things have happened to us of consequence” over the past year. One was a move to a new home in a retirement community and the “less desirable” one was Welby’s intervention in June.

Last year, the former archbishop waded into another sexual abuse case, criticising the C of E’s handling of an allegation against the late George Bell, who was bishop of Chichester until his death in 1958. The church was heavily criticised in an independent report on Friday for traducing Bell without rigorous investigation of the claim.

In a letter to Bell’s niece, Carey said he was “frankly appalled by the way the church authorities have treated his memory”.

He added: “The church has effectively delivered a ‘guilty’ verdict without anything resembling a fair and open trial.” His reputation had been left “in tatters”.

A spokesperson said Carey did not comment on private correspondence intended for friends.

A spokesperson for Welby also declined to comment on private correspondence but said the independent review on the Ball case spoke for itself.