child abuse church of england
Church of England

Child abuse in the Church of England: Justin Welby must either accelerate the change or carry the can

This is a guest post by Martin Sewell, a retired Child Protection Lawyer who takes a special interest in Safeguarding as a member of General Synod.

_____

When I was elected to General Synod, I had not intended to become so engaged with the problems of historic child abuse within the Church of England. Having spent much of the latter part of my professional life working in this tragic and stressful area of legal work, I was looking forward to a fresh start supporting calls for the development of Digital Evangelism. Ironically, it was internet communication which led me back to where I did not want to go.

It was this Archbishop Cranmer blog which first introduced me to the case of the late Bishop George Bell, and upon reading a little of our institutional handling of the case, I soon found the alarm bells ringing inside my head like on the bridge of the Titanic. I could see that things were being handled ineptly and added my voice to the call for the review, even though I knew little of the Bishop and had no personal attachment to his memory. I simply wanted my church to enact and exemplify sound legal practice and fair process. I saw that the watchwords for reform needed to be ‘Transparency and Accountability’, and inevitably an end to deference.

Lord Carlile’s report has recently been lodged and we shall soon know what the answers are. I personally made detailed submissions to his review as an outside commentator with no access to the internal material, and have taken the precaution of sending a copy of those submissions to a number of people, including His Grace, so that when the report is published I cannot be accused of criticising with hindsight if the review says what I expect it to conclude.

Given that history, and my willingness to contextualise the failings of Lord Carey in the case of Bishop Peter Ball, you might not have expected me to be very popular with the victim community when I decided to stand with them on Friday as they protested at the Meeting of Anglican Primates at Canterbury.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have found those seeking justice from the Church of England to be very understanding and proportionate in the advancement of their cause. The good humour of the occasion was illustrated when two police liaison offers arrived to ensure good order and were asked: “About the chanting – would you prefer Anglican or Gregorian?”

The survivors and their supporters have recognised that those of us who are advocating for good practice serve not only the interests of the institution, but of accuser and accused alike. I feel grateful and privileged that victims have trusted me, shared their stories, their views and a few confidences, so that I may continue in my purpose to help the church put right what it has manifestly been getting wrong for years. Listening to the victims is an essential part of this.

Solicitor Richard Scorer specialises in representing victims, and took a few hours off his work on the Independent Inquiry in Child Sexual Abuse to offer support. He sees the consequences of the questionable advice which the Church has received over the years: “The church needs to stop fobbing off survivors and start seeing them as a valuable resource for informing future practice,” he said, “And also needs to get expert legal advice on safeguarding rather than relying on traditional diocesan legal advisers who may lack the relevant specialist knowledge. The process of engagement with survivors need not involve any abandonment of due process; on the contrary, my experience is that due process and a proper examination of the evidence is exactly what genuine victims want.”

You do not have to spend much time talking with abuse victims to learn how much they suffer chronically at the church’s hands, long after their abuser has been identified.

Much abuse is about the misuse of power, and part of its destructive nature happens in later life: victims can continue to feel vulnerable, marginalised, suspicious, undermined, and, in the worst cases, even blame themselves for their own victimhood.

Imagine, therefore, the recurring erosive effect upon victims, when their sense of self-worth is again undermined by an organisation that has routinely inflicted chronic delay, an arbitrary application of time limits, promises made but not delivered, an unclear process, and sometimes outright disrespect.

In the days leading up to the Canterbury demonstration I spoke with one of the church’s leading critics, who unfortunately could not attend. ‘Gilo’ wants a change to our entire church culture. I liked his observation that it is not helpful to lump all these issues together under the term ‘Safeguarding’: safeguarding, he points out, is preventative.

It is the historic cases of the demonstrators which present the greatest challenge. These are the people who were not safeguarded.

Gilo identifies the need to focus separately, sensitively, and individually on the needs of the victims. He speaks of the need for us to develop policies and a culture that “transforms surviving into thriving”.

We must not lose that idea.

Quoting one of the few members of the church hierarchy he trusts, he told me that too often the settlement of a claim and the payment of damages is seen as “the closing of the curtain, whereas it should be seen as the raising of the curtain.” Plainly, we in the Church of England need to envision what that might look like in practice.

In his interview for BBC News, Chris Hernandez, a survivor of Peter Ball, very scrupulously explained that their complaint was not about current measures to protect today’s children which he acknowledged have improved, but rather the care and response to the historic victims where the problem is centred.

Amongst those I met in Canterbury was Fr Matt Ineson, whose story readers may recall from July of this year. He has recently secured access to the church files held upon his case, from which learned that a year before his protest outside York Minster, the Church of England had minuted the fact of his allegations – and taken no action upon it. “Why do I have to play Sherlock Holmes?” he asks. “Why did the church itself not take up the failure and drive the investigation forward purposefully?”

It is a fair and worrying question that remains unanswered. At present he is having to press matters through a CDM (Clergy Discipline Measure) process that is not well-suited to this purpose. He also discovered an internal church memo in which he was described as ‘slippery’, and which warned that he “has engaged a clever lawyer”.

Leaving aside the bizarre implication that the Church of England would feel happier had he had engaged a stupid lawyer – and the question why we don’t have this lawyer on the church payroll – what does this tell us about our current institutional attitudes?

Yet generosity of spirit is important.

We have all made stupid remarks which we regret; I have no interest in scapegoating for it is not fundamental malevolence that worries me here – it is fundamental incompetence.

People who have suffered deep horrific trauma and are required to revisit it over several years in their quest for justice might well exhibit anger, frustration, inconsistent recollection, even petulance. And do you know what that tells us? It tells us that they are normal people who have undergone the most deep and horrific trauma. Victims present in many ways, some cool and forensic, others emotional and passionate. What do real professionals do with such varied presentations? They deal with it. Apparently we don’t.

Sometimes an allegation cannot be substantiated: even that can be explained carefully and respectfully to a disappointed complainant if one knows what one is doing. Respect, honesty and professionalism go a long way in this field.

Complainants are never the problem. But when we let them down, when we fail to explain and communicate, we are the problem.

Our National Safeguarding establishment may claim to have a culture of believing the victims, and in dealing with the long dead Bishop George Bell they very plainly did. But victims with complaints against the living complain that they do not even enjoy the lower, and perhaps more achievable performance standard of being taken seriously. They also observe that the higher up the food chain your complaint might be directed, the less chance you will have of being believed.

The Iwerne Trust survivors consider themselves especially aggrieved because they ask questions of the Archbishop of Canterbury which remain unanswered.

The Rev’d Graham Sawyer was one of Bishop Peter Ball’s victims. I was astonished to learn from his experience that there is currently no formal complaints procedure in place if a victim feels ill-served by our National Safeguarding Team or Safeguarding Officers. It is being constructed as I write.

Think about that.

This is 2017. Think of all our years of scandals and our habituation to hearing victims telling their stories of inactivity in the face of serious allegation, letters routinely unanswered for weeks, and phone calls repeatedly un-returned – and we are only just getting round to establishing a complaints procedure for victims to raise concerns about unresponsive staff.

I heard of a ‘gallows humour’ competition among survivors to see who had written the most letters to the church on an issue without an answer. My informant claimed 17 but was not confident this would be a winning score.

A Legal Aid solicitor’s practice with such standards of client care would be shut down within a week.

Graham Sawyer has run out of patience: “All safeguarding provisions must be placed in the hands of a body completely independent of the church,” he says. “As an institution it should not police itself and clearly cannot do so with any honesty or integrity. Welby’s recent comments comparing the Church of England with the BBC in a favourable light are a very clear indication that he personally has no empathy with victims of abuse perpetrated by his fellow bishops – I know this from my own experience.”

That is very discomforting to read. It is very discomforting to report.

Not all of the victims I met at Canterbury were of similar mind. Chris Hernandez asked, “What good will that do? Who’s going to take his place?”

“We don’t want to get their backs up,” said Paul Campbell, who runs the Ministers and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors helpline. “The Archbishop has begun to listen – not before time. You shouldn’t misread what survivors are saying – they are angry, but they don’t want to destroy the church.”

As may be seen, survivors are not a monolithic group: their coalescing at that demonstration represents not the culmination of the Church of England’s problems in this area, but only the start. Having previously worked independently with occasional indirect communication between them, they are now linking up to campaign closer together. I learned of other scandals which will be coming into the public sphere this autumn, intensifying public scrutiny.

“We have protested at Oxford, York and here,” said Matt Ineson. “We don’t particularly want to be at General Synod in February.”

On the day, the church did engage with them, and the Bishop of Lambeth, the Rt Rev’d Timothy Thornton, came out to talk with demonstrators and press. He listened respectfully, answered questions, and only returned to the Cathedral Close when the discussions had run their natural course. He agreed to joining some in a requested ‘selfie’.

The selfie was no triviality. Iwerne Survivor Andy Morse was visibly moved by the gesture, and explained that the families of victims suffer greatly, supporting their hurt loved ones, so the photograph with a bishop taking them seriously was significant and encouraging for those who offer great service in support but who could not be present.

Bishop Timothy invited three survivors who wanted to discuss matters in greater detail to join him in a private discussion within the Cathedral Precincts, which they did. During that part of the meeting, which was witnessed by the press, the Bishop spoke of progress made, work in progress, and serious intent. He is not wrong to do so.

The church has engaged fully, and invested considerable resources in its co-operation with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is being conducted by Professor Alexis Jay.

A year ago Archbishop Justin appointed a new bishop with Safeguarding responsibility, and Bishop Peter Hancock has, in his first year, largely carried the confidence of the church’s critics. Inevitably, any major reform will need to await the outcome of the Carlile review. Critics insisted that a high calibre, legally qualified Chair was required, and the church duly appointed one.

The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Rev’d Sarah Mullally, has been designated to receive a review of one of the major cases. The progress report is potentially a good news story worth reading. There is accordingly some evidence of “listening to the victim and taking what the victim says seriously”. One has to acknowledge that when major change is required, some delay is purposeful.

Whenever the Church of England engages with disabled or BAME critics, it is accepting the principle ‘Nothing about us without us’. The victims of abuse who were demonstrating in Canterbury, however, have not yet felt respected or closely engaged, still less nurtured towards thriving. Bishop Tim’s outreach was appreciated, but the victims will need more than kind words before believing that that their important testimony is being fully taken to heart. It will take a degree of institutional bravery to further embrace those who still have the capacity to hurt the church.

Plainly, the more the Archbishop of Canterbury supports and is seen to act upon the recommendations of Lord Carlile, Bishop Sarah and the NST, and those of Prof. Alexis Jay, the more he will disarm those calling for his resignation.

Gilo proved more optimistic than I had expected. While critical of advisors, and likening the traditional culture of those surrounding the Archbishop to that of Omertà, he compared the role of the Archbishop to that of a chessboard king – to be protected at all costs, yet highly constrained by a lack of mobility.

He went on to say: “Archbishop Welby is perceived by the public as having power, and that could give him freedom to speak out forcibly to his own senior culture if he chooses. But I am cautiously upbeat. I think we might see Welby and other bishops begin to break free from imprisoning corporate structures that have bound them. I think things will soon shift considerably. And I think Welby might be remembered as the Archbishop who brought in necessary reform. I hope so.”

The chess-piece King is a useful image: few people in public or private life appreciate how little power is reposed in an archbishop. He is no autocrat; he presides more than he rules. In many ways he has responsibility, but no power beyond that of influence and moral leadership. The mechanisms for structural change in the Established Church are not agile.

He may be criticised for his caution to speak and lead, yet if you are surrounded by a minefield with unreliable advisors and no map, one can understand a certain hesitancy.

On Thursday, Counsel to the Jay inquiry, Fiona Scolding QC, said: “Culture is important because it shapes everything about the way that things are done within the organisation and it is both deeply embedded within an organisation and often difficult to change.”

Some victims plainly blame the Archbishop because the cultural change is demonstrably incomplete, yet our Archbishop is no fool: he must know that he must either accelerate the change or carry the can.

Paradoxically, the victims and their supporters could become Archbishop Justin’s best asset in the reform process, but he needs to listen and discern carefully who offers him the best way forward. These victims are a willing resource, not an irrelevance or nuisance.

David Greenwood is Chairman of Stop Church Child Abuse. I asked him what he would contribute to the debate. He offered a very radical but optimistic proposal: “The Church has a real opportunity to become a beacon for good practice by submitting to independent oversight. It could do this in advance of being forced to do so by legislation, which is likely to emerge from the IICSA Inquiry.”

Invited to offer an agenda for change, he responded: “For my part, our goal should be for the House of Bishops to agree to relinquish the role of safeguarding responses to an independent body.”

An independent body would function as follows:

1. All complaints from parishes and dioceses are to be passed to the independent body.
2. The body will gather information from complainants.
3. It will investigate the complaint using the balance of probabilities as the standard of proof.
4. It will liaise with and assist civil authorities such as the police and social services. It would ensure the police and other statutory organisations are taking appropriate action within reasonable timescales.
5. It will have the power to obtain documents from the diocese or church organisation involved.
6. It will recommend action to be taken against individuals who have either perpetrated abuse or have been complicit in covering up abuse (i.e. it will recommend whether the church should impose sanction).
7. The body will decide on reparations and support to be offered to the complainant.
8. Complainants will be allowed to take advice from lawyers and a contribution towards legal costs will be awarded.
9. The cost of the body’s work, support, reparations and legal costs are to be paid from the institutions or dioceses.
10. It will provide to Government and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child regular reports on progress of church organisations in fulfilling their obligations at the UN conventions.

This is a big agenda. If Archbishop Justin chooses a bold initiative to transform the Church of England, and also the experience of victims, he will need General Synod to give him assent, encouragement and sustained support.

But we should not underestimate the task or the opposition from the organisationally conservative who may see such reform as undermining the historic role of the 42 Diocesan Bishops.

I had suggested something like David Greenwood’s model informally at General Synod earlier this year, commending the examples of the independent General Medical Council and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, but was told by a senior church figure that I was too late, that this had been previously looked at and rejected. If you want to see the outcome of that attitude you need only talk to the victims who gathered at Canterbury.

Put bluntly, our church authorities have amply demonstrated that they are not very good at investigating abuse or pastorally supporting those it has harmed. In the succinct words of Dr Martin Luther King: “If they knew better, they’d do better.”

Safeguarding and the care of victims have become the graveyard of episcopal reputations.

In the boxing fraternity, battered contestants are withdrawn from the ring to save them from unnecessary punishment. Personally, I cannot help but conclude that General Synod needs to be similarly kind to our Archbishops and Bishops, indeed I cannot imagine why anyone in the House of Bishops would want to continue to hold responsibility within such an organisation for matters in which most have such little experience, training and perhaps aptitude.

There is no shame in recognising our limitations.

There is a collateral advantage to grasping the nettle of radical reform.

Whether I talk of these things to traditional Catholics and Evangelicals, or to Christians of a more liberal worldview, I experience a common desire to solve the problems. What a luxury it would be to have a General Synod session devoted to an important and time-consuming issue without any doctrinal disagreement dividing us.

Meanwhile, the victims of historic abuse continue to experience reform at a glacial rate: their letters go unanswered, their phone calls are refused, and whenever that happens the church inadvertently echoes the whispers of their abusers telling them nobody cares what they think.

Post Script.

The Cathedral Close was closed for a private service. It was a rather grand occasion: mayors and mayoresses in chains, medals, fascinators, even a uniformed gentleman in tights.

The problem victims face when engaging people with such a difficult issue was illustrated by the following exchange which came as a leaflet was offered to a Cathedral attendee.

“What’s this about?”

“Child abuse in the Church of England.”

“There is no child abuse in the Church of England.”

“I was raped by a priest aged 14.”

“Good for you.”

The private occasion was a ‘Service for Justice’.

  • DespiteBrexit

    The CoE is primarily a tool of the State, not of Christ. So there can be no surprise that its instincts and reactions mirror those of the establishment.

  • Marcus Stewart

    Thanks for this article. While not suggesting that it’s necessarily nearly as grievous – though its effects can be grave and traumatizing – the abuse of power the article speaks of is also related to bullying, typically by senior clergy of their juniors (as well as clergy of laity and also vice-versa). This is, of course, a form of psychological abuse which I think is isn’t insignificant in its prevalence in the Church. The deference to bishops that the article cites has not only enabled child abuse but bullying; and the CDM seems as equally ill-suited to addressing it as to child abuse.

    The CofE seems to think that having a “policy” about something deals with it. It doesn’t. Despite the dross of political correctness they spout – the liberalism; the egalitarianism – bishops seems very keen to hang on to their styles, titles and authority (as they see it, anyway), clinging to hierarchicalism. Not only does it seem inconsistent with their musings; it compounds the corruption (in a theological, if not secular, sense) identified in handling child abuse, and of bullying.

    It’s sometimes observed that failing organisations become increasingly inward-looking: as they lose control and influence of external events they displace that control to the internal (perhaps even seeking scapegoats there for their external “failure”). This is palpably evident in the Church in its management of decline: more chiefs; fewer indians; more bureaucracy and legislation wholly irrelevant to the greater Church outside of the institution – the people of God. In short, more control of the clergy and resources. Common Tenure was intended to be more controlling by bishops; robust criticism prevented this, but it illustrates a trend.

    It is very sad if the child abuse scandal is what is needed to bring about change; and mindful of frying pans and fires, if such scandal brings about change in hitherto deeply hierarchical relations – an unnecessary consequence of the “threefold order,” wherein bishops should be the real servants – aiding as they do sexual and psychological abuse (bullying and misuse of power), that is certainly needed.

  • Inspector General

    Good_Day_to_you,Mr_Sewell

    A_few_questions_for_your_knowledgeable_self_sir_if_you_would_be_so_good…

    What_is_the_position_the_CoE_holds_regarding_the_ordination_of_out_and
    _proud_and_practising_homosexual_priests.

    What_oaths_are_required_to_weed_out_homosexuals_who_are_in_the_closet_who_wish_
    to_be_ordained_as_priests._And_are_they_spared_from_such_an_oath_as_a_gift_from_
    some_sympathetic_sort_in_charge_of_them.

    Why_are_there_14_examples_of_priests_in_same_sex_’marriage’_apparently_in
    _defiance_of_canon_law_who_are_still_priests

    Does_the_CoE_wish_to_effectively_wash_its_hands_of_this_latent_threat_to_the
    _young_yet_still_desires_the_public_has_confidence_in_it.

    • Dear Inspector,
      Your comments are unreadable with all these space bars (not to mention irritating to have to look at). Could you please sort out the problem? Bless you.

      • Sarky

        They’re irritating even without the space bars.

        • Royinsouthwest

          You would probably prefer it if the Inspector kept the space bars and left out everything else!

          • Chefofsinners

            Indeed. They were the most edifying part.

      • Inspector General

        One_is_directly_engaged_in_combat_with_the_dark_forces_of_evil,_Eminence.

        Yes,_as_Christians_we_read_about_such_a_worthy_cause_entrusted_to_us,
        _but_to_experience_it,_few_of_us_do_in_actuality.

        It_is_a_nefarious_virus_one_has_been_sent,_and_difficult,_near_impossible
        _it_could_be_to_rid_so_don’t_wager_the_family_gin_money_on_success

        Meanwhile,_unless_you_have_a_change_heart_the_only_way_forward_is_not_
        to_compose_from_venerable_home_laptop,_and_remain_ghostly_quiet_
        during_the_weekend.

        Hope_you_manage_to_read_all_that._Meanwhile_the_Inspector_will_
        leave_you_all_to_weep_at_the_blogs_weekend_loss….

      • Inspector General

        We might be back and cured of sorts and it only took hours, lord help us…

        You on-line gangsters! The Inspector is too fly for you!

        • One_doesn’t _know_whether_to_be_disappointed_ or_thankful.

      • Anton

        One has to paste them into a Word document to read them. It is a considerable disincentive.

    • David

      Please don’t start thinking that space bars will make your comments more readable or more impressive, as in fact the opposite is true. Kick the habit now there’s a good Inspector !

    • Dominic Stockford

      Excellent questions, though difficult to read…..

      • Little Black Censored

        Curious that nobody is trying to answer them. There is much more interest in the space bars.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I thought the same myself.

  • vsscoles

    A powerful and disturbing analysis. But all power (such as it is) is held tightly to itself by “The Club” – the House of Bishops, which meets in secret and whose deliberations are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Synodical Government is a sham while the Bishops behave like this. Open up their meetings and activities and you might see some progress. You might need to persuade the government to extend the FOI in their direction….

  • Sarky

    Something so measured and so important and only 4 comments? (Only 3 if you exclude the inspectors predictable rant)

    The silence speaks volumes.

    • @ Sarky—At least the churches have admitted the problem and are trying to deal with it openly. That’s more than can be said for other religions.

      ● ‘Police are never called by certain minority communities because they administer their own justice even in cases as serious as murder and sexual assaults on children, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor has said. He said offences including “honour” killings and violence, domestic abuse, sexual assaults on children and female genital mutilation were among those not reported to police because communities wanted to deal with them themselves.’—Daily Telegraph

      Reporter: Pearl Engelman…admits she, too, did not tell the police when she found out her son had been molested.
      Pearl Engelman: It didn’t even enter my mind.
      Reporter: How come?
      Pearl Engelman: You don’t go to the police. You take care of things in the community itself.

      YouTube, 5:03

      • Sarky

        Not interested in your racist crap.

        • @ Sarky—Islam and Judaism are religions, not races. Please restore your reputation for accuracy by amending your comment to read: ‘Not interested in your anti-Islamic and anti-Judaic crap.’

          • Sarky

            Not interested in your anti-Islamic and anti-Judaic crap.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Boys…boys…play nicely

          • Little Black Censored

            What reputation for accuracy?

          • @ Little Black Censored—That was frivolity mixed with a touch of soft-soaping.

    • Inspector General

      Not a rant but questions that need to be asked but won’t be. That’s for sure…

      • Sarky

        Irrelevant to this thread.

        • Inspector General

          Not irrelevant at all. The CoE regrets the Child Abuse that happened in it but not 100% because that would involve barring members of a very cossetted community. So all future steps to stop it must then be put in place with one hand tied behind its back. Do you see the problem? The children are not put first. People who shouldn’t be priests are…

          The CoE regrets. But not that much, apparently…

          • Sarky

            Arh right, so are you saying all gay men are paedophiles?

          • Inspector General

            Certainly not. But it is true to say that ALL abusers of male young are gay men.

            Over to you. Your chance to display mock outrage now that the unfortunate truth be so blatantly laid before you and all…

          • Sarky
          • Inspector General

            Oh dear. Anyone who has to resort to that most bastard of all the professions, Psychology. has lost the argument. You see, psychologists don’t do right or wrong. They just apologise for human behaviour. Hence, incest between brother and sister can be ‘valid’ in the ‘right circumstances’ so they say…

            One dares say it’s the same with buggering our youth. In the right circumstances, that is…

          • It would be interesting to see what a psychologist made of you, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            Jack, no psychologist would dare risk himself with the Inspector. Those who become psychologists do so for a good reason: To understand themselves…or hope to do so to be accurate….

          • Psychological Findings:

            “After extensive study, one cannot adequately explain to you the workings of the Inspector’s mind. He is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma – and should be locked up safely somewhere and denied access to the internet … probably.”

          • Little Black Censored

            That is merely a trollish comment.

          • Mea culpa ….

          • Anton

            I enjoyed considering what a “psychologist made of the Inspector” would be like…

          • Sarky

            I take it you didn’t bother to read it then?

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Not altogether correct – there have been cases, not many to be sure, where female teachers have initiated sex with teenage boys below the age of consent…

          • 80% of sexual abuse by the (all male) clergy in the American Catholic Church was perpetrated on teenage boys.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Indeed, but if you read the Inspector’s comment he said ALL abusers of male young are gay men. I merely pointed out that was not entirely so.

          • True.

          • carl jacobs

            By definition, sex between an adult male and a post-pubescent teenage boy is homosexual behavior. It is a manifestation of homosexual desire. I don’t know what a gay man is other that a man who says he desires to have sex with other men. That’s the only marker we have.

            Long and the short is this. If male homosexuals had been kept out of the Priesthood, virtually the entire abuse crisis in the RCC would have been prevented.

          • bluedog

            If only…

          • Jack resisted the thought …. you are weak.

          • bluedog

            yep.

          • Mind you, Jack’s only experience of women teachers were the good nuns at his primary school.

          • bluedog

            Similar. But when you are in your final years and Miss is a babe, one can imagine the possibilities…

          • One can ….. one should not.

          • Inspector General

            Mrs Proudie. Rare events do not an established behaviour make…

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            “But it is true to say that ALL abusers of male young are gay men.”

            That, of course, is what many of those sexual predators would like as many people as possible to believe. It helps to shield them from suspicion and to protect them from discovery and retribution.

          • Inspector General

            Just for you then…

            It is also true to say that not all gay men abuse male young, but if a young male is going to be sexually abused by an adult , it will be a gay man doing it. And male young are abused regularly as MSN informs us. Forget about randy female teachers, the number of cases in the last 20 years being about 3.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            “…but if a young male is going to be sexually abused by an adult , it will be a gay man doing it.”

            Well, it all depends on what exactly you mean by “a gay man”. If you mean an adult male who is sexually attracted to other adult males – which is what most people think of when they hear that phrase – then it certainly can be, but it probably won’t be. It will far more often be either an adult male who has no sexual involvement with or interest in other adults at all, or one whose sexual involvement with other adults is with women.

          • Inspector General

            It’s possibly the greatest desire in Gaydom. To distance itself entirely from the pederasty that puts so many homosexuals in prison, as well as wrecking the lives of the victims .

            Say. Do you think (without the wishful sort) that they’ll ever achieve that dream, or will the inevitable cases to be uncovered in the future merely reinforce the awful reality…

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Much as I would wish otherwise, I’m afraid that there will doubtless always be sexual predators, who engage in the sexual abuse of children and young people, both male and female, wrecking the lives of their victims, as you rightly say. We’ve been hearing quite a lot about them during the last few years (Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall, Cyril Smith MP et al.). Of course most homosexuals, just like most heterosexuals, aren’t sexual predators and don’t end up in prison – no doubt to your disappointment and fury.

          • Can the Archbishop of Canterbury actually specify active male homosexuality as an impediment to Anglican ministry? Just imagine the outcry at Synod if he dared!

    • Chefofsinners

      Yes. It says “The site has been unavailable to most people for most of the day”.
      Your immediate conclusion that Christians don’t care about child abuse speaks volumes.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      I have been out all day.

      • Len

        Me too.

    • carl jacobs

      It’s true, Sarky. I got a “Server Not Found” error from when I first tried at 7:00 this morning until 10:30 this evening. I tried periodically throughout the day, and couldn’t get in.

      That would be your cue to (you know) apologize for your false accusations. I looked to find an apology, and I couldn’t. I assume this is just an oversight on your part.

  • David

    Dealing with man -made long term pain and suffering is never easy. And when the abuse has been caused by a priest of the Church this is doubly so.
    But clearly things are far from right, and the Church authorities would do well to pay attention to the recommendations made in this report.

  • Mike Stallard

    I think the pendulum has swung to its full extent now. Nobody supports molesting children: Jesus’ words echo down the centuries about the millstone.
    But our local VA Primary School’s teachers were treated to a two hour session at the very start of the school year on paedophilia. I wonder if that really is a priority of such magnitude in a school with just one male member of staff? And what effect does it have on the children, I wonder. I am an elderly old gent and feel like a 17th century witch!
    And what about the language: “victim”, “survivor”. How about “accuser”? And why all the anonymity? If the accuser is over 18 at the time of the accusation, why are they allowed anonymity?
    The lack of men willing to take part in Primary Schools, Scouting, Secondary Schools and anything much to do with people under the age of consent is getting very serious – especially in communities where Dads are replaced by “uncles”.

    • Simon Platt

      I do have rather a lot of sympathy with that view. But I’m afraid that child sexual abuse is not only common in our schools, but officially supported. See, e.g. http://ccfather.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/too-little-too-late.html

      • “You cannot serve both God and Tatchell…”

      • magnolia

        I agree with you, but also think there is a lot of PC pussyfooting around suggesting all groups of people are equally likely to offend, which is clearly absurd. Yes there may be surprises, but there are limits to those, too. The truth is essential to progress.

    • CliveM

      The purpose of the training isn’t simply to protect within schools, but to recognise the symptoms and know what to do, if you suspect it’s going on in the home environment.

    • Chefofsinners

      Child protection training is mandatory in all schools. The first and most important duty of those who work with children is to keep them safe. Most cases of abuse that are detected are detected in school. It is vital that all staff have a clear understanding of what to look for and how to deal with disclosures without rendering the evidence inadmissible in court. Very many men do still work with children. Me, for instance. Anyone who is put off by child protection training is someone worth putting off. If you had ever been in the position of stopping abuse, you would know that it is the best thing you can ever do for a child. Your comment is ill informed and crass.

      • Mike Stallard

        Amen.
        Very correct. Well done.
        Now – cough up! You have to pay for those remarks.
        How many men work with you, I presume in a school? How many times have you been reported by a gossip for inappropriate remarks/actions? How much do you care about Leon Britton being vilified when he lay dying? How many “child protection” courses have you had to sit through where male members of staff have been subject to suspicious glances? And how much do you care about white and black kids with no male teachers?
        You do not know me at all. You do not know my background. You do not know my life.

        • Chefofsinners

          To answer your questions in order:

          6 men. But you appear to think abuse is only perpetrated by men. It is not. Abuse by women occurs often, and child-on-child abuse is also a major problem.

          Reported: 0 times in 20 years.

          Leon Brittan: I care lots, but don’t see the connection.

          Suspicious glances: none. The training specifically educates those who think abuse is only perpetrated by men.

          How much do I care about kids with no male teachers? Enough to be one.

          You are correct when you say I know nothing about you. But I know your comments are inaccurate and your perceptions are false.

          • Mike Stallard

            One of the delights of a blog like this is that people are allowed their own opinions. We both hold very different points of view here and I suspect the truth lies somewhere sprinkled all over both of them. Also I suspect that, on both sides there are some errors of judgement.
            No problem.

  • Linda Woodhead

    Thanks for a thoughtful, informed and constructive reflection.

  • I’m confused. Isn’t investigating crimes what the police are for? Why does the church need to set up an expensive, intrusive witch-hunting body? Isn’t the real problem that actually, tragically, very few of these charges can be substantiated because of the nature of the crimes? This isn’t a problem which can be solved by setting up a ‘balance of probabilities’ body which tries to make more accusations stick by lowering the standard of proof. That’s surely a recipe for grievous miscarriages of justice.

  • The Duke of Umberland, England

    This is getting interesting allied to Chief Constable Veale’s investigation and report into Heath.

    I wonder if the trails now being followed will lead into the hearts of the Church, military and Westminster.

    One hopes that Prof. A. Jay keeps all documents under triple lock and key.

  • An interesting article covering a difficult subject.

    No church is likely to agree to subject itself to the scrutiny of a lay, independent body in the way proposed and, if it was thinking of doing so, Jack would advise against this. Why? Primary because the church is not a lay organisation; a NGO that should submit to some outside national body to determine the guilt or innocence of its clerics and to pay whatever compensation this body determines appropriate – or to judge and assess its performance. It must seek to address this issue and regain the trust of its members by finding solutions that ensure it lives up to its mission as a representative of Christ. If it is unable to do so and the sexual abuse of children continues, or those coming forward with complaints continue to be mistreated, then it should wither and die. The Church is the Body of Christ, His Kingdom is not of this world, and those in leadership positions cannot shunt the scandal of ignoring child abuse and its victims onto a third party.

    • bluedog

      Good thoughts, HJ, mirroring one’s own. There is something terribly wrong when an institution that claims fiduciary responsibilities and competencies fails to perform with integrity. We are talking about criminal practices and their concealment, after all. If the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Pope for that matter, are unable to eradicate this evil themselves, the decline of institutional Christianity will continue. Out-sourcing supervision is an admission of incompetence and scarcely reassuring to the congregations.

    • big bwana

      Jack’;
      the message of Romans 13 vs1-5 is that all Christians should be subject to the governing authorities and there are no get out clauses here for the RC’s, the Anglicans, or anyone else. Wycliffe had it right on this one; and he was persecuted for it.

      • The Church doesn’t need an independent body to do so. It is already subject to the governing authorities and to the civil and criminal courts. No one’s disputing it shouldn’t be. The body being proposed would serve an intermediary function between the church and these civil and criminal processes.

        • Matthew Ineson

          An independent safeguarding authority would cover all institutions, not just the church. The church has shown itself incapable of doing its own safeguarding. Remember the Gibbs report? The church ‘colluded’ with the cover up of sexual abuse remember? No organisation should police itself. That leaves it wide open to corruption.
          An independent body would actually do the church a favour. If all investigations were done by the independent body then the church could not be accused of cover up, could it?

          • We already have an “independent safeguarding agency” – the police, social work and the courts. If the church is not referring allegations or suspicions of abuse to the police and social work (the existing statutory investigating agencies), or treating victims appropriately, what makes you think it would refer to an independent lay body?

          • Matthew Ineson

            You have spelled it out so well. There are so many examples of when the church simply does not refer allegations or suspicions to the police etc. My case is a classic example. I disclosed to 4 bishops and an Archbishop in 2012/3, they did nothing. The police told the church they were investigating my priest abuser in may 2015. The police told the church in May 2017 that my abuser was being charged with 3 counts of rape and 3 counts of indecent assault of a child. Nothing done by the church. We now have in written confirmation from the church that no risk assessments was done at all. In other words my abuser was left 5 years after the church had received my disclosures to potentially continue abusing. So much for the church been on the ball. Mandatory reporting in law and independent safeguarding oversight for all institutions is vital. To say nothing of what being ignored does to those abused…and their families. Why did the bishops I disclosed to do nothing Etc? Protect the institution and it’s reputation. What Reputation?

          • It’s the very same issue in the Roman Catholic Church. The reasons identified are many and disputed because they have become politicised. A significant one is protecting the Church from scandal and bringing it into disrepute. Another is an instinct of denial that men of God would be so morally corrupt and another ignorance about this crime and how paedophiles operate. This clerical culture, combined with institutional self preservation and ignorance, creates powerful barriers to reform. Finance is also an issue. Dioceses in America have been brought to bankruptcy by compensation claims.

          • bluedog

            Submitting the CoE to FOI is one option that could limit, or at least inhibit, the destruction of evidence and cover-up practices in general.

        • Anton

          Exactly. You have always spoken insightfully here on this subject. Anybody who wishes to report historic abuse at the hands of an Anglican churchman should not waste time writing to his bishop – and the article above shows conclusively that it is a waste of time – but should go straight to the police.

          • It’s only recently the police have become more sensitive to the issue. The shame and guilt and broken lives resulting from sexual abuse has meant that these reports were not treated properly by the police because of credibility issues. Whomever these people turn to, they must be assured a proper reception.

    • Matthew Ineson

      The church should be made to.

      • Dominic Stockford

        I believe that the Police is a lay, independent body, and that the Church (any denomination, any congregation) should be subject to their assessment of any allegations. Being the Body of Christ does not permit it to hide unpleasantness away from public scrutiny.

      • Anton

        How would you enforce on congregationalists, please?

  • CliveM

    It is understandable perhaps that the Bishops don’t have the skills and knowledge set to resolve these issues. But this doesn’t absolve them of the responsibility of giving the time and resources required. It still seems that gender issues dominate church time and resource. It seems too distracted.

    The skills and knowledge can be bought in. Personally I have no problems with an independent body supervising the Church for a period of time to admonish and advise, while the church sets op the required procedures and processes. It needs too, and be seen to, treat this issue with greater urgency.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      An Inquisition perhaps?

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        A General Oblations Board?

        • bluedog

          A Peoples Disciplinary Tribunal headed by Father David?

          • Chefofsinners

            Is the Muslim Council of Great Britain going to conduct an inquiry into historic allegations of child abuse against Mohammed?

          • bluedog

            Your suggestion is both racist and culturally insensitive. In the circumstances you should expect a fatwah.

          • Chefofsinners

            I broke wind in a mosque once. I figured I was just issuing a fartwah.

          • bluedog

            Well, yes. Although one can appreciate the sound of your emission may have been indistinguishable from the muezzin.

          • Pubcrawler
          • CliveM

            Another everyday tale of life in an Islamic nation. Who’d want to live in one? Pakistan, Dubai, Syria, France, Iraq? They’re all………….. !

            Can’t think of a polite way of putting it.

      • CliveM

        I was thinking more an advisory board.

  • Matthew Ineson

    Who doesn’t think that there should be mandatory reporting of abuse? Then there would be no cover up. You receive a disclosure? You suspect abuse? Report it! It’s a no brainer.

    • Agreed …. Mandatory reporting is required by government agencies. Why not the church?

      wouldn’t cover “historical abuse” where the alleged perpetrator is dead and the claim is a civil one of a systemic, negligent failure of the duty to care on the part of the church.

      • Matthew Ineson

        There is no mandatory reporting in British law. At all. There must be

        • It is required in government guidance to education authorities, health agencies and social service providers. True it is not a legal requirement, yet.

    • Dominic Stockford

      When I was a FA Referee I was told that any concerns were to be reported automatically. When I did so I found out that they didn’t really want me to do what I was told (vile drawings and language all over the treatment bench in a dressing room (at a Non-league semi-pro team) being used by youngsters changing for their games. I’d still report it though. Again, and again, and again.

    • Anton

      But mandatory by whom? Anybody in a pub who strikes up a conversation with an abused person who discloses it? Psychotherapists? Employers, even if the alleged abuse happened before the employer gave the person a job? I don’t want us turned into a nation of snitches. There are some difficult balances to be made. I am not asking more than that we do our best to think through the consequences of what we call for.

  • Chefofsinners

    If salvation is to come to the CoE’s house then it must behave like Zacchaeus: “if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”
    And if it climbed a very tall tree it might have half a chance of getting a glimpse of Jesus.

  • Anton

    “I… have taken the precaution of sending a copy of those submissions to a number of people, including His Grace, so that when the report is published I cannot be accused of criticising with hindsight if the review says what I expect it to conclude.

    Unhappily it doesn’t sound as if you have much confidence in it, Mr Sewell.

  • Matthew Ineson

    When the bishops uses such dubious tactics as hiding behind a time limitation- the infamous immoral one year rule to protect the bishops who failed to act on disclosures of abuse by a living clergyman then it has lost all moral authority. What is more important the victim and investigating the abuser…or protecting bishops who failed to act on disclosures at all costs?
    And if you want more proof of how bad attitudes can be the ‘ conversation’ recorded at the end of Martins piece was said to me by someone going into a service for justice at Canterbury cathedral on Friday was said to me. ‘There is no child sex abuse in the church of England ‘, I replied ‘ I was raped as a youngster by a priest ‘…the response? ‘ Good for You! ‘ . Said by a man invited to the ticket only invite service for justice. He wouldn’t face me of course or talk to me. I have one word for such behaviour…wicked.

    • bluedog

      ‘ Good for You! ‘ We know where his sympathies lie. It’s a chilling statement that implicitly suggests participation in the practice. It would be extraordinarily disappointing if the name of your interlocutor doesn’t become known by ++ Welby.

      • Matthew Ineson

        And where we’re the abused? Outside canterbury cathedral in the street. Not allowed in cos we didn’t have an invitation…..

        • bluedog

          Hard to explain, even harder to justify.

          • Matthew Ineson

            It is an encounter I shall never forget.

          • Matthew Ineson

            The courage of those peacefully protesting outside Canterbury Cathedral far outshone such wicked comments. It was a good two days in canterbury. People were brave. People knew they were standing up for what is right.

      • Anton

        It might not be known by Matthew Ineson. It is known to God, however. Deuteronomy 32:35.

    • Matthew Ineson

      I invite the person who said this to me to talk to me and justify his comments.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Well, I say ‘good for you’ for standing up and proclaiming the injustice and evil that has been done. Well done sir.

  • Matthew Ineson

    It really is so easy. You don’t rape or abuse children or anyone. If you do you must answer for it and face justice. When you discover or suspect abuse, or you receive a disclosure you don’t cover it up. You most certainly don’t put the abuser or instutution first.
    No matter who you are.
    Christ would not be running to his insurance company, lawyers, pr people etc before caring for the abused. In fact he wouldn’t be running to them at all. He would have his arms around the abused loving them.

    • Linus

      Putting their arms around children and loving them is precisely why these people have been getting into trouble.

      A little less loving and a little more reserve might be a more Pixtian attitude. I mean, where in the Pixiebook does it state that Sky Pixie Jr. was all touchy-feely and went around pawing at little ones?

      Pixtians should take a leaf out of his father’s book and be as remote and demanding as Sky Pixie Sr.

      Ideal Pixtian parenting would involve hiring a ghost writer to sit in another room where he can’t see you and imagine what you want to say, then write it down claiming it as your infallible divine word and hand it to your children with strict instructions to obey every word or else.

      These children would of course be the result of artifical insemination of your sperm into a woman who’s never met you and never will, but must discern from these words written by a third person how you want your children to be raised.

      Being as you’re so reasonable, you will of course not expect the mother of your children to raise them alone. You’ll have made arrangements for a gay closet case who’s terrified of being stoned to marry her, both of them to live their entire lives in perpetual virginity as a sacrifice to you and your offspring. Because nothing else but their well-being matters, does it? Well, that and you never being bothered to lift a finger to raise your own children. I mean, you sat in a room while an author imagined how you might like your kids to be raised. What more could they possibly expect you to do? Be there to offer love and advice first hand? To protect them from harm and be a father rather than a remote and demanding presence whom they never actually see?

      Come on! That’s just unreasonable!

      • Pubcrawler

        Well, look who’s caught the scent of new quarry in his nostrils. The slavering is almost tangible.

        • bluedog

          What do you get when you cross a jackal with a vulture? Answer? Anyone?

          • Len

            A very unpleasant creature,best blocked and kept out of sight?

          • Sprinkle it with Holy Water and it runs away screeching and vomiting, with its head spinning.

          • A Vulkal – a nasty, spiteful creature, infested with flees and vermin, who delights in death and decay.

          • Chefofsinners

            Carrion Dogging. Starring Linus and set in a lay-by on the A46.

      • You think this an appropriate post to man raped by an Anglican priest as a child?

        • Linus

          My post was very appropriate. Certainly more appropriate than platitudes like “Sky Pixie will heal your pain” and “the Church is there for you”.

          No, Sky Pixie will not heal his pain, because he’s a figment of the imagination and cannot heal anything. If he turns to Sky Pixie for solace, all he’ll hear is stony silence. If he hears words, then it’s his own psyche talking. And who needs Sky Pixie for that?

          And no, the Church will not be there for him. The Church raped him. Turning to his rapist for solace is not the smart thing to do unless Stockholm syndrome has taken hold of him and he postively wants to suffer at the hands of a manipulative, pitiless and entirely self-serving band of Pharisees and hypocrites.

          Anything that steers this man away from the people who raped him and then did little or nothing to make amends and, on the contrary, did their best to deny their crime and avoid the consequences, is a good thing.

          Help is available from trained professionals. If he wants help, it’s there for him. But if he wants to consort with his rapist, he’s free to do that too. His life, his choice. And the consequences will be his to bear as well.

          Let’s hope they’re not of the ´I’ll do to others as was done to me’ variety. Then he’ll definitely have learned everything the Church has to teach.

          • Shame on you and your poison.

          • Linus

            Shame on you and your support for an organisation that shelters rapists, provides them with opportunities to commit their crimes and then tries to protect them from the law.

            What price is that support worth, I wonder? Rapists of children got unlimited access to potential victims in exchange for their support. What do you get? Are there dark ceremonies in the crypt of your local church where atheist’s hearts are ripped beating from their chests to slake your thirst for the blood of your enemies?

            No revelation about the Catholic Church and its ‘impassioned’ defenders would surprise me. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg…

          • Your comment was addressed to a man struggling with a search for justice following childhood rape. Do you have no sense of empathy? Are you impervious to the pain of others? You equated a loving, other-centred embrace with self-centred predatory sexual desire. A revealing comment about you.

          • Pubcrawler

            “atheist’s hearts”

            Atheists have more than one heart? Do atheists have different anatomy? Or are you illiterate and have not grasped the proper use of the apostrophe?

            What a poor school you must have gone to: either crap at basic biology or crap at grammar.

          • Linus

            Well spotted. A rare error in my English. I shall leave it as testament to the fact that nobody’s perfect, although on this blog with its appalling standards of spelling and grammar, rare is the contributor who can hold a candle to my command of your language.

            I don’t mind not being perfect. It means there’s still room for improvement, although in this case the error was typographical rather than born of ignorance. But still, an error is an error and I should have seen and caught it well before anyone else. So thank you for pointing it out.

          • Albert

            It’s your lack of command of your behaviour not your English that is the problem. A man has been abused as a child, and you respond by attacking him for his faith. Disgusting and completely compromising.

          • Albert

            Interesting to see Linus’ posts have gone. Does that mean he has deleted them, or has Dr C? Dr C is pretty tolerant, but I think Linus really crossed the line, so it would make sense if Dr C deleted them.

          • Linus has been blocked – so one assumes he has deleted his account and thus all comments too.

          • Albert

            That’s good to hear. He never really added to the conversation and seemed to think that name calling and being abusive was the same as argument. Anyone looking at this thread in years to come, seeing the posts around his deleted comments, will wonder what on earth he had been saying! Sadly, it was probably worse than they imagine.

          • If they’re gone, he has self-deleted.

          • Albert

            Thank you for the clarification.

      • Albert

        Linus, you are responding to a man referring to his own abuse as a child. You have done so by insulting his faith. Have you now shame or decency?

        • Anton

          He is the man who mocked Lord Shinkwin here for Shinkwin’s disability.

          • Albert

            I didn’t know that. He’s certainly a very troubled individual.

          • Anton

            That one brought His Grace down from on high to issue a rebuke.

          • CliveM

            He has mocked wheelchair users as well. An unpleasant individual.

  • carl jacobs

    Well, look at that. I can finally get back on the weblog. I was beginning to think I was the victim of an anti-American conspiracy.

    Jack will have to be investigated in any case. He still might be guilty of something.

    • Len

      No, me too. I suspect Jack found a way to excommunicate us?

      • Dominic Stockford

        I believe that in fact we excommunicate ourselves by our actions – all that happens from elsewhere is a declaration that we are so excommunicated. I’m still waiting for my official one. Not like them to take so long to do the paperwork.

    • Dei Providentis.

  • Father David

    Has anyone any idea when Lord Carlisle will publish his report on the handling of the allegation against Bishop George Bell of Chichester?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Very soon, according to Peter Hitchens. Although I still wonder whether it will be hidden under a rock.

      • Ray Sunshine

        The Carlile report, as I understand it, is just going to say whether the earlier inquiries followed due procedure or not. I don’t think it’s going to pronounce verdict on Bell, either acquitting him or confirming his guilt. I’m still mystified about the Canon Adrian Carey business. Why did they choose not to talk to him?

    • Manfarang
  • Len

    ‘Ineptitude’ is something the C of E seems to do rather well?
    It also seems the true extent of child abuse is way beyond most peoples perception as there has been a long history of’ ‘cover ups’ at all levels.
    Inquiries into child abuse seem to hit all sorts of barriers which seem odd ,if not sinister?

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/05/uk-child-abuse-inquiry-lost-three-chairs-timeline

    • Chefofsinners

      ‘Repentance ‘. God’s forgiveness is always conditional upon repentance. Repentance means acknowledging your guilt, doing all you can to make restitution and committing yourself to not repeating your sins.
      The CoE seems to have fallen short on all three components. It need not expect forgiveness from God or man while this remains the case.

  • Dominic Stockford

    All this is horribly reminiscent of what has occurred in the Church of Rome (across the world, and here in the UK) over the last 25 years. Victims being told that nothing happened, victims being ignored, and victims being accused of lying. As was and still is the case with Rome there seems to be more concern to ‘uphold the good name’ of the CofE rather than lance the boil of evil that lies within.

    • Anton

      It is endemic to big organisations. Welby was, to put it as charitably as possible, in staggering denial when he said the other day that the denomination he leads was more righteous than Jimmy Savile’s employer – the BBC – over abuse. (His words: “I haven’t seen the same integrity over the BBC’s failures over Savile as I’ve seen in the Roman Catholic Church, in the Church of England, in other public institutions over abuse.”)

      In a big organisation the higher-ups, who are meant to hold the lower-downs to account, instead typically cover up for the lower-downs so that the organisation keep face. We do not have the church structure that we should.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Yes. True.

      • We do not have the church culture, suitable knowledge, appropriate skills or processes that we should.

        • Anton

          Or church structure, in some cases. But would you perhaps join me in referring readers to our differences on earlier threads about church structure?

          • It rather pointless since neither the Anglican or Catholic Church is likely to propose breaking up into a network of independent congregations without bishops, archbishops and a pope. Should they ever consider this, we can then discuss it more.

          • Anton

            OK; although I am not advocating the absence of episkopoi but disputing the meaning of the NT word in terms of church polity.

          • Yep, “episkopoi” which means overseer and is the basis for the episcopacy, that is, the order of bishop. A term used rather fluidly in Paul’s letters. Sometimes it designated the overseer of an individual congregation (the priest), sometimes the person who was the overseer of all the congregations in a city or area (the bishop or evangelist), and sometimes simply the highest-ranking clergyman in the local church.

            The early Church Fathers recognised all three distinct offices – bishop, priest and deacon – and regarded them as essential to the Church’s structure. Especially significant are the letters of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch. He wrote letters to the churches he passed on his travels. Each of the churches possessed the same threefold ministry. Without this threefold ministry, Ignatius said, a group cannot be called a church.

            “Take care, therefore, to be confirmed in the decrees of the Lord and of the apostles, in order that in everything you do, you may prosper in body and in soul, in faith and in love, in Son and in Father and in Spirit, in beginning and in end, together with your most reverend bishop; and with that fittingly woven spiritual crown, the presbytery; and with the deacons, men of God. Be subject to the bishop and to one another as Jesus Christ was subject to the Father, and the apostles were subject to Christ and to the Father; so that there may be unity in both body and spirit.”
            (Ignatius of Antioch; AD 110)

          • Anton

            Shame, you can’t resist it…

            All believers are priests according to St Peter himself (1 Pe 2:9).

            At Acts 20:17 & 20:28 where Paul calls for the presbyteroi of the congregation at Ephesus and then addresses them collectively as episkopoi (20:28).

          • Ray Sunshine

            Yes, episkopos and presbyteros are consistently used in the epistles to designate the same people. Where does Titus fit in, though? He was given the job of appointing all the presbyteroi in every community in Crete.

          • As Jack said, episkopos is a term used rather fluidly in Paul’s letters. Sometimes it designated the overseer of an individual congregation (the priest), sometimes the person who was the overseer of all the congregations in a city or area (the bishop or evangelist), and sometimes simply the highest-ranking clergyman in the local church.

            One need only look to the early Church to see how the Apostles intentions were understood and implemented.

          • Anton

            That’s an assumption. It might alternatively be that they had diverged pretty quickly from the scriptural prescription. How could one choose between the two hypotheses?

          • Depends if one relies on scripture alone or not and also whether any particular was prescribed. One doubts the Apostles would have countenanced a development they considered contrary to the will of God. Did anyone actually question the biblical basis for bishops, priests and deacons before the Reformation?

          • Anton

            Even if one does not rely on scripture alone it could be that the structure deviated from what God wished. Hence my question.

          • Then, if it Jack’s questions cannot be fully answered from scripture it comes down to whether or not God left us a way to be sure that Church practice and teachings on the nature of the sacerdotal Christian priesthood and the authority of bishops were in keeping with His plan and will. Jack believes He did.

          • Anton

            I’d rather say that a church polity can be inferred form scripture but is not commanded there. I am seeking statements we can agree on, and refer disagreements to previous threads.

          • It can indeed be inferred … and one inference is supported by subsequent developments and another is not.

          • Anton

            Indeed…

          • Agreement.
            Jack will go with the one accepted for 1500 years until certain fringe groups came forward with novel ideas.

          • Anton

            They weren’t novel; they reverted to the original.

          • Anton

            There is also the category of apostolos, meaning one who is sent. In a place that has not heard the gospel, an apostolos preaches, and begins a congregation of those who respond. After some time with them he appoints its internal council of episkopoi/presbyteroi and then moves on, his specific gift being church planting. But he retains authority over the episkopoi and if they go off-beam he will deploy it to put things right – or delegate somebody else he knows and trusts to, having apprised his delegate of the situation. Once he is satisfied that the congregation is mature and once he has died, however, that congregation IS the church in their location, answerable directly to Christ alone.

          • And that is in scripture where exactly? And how do you square it with the Council of Jerusalem which had universal applicability – as did subsequent ones?

          • Anton

            This is the process that is described by example in scripture. What isn’t, is the apostolic succession.

          • It is, in outline, in the Gospel and in Acts. It was then left with the Apostles to interpret and apply Christ’s will, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Not everything Jesus discussed with the Apostles is contained in the New Testament. Do you suppose the early Church invented this structure?

          • Anton

            A structure is described in scripture. By what authority was it deviated from? Any such authority would have to match that of the Writer of scripture.

          • An outline was given with no certainty concerning the terms or functions. You assume your interpretation is correct and there was a deviation from it. And the Church has been given the mandate to exercise authority on behalf of Christ. That’s in scripture too.

          • Anna

            “And the Church has been given the mandate to exercise authority on behalf of Christ.”

            True, and indeed a church that is pure and wedded to Christ has great authority. But, a church is that has lost its first love also loses its lampstand and ceases to provide light. A church that has grown lukewarm is blind, and one that is corrupt sets itself in opposition to Christ and will be severely judged. The suggestion that an unholy church is still a guide for souls and wields Christ’s authority goes against His own words to the seven churches (Revelations 2 and 3).

          • Anna, it’s a source of great sadness that the Churches of the East and West are divided due to human failings on both sides. Yet we know from scripture that God’s mercy and forgiveness to His people is never ending and that He is ever ready to forgive.

            There is an anchor of hope in Jesus’ words to the Laodicieans. Jesus says only that He will “begin” to vomit. The lukewarm can respond to grace and begin to burn hot, even if they have never been aflame. “[T]he smoking flax he shall not extinguish” (Matt. 12:20). That grace may be a chastisement of some sort. It may be a public fall and humiliation. For a lukewarm Church it may be some affliction coming from an outside source. Tribulation tests all men, but especially the lukewarm. In fact, they cannot be saved without it. “Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise.”

            This hard rebuke to the Laodiceans is the Lover’s call to penance. And how anxious He is to reward those who respond to and return love for Love! This is the work of the Spirit of God, who loves sinners and invites them to repent and come to Him and dine with Him. “Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me in my throne: as I also have overcome, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (3:20-21)

            Jack prays for the day when we are reunited again. As Pope SaInt John Paul II stated in Ut unum sint (Latin: ‘That they may be one’), “the Church must breathe with her two lungs!”

          • Ray Sunshine

            Surely it must sometimes have happened that there were two or more apostoloi in the same place at the same time, or that one apostolos moved away and was replaced by another (e.g. 2 Cor. 8:23)?

          • Anton

            The one who founded a congregation is the one who has unique authority over it during his lifetime, and may if he is at the other end of Europe and hears of problems within in send a trusted delegate of his choice.

      • magnolia

        Welby was right and clearly riled by the BBC’s holier than thou attitude. The BBC has NEVER apologised in sackcloth and ashes for putting out a “stranger danger” video presented by….presented by….Jimmy Saville of all people, abuser as doorkeeper. Seriously it does not get worse than that, as many children and parents would have seen him as the safest person in the UK outside their known circle, whereas in fact he was the most dangerous stranger out there. So no the BBC has shown less integrity, plus it has a statue by a paedophile of an adult touching up a child over its main entrance- despite many people expressing disquiet over that Eric Gill statue.

        However, that said, saying your institution is not as bad as another has clear limitations…. though again it does have the benefit of issuing a necessary challenge…

    • It’s not “reminiscent” of the Catholic Church’s failure to protect children from sexual predators. It’s the same problem – with minor variations. And it runs deeper than the desire to hide the scandal and protect the organisation from public disgrace – although this is a significant factor.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Same here. Again and again I could not get through, until this morning.

  • Arden Forester

    “About the chanting – would you prefer Anglican or Gregorian?”

    I had no idea there was a difference.

    • One (Gregorian) is effective – the other (Anglican) isn’t?
      (Bad Jack)

      • Chefofsinners

        Anglican chanting is highly effective as a weapon of Mass destruction.

        • Dominic Stockford

          We have a winner!!!!

        • Homophon.

        • Anton

          cf Joshua 6:1-20.

    • Pubcrawler

      Prefer Mozarabic, Old Roman or Byzantine, myself.

      • Chefofsinners

        I used to like it, but became disenchanted.

        • Pubcrawler

          There’s a tonic for that.

          • Ray Sunshine

            That’s a neum one to me.

          • Watch you tone!

          • Pubcrawler

            That one fell a bit flat.

          • No meter, put a semibreve face on it.

          • Pubcrawler

            Your bottom lip’s all a-quaver.

          • You falsetto and fermata of dissonance.

          • Anton

            Face the music…

          • Jumping Jack, in a flash, back to the house Jack built when he will be with Lily, Rosemary and will once again be Jack of Hearts.

          • Anton
          • Dominic Stockford

            Is it necessary to be so sharp when you talk to jack?

          • Pubcrawler

            True, one wouldn’t want to stave him off. He might get crotchety.

          • That’s a slur ….

          • Pubcrawler

            Perhaps a diet tonic will help resolve this discordance.

          • With coda …

          • Chefofsinners

            Is there any gin?

          • Pubcrawler

            No blithe spirit, that.

        • In cadence you hadn’t noticed, there are differences.

    • Royinsouthwest

      As long is it is not “Om” or “Om mani padme hum,” the former being a Hindu mantra and the latter a Buddhist one.

      P.S. I have nothing against Hindus or Buddhists chanting as long as it is not at the entrance to a cathedral or church.

  • prompteetsincere

    “Carrying the can”: no longer includes the Anglican Church in Canada since Canada’s liberal/Liberal Supreme Court ruled, concurrent with Canterbury’s meeting, the judicial record of the Federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission is to be destroyed: no doubt of great relief to the reporting ACC Primate et al., since the very sins and crimes once perpetrated in the Residential Schools, now have been elevated, even consecrated, by them to “progressive” thought and action -in keeping with anti-Scriptural warrant of “the twenty first century”.

    • Dominic Stockford

      I have great sadness for true Christians in Canada, life must be almost unbearable.

      • Linus

        All of what’s wrong with Pixtianity encapsulated in a single comment.

        Life is unbearable when you see others living according to their beliefs and consciences, isn’t it? Only the imposition of your ideas on everyone makes your life bearable.

        What clearer proof could there be of the Pixtian’s total narcissism and conviction that the world exists only to cater to him and his wants and needs?

        Life in a world that accords you no power or influence at all must indeed be unbearable.

        How do you cope?

      • David

        Two weeks ago we returned home after three weeks in western Canada. The land was magnificent and the people exceptionally polite But I got the impression that New Age nonsenses are a bigger “spiritual” power there than any form of traditional Christianity. Some of the smaller towns didn’t even appear to have churches, of any kind, in them – very sad for the genuine Christian Canadians. The only noticeable numbers of churches were in greater Vancouver, which is a big city. It is a very secularised, Christianity lacking society.

      • Anton

        Keep perspective, Dominic. Think of our brethren in North Korea and Afghanistan.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I take your point. In North Korea and other such brutal places the attack on Christians and Christianity is indeed utterly appalling – but somehow it is easier to deal with and rationalise direct and vile opposition than it is to deal with those who seek to gradually pervert and alter the message of Christ as happens elsewhere. Somehow it is so pervasive, and so difficult to stand up to.

  • Wot’s occurring in Cranmer world?!!!

    • Skubalon.

      • It must be very trying, Your Grace.

        • Very.
          Very.
          Very.

          • You will be in Jack’s prayers. God’s Providence encompasses every aspect of the created order – including dodgy webhosts.

            As Saint Therese of Lisieux said: “It’s true, I suffer a great deal — but do I suffer well? That is the question.”

          • Bless you.

          • Inspector General

            May you be spared what this man has to endure…

          • Sarky

            Lets_hope_so

          • Anton

            Never knowingly underscored.

          • You go in search of skubalon and wade around in it – HG fights against it.

          • And with your spirit – and your ashes.

          • Anton

            Which lot burnt him?

          • Skubalon happens.

          • Sarky

            No skubalon Sherlock!!

          • Anton

            This happens

          • Ray Sunshine

            Thank you for that, Anton. The film isn’t all that old – Mel Brooks, after all, is still with us, by the grace of God – but what producer nowadays would dare to release a comedy making fun of so many targets at once, giving pretend “offence” to Jews and Catholics alike, not to mention torture victims in general? For that matter, could anyone get away now with making a picture like Blazing Saddles? There was an all too brief interval between the end of the Hayes Code and the takeover by the PC bowdlerettes.

          • Anton

            It’s still OK to parody the Nazis, of course…

          • Ray Sunshine

            Jawohl! And that’s the original version with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. The remake was a bit of a disappointment.

          • Anton

            I’d never upload the latter!

  • IanCad

    A very informative article Martin. Quite the eye-opener – not so much the abuse, but the glacial pace at which such wrongdoing is investigated.
    The first rule of institutions is to circle the wagons; them Injuns know nothing of the power of hierarchy and organizations. They’ll soon give up.
    The State Church is risking its very survival if open, prompt and thorough enquiry is not made available to all who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of errant clergy and officials. Welby must take the lead. Quite why I am saying that perhaps accounts for the entire problem – that is, why on earth are leaders not leading?
    I must add that historic abuse gets foggy. A realistic statute of limitations must be adhered to; Say, ten years after the event and/or three years after reaching the age of responsibility.

    • Anton

      Too short.

      • IanCad

        In the world of blogging it is best not to be too long-winded and I think Martin covered a lot of ground in his post. It is difficult to see how he could have made it any shorter.

        • Anton

          I meant that ten years after the event and/or three years after reaching the age of responsibility is too short a period in the statute of limitation you are proposing.

          • IanCad

            And after reading Jack’s comment above I see I well and truly got the wrong end of the stick.
            I do think the human mind is an inconstant organ; given to suggestion and manipulation. Memory is not a reliable tool to aid in the execution of justice. Sometimes it is best to forgive and forget.

          • Anton

            Forgiveness is for one’s own sake, but justice also matters.

    • “A realistic statute of limitations must be adhered to; Say, ten years after the event and/or three years after reaching the age of responsibility.”

      If you understood the harm caused by sexual abuse and the difficulty victims encounter in disclosing this abuse, and the havoc it causes in their lives, you would not make this suggestion. There can never be a statute of limitations on reporting and investigating these allegations. Maybe in the criminal sphere of 25 years; but not, Jack suggests, in the civil and ecclesiastical courts. It is only because brave men and women are coming forward now after decades of silence that this true evil is being revealed. And only through listening to victims that the mind and behaviours of sexual predators is understood.

  • David Trevett

    Fairyland Staffed by Real Fairies…

  • Anton

    His Grace has blocked Linus. See this thread for the final exchange:

    http://archbishopcranmer.com/welby-alastair-campbell-heaven/

    • Sarky

      Not sure I’m comfortable with that. Refute his claim, but ask him to withdraw it or be blocked??
      (Wasn’t even one of his worse)

      • Anton

        I don’t understand your comment, Sarky. He was asked to withdraw the offending part of his comment or be blocked, to which he replied “Block me and be damned”, and was consequently blocked.

        • Sarky

          I am saying, why ask him to withdraw?? Just refute it.

          • CliveM

            Read HG’s reasoning. He was blocked not for his opinions, but for his personal abuse.

            I suspect as you tend not to be abusive, you are quite safe (How long Oh Lord, how Long!).

          • How can you refute malice? There’s not reasoning with it. In Linus’ case to do so merely reinforces his hate – as evidenced by his final comment.

          • Anton

            How could our blog host refute an accusation of malicious motive? What do you think Linus would have replied had Cranmer said “I am not acting out of spite, hate, etc”? If you think it through a couple of moves ahead then you will see that Linus had reached the end of the line.

          • Sarky

            Let people make up their own mind (They’re not stupid).

          • Anton

            As I said above, atheists and satire are clearly welcome here, but it does no harm to be reminded that the blog is owned and maintained by a human being, not a computer. Should people make up their own mind if someone uploads a post comprising the f-word repeated 50 times?

          • An urn of ashes?

          • Anton

            Burnt outside Balliol College, which is again achieving infamy this week.

          • Sarky

            Absolutely. Yes.

          • Anton

            Quod Erat F….

          • Anton

            And spam?

      • How can one “refute” hate, malice and spite? Engaging with it can damage and soil those attempting to so. One would have to don the vestments and use the tools of an exorcist! You don’t engage with manifest evil – you resist it and fight it.

        • Sarky

          This is more like sticking your fingers in your ears and going la la la.
          Blocking is not fighting, its the easy option. Par for the course for christians.

          • carl jacobs

            Again with the gratuitous generalizations? I tried for a year to get Linus to change his ways. He flat out refused. So I blocked him and the blog became much more pleasant for me. He didn’t come here to engage. He came here to piss on people. And what point is there engaging with that? What exactly should I be listening to? The splatter of urine against my leg?

            You think I stick my fingers in my ears? Show me from my posts where I have done so.

          • Is that straight talking American fashion?

          • carl jacobs

            Eh?

          • The micturition imagery. Not terribly British, old boy.

          • carl jacobs

            But accurate.

          • Yes it is but is unBritish. It wasn’t a negative criticism, just an observation. As you know, Jack is endeavouring to learn from Americans the skill of directness.

          • Sarky

            I was talking more about the host.

          • carl jacobs

            “Par for the course for Christians” is a general statement that includes me. And it would apply even less to our weblog host since he is known and his words are put out into the real world for all to see. He gets quoted in newspapers. We don’t. You have less of a case against him than you do against me. And you have no case against me.

          • Anton

            They had newspapers in the 16th century? Well, it was certainly after Caxton…

          • Pubcrawler
          • Sarky

            My interactions with christians over the years tend to follow the same pattern. They try to befriend you, then indoctrinate you and when that doesnt work bin you.

            Tell me it ain’t so.

          • carl jacobs

            It ain’t so. I’m surprised to see you dealing with such cheap stereotypes. My own interaction with you refutes your claim.

          • Anna

            I have known such Christians, and they are wrong to behave like that. I think we should have lots of friends who do not share our faith. If we drop people because they reject our faith, then we understand nothing about friendship or Christian witnessing.

          • Anton

            Is that a description of modern worship?

    • In Jack’s opinion, and he is not one for blocking commentators, his disgraceful comments to Matthew Ineson should have attracted a severe rebuke, warning and an offer to retract. He was offered this opportunity and his response below for gratuitous insults to the site host. His response was predictable and inevitable. Linus offered nothing to the blog other than hate and malice. He is a tortured and troubled soul and we should pray for hm. He will not be missed by Jack.

      • Anton

        Yes. The blog will be better without him, but he still exists in the state reflected in his posts and we should indeed pray for him.

        Your talents at Linus-spotting might come in handy, although he would have to take some effort to hide his IP address which I assume is what decent blocking involves.

        • Linus cannot hide his soul when he comments. This was his opportunity to reveal his dark side, unhindered and unrestrained, and one fears being allowed to do so uncensored merely fed his evil. Blocking him was an act of kindness.

          • Sarky

            What about comments from Johnny and the inspector??
            They are both pretty offensive….Where do you draw the line??
            I don’t exactly follow the party line…am I next??

          • No, you’re not next, Sarky. There is no “party line” but there is a commentating policy:

            “Comments that are off-topic, gratuitously offensive, libellous, or otherwise irritating, may be summarily deleted.”

          • Sarky

            Doesnt mention the poster getting blocked though does it??

          • Anton

            I suggest you start your own blog and see what it’s like!

          • Anton

            I doubt it very much, for observation makes clear that atheists and satire are welcome here, but it does no harm to be reminded that the blog is owned and maintained by a human being, not a computer.

          • Hi

            No silly, you’re not next because you argue in a reasonable way and aren’t trying to disrupt things with clickbait crap. Although I disagree with you on Shakespeare.

          • Anton

            Sarky probably had to study Shakespeare at school. Compulsion kills. Let him come back to Shakespeare in his own time and he’ll find it worthwhile. Ditto God.

          • Hi

            I once got heavily criticised for using ditto in an essay. Apparently the correct thing is’ ibid.’

          • Anton

            Then you’d be called for using an abbreviation!

          • There’s dialogical exchanges and then there’s diabolical ones.

          • Sarky

            On the ‘Paris Statement’ thread, Johnny is peddling his holocaust denial crap.
            But I doubt he’ll get blocked. I suppose that’s not as offensive as insulting the host.

          • CliveM

            Its not about if something is offensive. It’s about something or someone is being abusive.

          • You seem to be incapable of distinguishing between freedom speech, however unpalatable the view, and insulting the host, who pours thousands of pounds and thousands of hours into a free resource, and there’s no reason on God’s earth why he should have to put up with being abused or personally insulted. If you’re not happy, please feel free to leave.

          • Sarky

            You stick your head above the parapet, you’re gonna get shot.

          • Pubcrawler

            One is not obliged to accommodate or facilitate the shooter.

          • Anton

            Tell Western Civ !

          • You invite someone into your home and “you can expect” them to defecate on you living room carpet and urinate on your furniture?
            .
            Do let Jack know when he can visit you.

          • Sarky

            This is a public blog. No-one is invited in, anyone is free to comment. Cant imagine the host set it up without that being his intention.

          • We’re here with his tacit if not explicit invitation. And we remain because he permits it and continues investing in the website.

          • Sarky

            Remember, without ‘we’ there would be no website.

          • Without Linus the weblog continues.

          • Yes there would: a website isn’t dependent on comments. Quite a few blogs have ceased their commenting facilities and morphed into news/comment sites. People visit irrespective of an ability to comment.

          • Sarky

            I meant “we” as in readers not necessarily commentators.

          • Anton

            He once told someone who remained polite but looked likely to introduce 9/11 conspiracies to drop the subject immediately or be barred. That saved me some time combating crap about the physics of materials.

          • Sarky

            Thus denying us the opportunity to read something quite interesting.

          • Anton

            You can find 9/11 conspiracy theories – and their rebuttal – elsewhere on the internet with little effort if you wish. The blog has a principal subject which its owner/guardian has stated in advance.

          • Chefofsinners

            I know what ya thinkin’: “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Cranmer, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?”

          • Sarky

            I’ve got a 99p magnum. Do you feel licky punk? Well do ya?

          • Pound saver?

          • Chefofsinners

            What is the approximate annual cost of running this blog?

          • The thermometer on the ‘Support’ tab is about right: the blog has always run at a loss (even with advertising). Variables include cyber-attack and server failures, which need immediate and costly intervention. The past three years of re-design have been very expensive, with no expectation at all of recouping the outlay.

          • Anton

            Offensive to whom, though? The blog has an owner. It is one thing to make nasty comments at a cocktail party and another to tell the host he’s a ****.

          • Inspector General

            Sarky. You liberal types will always have a problem with freedom of speech, so don’t feel guilty about it. JR holds a position one does not agree with regarding the Jewish people but he is a reasonable man. To wit, you can reason with him if you so wish. Thus he encapsulates what freedom of speech is all about.

            Linus, who started by reasoning of sorts soon became bored with that and resorted to abuse a long time back. To reason with him was not allowed in the end. He would issue further abuse. He was not a reasonable man. Not what freedom of speech is about then.

            Now. Does that help?

          • Sarky

            I don’t know, i had a few reasoned debates with him. I didn’t agree with alot of what he said and didn’t have a problem telling him. Perhaps it was your approach??

          • Inspector General

            You did get to be called a ‘hateful old bigot’ too didn’t you …

          • Sarky

            Never, because im not.

          • And hoping Jack dies when he’s ill? Or mocking a person with disabilities? Or demeaning a Christian who still has faith in Christ despite the evil he’s encountered in the church at the hands of clerics?

          • Sarky

            And like i said, i didn’t agree with alot of what he said.

          • Anton

            Give it a couple of decades!

          • What he’s peddling can be contested and rebutted with reason and evidence. That’s the difference.

          • Sarky

            I can see that from all the reb….oh wait a minute.

          • Hi

            Had a few things to do:

            1. Make time for my partner
            2. Watch “salvage Dawgs ”
            3. Eat
            4. Get to level 142 on candy crush saga
            5. Reply to other correspondence
            6. Pray

    • Hi

      Good.

      • Sarky

        I didn’t agree with him on many many things….but I’m not so sure about blocking.

        • IanCad

          I tend toward your point of view Sarks.

          That said was Linus playing a literary version of “Bug Chasing” and has now achieved his goal??

          http://knowledgenuts.com/2013/10/04/the-bug-chasers-who-actually-want-to-get-hivaids/

        • Hi

          Ordinary I’d agree , on our own blog along with Jewish posters there’s a few anti Semites and crazed conspiracy theorist loons and fundamentalist Christians who would embarrass even Martin , atheists and other wafes and strafes , whom we give reasonably long leashes to.

          However and what is “special “about Linus was the clickbait snark aimed at everything and everyone. There was a je ne sais quoi nastiness in his writing that I couldn’t abide.

          • Sarky

            I often found that if you disregarded the superfluous garbage, there were actually some valid points.

          • Anton

            There were, but that isn’t the point. I referred elsewhere to his “educated savagery”.

      • *gasp*

        Apparently, Aunt Jemima products are linked to Southern American racism being an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance grounded on the plantation myth portraying “Aunt Jemima” as an asexual, plump black woman wearing a headscarf. The “mammy” being a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own.

        • Hi

          When you were away and Linus was attacking you, I told him he was being bloody vile and an insufferable oik. I think that’s when he went off on one and called me a gay traitor/ auntie Jemima.

          http://archbishopcranmer.com/musicians-church-ban-non-christian-music/

          • Quite lively – although in true Linus style he deleted his account and so all his posts have been removed too. Thank you and all the others for calling him in his pleasure at my illness.

    • CliveM

      I have been of the opinion for a while that he was deliberately provoking HG in an attempt to be blocked.

      Anyway I’m not going to cry crocodile tears. He won’t be missed by me.

  • David

    I am glad that Linus has gone. He seemed to hate all expressions of Christianity, indeed he was full of spite and venom. He offered the blog nothing but disruption and hatred. Yes as Happy Jack says he was a tortured soul. Our Christian duty is to pray for him.

  • Pubcrawler

    Dear All

    Let’s not make this thread all about Linus (again). He has had far more than his fair share of attention over the years.

    Ta.

    • Anton

      Did Homer end The Iliad with the slaying of Hector? Do you prefer Don Giovanni to end with the scene in which he was dragged off to hell, omitting Mozart’s postscript ensemble like the Victorians did?

      • Pubcrawler

        I wouldn’t mention Linus in the same breath as those.

        • Anton

          Understood, but it was the norm in Parliament a generation ago to relate current events to the navigation posts of our culture, namely Athens and Jerusalem. His departure is a significant event in the life of this blog. In a couple of post’s time it will be as you prefer; that’s not long.

          • Pubcrawler

            I’m a damnatio memoriae kinda guy. The very thing he would hate most.

          • Anton

            Yet he has pulled all of his comments.

          • Pubcrawler

            A familiar habit. For him it is, like Oscar, better to be talked about than not. Ergo silebo.

  • Yep …. but such discussions build this community and strengthens it. HG will step in if he feels the need.

  • Anton

    Excellent.

  • magnolia

    Super article. There are two questions I would like to ask of the author:

    1. Since Christians are in a spiritual battle, and those who affiliate to the dark side will always seek for ways to make false accusations where will such contextual discernment of accusational motivation come into play in these structures?

    2. Since perhaps the most crying need is to stop potential abusers- even if ones with no bad records- getting into positions of authority and even ordained within the church, how do we best identify them and eliminate them from consideration before they do harm, since safeguarding of itself does not reach this far?

    • Busy Mum

      Re 2, I think this is why the whole focus of safeguarding is ‘how to keep yourself safe’ rather than ‘how to stop doing bad things’.

      • It’s the essence of safeguarding – to anticipate and take necessary action to prevent harmful situations arising.

        • Busy Mum

          Human beings ‘are’ harmful situations; safeguarding is the anti-Christian attempt to shore up the idea that human perfection is the norm.

          • CliveM

            Whilst accepting that no system is perfect, having a process with the explicit intention of trying to protect children from physical abuse, is not anti Christian. Indeed it is something Christians should give their support to.

          • Busy Mum

            I feel it is just a sticking-plaster measure. Society has become so sexualised that making a huge show of ‘preventing child abuse’ is people’s way of trying to draw a line in the sand and make themselves feel virtuous. The people who shout loudest about this are the people who promote greyness in all other areas of life and would shrink from being ‘judgmental’ in any other circumstances.

          • CliveM

            Well there is some truth in that. It still doesn’t make safe guarding anti Christian however.

          • Busy Mum

            But ‘safeguarding’ has become an anti-Christian society’s response to anti-Christian behaviour.

          • CliveM

            Maybe but safeguarding our children is a good.

            20 years ago, if I’d been asked I would have numbered child abusers in the low hundreds. Idiot that I was. I have been stunned by the revelations of the last few years. It’s endemic and shows no signs of getting better. If even only a tenth of what is meant to be available on the dark web is true , the numbers in this country abusing children or involved in the abuse of children runs into the high thousands. Until something better comes along, I support the current safeguarding initiatives in schools and elsewhere.

          • Anton

            I think the real question is whether today’s safeguarding actually works. I’m sceptical but we shall have to wait and see.

          • CliveM

            It will fail at times and hopefully the lessons of the failure will be learnt and used to improve the process.

            In this fallen world it can never be the final answer, but I was mainly objecting to it being called anti Christian.

          • Anton

            I appreciated reading both sides of the exchange.

          • We will never succeed in finally eliminating all abuse and exploitation of children for some of the reasons given by Busy Mum. It’s sobering to remind ourselves that most child abuse, sexual abuse included, is perpetrated by family members and close friends. It’s not a new phenomena either but has been around since the beginning of time. Shedding light on it by increasingly understanding precipitating and facilitating factors, recognising its symptoms in children and what makes them vulnerable, and then being responsive to them, is essential and, for now, the best we can reasonably hope to do.

          • CliveM

            Yes agreed, just because something won’t be perfect, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. We have seen what happens when there is no safeguarding. Look at the BBC.

          • What’s the expression: “Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

          • CliveM

            Yes indeed.

          • Anton

            On re-reading, I think the counter-argument to yours is that what is really going on is a tickbox exercise under the guise of safeguarding but with the actual purpose that schools etc can cover themselves in court if they get sued subsequent to abuse. In that case is it likely to make any real difference? I’d like to leave that as a genuine question.

          • CliveM

            My wife is a teacher who does this course annuaĺly. Without boring you with all the details it does ensure that teachers understand their responsibility, what to look out for, who to contact and what the process is. She has seen it at work and believes it does help.

            Yes some may relegate it to a box ticking excercise, but even then it will help identify and protect children, because the only way to get the boxes ticked is by doing something.

            It isnt perfect, but we do know the old way failed our children spectacularly. A new approach was needed.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Precisely. When people start arguing that we should abandon precautions that can’t be guaranteed 100% effective, I always wonder whether on those grounds they don’t bother locking their houses or their cars.

          • Busy Mum

            I find it disturbing that society puts the onus on my children to keep themselves safe rather than on adults to restrain themselves.

            My primary head agreed with me that all ‘safeguarding’ does is allow people to pass the buck. Yes, we ticked all the forms, yes, the candidate passed the DBS check, yes, we did everything we were supposed to do to prevent this happening. So no, it’s not our fault. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim. Yes, what a shocking thing to have happened. Yes, we will do even more sex education now to ensure the children know how to keep themselves safe.

            It’s all about what happened to somebody, rather than what somebody did – because that involves laying down some morality – and schools are too scared to do that. Meanwhile, the children now need to keep themselves safe from each other, as well as from sexually incontinent adults.
            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/09/number-child-on-child-sexual-assaults-almost-doubles/

          • CliveM

            All these things have some truth, we are a fallen species. But these men won’t restrain themselves and it is all our responsibility to ensure our children’s safety.

          • Busy Mum

            That involves ‘discriminating’ against certain people and certain behaviour, and therefore ‘safeguarding’ is doomed.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            There is no obstacle whatever to ‘discriminating’ against known sexual predators by barring them from work with children and young people. It is not possible, however, to weed out those who are not yet known about, or those who will offend in the future but haven’t yet done so: we have no precognition machine. We are able, by definition, to do only that which is possible. As a relative of mine said some years ago, after sexual abuse by a monk at his son’s RC school came to light, “Unfortunately, there really is no way of ensuring that that sort of thing NEVER happens.”

          • Busy Mum

            You have said nothing with which I disagree.

          • Best not have an intelligence service then that collects information on terrorism and works to counter it.

          • Busy Mum

            Hmmmm – it’s a similar situation. Trying to solve a problem with one hand whilst feeding the problem with the other.

    • Busy Mum has answered the second point.

      Point 1 is a valid concern. However, it’s about personal and organisational/cultural attitudes to accusations and suspicions. One can nether take these at face value as truthful or dismiss them as false. For too long children voices were not heard or those adults when they came forward to report crimes against them as children. The key is receptive, impartial and sensitive listening, without assumptions, and then a fair and balanced assessment and investigation without prejudice ether way.

    • Martin Sewell

      Sorry, but those questions are above my pay grade!

      Forgive me for concentrating on areas where I feel I have some basis of experience upon which to speak.

      • magnolia

        Thank you anyway for responding, for your expertise and focus on this crucial topic, and for your excellent article.

  • Anton

    Did your kids like it?

    I do find his comedies all to be a bit samey, generally involving inadvertent partner-swapping in a dreamy Renaissance background until they all live happily ever after, but he still does it very well and if that’s not to your taste then there are the histories and tragedies.

    • Sarky

      Not really, it was very well done and interactive, they just found out a bit boring.

  • Oooops …. wrong thread.

    • CliveM

      I though you were repeating yourself!

  • BREVIOR SALTARE CUM DEFORMIBUS VIRIS EST VITA …..