victim believed u-turn
Church of England

Church U-turn on sex abuse: from the victim ‘must be believed’ to being ‘taken seriously’

This is a guest post by Martin Sewell, a retired Child Protection Lawyer.

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The recent furore about the Parliamentary ‘sex scandals’ – which I prefer to think of as principally about bullying and the misuse of power – is causing people to ask a question afresh. Is it proper to ‘believe’ such allegations when made, or simply to ‘take them seriously’?

This has been live and topical question within the Church of England.

Not only do we have our own slew of allegations coming to the fore, as female clergy and lay people begin to share their stories every bit as serious and worrying as those of Hollywood and Westminster, but we have recently had the Carlile Report into the Church of England’s handling of the allegation against Bishop George Bell lodged with Lambeth Palace. That was a month ago, on 7th October. Within that report will lie the answer to our question.

Unfortunately, the church has not yet released that report, telling me that it is being ‘finalised’. One wonders quite what processes this implies, and who exactly is ‘finalising’ this for the independent reviewer. Questions have been asked to clarify these matters, so far without substantial success, but that is a story for another time.

One of course accepts the need for victim anonymisation and giving criticised persons due process, but a projected publication date and confirmation of who exactly is doing what would be good to know in a church which is aiming to embrace transparency and accountability.

Yet the core question of how one treats complaints is a very real and relevant one. Lord Carlile will doubtless have considered both the law and the ‘hot off the press’ report of Sir Richard Henriques on police mishandling of this very question. That report is important and has presented usable information right now: what is or is not the law is surely an independent matter of fact. The law reports are quite plain in reiterating and approving the approach of Baroness Butler-Sloss as set out in the Cleveland Report in 1987: the victim is entitled to be ‘taken seriously’.

The alternative view is persistently – and erroneously – attractive.

Statistically, most victims are truthful historians about what happened to them. Anyone who has spent time talking to victims of bullying and/or abuse knows how hard it is for them to find the courage to speak, especially when this truth-telling takes place in an institutionally hostile or defensive environment.

It therefore seems a kindness to offer immediate reassurance and support, which is right and proper. A friend, a confessor, an authorised listener, pastoral assistant or therapist may offer such belief and real good will be done by it, but once one enters the more forensic forums where the question becomes ‘Is this allegation true?’, an important and necessary cultural change is required.

In that different environment, which can, frequently does, and should result in life-changing decisions, a more balanced approach necessarily comes into play. In this forum, the only proper response is to fall back upon the tried and trusted principles such as ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and ‘he who asserts must prove’.

The Church of England patently lost sight of this, which resulted in the debacle by which the late Bishop George Bell failed to receive due process for the allegations posthumously made against him – a full half-century after his death. There has been quiet diplomacy going on behind the scenes at General Synod with those of a legal background imploring the National Safeguarding Team to align its approach with the law of the land. Initially this was to little avail, but that is now changing.

I believe we are witnessing a corrective sea change in how we approach these matters.

The Carlile Report was delivered on 7th October; by 13th October a new policy document was produced – ‘Promoting a Safer Church‘, issued by House of Bishops (but not debated by Synod). It declares on p6:

The Church in exercising its responsibilities to suspicions, concerns, knowledge or allegations of abuse will endeavour to respect the rights under criminal, civil and ecclesiastical law of an accused Church Officer including the clergy. A legal presumption of innocence will be maintained during the statutory and Church inquiry processes.’

Additionally, in a clarification which the NST did provide in answer to inquiries, we learn:

The key piece of guidance here is the ‘Responding to, assessing and managing safeguarding concerns or allegations against church officers’, which was published on 13 October 2017. There is guidance within this document in respect of responding to disclosures or allegations of abuse. For example, Section 2, First response (Page 25) states that a person receiving a safeguarding concern or allegation against a church officer should ‘respond well to the victim/survivor to ensure they feel heard and taken seriously.

An earlier flowchart that began with the words “Believe the victim” is no longer there. The latest practice guidance show that listening has occurred.

The language used for complainants and those complained against is always a sensitive issue. This guidance will usually be needed before there have been any findings in criminal, civil or disciplinary proceedings. At this stage there will be people who have made complaints (referred to as safeguarding concerns or allegations in this guidance) and people against whom complaints have been made. Both victims/survivors and respondents will at this stage be alleged victims/survivors and alleged respondents. For ease of reference this guidance will use the terms ‘victims/survivor’’ and ‘respondent’ without presupposing the accuracy of the complaint. These should be regarded as neutral terms that do not imply the innocence or guilt of either party.

So the angel is in the detail.

These statements demonstrate a highly significant – and immensely welcome – U-turn on the part of the church in how it handles allegations. Instead of institutional pre-judgement, the parties are to be treated equally and with seriousness.

The alignment of the Established Church’s approach in these vital matters with the ordinary standards of justice found in every court in the land is a major change and ought not to be hidden under a bushel. There is much rejoicing in heaven over a sinner that repents.

It is not simply that a long-dead bishop is likely to have due process (though complete exoneration is, in my view, impractical to expect so late in the day), what is much more important is that village priests and curates from Cornwall to Cumbria and beyond, whose causes the great and the good will not rally around, will now have a fair hearing within the disciplinary structures of the church.

I am sure there will be some embarrassment that after two years of resistance Lord Carlile has endorsed the wisdom of the church’s critics. Why it took so long to accept the change, when all the necessary materials were made available at the outset, is also a question for another time.

This is not to be unkind, but rather to ensure that the impetus that improved things for Bishop Bell takes the next step and assists victims who have different injustices outstanding.

The more important priority is to explain to the victim community why this development is actually very good news for them and an important victory in their battle to reform a Church Establishment that finds it very hard to acknowledge its errors in plain and unambiguous terms.

Talking to one of the experienced lawyers for church victims recently, I listened as he described ‘the victim must be believed’ narrative as a blind alley. Too often, in the criminal law context, he explained that cash-strapped police forces ticked their empathy boxes by bringing prosecutions without committing the necessary resources to doing the job properly. This has led to Crown Prosecutors determining not to proceed, but the police being content because they could not be blamed, for had they not ‘believed the victim’? Job done.

Reputation management came before outcome as a priority, and that is unkind and deeply disrespectful. If a task is worth doing, it is worth doing properly.

The ‘always believe the victim’ doctrine is one of cheap virtue. Even cases that passed the tests and were brought to court have sometimes failed through insufficiently robust intellectual rigour being applied to all available angles of the case. An uncritical advancement of a case leads one to walk into a ‘sucker punch’, which would have been seen and avoided if only the case had been properly prepared at the outset. Premature belief can result in sloppy practice. One ceases to take each individual piece of the jigsaw, examine it carefully and ask the simple question: ‘Now what does this mean?’

If the evidence is insufficiently robust, it is better not to bring a case at all rather than to betray a complainant’s trust and leave them angry and humiliated because due process had been skimped with resulting failure.

Yet the legal standard is not unhelpful: ‘taking seriously’ is actually much better than knee-jerk ‘belief’.

When I was a child I believed in Father Christmas. There was superficial evidence for that belief. It had its utility for a while, yet could not hold up to scrutiny once I began to apply my mind to ‘taking the proposition seriously’.

In contrast, I take Jesus Christ seriously.

That does not make things easy. There are things I don’t fully understand, issues I put to one side hoping to gain a fuller understanding later, and I accept there are some questions that I may never fully grasp, yet that seems to me to be a sign of mature engagement.

Jesus himself made just such a distinction.

Not everyone saying “Lord, Lord” is a true follower. He pointed that out. Easy belief must give way to the better way of ‘taking seriously’. Many of us respond better to a faith leader whose whole life demonstrates serious engagement than to one who encourages premature superficial verbal assent.

So when the Carlile Report comes out, and we see the important changes explained in detail, I hope that we will find our Bishops and Safeguarding Officers rejoicing that that have been corrected with sound judgment, and not simply offer a surly nod or terse lip-service.

Rend your hearts not your garments‘ comes to mind. The redrawn documents must be accompanied by the real and public embracing of a new and more healthy culture, as we educate insiders and outsiders alike to the virtues of applying the proper standards in the appropriate points of engagement with those bringing their grievances to the church.

Serious but sensitive listening at the outset; rigorous forensic detachment during the investigatory stage; justice, repentance and proper support and reparation if the complaint is upheld.

What we are seeing is an important curving of the arc of our procedures toward justice, and that is a cause for modest celebration even as we acknowledge that there is so very much more to be done.

  • Marcus Stewart

    It seems to me that allegations, whether in the church or secular context, must be treated kindly but critically, since there is an EQUAL responsibility to treat accuser and accused decently and kindly insofar as is possible. This should be obvious – but appears to have been lost on some, to whom the moral high ground is imputed to the accuser.

    The accuser needs, and will if s/he is reasonable, understand that robust scrutiny of any evidence against the alleged perpetrator MUST be made, and that where non-existent the only safe – that is, the lesser of two evils if abuse did in fact occur without evidence – conclusion is acquittal. The dictum that the accuser must be believed is patently absurd, even evil, and if that was espoused by snr church people they are fools (did Welby actually say this?). Why does the usual evidentiary standard not apply to alleged sex crime? Of course the Bell business used the civil standard – and it was the Church’s choice to do that; and the mistake there was that it (intentionally) enabled a dead man to be thrown under the bus rather than enable proper scrutiny of the allegation, which it seems would probably have failed at the criminal standard. And so be it. We believe in a Lord who dispenses justice in eternity, if not prefiguring it the temporal and very unfair world, despite our best efforts.

    The Church should model proper perspective on abuse claim: instead it appears to have added to the hysteria around it, and adopted the worst of police and CPS practice (the mistakes of whom are now, thankfully, being aired): claimants will be believed because we’re frightened of public reaction if we don’t, so it’s worth sacrificing the accused, and justice, for the sake of OUR reputations (since when was it the police’s job to act as judge ‘n jury, not merely evidence-gatherer?).

    The reputation of the Church is already trashed in the matter of child abuse and is irredeemable. Instead of trying to show how it’s ‘changed’ it should simply advise that all allegations will be reported to police (if not directly) and keep out of it. While the police’s own reputation in handling such matters is questionable, it has to be better than the Church’s

    • Martin Sewell

      Archbishop Justin never used these words to my knowledge, but it was officially advanced about Bell’s accuser, and a view which the NST would not disavow when asked.

    • CliveM

      To say the accuser must be believed isn’t evil. It maybe wrong, indeed foolish, but people (particularly in today’s febrile atmosphere) may overstate things in an attempt to show lessons have been learned from past failures. Let’s be honest, the Church (or at least elements within it) seems to have pursued a policy of “the accuser must never be believed “. Which may truly be described as evil.

      • Marcus Stewart

        I see no distinction between disbelieving actual abuse and believing falsehoods in terms of damage done – indeed, the wrongly accused, when believed, is arguably more damaged than the abused. I’ll stick with ‘evil’.

  • Gregory Morris

    This is once again an excellent description of where we should be. If only we could be what we would be.

  • Chris Bell

    Yet is it not critical that the complainant is firmly discouraged from making public an uncorroborated testimony?

    • betteroffoutofit

      “Yet is it not critical that the complainant is firmly discouraged from making public an uncorroborated testimony?”

      The problem there, and in my own experience, is that it’s often in the complainant’s better interests to keep his/her mouth shut. Harrassment so often tends to be ‘company policy,’ and companies have friends in other companies, and, they all have friends in high places (like the ‘Boards’ of universities, companies,town councils, government, etc.). Not only can these institutional forces destroy the victim locally – the problem can extend to be national and even international. It would be very difficult to find a lawyer who can contend successfully with that lot.

      So . . . to avoid the immediate effects of suicide or other mental breakdown, the sensible victim will shut up, find a way to leave that is as advantageous as possible (like completing one’s degree), and then leave for a more friendly environment (if possible).

      This kind of abuse and bullying has a purpose – which is to destroy competition or opposition. It is closely related to rape, especially in that it is not, as it seems to be, about the ‘s’ thing, or about gender, or even about attraction. As Martin Sewell suggests here, it is about power.

      Oh . . . and men are not the only abusers; in fact, good men are often protectors and saviours!!!! The powermongers include great numbers of feminazis, who are often two or three times as nasty as their male counterparts.

  • Inspector General

    The herd tends to act as one. That’s why clever types like us stand away from the herd.

    So, it’s time for a mass confessing. Thankfully, ‘believing’ every tale of misery about to flow has, by the grace of common sense, been
    avoided.

    A colleague at work is due to retire. The Inspector has
    known him for a very long time. Asked to provide material for a ‘book of memories’ or whatever is going to be presented to him, the Inspector offered “his miserable demeanour would at times of stress, be infectious”. Whether it makes the finished article and is included is, frankly, of no concern to this man
    before you. But what about his wife, if she was to see it. As it happens, it is
    true. He could flap like a bird under pressure, but at the same time he’s been
    known to laugh and make merry. He’ll be missed. His standard of work was never short of excellent.

    Never, ever believe anything the Inspector (or anyone else)
    tells you. But do take what you’re given seriously…

    • Chefofsinners

      You’re all heart, Inspector. No doubt you too are infectious in your own way.

  • James Bolivar DiGriz

    This is a very thoughtful and helpful piece in an area that is rather confused.

    I would quibble on one point though. I think that “Statistically, most victims are truthful historians about what happened to them” is too strong a statement.

    Evidence shows that witness testimony is not particularly reliable. Memory is fallible, events & details can be lost or muddled with those from another time. Also the ability to form accurate memory in the first place is diminished at a time of extreme stress such as witnessing a violent event, so being the victim of a violent event will make it even harder to form accurate memories.

    I think it would be better to say that most victims are truthfully recounting their memory of what they believe happened to them.

    Hence, and here I thoroughly agree with the thrust of this piece, what they say must be investigated compassionately but thoroughly.

    • Anton

      It’s tricky when an adult accuses someone of abusing them when that adult was a child. A child is never going to forget such an incident but is not going to remember what the date was, and a defence lawyer is likely to play on the plaintiff’s confusion about minor details in order to cast doubt on the main allegation.

      • James Bolivar DiGriz

        Hence I talked about investigating compassionately. One would expect less detail of a child than of an adult and their account should not be simply rejected because some minor details are incorrect.

        However it is quite possible for someone to genuinely believe that something that happened when they were with X actually happened when they were with Y and to accuse Y of that.

        Think of a child abused by a stand-in minister whilst the regular one is on holiday. The setting will be the regular one (e.g. the vicarage, the clerical clothing, the children’s class) so it will be easy for memory to place the regular person in that scene.

        One experiment that was done asked people who had been to Disneyland to name the characters they had seen walking around. They were given a list that included Bugs Bunny. When they had listed some characters they were asked to describe the occasion; who they with with, what part of the park, etc. People were able to describe their meeting with Bugs Bunny just as well as with, say, Mickey Mouse.

        The problem is that Bugs Bunny is a Warner Bros. character and is never seen at Disneyland. People had conflated two memories that had happened, one of which was quite recent.

        So even the act of questioning someone about what happened to them may, inadvertently, lead them to say things that they believe are true but are not true.

        When someone makes an accusation it is most likely that something happened and that it broadly corresponds to what they say. However details and key ones may be wrong.

        In the post two days ago, Jayne Ozanne is reported as saying that she was raped and I accept that this is what she believes. However from the report, a number of commentators say that this sounds more like amorous encounter that went further than she expected than rape.

        If that latter is the actual case then is she a “truthful [historian] about what happened to [her]?

        • Anton

          In the Bugs Bunny experiment, and similar, there was no investment of emotion in it. That makes memory very different.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            Yes, a lot more reliable.

  • Father David

    I hope that there are no sinister overtones to the word “finalised”

  • Martin Collier

    This is indeed a welcome development. It is a shame that it has taken so long to make these fundamental matters of principle.

    Mr Sewell’s points about the dangers of bringing criminal proceedings without a robust assessment of the evidence are particularly well made.

    I am sorry to see that the terms ‘victims/survivor’’ and ‘respondent’ are retained in the proposed guidance “for ease of reference”. I appreciate that the terms are to be regarded as neutral, but if an attempt is finally being made to change the culture of those investigating these grave allegations, then the qualification “alleged victim/survivor” should always be used while there is any question of the veracity of the allegations.

    • Brian

      I favour the terms ‘complainant’ and ‘defendant’. ‘Survivor’ is a bit too histrionic (we are not talking about Hiroshima) and in any case prejudges the issue. ‘Complainant’ sounds perfectly neutral to me.

      • Anton

        You said it is not Hiroshima. Here is Nancy Levant on the effects of divorce:

        Divorce is nothing more or less than war in microcosm. But the war is the country, religion, economic base, and social universe of the child. The war causes the destruction of everything the child knows in his or her culture. It is the child’s world war, for the world of the child, and everything in it, dies. And the victim of the war is the divorced child… Divorce devastates most children… It damages their spirits, which means they are permanently changed… [they] bear the trademark sadness in their eyes (from her book The Cultural Devastation of American Women, p. 81, 82 & 138).

        I suggest that sexual abuse of a child is worse for it than witnessing its parents divorce.

      • Martin Collier

        Agreed. Complainant is the right word.

      • IanCad

        I must read the other posts before commenting.

    • IanCad

      Doesn’t “Survivor” presume the guilt of the respondent?

  • Ray Sunshine

    Since it was the Church, not the government, that commissioned the Carlile report, it is free to do what it likes with the document now that it has been handed in. Even if it were to hide it away in the Top Secret file, marking it “Embargoed until the centenary of Bishop Bell’s death in 2058”, it would still be acting within its legal rights as the owner of the copyright. However, it would clearly be committing a tactical error on the pastoral front, simply because the report has two purposes, not just one. It is not just to assess whether the inquiry into Carol’s allegations was conducted as well as it could have been, but it is to help the Church to rewrite its own rule book governing future investigations into allegations of sexual abuse by Anglican clergy against minors. And the longer the report is kept under shrouds in Lambeth Palace, the greater the potential damage to the Church itself. Like Caesar’s wife, the Church has to be seen to be doing the right thing, and every day that goes by while what they laughingly call “finalisation” wends its weary way through the episcopocracy chips away at the Church’s reputation.

  • Why are we restricting the discussion to criminal proceedings where the evidential threshold is “beyond a reasonable doubt”? There will be situations when abuse is reported where this will be too high a standard and the civil test of “on the balance of probability” is a more appropriate test.

    • carl jacobs

      And those situations would be …

      • Many and varied.

        For example, a child of 4 years old whose sleeping and eating patterns suddenly change, who becomes withdrawn and quiet, and who shows distress when being left in the company of Mr X. Who says when enquiries are made by her parents or by a trusted adult: “Mr X touched me down there and made me touch him,” and shows on an anatomical doll that she has been sexually assaulted and also made to fondle a man’s genitals. There will be no forensic evidence. There will be no witnesses. The child doesn’t have the vocabulary to explain what went on. Her parents don’t want her subject to the trauma of a criminal trial. One can establish the child has been alone with the alleged perpetrator but he denies any such activity.

        What would you do? How do you progress such an investigation beyond the words of the child against this adult?

        • carl jacobs

          So you are suggesting that the standard of proving guilt should be lowered in order to improve the chance of conviction? Why even have a trial? Why not just lynch the suspect?

          • Jack is suggesting when there is insufficient evidence to proceed to a criminal trial then, in the interests of protecting other children from harm and providing justice to victims, there should be other processes in place which should come into play. Indeed, even if there is a criminal trial and a finding of not guilty (or not proven), these processes should be implemented.

            Would you leave your daughter or granddaughter with the man described above if you knew what had been claimed? If you didn’t know of this past allegation and your child then reported similar abuse, would you not believe she had been let down?

          • Chefofsinners

            “In the interests of protecting other children from harm and providing justice to victims…”

            Providing additional justice to victims cannot be a consideration if the courts have reached a decision. Criminal and civil cases are the mechanism for that. Anything else is unlawful and unjust.

            Protecting other children is a valid concern. Corroborating evidence should be sought. A person’s internet browsing history, other incidents, even a lie detection test will all help either reassure or raise further suspicions. An innocent person facing suspicion would be keen to cooperate in these investigations.

          • A criminal trial doesn’t rule out the option of civil action or an organisation compensating those it judges to have been harmed. Anyone investigated following allegations of child abuse will become the subject of a wider multi-disciplinary assessment, regardless of the outcome of any criminal procedures. That’s how it should be.

          • Chefofsinners

            That’s what I said.

          • Well you should have said so.

          • carl jacobs

            So in other words, an unprovable accusation will become grounds to subject a man to the permanent control of the Court. This only makes sense if you adopt an attitude of “We know you did it but we just can’t prove it.” Better ten innocent men get condemned then one guilty man goes free. Which seems like a pretty good deal – for everyone except the ten.

            I trusted no one with my kids who hadn’t earned my trust. The absense of information was not sufficient to allow me to place my kids in someone else’s care.

          • Jack isn’t talking about Court control. He’s talking about disqualifying a man/woman from unsupervised access to children where there is good reason to believe they have or will harm a child. He’s also talking about awarding compensation to children where there is a good basis for judging they have been abused.
            Your children never attended school? Never saw a doctor on their own? Never participated in Church activities without you being present? Never went camping with a group?

    • IanCad

      Very dangerous Jack. ” Balance of Probability” is too low a threshold to condemn the accused to a lifetime of shame.
      The evidence is there or it isn’t.
      I’ve said it before; a statue of limitations must be vigourously applied. Three years for adults and three years after reaching maturity for children. These witch hunts must end.

      • CliveM

        I see little reason to to give men or women, who rape and abuse children any right to feel safe from prosecution. Pursuing a child rapist isn’t a witch hunt, it’s justice.

        • Ray Sunshine

          So, which is it? The victim/complainant “must be believed” or “must be taken seriously”? If the answer is “must be believed” then, as Carl says (below), any investigation, any inquiry, any trial, is surplus to requirements. Lynching takes care of it.

          • CliveM

            During any discussions with the child you must act as if you believe. They are children and must be allowed to feel as safe as possible.

            Any evidence supplied needs to be properly scrutinised and presented to a court.

          • Ray Sunshine

            Agreed!

          • CliveM

            Good!

          • IanCad

            Disagree!! The McMartin case in Los Angeles CA, and the Wenatchee persecution in WA are just two examples of children being led to tell what the investigators want to know.

          • CliveM

            So how do you treat a four year old, frightened and abused?

          • IanCad

            Gently but without giving them the impression that what they say will be believed regardless, as that may encourage them to embellish the tale to please the adult.

          • CliveM

            In what sort of circumstances will a four year old have enough knowledge or understanding to be able to embellish sexual abuse/assault? One thing you can be certain of is that the four year old is entirely innocent.

          • CliveM

            Which is entirely different.

        • IanCad

          Anton & Clive;
          If evidence “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” is produced and judged sound then the perp should feel the full force of the law. One person’s word against another’s just won’t cut it unless corroborating witnesses are available to testify.

          • Anton

            That was the line taken by God in the Law of Moses, certainly (two witnesses).

        • Royinsouthwest

          Obviously the perpetrators should be very severely punished but it is only justice if the punishment is applied to the correct person(s).

          • CliveM

            Indeed.

      • Anton

        What do you mean by evidence when it is one person’s word against another a long time after? We may agree that it either happened or it didn’t, but what next?

  • Chefofsinners

    The CoE has been caught in the headlights, its self-confidence undermined by its failings, so that it overreacted. This change is a welcome correction.
    However there remains a great difficulty in English law’s concepts of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ and ‘balance of probability’. Exactly how and where are these two standards of proof applied? The traditional distinction between criminal and civil cases will often lead to the Church paying damages when a person has been acquitted. Devising a safeguarding system which encompasses all this is not easy.

    • Anton

      Indeed, the modern notion of probability emerged from the law – see the book on its history by James Franklin, The Science of Conjecture.

      • IrishNeanderthal

        That’s a new one to me. Most history of mathematics texts give the impression that probablility theory effectively started with Pascal and gaming (although Cardano also have a crack at it a cetury earlier.)

        • Anton

          That’s the beginning of probability as a *mathematical* discipline, in the Pascal-Fermat correspondence (in which Fermat was the real luminary). But where were the origins of the concepts which first began to be quantified then? They are in the law, for law is about the probability of guilt or innocence given the evidence. Of the seven or so men most involved in the transformation of probability notions into mathematics, all were either lawyers or sons of lawyers.

          Gaming has less to do with it than you might suppose. The prominence of gaming in the early mathematical writings about probability is due to a selection effect: gaming problems were, at that time, the only problems simple enough to be tackled by the first generation of mathematizers, yet too complex for unaided intuition.

          • Chefofsinners

            I met a man the other day who told me he was an actuary. I said “An actuary? What are the chances of that?”

          • Anton

            The Loan Arranger and Tontine.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            According to Wikipedia,

            In 4.50 from Paddington (1957), a Miss Marple murder mystery by Agatha Christie, the plot revolves around the will of a wealthy industrialist, which establishes a settlement under which his estate is divided in trust among his grandchildren, the final survivor to inherit the whole. The settlement is described, inaccurately, as a tontine.

            Inaccurate or not, that was the connection which brought things together for Miss Marple.

          • Ray Sunshine

            Robert Louis Stevenson got in ahead of Agatha Christie with The Wrong Box , published in 1889, a black comedy revolving around the last few surviving subscribers to a tontine. The 1966 film version is only loosely based on the novel, but retains the tontine as the main focus.

          • Anton

            Thank you. I have often thought that a tontine is incentive for its partners to bump each other off, and I am delighted to have found a black comedy based on that. I’ve ordered the DVD.

          • CliveM

            It’s why the Tontine is now illegal.

  • carl jacobs

    The purpose of the sexual revolution was to destroy the structural boundaries around sex. Human sexuality is no longer guarded and protected. In the modern world, it has been stripped naked, put on public display and auctioned off to the highest bidder. In the name of autonomy we have established personal gratification as the penultimate purpose of sex. It was after all the purpose of those long-since demolished boundaries to prevent exactly that outcome.

    So in modern understanding, sex is ultimately referenced to satisfying the desires of the Self. An important correlary of this understanding is that a sexual partner becomes an object whose sole function is to satisfy those selfish desires. The logic of consent is supposed to be salve to this attitude of self absorption. Two people agree to use each other, and might even go so far as to exchange names afterwards. But consent cannot and does not change the basic mechanism of objectification in service to the Self.

    So in a very real sense, the modern world has reduced human sexual morality to the question of “How do we use each other, yet non-abusively? How do we objectify another person without actually objectifying him?” People caught up in this modern logic can be used, abused, and discarded. The modern world desires only that they be useable and discardable. But how to get there?

    The answer of course is that you can’t. But people are desparate to find ways to do it. Having trivialized sex by destroying all the boundaries that guarded it, they seek now to reconstruct some new boundaries on the assumption that sex is not trivial after all. They have seen all around them the victims of the reality that sex is not in fact trivial. But they won’t rebuild the original boundaries, because that would undo the revolution. The right to personal gratification has become an inalienable right.

    It’s not surprising to me that there are victims scattered across the land. Our modern attitude guarantees the outcome – because objectification must objectively produce victims. Sex was created to be about the Other, but we have made it about the Self. And at the center of the Self is Sin.

    • Agreed. Sex is a very dangerous intoxicant when not channelled and controlled.

      However, the sexual abuse of children is not a new phenomenon that came on the scene with the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. It’s as old as time. Men, and it is mainly men, have been abusing children and women since Eden. And neither is the sexual exploitation and manipulation of the inexperienced and vulnerable “new”. What is “new” is a better understanding today of the strategies employed by sexual predators and abusers. These have come mainly from listening to the accounts of victims. What is also “new” is a better appreciation of the devious and manipulative behaviour of those repeatedly surrendering to the powerful impulse to gratify their sexual desires when opportunities arise or at are activity sought out. Again, these insights have come from research conducted with the men concerned.

      • Anton

        Yes, well said.

        • Chefofsinners

          Except there weren’t any children in Eden. That being the main reason it was a paradise.

          • IanCad

            What about Cain and Abel? One was a brat for sure.

          • Chefofsinners

            They were not born until after Adam and Eve left Eden.

          • IanCad

            What was I thinking!!?? Egg all over my face!!

          • Brian

            I thought you were just raising Cain – while you were Abel.

          • Dreadnaught

            Are you Brian from Brazil?

          • Chefofsinners

            It’ll be all white.

          • Pubcrawler

            Racist.

            (Only yolking.)

      • carl jacobs

        What is different now is that we are deliberately teaching the habits of mind that make abuse inevitable. What was once considered shameful is now considered normal and right. At one time it was considered abusive for a man my age to have sex with a 16 year-old girl. Now it’s legal. Was that change enacted to protect the autonomy of 16 year-old girls? No, it was done because men my age want to have sex with 16 year-old girls yet without condemnation. Is it still abusive? Objectively so. But we have defined the abuse out of existence.

        Theology matters. It shapes how people approach a problem. We have created a world in which people can be used and discarded. And then will come the inevitable arguments about whether there was any abuse at all. If a man takes advantage of a woman’s consent, is it abuse? She will feel it, but does she have grounds for action? When the Bolsheviks effectively abolished marriage, they discovered that many men would agree to marry a woman just to get in her pants. The next day they would leave. The woman is left used and discarded. Was she legally abused?

        This is the world we have created, and fools think we can say “Thus far and no farther!” But the logic of self-service will continue to create new and varied victims as men find new and varied justifications for their selfish behaviors. You can’t fix it with law because eventually the law will be co-opted. And you only need to look at how far things have already fallen to see the proof.

        • Anton

          Yet in mediaeval times the marriage of teenage girls to elderly men was perfectly normal. It really is all about keeping it within marriage.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          Here in the UK it has been legal for a man to have sex with a 16-year-old girl for 132 years. Until 1885 it was legal for him to have sex with a 13-year-old girl, and until 1875 it was legal for him to have sex with a 12-year-old girl.

          • carl jacobs

            Did he have to marry her first?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            No.

          • carl jacobs

            Do you have a reference? My first instinct was to check Blackstone which absolutely records fornication as a crime punishable by fine. It is undeniably true that the privatization of sexual behavior in law is a 20th century phenomenon.

          • Jack thinks this an important insight: “the privatization of sexual behavior in law”.

            In May 1974, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality suggested a basic age of consent of 16, but that could be as low as 12 “in cases where a defendant could prove the existence of meaningful consent”. The Sexual Law Reform Society proposed in September of that year lowering the age of consent to 14, with the requirement that below the age of 18 the burden of proof that consent for sexual activities between the parties existed would be the responsibility of the older participant.

            In March 1976, the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), called for an equal age of consent of 14 in Britain. The submission to the Criminal Law Revision Committee generated extensive newspaper coverage. While the report recognised the merits of abolishing the age of consent, it proposed retaining a prohibition on sex under the age of 14 “as a compromise with public attitudes”, stating that “although it is both logical and consistent with modern knowledge about child development, to suggest that the age of consent should be abolished, we fear that, given the present state of public attitudes on this topic, it will not be politically possible to abolish the age of consent”. They also argued that “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage”, and suggested that more harm was caused when the children retold their experiences in court or to the press. The submission was signed by Harriet Harman, who later became leader of the House of Commons and deputy leader of the Labour Party.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent_reform_in_the_United_Kingdom

          • Anton

            From not later than 1541 until 1861 the penalty for anal sex in England was a capital crime; this was stipulated in Henry VIII’s Buggery Act (originally of 1533) against what it termed ‘the detestable and abominable vice of buggery committed with mankind or beast’; and again in the 1828 Offences against the Person Act. Under the 1861 Offences against the Person Act, the penalty for anal sex was reduced and other homosexual acts became lawful. That loophole was closed by the ‘Labouchere Amendment’ to the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act. In 1967, following the Wolfenden Report, homosexual acts between consenting adults were made legal. In 2003, Section 28 of a 1988 amendment to the Local Government Act, which outlawed the promotion of homosexuality in schools, was repealed. In 2005 the government provided ‘civil partnerships’ for same-sex couples. In 2008 the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act led to birth certificates that name same-sex partners as parents. In 2013 the government recognised same-sex marriage.

          • IanCad

            Thanks for that brief history Anton.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/relationships/overview/sexualbehaviour19thcentury/

            I think that “privatization of sexual behavior in law” being a 20th century phenomenon is largely a figment of your imagination.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            From 1650 to 1660, under the Puritans, premarital sex was a criminal offence in England:

            http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/acts-ordinances-interregnum/pp387-389

            At the Restoration in 1660 that statute was not renewed.

          • Anton

            Not renewed? The legal system and the ecclesiastical system were deliberately set back to pre-Civil War.

            Adultery was very briefly punishable by death, I think in the late 1640s rather than 1650s, but I expect Carl is quoting Blackstone correctly that fornication was illegal a century later.

          • Other than during a brief Puritan period (1650-1660), fornication has largely been legal in England.

          • Chefofsinners

            Much angst currently being caused by asylum seekers arriving in Europe with brides in their early teens. Authorities are conflicted about whether to impose our cultural standards. Interesting dilemma.

          • Anton

            Given that asylum seekers clearly aged about 30 were claiming to be teenagers a year ago, our authorities will bend with the east wind.

        • Jack agrees …. you know he does …. but this degeneration has not encompassed sexual activities with children under the age of consent. Children have always been sexually abused and exploited and while it remains illegal, we should fight it with every weapon available – criminal and civil legal processes and, yes, quasi-legal systems such as safeguarding.

    • Martin

      Carl

      That is an extraordinarily good analysis, thankyou.

  • Royinsouthwest

    Why the use, or rather misuse, of the term “survivor?” If someone comes through a life threatening or at least potentially life threatening event they can be described as a survivor. People against whom crimes are committed are victims not survivors unless considerable violence was involved as in attempted murder, grievous bodily harm and some, but not all, cases of rape.

    • Martin Sewell

      I do appreciate your puzzlement but talking to those who suffered abuse, I do understand their viewpoint. Many of their number will have had suicidal ideation; many have self harmed, some did not survive. The terrible story of the Belgian acid attack victim shows he ” survived ” the attack – but not the aftermath. It is the same with abuse sufferers. .

      • Royinsouthwest

        Yes, I agree that in some cases the psychological toll can be severe enough to justify the use of the term “survivor,” especially if the victim felt suicidal later. However I think the blanket use of the term is unhelpful to the victims.

        At this time of year we remember all those who fell in war. We also remember those who risked their lives in the service of their country but were fortunate enough to survivor. They could be termed “survivors” but how often did/do veterans of war use that term? Probably far less often that do people writing about how sexual abuse should be handled.

        The term “survivor” instead of “victim” is almost suggesting that they should expect permanent damage. “Victim” also suggests suffering but without the implication that the experience should mark a person for life.

        • Martin Sewell

          I am not easily shocked; some of what I have heard is close to Japanese POW treatment and consequent emotional impact – that bad.

          • Royinsouthwest

            I appreciate your having taken the time to reply to my comments and the polite, informative way in which you did so.

          • Dreadnaught

            My Old Man (rip) was a PoW ex-Singapore/Burma Railway. When he got back to Southampton, he was given a demob suit and a rail warrant for Liverpool and a cheery ‘Good Luck – mind how you go’ That was it. So he got on with it and made me – poor sod.

          • carl jacobs

            That’s really awful. I had no idea Ex POWs were treated like that.

          • Dreadnaught

            Totally true Carl. He weighed 7 stone (@14 pounds) suffered bouts of Malaria/Worms/Ulcers for over ten years after. He got no soldiers pension or any form of after-care. The UK government gave them a one off payment of £58 circa 1948. Nipon gave retro compo of £10k in 1998.
            He died with me in 2001 aged 91. The present generations have no idea what WW2 did to these men.

          • Respect.

          • Dreadnaught

            Thank you HJ ‘Lest we Forget’

          • Anton

            Not forgetting, Dreaders. Not this year, not ever while I breathe. You’ll find me on Remembrance Sunday at the local Anglican as well as at my regular congregation.

          • Chefofsinners

            You died in 2001?

          • Only you ….

          • Dreadnaught

            Pedant!

          • Chefofsinners

            The pedants are revolting.

          • Dreadnaught

            so are your jokes.

          • Anton

            Most people did. Good film though.

          • Terry Mushroom

            As an Australian, I grew up knowing men like your father. I suspect it was very tough at times on your mother.

            The war against the Japanese didn’t and doesn’t resonate much in the UK, particularly since Singapore became self governing.

            I recall my shock as a child realising my mother was crying at the opening scene in Bridge over the River Kwai when the men marched to Colonel Bogey.

            She later explained that she had lost a fiancée in a Jap camp. “The film bought home again how much he must have suffered,” she explained. Dad, ex-AIF in New Guinea and Singapore, sat grim faced and angry.

            I was never allowed to leave food. The example was how little Japanese prisoners were allowed to eat. May your father rest in deserved peace.

          • Dreadnaught

            CJ you may find a browse round this site of interest

            COFEPOW | Children & Families of Far East Prisoners of War
            https://www.cofepow.org.uk

          • carl jacobs

            Neat story about the woman discovering her father’s diary. It’s hard for me to imagine how she felt. I find it difficult to read about what the Japanese did to the POWs. Whatever sympathy I might have felt in retrospect for Japan died in the prison camps. But this was her only connection to her father. She had to go there. It’s just another little crime laid upon the war guilt of Japan.

            My Dad spent close to eight months in the hospital after he was wounded. And he wasn’t a prisoner. I always thought the POWs were sent straight to a hospital for an extended stay. It would have only been just. They suffered more and deserved more for what they experienced.

            What happened to your Dad was shameful.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Judging Japanese treatment of POWs is a curious business. Without necessarily disagreeing with you, I give you the answer I had when I asked an Australian POW, “Do you hate the Japanese?”

            Jimmy was ex-Changi and Burma Railway. “I don’t like them,” he said, in that slow, laconic, Aussie way. “But they didn’t break their honour code. Unlike the Germans.”

            My father was in the AIF and in at Singapore’s relief as an army journalist. After he died, I found a letter he’d written to my mother describing his experiences. His anger and disgust were almost burnt into the paper. He would go ballistic at any suggestion that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong.

            Yet he, Jimmy and other POWs greatly admired Fr Lionel Marsden, a Catholic priest who was also a prisoner working “on the railway”. He later dedicated 63 years in Nara, Kyoto, as a missionary. This was because, he explained, the Japanese had behaved so appallingly because they did not know Christ.

          • carl jacobs

            A friend mine recently died. He was a navigator in a B17 shot down over Germany in August ’43. He was a POW until May ’45. He said the Germans were very professional. Even mentioned that they noticeably felt ashamed when the Gestapo shot all the guys they caught after “the Great Escape.” After the war, some of the German guards came to their POW reunions.

            I’ve been five times to Japan. I like Japan and Japanese culture. But I will never shed a tear for what happened to Japan in that war. They earned seven times the punishment they received.

          • Terry Mushroom

            I’ve no doubt that many Germans were caught up in events that they hated. But your friend’s experience was not shared by others. There are still deep scars and memories to be healed.

          • carl jacobs

            He was at Luft Stalag 3 which held all the officer prisoners from the USAAF and the RAF. That could have made a difference. He was also American. That certainly made a difference. The Germans (for example) basically starved their Russian prisoners to death. But I don’t know what organization was responsible for that.

            In the end, your point is correct.

          • Anton

            Please see my comment about Louis Zamperini, above.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s not a matter of forgiveness. It was simply just recompense. I don’t feel any sympathy for Japan just as I don’t feel sympathy for the criminal who is sentenced.

          • Anton

            I’m not disputing anything with you here; I just thought you might like the tale of Zamperini.

          • Anton

            Have you heard of Louis Zamperini? A promising US athlete of Italian blood, who was congratulated by Hitler on a sprint finish in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, his plane was shot down by the Japanese over the pacific in WW2; he then broke the then record for survival in an open boat and was picked up and thrown into a POW camp in mainland Japan, where he was picked upon and tortured by a senior camp guard. He was repatriated and married his girlfriend but was consumed by bitterness and hit the bottle. He planned to go to US-occupied Japan to track down his tormentors and kill them. He awoke one night from a dream about the guard in question to find he was strangling his wife. She had recently been to a Billy Graham rally and insisted that he do the same. He was converted and felt the hatred and bitterness drain away on the spot. He did go back to Japan, but to introduce as many of his captors as he could to Christ. His main tormentor always refused to meet him, though, and died decades later. Zamperini himself climbed trees on his land in California to prune them with a chainsaw well into his 90s, and died in 2014. For much of his postwar life he led Christian summer camps for inner city children.

          • Chefofsinners

            I know. Liverpool. It’s appalling.

          • Pubcrawler

            At least it wasn’t Wolverhampton.

          • Dreadnaught

            Not as appalling as where he had been.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            This site is well known for maintaining levity and lightheardedness in the face of fearsome world events, and up to a point that is good.

            But the way you have treated the experience of PoWs taken by the Japanese in this and subsequent comments is a bridge too far, if not more.

            What to do with you? I am reminded of the time when I saw cat being punished. It had crapped in a bed, and the owner was rubbing the cat’s face in its own mess.

          • Chefofsinners

            Liverpool? That’s appalling.

        • Chefofsinners

          I know a man in his eighties who was abused as a child. He thinks about it every day and can’t talk about it without crying. Unless you’ve experienced it, I don’t think you’re in a position to judge.

          • Royinsouthwest

            My reply to Martin Sewell’s comment of 3 hours ago (just below), conceded that implicitly if not explicitly.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Though the small/minor abuse I received at the hands of a fellow school pupil was indeed small, I was at the time a victim, but later became a survivor – when the full reality of what had happened struck home.

          • Anton

            This is a stark example of why forgiveness is vital: it is for your own sake, not the perpetrator’s.

            The outstanding way to promote forgiveness is to accept that you are in dire need of it yourself – and have received it from the One who created you. Here is where nothing other than the pure undiluted gospel is demanded. Modern preaching that Jesus is a wonderful friend, whom the unconverted would benefit from, is never going to generate the depth of faith that is needed for converts to see the horror of their own sin, experience divine forgiveness, and so be able to forgive others for things as horrible as what happened to this man.

          • John2o2o2o

            …. claims to have been abused. You cannot know for sure. I’m not suggesting that the man in making this claim is lying or being malicious. His story may be true, but equally he may be mentally ill and delusional.

            You simply cannot know without proof.

            The point is that people – who may be innocent – are defamed and have their lives destroyed by these claims.

            The “victim” is not helped by revenge against the person who they make claims against. They can be helped in other ways. By forgiveness for example. Especially if the person whom they are accusing is dead.

            Actual children who make these claims must be taken seriously, because they are at risk. But not adults.

          • Chefofsinners

            The accused is long dead, as you might expect when a man is 80. He shows no other signs of mental instability and led a church for many years. He has forgiven the person. It’s nothing to do with revenge, it is just awful memories. As I said, unless you have experienced it you probably shouldn’t judge.

          • Anton

            I think he has done his best to forgive his abuser. I think he has not succeeded. For a Christian it should be possible but it is a matter of faith not willpower.

    • Dreadnaught

      Don’t you understand? Victimhood is the default aspiration of the modern generation thanks to the Pied Piper of Marxist-Lenninism and his own CoE – Coterie of Evil. (Not a word I use very often, but in this instance I’ll make an exception).

  • Chefofsinners

    In light of this volte-face, I look forward to the CoE issuing a full apology for its treatment of George Bell and reinstating the honours of which he was posthumously stripped. Nothing less will do.

    • Ray Sunshine

      Except that we don’t yet know what conclusion Carlile has reached on the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell. I share Martin Sewell’s concern and (implied) suspicions about who is doing the “finalising” and how much longer it’s going to take

      • Chefofsinners

        But the new policy document has been published and it contains significant changes to the process used to investigate Bell. This is itself an admission of past failings.

      • Russ Brown

        Bishop Bell was set up in a media psyop. His accuser is an actor IMO.

  • not a machine

    There are some thoughtful points in Mr Sewells post and the comments posted about this long runnig and painful subject. The business of dealing with such matters in its self creates a sort of suspicion that the quiet nature of living the faith is or has hiding something, and yet we find behaviours in other walks of life. It is perhaps to find such behaviours in institutions that seek God the most hiddeous headline to gorge upon. Yet the pollution cannot be gazed upon in some sort of wish that it has all been some sort of terrible dream, it is a handful of those with or who had position in the church, some for a length of time that did not help, again we have seen it other businesses including the desires of the casting couch. It is wounding to find such things in life even if not at the level of rape and sexual abuse and no doubt it has existed. So what of, if it were found active now? Well I doubt any unconflicted Bishop would know how to deal with the allegation or incident, so that’s good. But we still have the situation of allegation where we are considering who the false witness or statement producer is,compounded by the common situation of lack of meaningfull evidence. I am sure Mr Sewell will agree what is most important is evidence, not slights around whether you are neuro typical not an abuser, which is another consequence of this in the creation of the low skill mob of righteousness that rush to the pop side of judgment making the church look inept quivering under the bed sheets of shame and paralysis and being accused of hoping the dirt will have provision of a suitable carpet to go under. I really hate to remind the media that every day some where not in a church, abuse is taking place, and Christ will be there for them, you might think I have to believe that, that my faith is worthless If I do not. Well the process of law can bring justice, but if the thoughts are right the wounded can see something beyond their wounds, I have faith that Christ can do that.

    • not a machine

      I just spat my bed time drink out, has the former labour Chancellor just suggested we should have a re think, mmmm didn’t get much of a rethink on the sale of half the gold reserves for diddly squat, which may well have saved much suffering at food banks,hardly qualification of successful decision making? EU negotiations must be all bonn amiee then? Let me put it this way we may be faced with a number of interesting positions as regards who is twisting ones nuts, I like casino royal where bond is getting some twisting by Le Chef tied to the chair and starts laughing 🙂

  • Chefofsinners

    “The angel is in the detail.” Nice. So long as it’s not The Guardian angel.

    • not a machine

      The Guardian angel is for those who think they haven’t extended a problem into debt.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      One sincerely hopes not – or St. Polly Carp…

    • Royinsouthwest

      Presumably you mean Owen Jones or Polly Toynbee, not Michael or Gabriel, although as the first two have not yet reached archangel status I don’t suppose there is much risk of confusion.

  • Inspector General

    Without wishing to labour the point, your Inspector warns all who care that homosexuality has no place in the CoE staff establishment, whether ‘out’ or ‘closeted’. And no, he will not ‘shut up about it’…

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Dear Inspector, such inclinations have always been there and probably always will be…it is whether they are acted upon or not…I am not sure whether Our Lord spoke or ruled on such a matter, though of course he was faithful to Jewish scripture and therefore at one with the law as it stood. I find a glass of sherry and Tallis’s Spem in Alium a great comfort when vexed by such matters.

      • Anton

        And I thought Spem in Alium was canned pigmeat with garlic purchased in Kensington!

      • Inspector General

        My dear good woman. It is a question of suitability. The Armed Forces do not admit recruits with only one leg. Old men are not usually employed to work in a children’s nursery. You need to be a British or Irish or Commonwealth citizen to stand as an MP. An ability to speak English is a good idea if thinking about a switchboard job in this country.

        Priests are in a position of trust much of the time. If homosexuals could be trusted with under age boys, or vulnerable men, there would be no cases past, present or future of abuse of these victims taking place. To save the aforementioned from the risk, it is clearly common sense not to engineer the risk in the first place!

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          Priests are in a position of trust much of the time. If heterosexuals could be trusted with under age girls, or vulnerable women, there would be no cases past, present or future of abuse of these victims taking place. To save the aforementioned from the risk, it is clearly common sense not to engineer the risk in the first place!

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      Without wishing to labour the point, Guglielmo Marinaro warns all who care that the Inspector General’s obsession with other people’s homosexuality – and let us make the charitable assumption that it is only that, and not a smokescreen for something more sinister – is of no relevance to the present topic, whether he shuts up about it or not.

      • TSawesome

        Bravo, Guglielmo!

      • Inspector General

        Can’t understand why you fellows want to become priests in the first place. Over half the adult congregation will be women, including some of the silly sort, and you crowd can barely tolerate the female presence at the best of times…

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          Well, I certainly don’t want to become a priest. I would add that I can’t understand why any of you heterosexual fellows want to become priests either. Even in this progressive era, over half of your clerical colleagues – all of them in the case of the RC Church – will be men, and you crowd can barely tolerate the presence of other males at the best of times…

          Oh dear, I’m sorry, have I been talking nonsense? Yes, of course I have, exactly the same kind of ridiculous nonsense that you have been talking.

  • Father David

    Hopefully, Archbishop Cranmer will encourage his successor Archbishop Welby to publish Lord Carlile’s Report before we are all totally swapped in the run-up to Christmas?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Who are you swapping with? A nice Reformed Protestant pastor maybe?

      • Father David

        Well spotted Dominic – for swapped read swamped

  • Dreadnaught

    With due respect to Cranmer, Mr Sewell and the content of the OP I know this is a bit of a stretch but, it is over a matter of bullying; not sexual, not of the travails of the CoE, but of this Nation – by the EU.
    The building of an EU military capacity of 27 ‘contributing’ nations, presumably to supplant NATO. While salacious stories abound of actors, directors, priests and politicians and their inability to control their members, something truly alarming is passing under this smokescreen without examination or public observance. To entrust our nation’s security, if we were still to be a part of such a herd of squabbling cats, would be risking being drawn into another European war.
    While all the attention is being directed towards the ‘divorce settlement’ and future trade with the EU the media froths itself into apoplexy. Meanwhile, something far more pernicious and chilling is being developed almost under the radar.
    The EU has an ambitious commitment to expansion to wherever it can make a fast buck and extend the powers of the unelected bureaucrats.
    No wonder Russia keeps pinging at the extremities of its former satellite states and testing the responses of the EU’s uncontrolled outer border limits such as the UK and Norway.
    Yes, the matter of sexual abuse by those in positions of power or influence is an issue to be resolved but there needs to be a reality check on what matters more, this or real matters of genuine matters national importance.

    http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/nigel-farage/farages-stinging-message-to-clegg-i-told-you-there/

    • Dominic Stockford

      Given the way the EU fomented rebellion against a legally elected, and legally behaving government in the Ukraine, it seems quite likely that they will manage to end up at war with Russia with no trouble at all,. I’d rather not be part of that, nor do I wish my nation to be part of that.

      • Dreadnaught

        Totally agree with you Dom. What the hell do we know how the eastern european countries do their brand of politics with their neighbours. It scares the pants off me at how we are blindly (if we stay) being led into the world of unknown unknowns.
        This is far more serious than any trade deal or free movement.

        • Anton

          The eastern Europeans deserve more support than the Western continentals. They don’t want war, they just don’t want Russia. The Western continentals are trying to undermine NATO which kept the peace in much more trying circumstances.

          • Dreadnaught

            Anton – the history of Europe of one of territory and boundaries blurred by people of different cultures and languages finding themselves going to sleep in one country and waking up in another. To pretend that an EU Military force made up of 28 nations will (all the people not the politicians) equally serve the disparate interest of each one without compromising the integrity of another is absurdity writ large. There are those parts of 28 different histories that run deep and agendas that are driven by events and a simmering desire for revenge.
            As I said, what the hell do we know how 500,000,000 are feeling about the past or the future.

          • Anton

            I don’t disagree with that but I’m not sure what point you are making in terms of policy?

          • Dreadnaught

            I am pointing out the reality of a proposed Pan -European defence force with multiple partners and the obvious risk of conflict with external agents if we remain in that organisation.

          • Royinsouthwest

            It would be in the interests of the people of the Eastern European nations and the Russians for Russia to enjoy reasonably good relations with its neighbours. It would also be in the interests of the rest of Europe including Britain and our trans-Atlantic NATO partners, the USA and Canada.

    • You’re right this hasn’t been mentioned in the media. I hope parliament decides against the next stage of joining the European Army. They are debating this Monday I think. Mr Farage said in his show that he is trying to get more awareness of this out to people before they vote on Monday.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Sometimes there is a time for for levity, and sometimes it is taken too far. You might like to look at my reply to Chef of Sinners below, on the matter of PoWs.

      However, while your mention of the EU merits a serious response, I cannot but mention what all those young people with their faces painted in the EU colours remind me of.

      Getting on for 60 years ago, the Eagle featured an adventure of Dan Dare in which he landed on a planet completely roofed over with platinum. Underneath, he found the inhabitants to be quite human-like, except that their skins were completely blue (though without any yellow stars on top.) They were all wearing hypno-helmets which controlled their thoughts.

      After trying to contact them and getting no response, Digby knocks off one of their helmets, which starts to put the cat among the pigeons. Eventually news of the turn of events reaches the ruler of the planet.

      “Am I not Arkrut, lord of a trillion thought-controlled serfs?”, he exclaims. Which reminds me of the groupthink of those young Europhiles.

      • Dreadnaught

        I think they look and act like Smurfs.
        70 years of peace and the ability to live in a virtual reality world has led almost two generations to believe that they are immune from nasty events in the real world.
        Ask them anything about History and you will be met with ‘nuthin to do with me – innit’, kind of response.
        They have been reduced to muted dullards when it comes to questions of patriotism over unquestioning multicultural acceptance.
        Speaking of which, is it me or am I wrong in that I see a disproportionate number of white faces around the Cenotaph apart from the Brigade of Gurkhas that is?

  • John2o2o2o

    Many people claim to have been abused. but you cannot know for sure if these claims are true. I’m not suggesting that people in making these claims are lying or being malicious. Their stories may be true, but equally they may be mentally ill and delusional.

    You simply cannot know without proof.

    The point is that people – who may be innocent – are defamed and have their lives destroyed by these claims.

    The”victim” is not helped by revenge against the person who they make claims against. They can be helped in other ways. By forgiveness of their abuser for example. Especially if the person whom they are accusing is dead. And I do not accept that forgiveness is not possible. It is always possible.

    Actual children who make these claims must be taken seriously, because they are at risk. But not adults.

  • Norman Yardy

    It is probably not remarkable that when sex is a topic under discussion the comments become profuse. If the subject is the work of the Holy Spirit today, then the interest diminishes.

  • Russ Brown

    I did a lot of research in to the George Bell case. I believe he was set up by the Deep State and his accuser is an actor. I have reasons to believe this, that he was targetted as he was anti war. The intention was to swing public opinion into agreeing we cannot just believe any allegation made decades later.
    The only available statistics for priestly child abuse are Australian and they showed Roman Catholic clergy were 10 times more likely to be abusers than Anglicans. Something those who set up George Bell failed to realize in my opinion.