mandatory reporting child abuse
Church of England

Mandatory reporting of CofE child abuse is complicated, so let’s proceed incrementally

When judges are considering whether children can be returned to failing parents, they set the bar at a fairly low standard: ‘good enough parenting’ is sufficient.

This approach does not involve them in social engineering; it recognises that children do not belong to the state, and it implicitly accepts that in a free society some children will enjoy better life chances than others. It is a pragmatic but also humane approach. Parenting skills amongst the general population vary and no doubt ebb and flow with the vicissitudes of life, but ‘good enough’ is good enough for children, even for those who have been found to have suffered or be likely to suffer significant harm.

My mind went to this as I read of the exchange of letters between Gilo and the Archbishop of Canterbury over the question of whether or not the Church of England should adopt a policy of ‘mandatory reporting’ in cases of child abuse. The debate comes at a time when campaigners are pressing the House of Bishops to ensure that Safeguarding features prominently on the General Synod’s agenda in February.

Many of the church’s victims are fully behind Gilo’s call, for they have suffered unquestionably egregious neglect by the institution, as bishops and even archbishops have not ‘seen’ that which was plain. Peter Ball and others ‘hid in plain sight’, in the same way that Jimmy Savile did at the BBC, and they both got away with it for too long, and for similar reasons.

I do not flatter myself that anybody remembers my maiden speech at General Synod; it was an unscripted intervention on a safeguarding debate which I do not recall myself, but I do know that I reminded Synod that in the secular world, just about every profession – including police, social workers, lawyers – have made the same mistakes over and over again. There have been over 30 reports into the deaths of children since the tragic case of Maria Colwell in Brighton in 1973. It is not new lessons we need, but the application of simple and known principles which are readily available.

All of the reports say the same thing: that everybody knew a little, but nobody joined up the dots. Those trying to make sense of an incomplete picture were insufficiently forensically trained to properly manage the risks.

In 2003, the Guardian carried an article saying much the same thing:

The greatest failure, the Colwell Inquiry’s report into Maria Colwell’s death stated, was the lack – or ineffectiveness – of communication and liaison between the agencies involved: information was not being passed on and there was no proper co-ordination.

Secondly, the individual social worker involved was severely censured for her lack of knowledge and what was seen as a series of mistaken decisions. Training was therefore an issue as was the proper knowledge of what the then existing legislation would permit.

Something similar might be said about any number of cases which our victims have brought to us over the years. A first complication is frequently that victims of the church face an additional problem: they are reporting to people who also have in mind the potential damage of the allegation to the institutional Church.

We lawyers have a term for this: it is called a conflict of interest.

The second complication is our insistence on handling this at a diocesan level: 42 dioceses of varying size are advised by a mixture of Diocesan Safeguarding Advisers (DSAs) of varying disciplines. Some see relatively few cases, others are too busy. I have yet to learn of a single Child Protection specialist lawyer among the 30+ Diocesan Registrars who offer generalist advice in a specialist area. The church’s workforce regularly move between dioceses, and every move represents a new weak point of potential communication breakdown. What could possibly go wrong?

All this needs review, but Gilo offers us a simple injection of common sense.

Mandatory reporting addresses three problem areas:

  1. It is founded on the principle of communication and liaison.
  2. It draws others with expertise into the discussion.
  3. It fundamentally changes the game, placing the risk of failure on the person who makes a decision not to report an alleged abuser. The consequences of that risk will not be imposed on the future victim if that decision is called wrongly, as at present.

As Dr Johnson said, “When a man is to be hanged in the morning it concentrates the mind wonderfully.” I want our priests, bishops and archbishops to think every time they hear of one of these allegations, ‘I’m in trouble if I get this wrong’. They need to have serious ‘skin in the game’, as victims do.

We have recently passed provision for Risk Assessments, and already the solution is looking clunky. The present interpretation is that these must follow upon any Clergy Discipline Measure, which will take months rather than weeks. This is a serious weakness: while our cumbersome procedures lumber on, a parallel assessment by outside agencies would deliver a swifter protection. As Archbishop Justin has repeatedly emphasised, it is the victim’s interests which must come first.

He is right, however, to point out that the mandatory reporting of allegations can be complicated, but the precise level of complication depends upon the context in which one is proposing the mandatory reporting. One can do this within criminal law, as the victims and I would prefer. Our insurers could make it a contractual requirement of insurance cover within the civil law. Yet surely the simplest entry point for mandatory reporting is within our own disciplinary code.

Setting the bar at a relatively low level, certainly short of perfection, might yet yield disproportionately successful outcomes.

To do this I would encourage progress on an incremental basis: the best can sometimes be the enemy of the good. A huge improvement can be undertaken on the basis of what we are able to quickly agree upon. To this end, I would commend the regime to which I was subject as a practising lawyer.

If I suspected money laundering, I had a duty to not only report it, but I was forbidden to notify my client that I had done so or that an inquiry of any kind was underway. As a member of the then Children’s Panel of the Law Society, I was required to notify the authorities. My ‘client care letter’ made this clear. If I was told of, learned of, or suspected child abuse, I was obliged to notify: victim care and professional integrity went hand-in-hand. I have acted within the provisions of that code, reporting a concern. It didn’t hurt; I sleep easy in my bed knowing that no child suffered as a result of my inactivity.

If these are the standards required of those who are trained, experienced, and have expertise in the field of victim protection – and, moreover, of those normally having a duty of confidentiality towards their clients – what possible grounds can there be for offering greater latitude and discretion to the House of Bishops and their supporting cast, given the litany of failure we have in this area, every bit as depressing as the 30+ inquiry reports to which I referred above?

I doubt the lawyers are the only ones with a readily available blueprint for how these matters may be effectively managed. With a combination of determination and creative plagiarism, somebody who knew what they were doing could surely come up with a working draft scheme within a week.

I suspect that what the Archbishop refers to as ‘complicated’ might usefully be separated out. Some of this complexity is seriously theological, concerning the inviolability of the confessional, which many Anglicans take seriously, especially a significant portion of conscientious Anglo-Catholics.

Another part of that complexity might touch upon what constitutes ‘knowing’: if a priest or bishop is told in passing that a person suffered abuse, is (s)he entitled to give that person time to disclose or not? Or should direct questioning ensue in case the abuser is one under ecclesiastical authority? It is a proper question, though probably not overly complicated.

Under the rules for questioning even child victims, interviewers are reminded that a child has the right not to speak and should not be pressurised on an issue. The simple question anyone hearing such matters should consider is straightforward: does this person have an expectation that I can and should do something with this?

The Archbishop of Canterbury would not be human if he did not have one eye on that which is politically sensitive: the Church of England is already beset by potential conflagrations on a range of issues. At present we have the traditional catholic, the liberal feminist and the complementarian evangelical all on the same page, anxious to see a radical improvement in this field as our victims request. Archbishop Justin must be understandably wary not to disturb such accord

Insofar as the confessional is problematic, my answer is not to go there for now: the vast majority of our problems lie elsewhere. Most abusers are not going to rush there for sanctuary, so let that be the last thing we tackle. Neither must we think that ‘until everything is agreed, nothing is agreed’. That would be a recipe for delay – a manifest injustice which many victims have already suffered.

Mandatory reporting may yet be imposed upon us by law, following recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. If it comes, a minority of priests may face a real and serious dilemma. This is not, of course, unprecedented: Church history is strewn with the heads and ashes of martyrs to conscience.

We are not there yet, however, and the more we do in advance to put our house in order, the better our prospects will be of being persuasive – if or when the question arises.

Archbishop Justin writes to Gilo that “It is now the case that bishops and other clergy holding office in the Church of England are expected to report a Safeguarding issue or disclosure, and are liable to disciplinary proceedings they fail to do so.” The internal cultural pressure to comply with this can be ratcheted up to ensure that all allegations of potential criminality are considered externally by the statutory agencies.

Any allegation coming to the attention of a bishop or dean should be required to be recorded promptly and clearly by him or her, and if a decision is made not to share the allegation with the statutory agencies, the reason for not so doing should be recorded in writing with the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer, and cogent reasons given. The Gibb report identifies that Bishops cannot afford to have unclear recollection. The requirement of a clear audit trail would bring greater clarity for everyone.

Furthermore we should be clear that suspension of a lax bishop or dean should be the norm – however embarrassing it may be. By embracing higher standards for themselves, leadership will be shown and the direction of travel clearly signalled.

If the Church of England’s critics have achieved nothing else, they have put these issues onto the agenda and created the intellectual climate in which the House of Bishops may expect widespread support from the other Houses of Synod if they dare to be bold.

The ball is firmly in their court. Dear Bishops, please don’t drop it.

  • Anton

    Mr Sewell writes, “If I suspected money laundering, I had a duty to not only report it, but I was forbidden to notify my client that I had done so or that an inquiry of any kind was underway.” The same now applies to accountants having suspicion of tax evasion. I do not believe that lawyers and accountants in private practice should be required to act against their clients’ interests merely on suspicions which might be faint, or to act for the State as its unpaid secret policemen. The governing bodies of those professions exist for a purpose.

    Am I then disagreeing with Mr Sewell about the church’s practice? Not necessarily; I am merely suggesting that the analogy with the legal profession is not a good one. I am not sure that the present problem is soluble while the church is so close to the world and so hierarchical in its structure.

  • ardenjm

    Much wise, and heart-rending, material in this piece.

    Sewell rightly mentions that the “complication” comes principally from opposition to breaking the seal of the confessional. To my mind this will inevitably come to pass for all the obvious reasons:
    1. Anglicans don’t see it as a sacrament.
    2. Most Anglicans don’t make use of their church’s equivalent anyway: it doesn’t really occupy a place in Anglicanism’s understanding of itself.
    3. The ‘National’ Church tracks the national mood and the national mood, once the tabloid press weigh-in, will not tolerate something like this which it does not understood and considers complicity with evil.

    On a purely mystical/spiritual level (and thus not necessarily helpful in this context) I can’t help but get the feeling that the real target of the “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” is actually the breaking down of the seal of the sacrament of Confession in the Catholic Church. The Church will necessarily be dragged into the discussion over this especially in the English-speaking world where Anglican churches and Catholic churches have voices in their countrys’ national debates. Pressure will be brought to bear inevitably because the abuse cases have been more widespread (at least as far as we know at present).

    • Anton

      James 5:16 says confess to one another, not to a single leader of one’s congregation who confesses up a hierarchy.

      • ardenjm

        “who confesses up a hierarchy.”
        Huh? What do you mean by that?

        In any case: the power of forgiveness given (exclusively) to the Apostles, the ‘bound on earth/bound in heaven: sins forgiven/sins retained’ passages all point to a sacramental forgiveness of sins conducted by the apostles (and extended by their delegation as they judge fit – which is also part of the authority that Christ gave His Church.)
        You’ve limited the meaning of scripture.
        Again.

        • Anton

          And you’ve misunderstood it again, specifically John 20:23.

          How often does an ordained priest confess to members of his congregation? James 5:16 clearly implies mutuality.

          • ardenjm

            An ordained priest confesses to another priest, bishop, cardinal or Pope.
            A bishop confesses to a priest, bishop, cardinal or Pope.
            Heck, even Pope Francis can confess to another priest, bishop, cardinal or another Pope if you still count Pope Benedict as one. (I don’t – on a canonical technicality.)
            You know nothing, clearly.

            The sacramental act of confession doesn’t preclude all of the counsels Our Lord gives us to ‘see our brother’ and talk over a problem nor does it preclude admitting our faults to each other and, indeed, asking for forgiveness from each other.

            In short you set an opposition where there is none: the sacrament of confession has a distinct purpose, however, is for us to receive from Christ Himself the words, “Your sins are forgiven you” and to restore to that soul that bond of friendship with God that His life-giving grace gives. That He chooses to give us that saving grace through the mediation of His Church is part of the Economy of Salvation. He CHOSE to have a Church of human members of which He is the Head and through which He acts to give His saving grace.
            Did you not hear what He said to Saul: “Why are you persecuting ME?”

          • Anton

            Did the papacy not hear those words when it was persecuting the Lollards and the Waldenses?

          • ardenjm

            Clearly not sufficiently.
            Just as Oliver Cromwell and General Ireton didn’t hear them when they were killing hundreds of thousands of Catholics in Ireland.

            Pope John Paul II – in the name of the papacy in the year 2000 – acknowledged that and, in so far as it was his place to, asked for forgiveness for such brutal excesses.
            We’ve never heard any such similar apology from any Protestant movement for the excesses on their side.
            Funny that.

          • Anton

            No analogy there. Cromwell and Ireton were on a military campaign and it should be discussed as such. The Lollards and Waldenses were peaceable citizens hunted down for their faith by the authorities. Just like Christ was.

          • ardenjm

            Yup.
            Tell that to the ten of thousands of women and children.

            Anyone else want to absolve Protestant genocide without even as much as one Haily Mary for a penance?

            Good grief. The hypocritical double standards “cry out to Heaven for vengeance.”

          • Anton

            I refuted it many threads ago and I’ll refer any interested reader to find it by googling as I’m not going to repeat myself.

            Clearly you don’t understand the word genocide. It’s what Hitler wanted to do to the Jews. Cromwell, in contrast, wanted to win a military campaign and was unconcerned how many lives it cost. I have refrained from making judgement on that, so you would do well to stop making out that I have.

            Do you understand the difference between a military campaign and persecution of the Lollards and Waldenses?

          • ardenjm

            “Cromwell… was unconcerned how many lives it cost. I have refrained from making judgement on that”

            I’ll just leave your own words here.
            You condemn yourself.
            You have no need of me.

          • Anton

            Certainly you have more expertise at judgment than me. In your eyes all protestants condemn themselves, so I’m not bothered that you don’t understand the difference between deliberate wiping out of as many Catholics as possible and securing a military objective at all costs. Nor, it seems, that do you understand the difference between a military campaign and persecuting peaceable citizens who have no thought of political action, ie the Lollards and Waldenses.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I know the RCs here utterly decry my experience as lies and misrepresentation, but here it is anyway. ‘Ordinary’ RC clergy tend to confess to another ordinary clergyman, but only if they happen to be one of the few that actually goes to confession – the majority didn’t, and I am sure still don’t, go to confession.

          • Terry Mushroom

            What is your evidence that the “majority didn’t, and I am sure still don’t, go to confession”?

          • Dominic Stockford

            Read line one again.

          • Terry Mushroom

            It was a fair question, politely put.

            I don’t know what your “experience” is that I should “decry”.

    • CliveM

      I thought confession was done anonymously in a confessional?

      We are going to see a lot of attacks on various church practices. Even the apparently benign. Some militants have started on infant baptism.

      • ardenjm

        Technically it is – although ‘face to face’ confessions are much more popular than they used to be and priests in their parishes might still recognise (the voices) of those confessing to them.

        More effective perhaps than seeking to break the seal of the confessional would be for the Church to consider changing its discipline: a priest can withold absolution if he judges that the penitent does not have a firm purpose of amendment. Part of that purpose might be extended to denouncing oneself to the authorities. If the Church required priests to do that then:
        1. only the sincerest of abusers would go to Confession and
        2. if they were serious about their salvation they would abide by the Church’s requirement.

        That said, the Church, for VERY GOOD reasons has never made Divine Mercy contingent on human justice… no matter how heinous the crime.

        • Terry Mushroom

          A priest can already withhold absolution.

          (Edited)

      • dannybhoy

        Where’d you get that from Clive?

        • CliveM

          Oh something I read a while back, feigning outrage that they should be baptised as babies without their consent. Demanding that their baptism be annulled. The CofE has a form for it I believe.

          It maybe something of nothing, but some even muttered for the state to intervene!!

          • dannybhoy

            Sounds like the big furore about circumcision..

          • Anton

            I’d just tell them that their baptism wasn’t valid!

          • CliveM

            As a Presbyterian obviously I don’t agree with you on the first sentence!

      • Anton

        That’s not benign. It enabled the absolutist and politicised mediaeval church to demand tithes from people simply because they had been involuntarily sprinkled when a few days old, and you won’t find a single baby described as being baptised in the New Testament.

        • CliveM

          Child baptism goes back to the early days of the Church. Whatever may or may not have happened in the past isn’t happening now.

          • Anton

            Anything more than 1500 years old is deemed to be ‘early’ today but a lot can go wrong in five centuries…

          • Jilly

            I always thought infant baptism arose from the fear that an unbaptised person, even a newly born baby, would at death, end up in limbo, or purgatory, or even hell. No Pope in those days said Hell does not exist. So, to a simple soul, no hell, no punishment allows you to do what you want. Just like today.

          • Anton

            It came about for more than one reason. What you say is one such reason, although 1 Corinthians 7:14 should have dispelled fears about young children of believers. Also, once the church became Established in the 4th century, Christianity became an religion you had to opt out of rather than opt into, and baby baptism acted as baptism into the nationalised church and the life of the nation, not necessarily into Christ.

            Everybody baptised in the NT had repented of their sins beforehand, which newborns obviously cannot do. In regard to the baptisms of households mentioned in the NT, nothing is said either way about this being of everybody in a household whether they had converted or not, or were too young to. The phrase is ambiguous and therefore nothing can be inferred from it.

          • Jilly

            Thank you, Anton.
            Belt and braces, in a way…. infant baptism in case limbo beckons, then Confirmation where the candidate can express repentance and then enjoy full membership of the church.
            I wonder if infant baptism was driven by simple folk whose lives were governed by fear ? – and death and fear and would have been everyone’s neighbours in those days.

          • Anton

            There’s an appendix on the history of it in David Pawson’s book The Normal Christian Birth, but i’d love to see a more detailed study from the same viewpoint.

            The symbolism of baptism – death of the old self, washing clean from sins committed, birth of the new self – doesn’t sit easily with newborn babies, to put it mildly.

          • Jilly

            What you say makes a lot of sense… but… maybe it would be a shame if it was discontinued. Child baptism is probably the first time after a marriage that many couples see the inside of a church, given that the Churching of Women has mostly died out. It is seen as a rite of passage and puts godparents in a child’s life. Godparents make vows which mean they have a responsibility for the child beyond the goodies on birthdays. Many are useless but some become an important part of that child’s life – which can compensate for inadequate parenting. I still have my baptism certificate and was happy to think my parents had made the effort. I made my own decision for Confirmation.
            So I’m not defending it on theological grounds but it serves a good purpose. Also, mothers who brought their babies to Jesus for blessing were not turned away. And, you know, given all that is wrong in the world, I don’t think He’d turn them away now.

          • Anton

            I think it is never too late for the church to return to scriptural practice.

            As for godparents… if the parents are Christians then the godparents make a negligible difference to the child’s faith. If the parents aren’t Christians then when a godparent who takes the job seriously (rather than seeing it as a social thing) gets going then the parents are liable to take umbrage. Believe me, I know.

          • Jilly

            Broad agreement for your first sentence, Anton, tho not being as scripturally knowledgeable as you there might be the odd interpretive matter I could think differently about if pushed….
            Given that the Cof E is obsessing about transgender and same-sex marriage I think removing child baptism and returning generally to scriptural practices is low down on its priorities!

            My experience of my godmother leaves a treasured memory of a wonderful person without whom my younger life would have been much poorer. So I must differ with your second para.
            Besides, the more people with a concern for a child’s good the better!

          • Rhoda

            Many non- conformist churches have a “Dedication” service for infants where the parents take their baby/ young child to church, firstly to thank God for them, then to promise to do their best with God’s help to teach the children the Christian faith. The congregation are encouraged to support the family by praying (and continue praying) for the parents and for the children that they will follow Jesus for themselves when they hear and understand the gospel.

          • Merchantman

            One could have a Church naming ceremony.

          • dannybhoy

            Do you believe young children would go to Hell because they weren’t baptised?
            As you know Jewish boys go through the bar mitzvah ceremony as a sign that they are now accountable before the Law of Moses and ready to take their place in the community.
            I think it’s the same within Christianity. Infant baptism means nothing except that Christian parents and Godparents will seek to guide you in the faith. Baptism is for repentant adults.

          • Anton

            I agree and have already pointed to 1 Corinthians 7:14 in regard to young children who have at least one believing parent.

          • Dominic Stockford

            In fact, in Acts 16:31-33 we read the following:

            “And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.”

            It is clear that everyone was baptised on the profession of the husband – what is more, there is no evidence that the household did not include children and infants.

          • Anton

            This promise of Paul’s to the jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household”, EITHER means that the whole household will be saved if only the jailer believes, OR it means that it requires the faith of every member of the household. It cannot mean the faith of the adults but none of the children…

          • Dominic Stockford

            I understand that the ‘you’ used to the jailer, and the command to believe, are singular. So, on his faith all the household were to be baptised including whoever was there and (as there is no evidence that the household did not include children and infants) all were saved – call it a particular gift maybe, but all were baptised.

          • Anton

            Perhaps. It might have been a prophecy, meaning “If you believe in Jesus Christ then you will be saved, and God has shown me that your whole household will come to faith and be saved.” Then they were all baptised.

            What of Acts 2:28 (as mentioned above), “Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”? How could the children repent?

          • Dominic Stockford

            There is no ‘if’.

          • Anton

            Which makes no difference to my point. If I say to someone “Believe and you will be saved” it is simply an emphatic way to say “If you believe then you will be saved”.

            “Drink the medicine and you will feel better” means the same as “If you drink the medicine then you will feel better”.

      • Some militants have started on infant baptism.

        In deference to present company, I haven’t done so yet, but that may change.

      • Rhoda

        “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

        How can an infant who doesn’t speak repent?

        • CliveM

          Want justification for infant baptism, see acts 10,16 and 1 Corinthians 1.

          • Rhoda

            None of those references seem to justify infant baptism. In Acts 10 it was the people listening who had heard Peter preaching who were baptised .

            Acts 16 : 31 ” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.”

            The age of those baptised isn’t stated so this doesn’t definitively justify infant baptism .The same applies to the 1 Corinthians 1 passage.

          • CliveM

            These chapters are certainly supportive of infant baptism as the likelihood is that in the context of the time the household would have been an extended family with infants.

          • Anton

            If the children had not been baptised, I think that “you and your household” would still have been described as being baptised.

          • CliveM

            I regret letting myself get sucked into this discussion as it’s irrelevant with regards the post. My original point wasn’t a comment on the rights or wrongs of infant baptism, but how certain elements of secular society are starting to use what from their pov can only be described as a bit of non threatening water sprinkling, to attack the Church.

      • Guglielmo Marinaro

        Yes, in the Roman Catholic Church, at any rate, confession is done anonymously. The priest and the penitent cannot even see each other properly through the grill, if at all, although nowadays some churches do also offer the option of face-to-face confession. The confessor cannot report someone to the police if he doesn’t even know who they are. A confessor who is a parish priest or curate will doubtless recognize the voices of many long-standing parishioners, but anyone wanting to confess a sin which is also a serious criminal offence, like sexual abuse of minors, would almost certainly choose a church where no-one would know him/her from Adam/Eve.

        You could, I suppose, have every confessional equipped with CCTV, in which case no-one would go to confession ever again.

        Violating the seal of the confessional would do absolutely nothing to protect children, since no sex offender would confess his/her offence in the knowledge that the confessor was obliged to, or even might, break the seal.

  • Busy Mum

    “I sleep easy in my bed knowing that no child suffered as a result of my inactivity.”

    But ultimately, the primary cause of children’s suffering in these cases is somebody else’s activity.

    • dannybhoy

      Quite so.
      I’m fed up reading about this stuff.
      My wife worked for years with children in care who had been sexually abused. Sometimes the child was so young they required corrective surgery. Sometimes they were brought into the world specifically to be abused and passed around family and friends. It happens at all levels of society and has done for centuries.
      If we really wanted to minimise it then we would have to bring in draconian consequences ranging from mandatory prison sentences – no parole, to chemical castration, to in the most serious cases capital punishment.
      All the time society spends money, time and effort in understanding the paedophile, rehabilitating the paedophile, protecting the paedophile, whilst largely ignoring the physical, emotional and psychological damage to the victims; then that’s how long paedophilia will continue to flourish in our society.
      God in the Old Testament told the Israelites to deal severely with the nations involved in great wickedness and corruption by wiping them out -else they will corrupt you.
      We ignore the failures of the Israelites at our peril.

      • Busy Mum

        Exactly.

        I am sick of living in a society where a criminal’s wrong-doing is my fault, or somebody else’s fault, for not having had sufficiently low expectations of others.

        • Jilly

          I so agree.
          I tend to think that the no-remorse, no-conscience psychopaths have somehow missed out on whatever it is that might make a human a sentient human. Ergo, why treat them as human with human ‘rights’? A rogue animal, one which behaves outside the norms for its species, is cast out from the herd or killed. Animals show a lot of sense.
          (Incidentally, chemical castration doesn’t work. It might affect the bits and bobs but doesn’t significantly alter the desire.)

          • dannybhoy

            This is so (chemical castration I mean). I don’t think chopping it off does either,
            but as a deterrent…. Wow!
            In fact it is the abandoment of this principle that (I think) has encouraged the growth of evil in society. I always believed that capital punishment was a very effective discouragement to take another person’s life.

          • Jilly

            Yes. An eye for an eye…. you mess with my bits leaving me damaged and the Law will seriously mess with yours. Proportionate, appropriate and fair.
            There are medics who would be happy to cooperate in the surgical aspect and could even be persuaded to use an anaesthetic (I know this as a fact tho few would go public). And, given the Biblical alternative (or simile) involves being weighted down with mill-stones and dumped in the ocean, it is relatively ‘humane’.

          • Royinsouthwest

            I don’t want to sound flippant since child abuse is a very serious topic but on the subject of punishment isn’t it a bit strange that physical castration is regarded as barbaric whereas when done as part of a so-called sex-change it is enlightened?

          • Anton

            God instituted lex talionis and shouldn’t he be consulted?

          • dannybhoy

            The difference is consent.
            I do think hustling children into gender reassignment is barbaric though.
            I cannot believe a growing number of children are coming to the conclusion that they have been born into the wrong body.
            There has to be a host of other reasons for this sudden epidemic, and of course plenty of reasons why an unhappy child would seize on this as an excuse for not doing what they should be doing, a diversion or an empowering for someone who feels very lost, unhappy and powerless..

  • Ray Sunshine

    The secrecy of the confessional is called into question every now and again, as it has been in recent weeks, once again, by lawyers in the UK. The bottom line of the Catholic response is so obvious that it should hardly need to be repeated, even to the most dim-witted of lawyers: If they’re not assured of secrecy, people won’t go to Confession. Or, in the Church’s own words,

    The Church has long taught that allowing violations of the seal of confession would discourage the confession of sins, and prevent penitents from seeking forgiveness and rectifying their lives.

    https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/why-priests-cant-break-the-seal-of-confession-despite-uk-lawyers-recommendation-99725

    • Anton

      Yes, but the church should not be above the law. The question is what the law should be.

      • Jilly

        The Law….
        Hmmmm.
        Peter Ball pleaded Guilty to sex charges involving 18 teenagers and young men including sexual grooming over a period of 15 years and was described as a sadistic sexual predator. In legal bargaining (I’d call it a stitch up but what do I know about such matters?) he was not charged with offences against a13 year old and a15 year old. One of those said he was very angry as he felt his case was ignored, not having seen the inside of a court. None of the alleged offences went to full trial so full public scrutiny was avoided because of the guilty plea.
        One of his victims committed suicide 20 years later because of the abuse.
        Ball was sentenced to 32 months for misconduct in public office and 15 MONTHS for indecent assault (to run concurrently) and served 16 months.
        He is now looking at joining the RC church, possibly with his brother Michael. (BBC 6th Dec 2017)

        A teacher who indecently assaulted one teenager seven times is sentenced to 15 YEARS.

        One can invoke the Law and hope – but I often wonder about that blindfolded lady named Justice…

        • Busy Mum

          “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity CANNOT enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment.”
          Isaiah 59 vv14&15

        • Anton

          Thank you for this information; here is the BBC link you mention:

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42257380

          I took the trouble to read the Gibb report into Ball (linked to by the same BBC webpage) when it was discussed on this blog some months ago, and the evil, unrepentant and manipulative behaviour of Ball leapt out of it. Somebody said in a comment here that Peter Ball understood the full horror of what he had done and that he was truly, deeply sorry and repentant, but the writer of that comment declined to answer my question as to how this might be known. It doesn’t sound as if this is true from Ball’s statement that he has taken a “battering by the Church [of England]” which is why he is seeking to shift to Rome. Not half the battering he should have got: hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:5).

          To shift from Canterbury to Rome involves disbelieving in some things one had previously believed in, and believing some things that one had previously disbelieved in. That Ball clearly regards this as of no consequence in view of why he is seeking to move should be a clear warning to Rome about his principles. I trust that he will be examined most intensively by wise and forthright Catholics who know how to distinguish real from fake repentance. His identity must be made clear to all members of any congregation he might be permitted to join.

    • Busy Mum

      This is exactly the same argument made by school counsellors and sexual health services for children, promising them confidentiality…..

      None of it helps prevent wrong-doing in the first place. And none of it delivers any sort of justice.

    • John

      People can still confess sin in brokenness and sincerity, and receive total forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ without having to enter a confessional or speak to a priest. Or Christ died for nothing.
      The Catholic Church has got into an infernal muddle over confidentiality. Confidentiality protects victims. But secrecy protects perpetrators and there is no place for it in the church.
      Absolution from sin and the assurance of being saved by God’s mercy from the horrors of hell do not absolve a criminal from facing the consequences of his/her crime which should still be punished under the law of the land.

      • Terry Mushroom

        The Catholic Church most certainly agrees with you that a penitent must face the consequences of his/her crime under civil law.

        Indeed, a priest may withhold formal absolution until a penitent has gone to the civil authorities.

        A penitent has to reconcile him/herself to both God and man. EG, confessing theft involves restitution to the person/institution and “turning oneself in” to the Police if the theft has been reported as a crime.

        Hope that helps.

        (Edited)

  • Inspector General

    What makes a fellow particularly angry with the Church of England
    is that children and young people’s interests and safeguards should be unassailably paramount. But they are not. There is a ‘conflict of interests’ with unarguably the most pampered and feted group of individuals who’ve ever set foot in a church.

    A damnable situation that is just not good enough. We must accept and act accordingly with human weakness, to wit, be wary, not praise it!

  • David

    The safety of children must be paramount. To me this supersedes the secrecy of the confessional.

    • Inspector General

      An Inspector views Confession with the greatest of suspicion, David. Rather thinks the thing was invented to ease the culpability of aristocratic rogues. Everything Christ said was publically out. Otherwise the gospels could not have been written.

    • Ray Sunshine

      I’m with Martin on this point. He says in his OP: “Insofar as the confessional is problematic, my answer is not to go there for now: the vast majority of our problems lie elsewhere. Most abusers are not going to rush there for sanctuary, so let that be the last thing we tackle.”

      Even if there any abusers at all who rush there for sanctuary now, how many do you think will still be rushing there once the priest is required to start off with the standard caution, “Anything you say may be used in evidence against you. You have the right to a lawyer.”

  • Dominic Stockford

    Reporting of abuse should be simple. If someone has serious concerns regarding abuse taking place they should go to the police. End of. It is not the business of the CofE, or any denomination, or any congregation, to have a role in the process that then unfolds.

    • The Snail @/”

      Well said sir. The Law of the land applies – the C of E cannot run a parallel legal system any more than Muslims should be allowed Sharia Law.

    • dannybhoy

      Quite right Dominic and well said.

    • DespiteBrexit

      I agree in principle. However the law might be wise to consider if the sanctity of the confessional – or however you want to put it – also has advantages for justice compared to the situation where offenders have to stay underground. For example, someone who feels able to bare his or her soul about illegal activities might either be persuaded, or decide, also to confess to the authorities. At the very least, the priest might be able to say something which reduces the likelihood of repeat offending.

      • Dominic Stockford

        I think you do not understand the way that the depravity of heart utterly transforms these people to the point where they do not have any sense that they are doing wrong. Even if they say they are doing wrong they are only saying it in order to gain something or another, like release from jail. An abuser is not going to confess with any sincerity because an abuser thinks they are doing no wrong.

        • DespiteBrexit

          In which case people like that are irrelevant to the argument. If those people confess on cynical grounds alone then a law requiring disclosure would simply stop them. The issue then is if anything is to be gained in respect of those who are less purely evil.

      • Terry Mushroom

        In the Catholic Church’s teaching of Confession, the penitent must also confess to the authorities if a crime was committed. The priest has a duty to tell the penitent to do so. The priest may withhold absolution until this is done.

        As an example, confession of theft must involve restitution. And if it has been reported as a crime, the penitent must also hand him/herself over to the Police. This equally applies to murder and offences against children and other offences against civil law.

        Hope that helps.

        (Edited)

  • The Snail @/”

    Matthew 18
    At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
    6 ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    I guess those who do not sort out abuse are equally culpable for the stumbling block/s

  • not a machine

    This seems a rather long thought about something more commonly clear, I appreciate that it attempts to ensure higher authority does not cover or conceal abuse it may be a co opter of or indeed in. In my view it fails to recognise the way and value of confession, its self. The Bible does mention confession, but it does not say to a priest, and I might want to consider first what the sort of confession the new testament is explaining? Before elders, to God alone? I don’t think it has any benefit to change the relationship of priest and confession, it is after all calling upon God’s spirit for help or discernment, and I would hope most church clergy would acknowledge that. An actual accusation by someone is a different matter and it is obvious that a process of record is done and acknowledgement of the accusation, before any judgement is begun, if it is an abuse accusation then it’s a police matter and then church authorities have to have protocols for victims and alleged perpetrators, remembering that its innocent until proven guilty. This respects the notion of the false allegation also. There is also the matter of none clergy and church officials conducting abuse to church members or within church structures, again its straight forward, a record of the incident of reporting and then reported to the the police.
    An interesting question as regards confession, is if a clergy member of hearing of sins of current abuse behaviours should ask the person confessing to hand themselves in to the police?

    • Busy Mum

      Isn’t there a suggestion that this is similar to the situation the confessor of the McCanns found himself in?

      • not a machine

        Seems more like a very detailed view I mean if you’re a warden then your wondering what do you do.

  • Chefofsinners

    On a technicality, if the ball is in your court then you aren’t going to either drop it or keep hold of it. You’re going to hit it.

    However, on this occasion the Ball was in court and was convicted. The Church of England should drop him forthwith.

    • Anton

      Believe it or not, it cannot deconsecrate him. A few years ago it voted to end the practice.

      • Merchantman

        ‘… A few years ago it voted to end the practice.’ Why? No sanction: no discipline. The C of E seems to have lost it.

        • Anton

          The Church of England has also begun proceedings under its disciplinary code which is expected to see Ball formally barred from ministry for life. But it has no power to defrock him as a cleric meaning that it cannot strip him of the right to call himself a bishop – and even to use the honorific Rt Rev before his name. The Church formally abolished defrocking – officially known as “deposition from Holy Orders” – more than a decade ago amid an attempt to modernise its disciplinary process

          From:

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11916405/Ex-bishop-Peter-Ball-sexual-abuse-sentence.html

          It is very clear what the church should do about Peter Ball:

          hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:5, which clearly applies).

          • Chefofsinners

            Or perhaps hand over this man to the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Chefofsinners

    My church has a safeguarding policy which requires recording and reporting of any allegation or concern to the designated safeguarding lead, which is me. I must report to social services any case where the threshold of significant harm may have been met.
    If a nonconformist church can manage this, why can’t the CoE?

    • Ray Sunshine

      This is getting interesting, Chef. Whose responsibility is it to define what is meant by a “threshold of significant harm” – the church’s, a local government department,, a central government department?

      • Chefofsinners

        This concept was introduced in law, in the Children’s Act of 1989. It is left to courts to determine what would significantly impair a child’s health or development. Case law is clear that one-off episodes where a lasting mark is left on a child can amount to significant harm. Any sexual abuse would immediately meet the threshold. Emotional abuse is generally bound up with other abusive acts. Neglect tends to be an accumulation of smaller acts, but is actually the most common way that the threshold is deemed to have been met.

        • Ray Sunshine

          To my untutored ear, “neglect” sounds like what happens at home, in the family, and characterised by sins of omission rather than commission. Or is my information hopelessly out of date?

          • Chefofsinners

            No, you’re right. If you neglect to care for a child it is a sin of omission.

    • Busy Mum

      Our CofE primary school has exactly the same system, as does the parish church, judging by the noticeboard.

      The system assumes that designated safeguarding leads (no disrespect to you…!) and social workers are purer than pure. And yet again, it is ‘victim-focused’…all about what happened to the victim rather than what the criminal did.

      And it’s all too late! Society is really sick when it relies on policies to deal with the effects of crime,rather than on principles to prevent crime in the first place.

      • Chefofsinners

        Yes, well, all systems for catching criminals would be obsolete if you could prevent all crime. Good luck with that. And they do of course depend on the integrity of the people in charge. Unavoidable.

        • Busy Mum

          But the focus nowadays is on the catching rather than the prevention, and the highest virtue seems to be attached to the policy rather than the principle. The message is almost that it doesn’t matter so much what he did, what really matters is that we caught him – well done us!

          • Anton

            If they all got caught and all underwent just punishment, there’s be a lot less of it to catch.

          • Busy Mum

            Very true – but the focus is on the back-patting for the catchers rather than on the punishment of the caught. I don’t know about you, but my police ‘service’ has ‘offenders as victims’ as one of its main slogans at the mo.

          • Chefofsinners

            No. This not the case at all. Everyone involved in child protection finds their heart sinking when a case comes to light. It is stressful and upsetting and involves masses of additional work at very short notice, usually at the most difficult times. Cynical carping from those who have never been involved is not helpful. We act to protect children. If you are opposing that then you are part of the problem.

          • Anton

            Your last two sentences assume that you know better than anybody else what is the best way to ensure that the most children are protected. I’m not saying you don’t, but that is quite a claim to make when these discussions continue to be inconclusive and difficult among people who all desire the same thing.

          • Chefofsinners

            All I refer to in those sentences is the actions taken when children disclose abuse, to protect them from further harm. This was denigrated:”the focus is on catching rather than prevention”. The truth of course is that catching is prevention, because paedophiles offend repeatedly.

          • Busy Mum

            ‘The problem’. Why is everybody falling for the idea that we are all responsible for the actions of others? That is essentially the message behind the illustration for this blogpost- ‘Adults can [stop abuse]’ – as if all adults are abusers. I don’t think a case should mean masses of additional work for anybody, except the police. ‘The problem’ lies fairly and squarely with sexually incontinent people.

            And it behoves us to be cynical about any moral grandstanding from the state.

    • Dominic Stockford

      We have no children, but two people to report to, in case the single one is the one thought to be possibly guilty….

      Their simple task is to refer it to the proper authorities, not to make any judgements themselves.

  • Jon Sorensen

    Welby: “With regard to your question about mandatory reporting… this is a complicated question”
    Secular people: WHAT? Have you lost your mind? Were do you and CoE get your morals?

    • carl jacobs

      Lawyer: “With regard to your question about mandatory reporting… this is a complicated question”

      Secular people: “WHAT? Have you lost your mind? Where do you lawyers get your morals?* … Oh, wait a minute. I might need a lawyer. … Never mind.”

      * However, it is an excellent question.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Isn’t it sad that it is secular people who have push child protection. AND it is secular people who got lawyer involved.

        Educate yourself “Australia’s royal commission on child sexual abuse”

        • carl jacobs

          Look up, Jon. If you squint, you will still be able to see the point.

          And for the record I don’t really need education on the subject. My daughter was fired for making a mandatory report. The lawyer told us she would be. He’s being held in abeyance at the moment. It’s funny how you so consistently shove your foot in your mouth by making fast ignorant assumptions.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You do seem to need education on secular people getting lawyers. Just read how Christians were against the royal commission in Australia. Secular people got lawyers involved even when you claim that would not happen.

            Interestingly when you got refuted you double down. It’s not like you would admit being ignorant about something when you clearly are. Talking about “foot in your mouth” problem. 🙂

            Was it Christians or secular people who fired your daughter?

          • carl jacobs

            … Refuted? …

            Look, Jon. I was making a comment about “Priest/Penitent Privilege”. Perhaps you have heard of it? That’s why I mentioned lawyers because it parallels the privilege between a lawyer and his client. Now of course “secular people” are going to care about client confidentiality because it might affect them some day. But of course “secular people” aren’t too concerned about religious liberty because it makes people kill each other or something. And anyways. “Secular people” don’t have have any religion to protect. Theistic religion, that is.

            And I am personally aware of the complications surrounding this issue because what my daughter saw was not clear cut. She had to decide whether to report and get fired or not report and risk violating the law. She chose the latter.

            I don’t care a damn about whatever you are talking about in Australia. It has nothing to do with what I was talking about.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You implied that secular people give up if they have to find a lawyer.
            I showed that secular people don’t give up and they got the lawyer to protect kids from church and clean it up.
            You are refuted. Now you just try to get out of that. Man up.

        • Busy Mum

          But it is also ‘secular people’ who have pushed the sexualisation of society in general and children in particular.

          • Jon Sorensen

            What is your evidence for this? Who is pushing sexualisation of children?

            But to me is not as bad as openly endorsing sex slaves = concubines, or having no age limits for marriage. Would you say the Bible got those wrong?

          • Busy Mum

            ‘Sex education’ has come from secular government.

            The Bible does not endorse the practice of keeping concubines, neither does it mention age with regards to marriage. Both are ‘human constructs’.

          • Anton

            I am not prepared to exonerate certain prophets of other religions who marry and consummate with 9-year-olds on that basis. Song of Solomon 8:8 gives a physiological pointer to what might be proper.

          • Busy Mum

            Neither am I….whether the prophet to whom you refer decided his behaviour on the basis of what the Bible might, or might not, say, is doubtful.

            A key argument for the teaching of ‘sex-ed’ to younger and younger children is that puberty is starting at younger ages each year, so the Biblical reference will be open to abuse anyway.

          • Jon Sorensen

            It always amazes me how Christians are against sex education and put that in quotes. When Christians were in charge there were no sex education, girls were married off really young and unprepared. As if that was better.

            Either you have not read the Bible or ignore what it says. The Bible and God does endorse the practice of keeping concubines. God’s favorite people Salomon and Abraham had concubines. God made rules when Jews killed tribes they could keep the female virgins to themselves. Guess what the purpose of keeping female virgins were?

            It is good that age to marriage is a ‘human constructs’. It protects kids from religious nonsense of getting married when 12 years old. You can thank secular world.

          • Busy Mum

            “When Christians were in charge there were no sex education, girls were married off really young and unprepared.” Evidence?

            “God’s favorite people Salomon and Abraham had concubines.” Just because they had them, doesn’t mean God approved of the set-up. In fact, look at the outcomes: Abraham ended up fathering the middle-eastern races that caused havoc for the ‘promised seed’, and who still cause havoc today. Solomon’s lust led to the division of the kingdom.

            Just because they kept the virgins doesn’t mean they became concubines, straight away or ever. They may well have been married in the proper way.

            And who was in charge when the age of consent was set at 16 ? And that was in fact nothing to do with marriage, but everything to do with putting the whole blame on men for sexual activity before that age. So a 15 year old who lost her virginity was deemed to have been raped, whether or not that was strictly the case.

            And biologically, girls getting married at 12 made sense in days gone by.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Evidence?”
            Have you heard about Middle Ages? Basics:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriageable_age and Hajnal line
            “In medieval Eastern Europe… marriage ..usually of a bride aged 12–15 years”
            “The first recorded age-of-consent…In 1275, in England… which at the time was 12 years”
            Just do your research

            “Just because they had them, doesn’t mean God approved of the set-up”
            They were God’s favorite people and it all went according to God’s plan. So yes, it had God’s approval. And read Nubmers 31; it starts “The Lord said to Moses”

            “Abraham ended up fathering the middle-eastern races that caused havoc for the ‘promised seed’, and who still cause havoc today.”
            Generic Science of course disagrees with this fantasy.

            “Just because they kept the virgins doesn’t mean they became concubines, straight away or ever.”
            Somewhat naive apologist idea. As if you think this is good moral behaviour. At least secular people see the problem there.

            “They may well have been married in the proper way.”
            So your idea of “proper way” is to kill virgin’s father, mother, brothers and older sisters, and then force her to marry a member of an army doing all the killings. Are you serious? Is that the proper way your daughters should marry?

            It’s a weird world when a mum defends the taking of virgins after killing their families. Christians have lost their moral compass

          • Busy Mum

            That is still no evidence that the girls were ‘unprepared’ for marriage. At least they were married and not just ‘experimenting’ with a promiscuous life, as my local authority is happy to explain away its apathy towards under-age sexual activity by 12 year old girls today.

            I would rather leave my daughters in the care of a Medieval Christian than in the care of my C21st local authority.

            I am happy to suggest that the Midianite virgins in Numbers 31 had a far better future amongst their Israelitish relatives than they would have done with their own tribe.

            Why do you believe the record in Numbers 31 but not the record of Abraham’s progeny in Genesis 25?

            You are deliberately distorting what I said, namely, that you were making unwarranted assumptions about the treatment of the captured virgins.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “That is still no evidence that the girls were ‘unprepared’ for marriage.”
            You clearly have no kids. If you ever have just observer 12 old girl and it will become clear to you that she is not ready to be a mother and look after a family while working at the same time.

            “I would rather leave my daughters in the care of a Medieval Christian than in the care of my C21st local authority.”
            BS. You would not want to live in medieval time, but you are so ready to send your “daughter” there against her wishes.

            “I am happy to suggest that the Midianite virgins in Numbers 31 had a far better future amongst their Israelitish relatives than they would have done with their own tribe.”
            Just like your “daughter” in Medieval. Christian thinking: “it better to kill her whole family and take her as a sex slave that let her live there” This is why Christian moral system is bankrupt

            “you were making unwarranted assumptions about the treatment of the captured virgins”
            Unwarranted? You clearly have not read history and have very naive thinking

          • Busy Mum

            I am not a gambler, but I would confidently assert that I have more daughters than you do.

            When one considers that seventy years ago, fifteen year olds girls were mothering their younger siblings in the Japanese internment camps, and that one hundred years ago, girls at our primary school were knitting socks for soldiers on the W Front, I think you might agree that today’s 21 year old females are probably the emotional equivalent of the toddlers of a thousand years ago.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I don’t believe you have any daughters or you are just a internet troll. No mother would send their 12y old daughter to medieval times possible to be married off and live uneducated in feudal serfdom worried about possible plague epidemics as most people at the time did.

          • Busy Mum

            You are welcome to believe exactly what you want.

          • Anton

            When Christians were in charge there were no sex education, girls were married off really young and unprepared.

            There were not schools in the way there are today, and as for girls marrying really young are you aware of the work of Alan Macfarlane, a secular historian/social anthropologist, on the marital age in England in the last few hundred years?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Funny how secular age brought schools for everyone 🙂 and Muslims had their university running before Christians :-/

            I don’t know Macfarlane, but “The first recorded age-of-consent…In 1275, in England… which at the time was 12 years” and Hajnal line reason might explain some differences. Christians were on both side of the line.

          • Anton

            In England it was the church that put education in place for almost all of the population and the State took it over. Same in Scotland. Check your history. Check it also in regard to age at marriage; later marriage is a significant slower of population growth and that is what interested Macfarlane.

            The first university was Plato’s Academy, before Christ.

          • Busy Mum

            And before that, there was a college in Jerusalem during Josiah’s reign….and earlier than that, there was some sort of school connected with Elijah and Elisha. I think Jon has fallen for the current narrative, which is that Islam was the source of all progress.

          • CliveM

            Jon doesn’t have a narrative.

          • Busy Mum

            Maybe that’s why he borrows one from the DofEEW!

          • Jon Sorensen

            I wasn’t talking about England, but do tell me what kind of education did girls get that time in England 1275?

            “Check it also in regard to age at marriage”
            I already answered this but you did not read about Hajnal line did you?

            “The first university was Plato’s Academy, before Christ.”
            This is disputed. Many sources refer to other universities as the first. But Muslims still beat Christians to this

          • Anton

            The church put education in place in industrial England and it was taken over soon after by the State. Do tell me what kind of education agrarian girls got in China and India. The Hajnal line is interesting but, now that we have both educated ourselves a little further, what points do you still wish to make?

            Apart from downplaying Plato’s Academy because it is an inconvenient truth to your position, are you not aware that the institutionally Christian Byzantine empire had the Pandidakterion, an institute of higher learning, in Byzantium two centuries before Muhammad?

          • Jon Sorensen

            What do you mean “an inconvenient truth”, Plato’s Academy was not Christian and Pandidakterion was not really a uni so why bring it up. You always try to overplay your empty hand. Just like you keep on talking about England which I wasn’t talking about and when asked “but do tell me what kind of education did girls get that time in England 1275” you avoid it by asking another irrelevant question. Rabbit holes are boring…

  • Mike Stallard

    Suspicion. Gossip. Children reporting on adults. Grown ups believing children against trusted professional adults. The law involved. Lawyers involved. Guilty until proven innocent. You’ve got to report your suspicions however ill founded…

    I am really scared by all this. No wonder no adult is allowed into our sacristy. No wonder no child is allowed into the Church Hall alone in case they are assaulted. No wonder old people who deliver the sacrament to other old people have to be checked by the Police.

    In the real world, one notices. One shuts up. One’s suspicions are aroused. Eventually – after a long time – they are proven. Then it is time to act. In the olden days people committed suicide or moved to a distant country. Today, I suspect, a lot of entirely innocent people are being destroyed by gossip.

    • Chefofsinners

      Peter Ball was a trusted professional adult. And Harold Shipman. Evil people deliberately work their way into positions of trust in order to abuse. This is the lesson we must learn, or sacrifice our children to these people. If you ever hear a child disclose genuine abuse, it is evident that they are not lying. I can tell you that from bitter experience.

      • Mike Stallard

        OK I take that. But what about an adult who is complaining about a childhood experience? Or a teenager stirring up trouble for fun? Or a fellow teacher afraid he will be found out if he does not get rid of you before you spill the beans on him?
        Oh – and all done anonymously, naturally.
        I have years and years of experience to draw on too, you realise.

        • Chefofsinners

          Those who make false accusations should be dealt with as severely as genuine perpetrators. Quite apart from the damage done to the falsely accused, they make it far more difficult to catch genuine abusers.
          However, it must also be remembered that abusers groom their victims, telling them it is their fault, or it is natural, or threaten all kinds of retribution, so that children do not disclose until years later.

          • Mike Stallard

            Adults who make accusations ought to be brave enough to come right out into the open and say what they have to say openly with their names attached to the statement. That is the British way. It was not the Stasi way.
            Children should be listened to carefully and quietly. It is far too easy to lead them. It is far to easy for them to lie and cheat too.
            Gentlemen admit their crime and do the decent thing and lots of them have done just that – to their credit. Scumbags don’t.

  • ardenjm

    So I wrote this, yesterday and feel quite vindicated in having done so:

    “To my mind the decision to break it will inevitably come to pass for all the obvious reasons:
    The ‘National’ Church tracks the national mood and the national mood, once the tabloid press weigh-in, will not tolerate something like this. People do not understand how it is not simply complicity with evil.
    Sewell might think it is a marginal issue amidst the other things he counsels but this is not, I suggest, what will happen in reality. The question of Confession will quickly come to occupy a disproportionate amount of space in the discussion and any resistance will be seen as protecting deviants.”

    And lo and behold: between the well-meaning and the anti-Catholic trolls (like ex-Father Dominic Stockford) not only have they honed in on ONLY that issue they also, very rapidly in fact, took aim at what I’d suggested wast the REAL target (not of Sewell’s piece per se but of the use the Evil One would make of it) namely the Sacrament of Confession within the Catholic Church.

    Funny that.

    • CliveM

      Well you’ve only yourself to blame. You brought it up, you can hardly complain if people then comment on what you said.

      • ardenjm

        Not just a response to my post. Look through the thread.

        • CliveM

          These discussions always evolve. I notice some of the comments questioning the sanctity of confession come from professing Catholics.

          Personally I agree with the author, there are more important issues to be addressed.

    • There will always be those who ‘creep in unnoticed’ (Jude 4) to the very best of churches who are neither Christians nor seekers after Christ, but who wish to enter churches for their own nefarious reasons.
      Likewise, predatory paedophiles will often seek to gain access to places where there are children, be they schools, churches, Scouts or swimming lessons. It behoves such organizations to have robust measures to counter this.
      However, the Church of Rome compounds this danger by barring married men from the ‘priesthood,’ thereby negating Scripture (1 Tim. 3:2) and denying ‘priests’ a normal family life, and by conferring on ‘priests’ supposedly mystical powers. It is no wonder that the greatest scandals have come from that particular body.
      With reference to my good friend Dominic Stockford, it is you, sir, who are the troll. You have come onto a Protestant blog to spout your bile, so you should not be surprised if some folk here take issue with you in strong terms– especially Mr Stockford who has seen your organization from the inside– and have first-hand experience of it.

      • ardenjm

        1. I only ever react to anti-Catholic bigotry I make a point of NEVER initiating controversy nor criticising Protestantism off the cuff merely for the sake of it.
        2. It is indeed a Protestant blog: one which regularly treats of Catholic questions and issues – as evidenced by the post on Pope Francis and the Our Father.
        3. I don’t “spout bile”. There is no denying that Protestantism is a 16th century invention and was judged heretical by the Church it was protesting against. Realising that this makes a nonsense of Our Lord’s promise to ‘be with His Church always’ this leads to much trawling around in medieval and early Church history on the quest for proto-Protestant “authentic” Christians and a version of Church history which is re-composed twaddle eg It woz Constantine that did it! Or unholy alliances of earlier heretical groups that share nothing in common except a Non Serviam! to the authority of St Peter’s successor.
        4. Unmarried men in the ministry: Like Our Lord Himself, or St Paul, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.” (1 Corinthians 7).
        5. If being unmarried tracked paedophilia then we shouldn’t see the higher percentage of child abuse from fathers in families should we? Yet we do.
        6. The ‘greatest’ scandals in the Catholic Church are explained for several reasons:
        i. It’s a Church of 1.2 billion members many of whom still care for the Truth and who denounced the complicity of cowardly, deceitful Bishops with the mendacity of abusive priests.
        ii. The story ‘broke’ earlier in the Catholic Church. It now looks as if more is to emerge within Anglicanism, alas. The Orthodox Churches haven’t even started cleaning house and let’s not even start on the Jews and Muslims for whom the Law of Omerta is particularly strong.
        7. I’ve seen the kind of priests that Stockford would have been: whitened sepulchres who did not believe the Faith long before they had the balls to leave the sinecure their position gave them. Stockford took long enough to do so, wreaking damage on the Parish he did have with his pseudo-Protestant liturgies and his heretical version of the Faith. (Nota bene – this is by his own admission in his personal testimony page.) And then, having done so (after a bout of depression and a run-in with the constabulary or somesuch) did what all ecclesiastical narcissists do: Heads up a congregation with himself as some kind of Pontiff all the while bleating about how ‘unsupportive’ his Catholic Bishop had been. This after tens of thousands of pounds of parishoners’ donations had been spent on the (at least) 5 years he had spent in priestly formation. It’s almost fraudulent behaviour – and he feels entirely right in having indulged in it. The man clearly has no shame.

        • Anton

          There is a well known joke about a comment overheard from a conversation between two Cambridge dons crossing their college lawn: “And ninthly, dear chap…”

        • Cressida de Nova

          The Church must rid herself of rogue priest…Marching orders with no deposit for expensive flats and a full refund for any university qualifications attained at the expense of the Catholic purse.The Church is too generous and is being exploited by those who see a vocation as a ticket to a better non spiritual life.

      • Anna

        Excellent comment!

      • Dominic Stockford

        I have blocked the chap, but am grateful for your kind words of support.

        I could write at length about what I have seen, giving horrific and uncomfortable narratives of events I encountered whilst I was in thrall to Rome, what I know as empirical facts about sexual proclivities within parts of the Church of Rome, leaving it up to others to extrapolate from my ‘small sample’ the depth of the troubles therein. But I won’t. Other than to say there’s several I knew who have been retained at Her Majesties pleasure.

  • Busy Mum

    Strange, isn’t it, that the more human beings are encouraged to believe in themselves, the more wicked they seem to be, after all.

    • len

      It not until someone tries to be good (by biblical standards)that they realise how bad they are.
      That is why secularists are constantly trying to redefine ‘good’.

      • Busy Mum

        And it is not until one realises how bad one is that one realises the need of a Saviour…

  • IanCad

    Much of the problem would be eliminated by keeping a closer eye on homosexual vicars and their supporters. This whole “Safeguarding” issue smacks of the character of a society more content with applying a new name to the immutable problem of sexual perverts within the church, than to warn, watch and act when suspicions are first raised.

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      Absolutely. Keep a closer eye on homosexual vicars and their supporters. If there’s one thing that paedophiles and other sexual predators love, it’s that kind of diversion.

      • IanCad

        Guglielmo,
        Given that less than 5% of the population is homosexual, it should follow that only one in twenty incidents of paedophilia within the church would involve non-straight clergy. Empirical evidence indicates otherwise.
        Problem solving requires cold hard digestion of known facts – even when unpleasant.

        • ardenjm

          Over 50% of clergy in the Catholic Church are homosexual.
          It’s the elephant in the sitting room.
          And explains the rates of paedophilia in my Church.
          Until the Church bites the bullet and starts applying the discipline that has been permanently espoused but has lamentably fallen into abeyance over the last 50 years all the many problems we have will continue.

          • Anton

            I truly wish you well in sorting this problem out and I am happy to pray for the cleansing of the Roman Catholic church that you wish for. The trouble is that you bite the hand off anybody who suggests the real cause of the problem, as Martin Marprelate has just done below.

          • ardenjm

            Protesantism can’t be the answer.
            It was invented 1500 years after Our Lord established The Church.
            It’s a man-made phenomenon fractured into a thousand subsets (often mutually anathematising). In short it does not contain the fulness of the Truth of Christ and it certainly isn’t in continuity with the Church He established.

            But thanks for your kind offer of prayer. The Church certainly needs it.

          • Anton

            Re prayer – gladly.

            Some protestants believe that there should be exactly as many denominations as there are congregations!

          • Yep!
            There are denominations for the same reason that there are divorces– because of the hardness of our hearts, but it was not so in the beginning. Paul appointed elders or overseers in each congregation; no priests, no bishops ( in the Episcopalian sense), no vicars, rectors, archdeacons, deans, archbishops, metropolitans, monseigneurs (sp?), cardinals or popes. Each church independent but connected by bonds of love.

          • ardenjm

            Well then it all went pear-shaped within a generation because St John the Apostle’s disciple, St Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna. And his disciple, St Ireneaus was Bishop of Lyon.

            Honestly, these nonsense congregationalist reconstructions of early Church history are mere retrospective projections made in your own image.

          • Anton

            Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you episkopoi – Acts 20:28, Paul to the leaders of the congregation at Ephesus.

          • There was a multiplicity of ‘bishops’ (Gk. episkopoi ) at the church in Philippi (Phil. 1:1).

          • Chefofsinners

            They’ve got two bishops of Rome.

          • Anton

            That’s hardly trying, they had three between the Council of Pisa and the Council of Constance in the early 15th century. All demanding tithes.

          • Chefofsinners

            That’s austerity for you.

          • Cressida de Nova

            The Church does not need it….The accomodation of Protestantism into the Catholic Church in a bid for ecumenicism was disastrous and is responsible for a lot of the problems. The religions are antithetical.. The divisions are too great.

          • CliveM

            Over 50%? Where does that figure come from. Far be it for me to defend the reputation of your church, I’m sceptical.

          • ardenjm

            I wish this were an over-exaggeration.
            I have only anecdotal evidence to back-up my claim:
            One Archbishop. One bishop. Two heads of religious orders and numerous priests responsible for formation in seminaries and in religious houses.
            AT LEAST half of the young men presenting themselves for training are same-sex attracted. And this will be the case if they’re liberal, conservative or traditional.

            NO-ONE dares admit this – though Michael Voris on Church Militant gets close. But it is, I have the moral certitude, the truth.

          • CliveM

            What’s the answer, do you exclude? In the west you wouldn’t be able to maintain an effective ministry.

            Looks like a married priesthood needs to be considered.

          • ardenjm

            “Looks like a married priesthood needs to be considered.”
            This is almost certainly the line Pope Francis will go down. Apparently he plans to introduce it into ‘missionary’ territory in South America when he hijacks the Synod on Amazonia next year. This will be the ordination of poorly-formed married deacons and those already married of a certain age, almost certainly.

            Raw, young vocations, however, will still be attracting a disproportionately high number of homosexuals.
            The only place where it doesn’t make sense to tackle this openly and head-on is Africa where lives could be put at risk if the clergy were seen as the reserve of homosexuals.

            Personally I would exclude entirely and trust in the Lord to awaken genuine vocations.
            It would be almost impossible to implement: so many Bishops and priests in charge of formation would be accused – rightly – of double standards. Accordingly, renewal has to happen in small religious orders and small diocese where the superiors and Bishop can vet stringently. You would have thought this would have already started, no? In a Church of 1.2 billion members SURELY there is one stalwart Bishop, Abbot, Prior or Superior General willing to apply the Church’s plurisecular discipline on these questions?
            To my knowledge: NO. Certainly not openly and declaredly.

            “When the Son of Man returns – will He find Faith on earth?”

          • Anton

            In parts of Africa today it is common for Catholic priests to have long-term mistresses who are regarded as wives; the overlooking of this practice by Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo within his diocese forced his resignation in May 2009. Rinaldi, a 17th century historian who was invited to continue the Vatican librarian Baronius’ church history, records Archduke Ferdinand of Austria telling the papacy that desire for marriage was almost universal among German-speaking Catholic parish priests, and that scarcely one in a hundred was not openly or secretly married (Annales Ecclesiastici, AD1562 no. 60; 1563 nos 138 & 139; 1564 no. 29).

          • CliveM

            I was assuming you were concerned if they were active and breaking their vows, you seem to be saying no gays, even celibate ones should be Priests.

            It is obviously up to the RC Church, but that seems at variance to its wider teaching on homosexuality and if you are going to exclude over 50% of your ordinands, perhaps God is asking you to reconsider mandatory celibacy for the Priesthood? I understand Orthodox Priests are allowed to marry.

          • ardenjm

            “no gays, even celibate ones should be Priests.”
            That’s the discipline of the Church would you believe – and was re-iterated by Pope Benedict in a series of interviews a few years back. He said this: Those who are in seminary should leave. Those who are already ordained must live celibately.
            Let’s not even get started on how that’s interpreted in a world where there’s access to internet pornography and webcams. Just wait until the virtual reality gets pornographically “perfected”.

            Orthodoxy has a problem with homosexual clergy, too, they’re just not institutionally honest enough to even acknowledge it. At least Pope Francis spoke openly of The Gay Mafia. In Orthodoxy if a man is ordained unmarried then umarried he must stay. A married man may, subsequently, seek ordination but only as a parish priest. The monks (the heart of Orthodoxy) take a vow of chastity.

            What is God asking of us?
            That we understand the Signs of the Times and remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ. Homosexuals have no place as Priests or religious (of either sex) celibate or not. That is the perennial requirement of the Church.
            I appreciate that this will cost much to many men and women sincere in their faith and in their desire to follow Christ. They have been badly advised if they think that their path was into priesthood or the consecrated state. Their sacrifice, united to Christ, is to live chaste lives in the world instead of hiding within ecclesiastical institutes. As if the gaze of God’s judgement doesn’t penetrate there:
            Dies iræ, dies illa
            Solvet sæclum in favilla…

          • Cressida de Nova

            What kind of Catholics think it is OK to be intrinsically disordered and become priests or nuns ….Maybe in America. If you have an obesity eating disorder you do not look for work in the chocolate eclair bakery.

          • ardenjm

            Well. To be fair to them: when you’re around 25 or 26 and still pretty trusting and impressionable and sincerely discerning their vocation they’ll hear from their Spiritual Directors, Superiors, Vocations’ Directors and Bishops encouragement to try their vocation even if they suffer from SSA. Even the heterosexuals within the Church take that line.

            It’s a real mess.

          • Anton

            Er, you do! I think you mean that you SHOULD not look for work in the chocolate eclair bakery.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I am not in favour of ordinations for young men until they are in their mid thirties. They should all have a profession first and some life experience before they enter the seminary.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Family considerations would disallow a priest to fulfil his function. They have to tend to their flock, move to different locations. I know a Jesuit who said if he were married his children could rightly accuse him of neglect because there are so many demands made of him he would never be around.

          • Anton

            I agree about the problem but not about the solution. Having a congregation led by one man, whether married or not, is going to lead him either to cynicism or burnout.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Well if this is the case why not make it very clear that the Catholic Church will not accept anyone who has same sex attraction in the seminaries. It could be explained that it is just too much of a temptation to place a group of men together who are homosexual and expect chastity. That is sensible.With heterosexual priests there are no women about except ancient female housekeepers and flower arrangers.

          • ardenjm

            Yep. Isn’t complicated, is it?
            What’s wretched is that this is still officially given as the approach the Church takes but the reality on the ground is basically to ignore that: As long as the man isn’t leading a double life or being a flamboyant queen then he’s allowed to continue on to ordination.
            EVERYWHERE, Cressida. Because even in places where there is cultural persecution of homosexuals – parts of Africa, the Carribbean and the Middle East – there are still homosexuals going in to seminary and religious life they just pretend not to be. Tell me: how effective is their ministry going to end up being, do you think?

            And let’s not even start on lesbians in women’s religious orders…

          • Cressida de Nova

            Well if this is the case then these lying despicable creatures are not going to escape the consequences here or the hereafter. God is just God may be merciful but he is not stupid.They are not Catholics or Christians. They are opportunists using the Church as a meal ticket. Evil cannot last.

          • Lucius

            I am not sure of the credibility of Slate.com. It is an ultra-liberal American publication, but in the linked article below it notes surveys ranging from as low as 15% to as high as 50% homosexuality rates among Catholic priests. Whether the high end or low end, these figures far exceed the generally accepted fraction of gays (4%) in the population at large. Talking to a Catholic convert member of my Church, the Orthodox Church, he stated that a chief reason for his leaving the Catholic faith was the number of oftentimes openly (or clearly) gay Jesuit priests where he was located.

            http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2017/04/20/how_the_catholic_priesthood_became_a_haven_for_many_gay_men.html

            A Trojan Horse has passed through the gates of the Vatican. The See of Peter has a serious problem on its hands. I suspect the Roman Catholic Church may go the way of the Episcopal Church in the U.S., that is, fracture and decline brought about by an LGBT bomb planted in the heart of the Church.

          • CliveM

            I think Gays should be treated fairly. If they are celibate and stick to their vows, I don’t see a problem.

            It’s the imbalance I think that is unhealthy. But as you say I don’t see that changing significantly unless Priests are allowed to marry.

          • Lucius

            That’s a reasonable response. That said, I think the “imbalance,” as you say is cause for concern. I do not think the Church will end priestly celibacy to undercut the problem, thus, leaving the only option of prohibiting gay priests. It’s tough medicine, but the status quo is untenable. Wish there were an easier answer. I hope I am wrong.

          • Anton

            Here’s an interesting question. Are there any sins which, if a man confesses he is enduringly tempted to commit but says he has not committed to date and acknowledges are sinful, should debar him from ordination?

          • CliveM

            I don’t know, but probably. I’m not going to check them all! However if he is normal, I would assume that a heterosexual candidate will also be tempted by sin on a regular basis, which he may also resist. Or not, as we also get scandals involving priests and woman.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I agree with a complete return to the Tridentine Mass.Also I think there is a quiet support group amongst the laity priests and bishops who are intent on preserving the Catholic traditions and dogma. No one can really say what the statistics are. There is a rumbling of discontent with everything that is happening. Married men and widowers can now take Holy Orders if they are found to be suitable. As there are fewer vocations this makes good sense.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            No-one knows for certain what percentage of the RC clergy are homosexual, but there can be no serious doubt that it is considerably higher than the percentage of the population at large. However, since most of them, like most of their heterosexual confreres, don’t molest children and would never do so, they do not account for the rate of child sexual abuse in the RC Church. I appreciate the attraction of simplistic explanations, but I am sure that the reasons for priestly sexual abuse – whatever they are – will be far more complicated than that.

          • ardenjm

            “there can be no serious doubt that it is considerably higher than the percentage of the population at large”
            You probably need to double your estimate.

            “they do not account for the rate of child sexual abuse in the RC Church” Most of the abuse in the Catholic church wasn’t child sexual abuse if we define a child as a pre-pubescent individual. Indeed between 80-90% of the abuse was of teenaged boys between the ages of 14-18. (A ‘minor’ is up to the age 18 in some US jurisdictions – where we have the most reliable data from.)

            That ephebophiliac behaviour is most certainly associated with homosexuals who would not describe themselves as pedophiles (and probably wouldn’t be described by clinicians as such, either). And THAT, therefore, is what the Clergy Abuse Crisis has actually been about.
            And the Church still can’t bring itself to say it: Gay men in the clergy who have completely lost their way preyed on young adolescents – for reasons no doubt deeply anchored in their own conflicted adolescent memories and because of the power and authority they could still wield over impressionable youngsters.

            So, no, it’s not that much more complicated in reality.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I agree that most of the sexual abuse perpetrated by RC priests and religious has been ephebophilic rather than paedophilic in nature. You probably need to double your estimate,” you write – although I haven’t given any precise estimate. But the higher you estimate the percentage of homosexual clergy to be, the more you underline the point that the vast majority of homosexual clergy are not sexual abusers.

            Imagine that you are one of those men who wants to engage in the sexual molestation of under-age teenagers. Well, you certainly don’t need to be a Catholic priest to do that. Furthermore you will know that, not only will the law rightly come down on you like a ton of bricks if and when you are caught, but it will come down on you like many tons of bricks if you are in a position of trust, e.g. if you are a priest. So, quite apart from their lack of concern about the harm that they are doing to others, why do such men multiply the risks to themselves by becoming priests? What it is that attracts them to the priesthood?

            Many of the Protestant churches in Europe, e.g. the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, have no problem with openly gay clergy: they don’t insist that they hide in the closet and they don’t impose celibacy on them either. If this ephebophilic abuse were simply a matter of gay clergy, those churches would have a record of such abuse that would leave the RC Church standing. They haven’t. So yes, it clearly is more complicated.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          The problem with that is that, while normal homosexual men, i.e. men who are sexually interested in/involved with other men, and men who sexually molest boys can occasionally be the same people, usually they are not. Indeed it is not uncommon for the latter to be in sexual relationships, married or otherwise, with adult women. As a former teacher in boys’ boarding schools, I have come across that phenomenon again and again. The most prolific offender who was a colleague of mine, and who now has a string of convictions for offences against boys aged 10-15, was a married man with four children of his own. He has also been in trouble for sexually harassing women. I know of other similar cases. Focusing on ordinary gay men is likely to provide just the kind of smokescreen that blinds people to what predators are up to.

          Problem solving does, as you say, require cold, hard digestion of known facts – even if they don’t conform to our preconceptions.

          • Martin Sewell

            You are absolutely correct Guglielmo, the homosexual and the paedophile are different though plainly the categorisations are never entirely consistent.

    • Martin Sewell

      It is worth mentioning that the man at the centre of the Iwerne Trust scandal was not only married but also the Queen’s Counsel of choice of morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse, who would doubtless have been horrified had she known what her champion against gay liberation was up to in his spare time.

      • IanCad

        Yes Martin, I did read your last article. and in no way am was I suggesting that violent sadists should be given a free pass just because they’re straight — or were they perhaps swinging both ways??

      • Anton

        Here is the Channel 4 programme which lifted the lid last February:

        • IanCad

          It’s wet and windy down here today Anton, so took a look at your link.
          I have watched only the first fifteen minutes and am beginning to have some sympathy for John Smyth and an already acute dislike for that pretentious, self righteous harridan who is presenting this “Trial By TV” assault on our legal process.
          OK!! So he thrashed, and did that mercilessly. He seems rather mixed up but as with so many zealots was probably convinced in his mind all was for the best.
          This was not child abuse. The victims were young men who, quite frankly, seemed to need to do a little growing up. That healthy fully grown young men would submit to such treatment appears to me less of an indictment of Smyth than a testimony to the utter gutlessness and lack of spirit residing in these so called victims.
          Maybe I will watch the rest later but life is too short to watch a catalogue of grievances stretched out to fill the allotted broadcast time.

          • Anton

            If you don’t like the medium then take the message directly from one of his victims, in an article that will take only a very short time to read:

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/05/john-smyth-school-predator-beat-five-years/

            On the previous thread on which Martin Sewell addressed this subject, I wrote:

            Groupthink is incredibly strong. At Iwerne we are not talking about young children physically helpless before an adult, but the sort of young man who was in the Officer Training Corps at an elite school: physically fit and resourceful young men of an age who had fought bravely in World Wars. In the 1:1 situations which Smyth engineered they could easily have punched him to the floor, walked out and caught a bus home; they were not like sex slaves stuck in a foreign land with no money. Please do not think I am speaking against them; my point is the utterly terrifying power of groupthink, and how easily men of evil can manipulate the wish to belong in others.

            I stand by those words (which got me 9 upticks), and Martin Sewell, responding to someone else, affirmed them by saying, “It was the theology and culture that prepared them for abuse as Anton explains”.

          • IanCad

            As I recall Anton, among the nine upticks was mine. That young men could submit to such indignities is a charge against our educational system. It is inimical to authority for young minds to be encouraged to think for themselves.

          • Anton

            Groupthink is universal. It crucified Christ, in particular.

          • IanCad

            To take it a step further; An argument against democracy.

          • Anton

            An argument against messianic dictators like Hitler too.

          • CliveM

            IC

            You could be misinterpreted as suggesting that the victims are too blame?

          • IanCad

            To some degree they are; or at least to the point of being trained in compliance. I’m finding it hard to understand how healthy, bright young men could possibly be so lacking in fortitude as to not punch the flogger on his snout.

          • Dreadnaught

            The man in question is clearly a sadist who has convinced himself that he has pious justification in indulging in his pet perversion. Clearly religious brainwashing works and works well. The Kamikaze was the most effective of all the weapons in Japan’s armoury in WW2. The Shahid ‘martyr’ believes in the rewards promised in dying for Allah.
            Christians we told that to be burned alive was doing God’s will in releasing the soul of the heretic for its own good.
            Why anyone should be found in breach of the law for insulting a religion is beyond satire; when so-called holy books contain direction for torture and inhuman retribution the boys abused by John Smythe could consider themselves lucky that they weren’t the chosen Christian hot-house flowers of the 15th Century.
            With texts like the following, no one should be surprised that Christianity is waning in this Country.
            “If a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.” — Leviticus 20:14
            “And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.” — Leviticus 21:9
            “Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.” — Genesis 38:24
            “He that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath. … And Joshua … took Achan … and his sons, and his daughters … And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire.” — Joshua 7:15, 24-25

            People should respect a book that exhorts this as its historic heritage? On yer bike Buster.

          • IanCad

            the Jewish people in the Old Testament were among cruel and hostile tribes. God’s instructions were to ensure their survival in those perilous times from Abraham through Moses and into their entry into the Promised Land.
            We recoil in horror at the perceived harshness visited upon transgressors; but we must view such demands through the words, actions and sacrifice of Christ who for our sakes will one day make all things new.

          • Dreadnaught

            But Jesus did not say dump all the OT violence – or that God was wrong in laying down this sort of legitimised violence or did he? If he did why is it still part of the Bible? Its the same in the Koran which is basically the same content but with fringe benefits.
            Why is the Bible, koran, Torah not banned as they are blatantly guilty of condoning incitement to hatred. But if I was to make a public display on a loudspeaker and circulate pamphlets and houndouts outside Cathedrals, Mosques and Synagogues I would be jailed.

          • ardenjm

            John Chapter 8 is there for a reason.

          • Anton

            The Bible is what Christians take to be the word of God, but the Old Testament is the word of God to and for a nation, including its code of law, whereas the New Testament is the word of God to and for a volunteer group of people of all nations. Christians read the Old Testament to learn more about God, but are not bound by ancient Israel’s laws. Nor are we ashamed of them, though.

            Britain gave up capital punishment in the 1960s and society has done SO well since, don’t you think?

          • Dreadnaught

            No I don’t think. Lives have never been taken so cheaply by the perpetrators and our culture has been ill served since denying the equivalent in punishment.

          • Anton

            I agree with you. (I was being sarcastic at the expense of post-1960s society.) But please consider that we had a better society when we had capital punishment so why are you holding up the practice as barbaric in the only code of law that God has ever written for man?

          • Dreadnaught

            Sorry; I missed the sarcasm. I simply do not believe that those laws were made by God. I held them up as an example of the justification of acts of violence by man on his fellow man. Why on Earth one bunch of overwhelmingly illiterate tribalists should be singled out for ‘special’ status, sounds very much like a self serving rouse, constructed without the requirement of proof. Terrorism by any other name.

          • Anton

            Jesus took those laws to be authentically from God and he lived a peaceable life and discouraged his followers from violence.

          • Dreadnaught

            Jesus; if he existed at all, was subject to the rouse as anyone.

          • Anton

            Never did he deny that!

          • Anton

            That is part of a legal code for a nation, a code offered by God for which the Israelites themselves voted by acclamation if you read it. It doesn’t apply to Christians and never did. If you read the whole of that legal code you get a good sense of God’s priorities. Would you judge Britain by one page torn at random out of its statutes?

      • disqus_5FxF9H1HiV

        Its also worth mentioning that the current Archbishop of Canterbury was employed at the Iwerne Camps for 3 summers in a position roughly equivalent to that of a junior housemaster. Of course, he saw nothing and was aware of nothing, otherwise he would have reported it wouldn’t he…

  • len

    It is the attempt to conceal or ignore sexual predators that has led to the position that society finds itself in today.Parts of the Church would seem to rather ignore or conceal the problem than to deal with it directly.
    The grooming of young girls as sex slaves has been ignored because Councils are more afraid of being called’ racists’than negligent. Such is the negative power of Political Correctness.

    • Royinsouthwest

      The grooming scandal (or rather scandals since the problem has occurred in many different towns) has not only been made possible by political correctness but is also being exacerbated by political correctness. Politicians, while not actually denying it, are still ignoring it. Compare and contrast the recent uproar over sexual harassment of female politicians and journalists with the utter indifference of the same politicians and journalists, and the media has a whole, to the sexual abuse scandals by men of a certain ethnic and religious background.

      Furthermore although people can get prosecuted, or intimidated by threats of prosecution, for comments that are not PC, and registrars can be fired for opposing gay marriage on grounds of conscience and a student was banned from a social work course at a British university for saying he disagreed with gay marriage, nobody has lost their job, had disciplinary action taken against them, or been prosecuted for turning a blind eye to sexual abuse in order not to appear racist.

      The EHRC announced recently that it was setting up an investigation into the Grenfell Tower disaster in parallel to the legal investigation. If the legal investigation proves as unsatisfactory as the report by Lord Hutton on the links between the death of the scientist David Kelly and the Tony Blair government claims about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” then there might be some justification for the EHRC getting involved but it is ridiculous for it to carry out its own inquiry in parallel to the legal one.

      After all, what has the EHRC done about the grooming scandals – apart that it is from helping to create a climate of opinion in which it is thought better to allow the sexual abuse of underage girls than to be thought a racist?

      • Anton

        I see that Labour councillors have been invited to the imminent Grenfell memorial service at St Paul’s cathedral but Tory ones have not. The risk of violence against the latter is quoted as the reason. Conveniently, if you ask me.

        Global warming sceptics (and I, a physicist, am one) have pointed out that the primary reason given in the planning application for the local council to clad Grenfell tower was to help the council reduce its carbon footprint. The Left, in contrast, have said that this was a pretext and the real reason to clad it was to make a 1960s concrete brutalist building less of an eyesore to the affluent people who live in an area nearby. These are both partial truths. The following points should be included to get a balanced picture:

        * The heating bill for Grenfell tower was largely paid by the council, as most occupants were on benefits. Therefore reducing the heating bill by improving insulation was in the council’s interests.

        * Various grants are available to reduce carbon footprints of buildings, so slanting the planning application toward carbon mitigation would presumably win grants to assist the council in its twin purposes of reducing its heating bill and making the tower less ugly.

        * Making the tower less ugly is in the interests of everybody, not just the wealthy.

        * The real problem was not the material used to clad the building (plastic, rather than the more expensive metal option) but the failure to extend the floors of the building outward to the cladding, thereby creating a vertical flue between the old exterior wall and the cladding. Fire could propagate up this flue, and did so as is clearly visible in shots of the blaze.

        • IanCad

          You have it right Anton. The God of Global Warming – “Thaw” ( Thanks Chef!) – rules supreme in the UK design profession.
          Criminal incompetence is demonstrated in the continued use of rainscreen cladding; whether in high-rises or in modern timber framed and clad homes. That the stack effect within the airspace between the structure and the exterior material is expected to be mitigated by expanding caulk (intumescent seal) is proof positive of the absolute disconnect between architectural education and the practicalities and physics related to the construction process.
          The problem has been known about for years.
          The janitor will lose his job. Poor chap.

          • Chefofsinners

            Thaw reigns supreme.
            The janitor is Friggin unLoki.

          • not a machine

            The way some”refurbishments” are approached is a pox on the building profession and those that authorise it. The cladding business was grown by those that wanted a quick makeover and a statement of doing something for voters, I had a laugh only the other day when local man in charge of recycling was testing the water for a new multi bin system (with new costs) and told him about new plant near Manchester where they sort and wash waste, save a fortune, looked at me like I was from dept of stupid ideas, just hopeless what goes off in local government spending, so much politics and chicanery in it all, these days.

    • dannybhoy

      That’s what’s doing for Sweden too..

    • not a machine

      I was totting up the numbers and even under labour I reckon 1997/2010 across UK and 2000 girls were abused many in rings in labour councils, if we get to a total figure in 2014,something like 3000 girls were abused by rings of men mainly of Pakistani heritage.

  • ardenjm

    Dark times….

    Maranatha.

    • Cressida de Nova

      There are good Bishops who will never yield to heretical non Catholic influences in the Church. You must have faith and hope that the Church will prevail. There are enough true Catholics still about who will withstand these testing times.

      • ardenjm

        Oh I’m quite sure of that. Not in the least discouraged: Thank you JRR Tolkien for indoctrinating me in the view that the worse things get the most joyful with hope we must be!

        That said:
        “There are good Bishops who will never yield to heretical non Catholic influences in the Church.”
        Thinking of 3 or 4 Bishops in England and Wales who are Catholic? (The others, meh, not so much…)
        How many of them have come out and stated clearly, “We won’t accept SSA men into seminary in my diocese.”
        Answer: NONE.
        Question: Why?

        • Cressida de Nova

          They do not have to state it. Just stop doing it.
          The reasons would be many When you are in a state of siege you have to operate more covertly. The consequences of being open may deprive us of good Catholic clergy who are needed to man the battle stations

  • not a machine

    Parliament votes and Mrs May is off to spank or no spank show in Brussels, to round off what has been termed as difficult moments in Brexit. I never imagined we would have some sort of new sport of greco wrestling combined with shin kicking. That aside I suppose I can do little more than view the farce and hope things don’t putrify.

    • John

      Never mind the weakened and divided government, its miserably diminished leadership and authority, the infighting in the cabinet, the shabby deal with the DUP, and the shambles that is our foreign secretary; our prime minister is proud of inflicting ‘gay marriage’ on the nation. So that’s all right then.

      • not a machine

        That is a mighty list of complaint, with no easy starts, I can’t see there is any way of change for now and there are other forces ruining our country which I am working on.

  • Manfarang
    • disqus_5FxF9H1HiV

      Which is why we commemorate the slaughter of the Holy Innocents at Childermas on 28th December.

      • Manfarang

        Why are there no other historical records to corroborate that event?

  • David

    I join with all those below who bemoan the much weakened and reduced state of our government and parliament. This political decay is mirrored in spiritual decay, specifically, the pathetic refusal of the Church’s top leaders to defend Christian, Biblical truth. The whole leadership class seems spineless and far removed from God.
    For some time now I have held the opinion that, with the retreat of the leadership, and then the majority, from the Christian faith, which was the cultural glue that held the western nations together, we are now in a period of cultural decay. This will not reverse until there is a religious revival, on a massive scale, which can only be led by a great movement of The Holy Spirit, for which all true Christians must pray daily.
    Fortunately, and as promised, with or without a religious revival, a remnant will always stand.

    • Anton

      The true church was always a remnant.

  • disqus_5FxF9H1HiV

    I find it hard to believe that we’re still arguing about this. However, reading the Carlile Review it is apparent that the current leadership (I use that term in its loosest sense) of the CofE needs to be spoonfed, so rather than bringing it to GS as a subject for discussion, it would be better if they were presented with a properly formulated step-by-step process to be adopted. Something along the lines of:

    All reports of abuse, psychological, physical or sexual, are to be reported to the DSA with a full and detailed statement of where and how the reporting person came by the information/ complaint.

    At the same time as making the report to the DSA the person receiving the complaint/ information should contact the police if the person making the complaint is either under 18 or was under 18 at the time of the alleged incident(s).

    If the person receiving the complaint/ information does not contact the police they must place on record with the DSA their reasons for not following the above procedure.

    Failure to report any allegations of abuse to the DSA will be judged to constitute gross misconduct and discovery of which will result in the immediate triggering of discplinary measures: in the case of ordained staff at all levels this will be through the process described in the Clergy Discipline Measure; in the case of non-ordained staff this will be through the usual HR channels and is likely to incur instant dismissal.