Bishop Peter Ball
Church of England

No more excuses: Bishop Peter Ball's abuse demands more than regret

 

If we need any evidence of humankind’s fallen sinfulness then we only have to look at our propensity to do things for our own gain that we know to be wrong and immoral and then doing everything we can to cover our tracks in the hope of getting away with it. Ever since Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the Garden of Eden, duplicity, deception and leading a double life have been part of human nature. The recent Volkswagen revelations have not only demonstrated this point on a grand scale, but also the calculated and creative lengths we are capable of going to cheat the system. I could discuss the dubious payments at FIFA, Tesco’s imaginary profits or Libor fixing, but there really is no need to labour the point. If anyone thinks the majority of us are going to stay on the straight and narrow without any moral framework to keep us in check, the evidence suggests they need to think again.

Plenty of Christians like to think that the moral high ground is theirs for the taking. And they have good reason to believe this. Humanists rely on the thought that if we were all more reasonable and empathetic then the world would be a lovely place. The problem is that to many of us find making the effort to be constantly reasonable and empathetic is just too much of an effort. It’s so much easier to be self-centred and put our own interests ahead of others. The majority of religions have a habit of preaching salvation by works, but it is not always apparent that the legalism that drives those works is actually capable of increasing the good in us.

Christianity however has the unusual position of acknowledging our weaknesses and inability to constantly do the right thing. It claims that God is the highest moral authority, but rather than expecting us all to strive to meet His ideals, it offers redemption through God’s Spirit dwelling in us. In doing so He refines and changes us, heightening our consciences and turning us away from evil, not by our own strength, but through His.

Even with all the religious illiteracy that is so widespread in our society now, if you make it known that you’re a Christian and then start dropping the odd F-bomb, you’re bound to get at least a few raised eyebrows. The expectation is still there that Christians are likely to behave and act with more self-control and kindness than the average person.

This is as it should be, which is why the news of the former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball being jailed for criminal acts of sexual abuse is so galling. Following Jesus doesn’t make Christians perfect, but to wilfully and repeatedly do what is so obviously wrong is a deliberate rejection of the faith. When this is by someone who has been put in a position of authority to uphold and promote it, the crime is many times worse.

Of course we’ve been there before. This may be the most high profile conviction of a Church of England priest in recent times, but over a hundred more allegations have been made in the last year alone relating to historical abuse in the Church of England. For the Catholic Church it has been far worse globally; in 2010 around 4 per cent of American priests and deacons in active ministry were accused of abusing children in cases dating between 1950 and 2002. Every single one of these cases which is proved to be true represents an utter failure of the Church to be a place of safety where God’s love is demonstrated.

One of the hardest conversations I have ever had involved someone fuming with anger accusing church leaders of being evil hypocrites based on the actions of these priests who have been found guilty. It was not enough to say that not every minister, priest or vicar is like that. For this person these terrible actions had driven them away from a vile God and there was no going back. I came away feeling dirty and ashamed by association and desperately praying that God would somehow rectify this situation, knowing that it would take a miracle for this to happen. What made it even harder for me to defend the Church was knowing that people have known or have discovered what has happened but allowed these people who had no right at all to carry on in their positions to do exactly that.

The situation at Volkswagen has become so incredibly damaging for the company because no one decided to intervene and provide some internal censorship at the early stages. Likewise, Peter Ball’s case is so much worse because he was let off with a caution in 1992 and allowed to carry on. He was guilty of the abuse, but his diocese – which was severely criticised in 2012 for decades of malpractice – and those above him completely failed in their duties too. That sinful desire for self-preservation takes hold far too rapidly when the shit hits the fan. But as we know, the more that we attempt to cover up and ignore such epic failures of duty, the greater the devastation on the day when the darkness is finally exposed in all of its fullness.

If only the church had listened to its own teaching, the accusations of hypocrisy would carry far less weight. Too many people in Peter Ball’s case in 1992 were swayed because of his position and stature, whilst failing to acknowledge the impact of his actions on his victims. The Bible repeatedly tells us not to favour the powerful over the weak, nor to pervert justice by doing so, but that is exactly what happened.

Jesus was brutal in his assessment of these actions: ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.’ (Mt 18:6) Those young men who came to Ball desired to sacrificially serve God and yet he took that honest faith and humiliated it. The subsequent shame has only grown with the lack of action from those who should have intervened. That millstone has their names on it too.

There can be no more excuses – this has gone too far already. The church’s only hope of restoring itself is to repent of everything that comes to light. On his trip to the US, Pope Francis met with victims of child sexual saying “God weeps” for their suffering, but then we hear that he has offended other victims by calling critics of his church’s handling of a sexual abuse case in Chile as ‘dumb’.

There has been so much horrendous damage that has come to light over recent years to allow any space for mixed messages or misinterpretations. What’s done is done. We cannot change the past but we can put the house in order right here, right now. We know there is no reason for the past to be repeated; churches have tightened their safeguarding policies significantly, but they need to be implemented with enthusiasm rather than reluctance, even if they are an inconvenience at times. Churches in their attitude and moral standpoint should be at the forefront of safeguarding and child protection, not running to catch up. We cannot afford to give potential abusers the opportunity to have their way. Victims need to be given the attention and support they deserve, but also those accused falsely should not have to fight against the odds to clear their names.

On Wednesday the Church of England described the actions of Peter Ball as a ‘matter of deep shame and regret’ and apologising unreservedly to his victims. This language is long overdue and needed, as is the freshly announced independent review and the acknowledgement of the need to work more closely with the police. It is the right way forward and must not be compromised or delayed.

The actions of Adam and Eve left a sinful stain on us all and in a similar way the abuse carried out by Peter Ball and those like him have stained the reputation of God’s church and the Christian faith. In God’s power it can be redeemed, but unless the whole Church plays its part, the sight and smell of its festering wounds will continue to turn people away in disgust.

  • Dreadnaught

    Bent Bishops, Volkswagen, would you Adam and Eve it!

    • Anton

      The Volkswagen thing is a bit different from the others because it is a consequence of unrealistic laws. I must say I’ve been tempted to ask them to post that handy software on Open Source!

  • grandpa1940

    It seems as though the highest in the land was willing to speak out for the bent bishop. Will that same person now step forward and state that he was mistaken? Somehow, I doubt it very, very much!

    • Anton

      Anybody who wonders to whom you refer can go to Ball’s Wikipedia entry, part of which records that At Ball’s trial in 2015 it was stated that a member of the royal family, a lord chief justice, cabinet ministers and public school headmasters—”many dozens” of people—had campaigned to support him in 1993 (when he resigned as bishop following a police caution for an act of gross indecency). He was then given accommodation on a royal estate and permitted to continue officiating as a priest.

  • Anton

    Humanists rely on the thought that if we were all more reasonable and empathetic then the world would be a lovely place. The problem is that to many of us find making the effort to be constantly reasonable and empathetic is just too much of an effort.

    Agreed Gillan, and it’s not only too much of an effort – it’s impossible. We need to be remade from the inside out and only Jesus can do it. That a senior churchman should deny Jesus the opportunity, to the extent that he commits these horrible sins, is a disgrace. We hear Popes and Archbishops talking about the love of God and the tears of Christ for the people who are hurt and this is true, but it is also more than time to hear from the top of church hierarchies about the wrath of God for acts such as these, matching Jesus’ warning. I suggest that this might have been a way forward in that “hardest conversation” of yours, Gillan. Interestingly, Christ generally gave his hellfire sermons to believers, because there is no point in preaching hell to people who don’t believe it exists. Believers do therefore need to hear such warnings.

    In Ireland it is not so much the abuse by priests but the cover-up by bishops that has wrecked the authority of its main denomination. What will happen here?

    • Yes, that would have been a good way forward. I have replayed that conversation in my mind many times and considered what the best response would have been. With some planning I might have been able to put things better, but of course in the moment we just have to do the best that we can.

  • The Explorer

    Bishop Ball’s actions raise the wider issue of Christian hypocrisy: about which there seems to me to be much misunderstanding.

    The popular expectation is that Christians should be better than other people. In reality, they are better than they would be if they were not Christians. The comparison is self-referential.

    I read a review of C S Lewis’ early letters that concluded, “No better than the rest of us.” But when Lewis wrote those letters, he was an atheist. That Lewis might have been a different sort of person before and after conversion was not within the reviewer’s comprehension. On that basis, Paul was a bad Christian for persecuting fellow Christians early in life. But to think otherwise you have to believe that after conversion you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit changes you.

    “Be ye perfect.” What does it mean? That perfection is an actual possibility in this life, or simply an aspiration? I’d say the latter. Christians I know, myself included, are making slow spiritual progress into the sort of people they were meant to be. That they still have lapses and failures is readily understandable to fellow Christians, but to unbelievers is simply evidence of hypocrisy.

    • Jon Sorensen

      “The popular expectation is that Christians should be better than other people.”
      Non-Christians don’t expect this. In fact non-Christians expect Christians to be worse.

      • The Explorer

        Not true, in my experience. Look at all the fuss the BBC made about the Catholic priests. And how quiet it was, initially, about Jimmy Savile.

        • CliveM

          Well I think what is certainly true, is that they like to hold Christians to higher levels of behaviour. Mainly so they can moralise when they fail.

          • sarky

            But you hold yourselves up as people changed by christ and you tell us that we too can experience that change.
            What these things do is highlight the hypocrisy and bulls##t and that there is no change whatsoever.
            if you stick your head up expect to be shot.

          • CliveM

            All that time in church and you learnt nothing. We don’t claim to be better, we simply claim to be following a better way. We don’t claim to be transformed, we hope to be in a process of transgormation.

            You have often made claims about how moral a person you are, has any Christian on this site made any such claim?

          • sarky

            Yep, im constantly hit with the fact that as an atheist I have no basis for morality and that morality can only come from god thus implying that christians have the monopoly on morality.

          • CliveM

            “Thus implying Christians have the monopoly on morality”

            No Christians would claim that God has. I make no claims.

            My point about transformation is that it’s mainly a process.

          • Phil R

            You have no basis for morality. It is whatever you want it to be. Atheist States has and have justified the murder of at least a quarter of a billion people in the last 100 years

          • sarky

            And god wiped out the whole planet, so don’t lecture me on morality.

          • Phil R

            Not recently. ….

          • sarky

            Houmous quip? You pitta explain.

          • DanJ0

            It also created or allows the systematic brutality of the predator/prey relationship and of disease for non-human animals which are mostly amoral but sentient beings i.e. undeserving. The sheer cruelty and callousness of that bewilders me.

          • DanJ0

            Regarding that last point, I would say that I have strong morals and act on them as best I can. That is, I’m a moral person. I’ve done some terrible things which I regret so I’m not a wholly good person in a roundup of my life. There’s repeated comments here that people like me are hedonistic, and that our morals are merely opinions, and that “anything goes” in our personal lives. Saying I am a moral person is a reaction to that blatant rubbish. It’s probably the same for sarky.

        • Jon Sorensen

          Don’t confuse media reaction to what people think.

          • The Explorer

            What?

    • CliveM

      Sometimes I wonder if for most of us we get any better, but simply stop getting worse. I do believe though that in the main, we acknowledge that we are not as ‘good’ as we may previously thought we were. Which is a start.

      It is a struggle.

      • Seadog

        Why should we be “good”?

        • CliveM

          Why should we not.

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      Well, since you have mentioned C.S. Lewis, I’d just like to quote two things that he wrote (as a Christian, not as an atheist):

      “Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.”

      “I think we must fully face the fact that when Christianity does not make a man very much better, it makes him very much worse.”

      • The Explorer

        I think he was right, too.

  • bmudmai

    But at the same time, in these cases we must not act in haste. We have entered into a time where if your name is even mentioned you have been found guilty and are hung, drawn and quartered in the public eye. Take Lord Brittan for example.

    The greatest consequence of the era, which is probably the response to the era of cover up (I.e. Church sex abuse) are the innocent being found innocent but forever branded guilty. Take the example of Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter, under trial for child abuse, family court rule children must be adopted and now they have been found innocent. Due to the haste of family court, probably under pressure by the lobbyists, they ruled before verdict of the proceedings. Now the couple are not able to see their child despite being innocent and are unlikely to ever be the parent bringing up their own child as the legal adoptive process is pretty much irreversible. They now have to live as though they were guilty.

    • Anton

      I would not be at all surprised at a Westminster paedophile ring (had) existed involving senior politicians and nobody should make presumptions either way.

      • bmudmai

        My point is more that the Lord Brittan was treated as guilty without any verdict or trial. It wasn’t just accusations as Watson likes to claim to get a trial, he was treated as if guilty. That’s not how it should be. That’s not how the justice system in this country is meant to work.

        I’m not claiming a view either way, but we shouldn’t treat as guilty till there is a verdict either way.

        • Anton

          You’re using the passive; what matters is WHO treated him as guilty. Not the justice system. As for others, each man is responsible for his own words but I support the right to be wrong in free speech, and in particular to ask telling questions based on verified premises.

    • DanJ0

      That adoption case is horrendous, it must be unbearable for the parents.

  • sarky

    Like a wise person once said: ‘abstinence makes the church grow fondlers’

    • CliveM

      Except of course this was a CofE Priest who could have got married if he wanted. This sort of abuse isn’t caused by abstinence.

      • DanJ0

        Well, except that the bishop appears to be homosexual so he was, in effect, expected to be celibate.

        • The Explorer

          Agreed. He was gay already; abstinence didn’t make him so. ‘Abstinence makes the Church grow fondlers’ was a Baptist slogan, I think, to attack Catholic celibacy. The argument seems to be that if you deprive heterosexual men of women, they will go after boys as a substitute. If he was gay already, that argument falls apart.

          • CliveM

            Not being a fan of clerical celibacy, whilst I don’t think it leads to abuse I do think it leads to inappropriate behaviour amongst some ie affairs etc.

          • It actually falls apart in respect of Catholic priests in America too.

          • DanJ0

            Our sex drive is a powerful force, and for some it is overwhelming. It’s better that there’s a natural and open outlet, I think, so that a lack of self-control doesn’t lead to harming others. Without knowing the bloke from Adam, it seems to me from the outside that a religious life in the church was a poor career path for this bishop.

        • CliveM

          DanJo

          I wasn’t going to make that point, knowing the way some people like to erroneously conflate abuse with homosexuality.

    • The Explorer

      That was on a poster used against the Catholic Church. In the light of Article XXXII, should it apply to the C of E? And what about the non-abstaining secularists who were fondlers?

      • sarky

        Well the church (in whatever form) does seem to attract a disproportionate amount of scum.

        • The Explorer

          If true, it’s irrelevant. Is fondling caused by abstinence? No. That’s the issue.

        • alternative_perspective

          Did. But those generations have done great damage to the church.

          Generations that entered the church during the sexual revolution and a pervasive ‘God is dead’ culture in academia. My hunch is that it’s all related.

          • sarky

            Excuses excuses.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Secularists fondlers don’t have a organisation to protect, fund and hide them, by moving fondlers to other location with full pay and new opportunities.

        • The Explorer

          Not the issue. The issue is, is abstinence the cause of paedophilia? As to an organisation to protect, fund and hide secularist fondlers, how about the BBC? It knew about Jimmy Savile, and did nothing.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Organisations protecting pedophiles is not an issue???
            Is BBC paying pedophiles? And moving them to new locations to protect them from the law?

          • The Explorer

            It’s AN issue, but not THE issue. Keep to the point.

        • Phil R

          No they lower the age of consent.

          Or describe paedophiles as being born that way and drip drip society to make their perversion legal.

          They will then fund research to state that paedo sex does kids the power of good.

          Secular utopia dream

          • CliveM

            Unlikely at best.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Are you saying BBC lowered the age of consent? Is BBC trying to “make their perversion legal”? Can you point out which studies BBC funded? You are just making this up in your head.

            You have clearly no idea what secular people want or what “Secular utopia” is. Christians are just so silly what they say. And if I ask you what is the age of consent or if a girl get even to give her consent in the Bible, you run away. Just imagine your Biblical utopia where the victim of a rape must marry the rapist! Do you endorse that?

          • Phil R

            Secular utopian dreams soon become Lord of the Flies

          • Jon Sorensen

            You don’t even know what secular utopia is. It’s just a Christian myth.

            And your panic reaction shows that you are so afraid to answer questions about your views…

          • Phil R

            So Jon, describe for me your “secular utopia” if you think I have no idea.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Sure, but how about you answer my earlier questions first.
            “What is the age of consent or if a girl get even to give her consent in
            the Bible?Just imagine your Biblical utopia where the
            victim of a rape must marry the rapist! Do you endorse that?”

            and

            “Are you saying BBC lowered the age of consent? Is BBC trying to “make their perversion legal”?

            Or are those too tough questions for you.

          • Anton

            “the Bible?Just imagine your Biblical utopia where the
            victim of a rape must marry the rapist! Do you endorse that?”

            That’s not what the Hebrew says. The word may also mean seduction, and in context clearly does.

          • Phil R

            OK

            Difficult questions answered.

            We don’t know when the age of consent was in the Bible. Clearly it speaks of girls and women and one would presume that marriage occurred at around about 16 years. We do know that betrothals happened at a very young age.

            What happens if a girl is raped? The man is killed and the woman/girl is deemed innocent.

            My comment was not specifically targeted at the BBC. Secularists get around the problem of ” it is right if I feel it is”, by lowering the age of consent. It used to be 21 more recently there have been calls for it to be lowered to 13 or 14.

            As far as the BBC is concerned. No doubt we will have some drama in the near future showing what a wonderful place the world would be if adults could abuse children without penalty and by implication isn’t the current age of consent too low..etc

          • Jon Sorensen

            Thanks for answering. However the Bible say nothing about age of consent. If the girl was a war loot nobody asked her consent as she was a property. Marriages were arranged by her father, there was no such thing as consent.

            You asked and answered:
            “What happens if a girl is raped? The man is killed and the woman/girl is deemed innocent.”
            But God’s law in the Bible says:
            “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” NIV Deut 22:28-29
            Do you agree that this is a morally good law? Would you follow this law if you daughter is raped?

            Secularists don’t advocate “it is right if I feel it is”. This is just Christian myth and false witnessing. You also omitted that Christians lowered the age of consent from 21 and you blame secularists.

            “if adults could abuse children without penalty”
            Secularist are against this. They are the most vocal against Anglican and Catholic Church child abuse that has been going on forever and Christians are not cleaning their own house. It’s ironic how you think secularist support child abuse while it Christian who are actually mostly doing it and protecting the abusers.

            There is no secular utopia. Most secularist want equal rights for everyone and remove current religious privileges. Faith should not have special privileges.

          • Phil R

            I think you are applying today’s standards to the far distant past.
            Compare life outside of Israel’s laws to get an idea. Anyway.

            I don’t know how much fifty shekels was worth, but the financial and emotional cost of supporting and living with a woman you may not even like would be incalculable. It would make a man think twice before raping someone again. It would say to other rapists, “Let this be a lesson to you!”

            Imagine being married to a woman you hated till death do you part.

            What would I do if my daughter was raped? I would want a response similar to Dinah’s brothers!

            “Christian who are actually mostly doing it and protecting the abusers”. Cough. Most pedophiles in prison are not Christians. Your evidence seems to consist of what sells newspapers.

            Finally probably the most relevant comment.

            “There is no secular utopia. ”

            You can say that again. Take your pick. Soviet Russia, Mao’s China, etc from history or North Korea now. Secular states are lovely places, totally free from evil………

          • Jon Sorensen

            I didn’t realise you are moral relativist. I don’t apply today’s standard; I apply God’s standard – I quoted the bible. Most Christians tell me that God’s laws are correct and morally right. Now you are telling me those 2000 year old laws don’t apply any more. All Christians are moral relativists when you just ask them.

            Imagine “Imagine being married to a woman you hated till death do you part”
            Imagine being that woman…

            “I would want a response similar to Dinah’s brothers!”
            I never get how Christians want to kill innocent people who had nothing to do with a crime.

            “Most pedophiles in prison are not Christians.”
            Do you have evidence of this? or did you just made it up?

            There is no secular utopia, but it is the only way to have a fair and free society. North Korea is so horrible because they have a god himself as a dictator there. Their dictator’s birth was prophesied, he has performed many miracles, anything he touches becomes a relic and he is always right and cannot be questioned. It looks like it is run like Christians heaven model and because of that is a true nightmare to live in. It is nothing like what secularist advocate. You are just building your Christian stawman and not realising parallels with Kim Jong-un and your God.

          • Phil R

            OK don’t face reality

            The fact is that atheist/secular states have killed more than a quarter of a billion people in the last 100 years alone.

            Most of those were simply the wrong category of people.

            In atheist states you have to have believe what the state tells you.

            No freedom just misery, slavery and death.

            I’ll take the Bible anytime thanks over your “utopia”. People who have experienced living in your paradise have reached the same conclusion.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “The fact is that atheist/secular states have killed more than a quarter of a billion people in the last 100 years alone.”
            Not true! Evidence or detract it. You seem to make up a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with reality.

            Who are “the wrong category of people”?

            “In atheist states you have to have believe what the state tells you.”
            This would be horrible. It sounds like you have to believe in word of God”

            “I’ll take the Bible anytime thanks over your “utopia”.”
            But you said you did not endorse the Bible laws and I said there is no “utopia”. You are confused.

            You said “OK don’t face reality”
            It is you who makes all the claims with no evidence. Reality does not support your ideas.

            Can you now provide evidence to your claim
            “Most pedophiles in prison are not Christians.”
            Or run away again?

          • Phil R

            “The fact is that atheist/secular states have killed more than

            a quarter of a billion people in the last 100 years alone.”

            OK to put it in perspective. States that have described themselves as being atheist have killed 10 times the number who died in the black death.

            Don’t believe me? Stalin, Mao, etc

            http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_Mass_Murder

            I endorse the Bible laws. How important is the one you quote? Not really. If it is an important law it is repeated throughout the Bible. The OT laws can be summed up with the phrase love your God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Conservapedia always puts a smile on my face! Only true facts there.
            Richard Dawkins article is just a great read. There is no bias in it at all!
            http://www.conservapedia.com/Richard_Dawkins

            Such a trusted unbiased info source about atheism. I’m so glad you picked that one. I also like when Conservapedia claims 40 to 259M (Unbiased of course). You pick more than “more than a quarter of a billion”. Talking about false witnessing…

            So let’s fact check your claims. I’m happy to use Rummel’s counts which conservapedia links and I assume then you are ok with it. Normally people use Rummel’s mid values.

            For example Rummel’s mid values for Hitler’s Democide is 21M people (15M-31.5M) and European WWII deaths to 28.7M. Would you agree Hitler’s 49.7M deaths count as a Christians killings?

            http://necrometrics.com/all20c.htm (linked from Rummel’s site)
            203M death last century (note that atheism is not mentioned!)

            You said “I endorse the Bible laws” *and* you rejected God’s law to let a rapist marry the victim. How does this happen in your brain?

            “How important is the one you quote? Not really.”
            So God’s word and law in no longer important to you?

            “If it is an important law it is repeated throughout the Bible.”
            So God saying something only once does not really mean much.

            “The OT laws can be summed up with the phrase love your God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself.”
            We this is the tribalism problem. We should love everyone not just our neighbour.

          • DanJ0

            In a pluralistic, broadly secular democracry like ours which is based on liberal principles, the idea of there being a utopian goal is ludicrous as there isn’t an inherent order there. The social good of liberalism is that society is ‘structured’ so that people can pursue their own interests and goals, and find personal fulfillment on their own if they wish.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I agree that there is no utopian goal. Secularist do generally want more equality and freedoms than Christians.

    • Jon Sorensen

      Anglican Church, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others have the same pedophilia problem. Nothing to do with abstinence.

      • sarky

        I know, like I have mentioned below the church seems to attract a disproportionate amount.

        • alternative_perspective

          I think you’re right, I believe it is only a seems.

          For example even after all those revelations regarding the Roman Church, stats still point out you’re far safer with a priest than a paternal parent. And how often do we read in the papers of teachers etc. In court on account of abuse, weekly it seems but of course we seem to accept that but when it’s within the church all hell explodes.

          My perhaps erroneous opinion here is people instinctively expect, even demand more from Christians and their leaders, as the above author indicates. A minor proof of Christianity’s peculiarity… Maybe. And personally, I think this is how it should be.

          • DanJ0

            Part of it, I think, is because Christianity in practice seems inordinately interested in judging other people’s sex lives and lifestyle choices. There’s something of John Major’s generally misinterpreted Back To Basics theme in it. Pretty much as soon as that was presented, the media took great delight in finding examples of immorality. That is, it became a thing about institutional hypocrisy.

    • IanCad

      Love it! If that’s an original Sarkyism congratulations are in order.

      • The Explorer

        It isn’t.

      • sarky

        Sadly I am unable to take credit for that one.

  • Slack Alice

    Have total empathy with everything written here. But repeating the assertion that Pope Francis was calling victims “dumb” is not up to the rigorous journalistic standard usually employed. There is no sense in which he labelled people dumb, stupid or similar. He was referring to the common scenario where a community – victims and non victims – is led by political chicanery rather than looking at evidence and using self-judgement.
    Shame that His Grace commits the same error he has so valiantly exposed in other journalistic publications.

    • Owl

      I agree with you Alice, but the article is not by His Grace.

      • Slack Alice

        Fair comment Owl. But I go to Cranmer for the quality of the journalism and analaysis. I hold His Grace responsible for anyone he chooses to guest write. Otherwise we might all just head over to “Comment is Free” LOL

  • David

    I totally support this article, one of the most straightforward and clear of all of Gillian Scott’s articles so far.
    Facing these wrongdoings head on, honestly is always the best way for any organisation.
    I also have a thought for the retired Bishop. One hopes he will see the error of his ways, repent and seek God’d forgiveness. If he is sincere then God will forgive him.

    • sarky

      Thats ok then. Your lack of mention of the victims is telling.

      • David

        Only if seen through the lens of your negativity.

        • sarky

          No, your thoughts are with a kiddy fiddling Bishop. Where do you mention the victims?
          Funny how your god can forgive such a vile excuse for a human being and give them the reward of heaven, yet condemns good people to hell.
          christianity really is a sick religion.

          • DanJ0

            They weren’t kids, afaik. One report said 17-25, and another mentions a 16 year old. At the time of the offences, homosexual sexual activity with an under 21 male was illegal. Now, he’d be convicted under the below 18 rule regarding people in positions of authority, which wasn’t a specific offence at the time. Otherwise, it’s not illegal to have consensual sex with a 16 year old in the UK even if one is 3 or 4 times that age.

          • DanJ0

            Actually, Wikipedia says that one of the charges was for a boy of 12 or 13 at the time of the offence so I take some of that back.

          • CliveM

            I had read 17 to 25 as well,, so even younger. A truly evil man.

          • A man committing evil acts … It’s not for us to judge him further than that.

          • CliveM

            Perhaps not in a spiritual sense. I will accept that. But in a secular sense a person can and does. Which is why a person is arrested, tried, found guilty and imprisoned.

          • David

            You interpret my word “thought”, as sympathy with him, which it clearly isn’t in this context, as evidenced by the flow of my point, that the Bishop’s needs to repent. Please read the whole meaning of what is written, rather than alighting on particular words and imputing meaning onto them, out of the sentence’s context. English is full of words where the particular meaning must be understood from its context, as no doubt you must be aware.
            The absence of a comment regarding the victims is more about making a single short comment than anything else. I am not intending to write an essay covering all the aspects of this case. Indeed it hardly needs to be said that any victims should, of course, attract concern.

    • Seadog

      There is no God.

      • David

        Atheism is the refuge of those too frightened to recognise God’s all encompassing work.

        • DanJ0

          You don’t actually believe that, surely.

          • David

            In my experience, the former reasoned intellectual atheists of yesteryear are long gone. The ones I encounter nowadays possess a visceral hatred of anything that could threaten their imagined autonomy, and the illusion of radical freedom. Their fear of losing that autonomy drives their emotional rejection of even the possibility, that there could be a higher power.

      • The Explorer

        That statement suffers from the same problem as an assertion of the existence of God: the difficulty of proof.

        Atheists often say there is no evidence for God. That seems to me an overstatement. There is no CONCLUSIVE evidence, but that’s not the same thing.

        There is evidence of design: distance from Sun, the properties of water etc. That does not prove a designer, but does allow for one. There are also horrors on Earth incompatible with a benevolent designer if the world is as intended. But the Christian explanation is of a good thing spoiled, that will eventually be put right.

        IF God exists, does he communicate and how? Christianity says through a revealed book and by becoming incarnate. One can assess the textual and historical evidence. Neither is conclusive, but both are tenable.

        Christianity says the current unsatisfactory sate of things is temporary. One day, faith will become knowledge: making faith unnecessary.

        If Christians are wrong, they will never know they were wrong for they will simply be terminated at death. But if atheists are wrong, then in death they will discover their error.

  • Unfortunately these days our top churchmen seem more interested in getting involved in politics than managing the church and preaching the gospel. Simple apologies from those at the top aren’t enough without clear action to stop further occurrences. We expect action from our politicians, why not from our Church? The victims deserve far more from the Church and its Bishops (and I don’t mean money).

    An addition problem is that probably a majority of people in this country seem to associate gays with paedophiles, although few would admit it. A near-by church which recently appointed an openly gay curate had more than half the children withdrawn from its Sunday School. Is this because the parents believe in the biblical teachings about gays, as no doubt they would claim if pressed, or is it because they consider them to be a potential risk to their children?

    C of E congregations are declining and action needs to be taken to address the reasons. Among the many things that are needed is instant action to suspend anyone accused of wrongdoing pending a full investigation. Better that way round than watch the parishioners drift away, disillusioned with the Church, never to return.

    • Phil R

      I would both withdraw my child and look for another church.

  • Tutanekai

    The clergy sex abuse scandal highlights one of the basic inconsistencies of the Christian faith.

    God is supposed to transform us. So you would expect Christians to sin less than the general population. But there’s no evidence of this.

    For example, adultery, divorce and remarriage are all just as frequent among Christians as they are in any other group. Christians lie and cheat and steal and do pretty much everything that non-believers do. So if transformation has happened, there seems to be little or no outward sign of it.

    If it “doesn’t do what it says on the tin”, is it any wonder that Christianity fails to convince so many of us? The excuse that “we’re all sinners” contradicts the faith’s perfecting claims. If Christians are transformed by their faith, a trajectory from bad to good behaviour should be clearly apparent in their lives.

    So where is the evidence of this road to Christian perfection? I know lots of Christians who make huge claims about the power of their faith to change lives. But when it comes to evidence, it’s all vague, anecdotal stuff. “I know lots of people who’ve been transformed by Christ” just doesn’t cut the mustard. Where are the convincing peer-reviewed longitudinal studies plotting a clear trajectory from pagan dissipation to Christian virtue?

    Why do Christians think that everyone should just take their word for the miracles they claim their faith is capable of performing? Is evangelism about converting the “lost”, or is it an ego-boost for the faithful? Is the basic premise that I must believe everything you say without any concrete evidence because you’re clearly so wonderful that you must be telling the truth, and if I don’t believe you, I’m the devil’s spawn?

    • The Explorer

      “You would expect Christians to sin less than the general population. But there’s no evidence of this.”

      Where is your research evidence for this? Or is it vague and anecdotal? Difficult to research in any case. Fill in questionnaire. Do you lie, cheat and steal? Please give examples. If the first is true, you aren’t going to get an honest answer, whether the interviewee is a Christian or a heathen.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Church goers more likely to steal newspapers
        http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1277208

        • The Explorer

          Maybe non-church goers are better at deception.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Clearly you did not read the study.

          • The Explorer

            I skim read it. Four interesting points. 1. 60% did not pay. 2. Women were more honest than men. 3. Possibility that church goers had used up their change in church collection. 4. The profit comes from the advertising.

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            I read a summary of that piece a few days ago and have just skimmed this.

            It’s one very small study in one location which, AFAIAA, has not been reproduced. So not the basis for any sweeping assertions

            Because of the way that the was run, no conclusion can be drawn about the honesty of church goers whatsoever. What can legitimately be said is people who do not pay the full price for newspapers were more likely to claim to be church goers. the linkage works one way but not the other.

            Also there are some obvious flaws in the study, for example they only did that test on a Sunday, which may well have a different population on the street.

            Also there are some inconsistencies, giving to charity and volunteering seemed to correlate with paying more than average. However church goers give more to charity and are more likely to volunteer than non-church goers, which seems to raise a contradiction.

            Also the authors say “While we can hardly claim to resolve the causality issue in answering which factors determine honesty, the data obtained from the survey nevertheless contribute to identifying correlates of honesty” and everyone, apart from Jon Sorensen, knows that correlation does not mean causation. See the sub-thread that starts at
            http://archbishopcranmer.com/bradford-ex-muslim-christian-converts-have-given-up-on-the-church-of-england/#comment-2287966704
            for evidence of this.

            I think that it is pointless talking to Jon Sorensen as he does not take in anything that is said to him. When something he says is shown to be wrong he just ignores this or try to pretend that he actually said something else. That sub-thread has numerous examples of this.

          • The Explorer

            Thank you. I know that a source he cited on a previous thread claimed that we should forgive one another because Christ forgave Judas. Enough said as to the reliability of his sources.

          • CliveM

            Energy levels back to normal?

          • The Explorer

            Far from it. But improving. I’m coping with optimum medication, which is encouraging.

          • Pubcrawler

            Glad to hear it. Good to have you back. Peace be with you.

          • The Explorer

            Thank you. Good to be back. This blog is a great help to me.

          • CliveM

            We’ll I’ll pray things continue to get better.

          • The Explorer

            Thank you.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Good to see you read it. I saw that you commented my post 2 minutes after I posted the link. Do you now accept that there is evidence that Church goers are less honest?

          • sarky

            Nah, we just read our news online.

      • Anton

        I believe that the claims about divorce have been proven by the Barna Group in the USA among Christians there. Why should Brits be much different?

        • The Explorer

          My focus was the lie, cheat and steal.

        • Busy Mum

          I have read somewhere that divorce rates are higher among professing Christians than amongst other groups simply because they are more likely to get formally married in the first place.
          Christians still ‘marry’, ‘divorce’ and ‘remarry’.
          Non-Christians cohabit, move out, move in.
          It’s just wordplay in the end…..

          • Anton

            That’s a good point, but the difference between “I hereby commit to you till death us do part” and “let’s move in together” is more than wordplay.

          • Busy Mum

            Absolutely – but both set-ups are ‘becoming one flesh’ in God’s eyes. The difference is that the former is honourable, the latter is not. But Christians do not judge – we leave God to do that.

          • sarky

            But christians do not judge – funniest thing I’ve heard, do you not actually read the comments on here?????

          • Phil R

            We not judging. We just say that certain behaviours are sinful.

            Think of it as just like telling you about the weather.

            Why do we care? We would be failing in our love for you of we did not try to stop you going out in a storm

          • DanJ0

            There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. I have a full range of Berghaus techical gear myself.

          • Phil R

            Never liked Berghaus. Never seemed to fit right. Got a few bits. My wife like the brand

          • CliveM

            ” Never seemed to fit right”

            Suppose it depends what shape you are :0)

          • DanJ0

            Heh. You definitely have to try each item on as they seem to be quite random on the sizing.

          • Phil R

            Anyone would think that they were made for people who live on lettuce or something. ….

          • dannybhoy

            Sarky you are exaggerating. No born again Christian would deny the struggles they face in their carnal or physical nature. But by and large at conversion Christians become more aware of their failings and through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit begin to change for the better.
            Of course an evolutionist would say that what we are is where we are; and only time +chance+mutation will change us..

        • alternative_perspective

          I think the British and American cultures religiously speaking are somewhat different. Before I’d accept this as applying to all believers I think a number of cross cultural studies would be needed.

          • Anton

            Always a good thing, but have you any suggested answer to my question?

    • The Explorer

      Proof about some things is very difficult. How do you prove if someone really loves you or not? That’s the plot of ‘King Lear’. How do you prove if prayer works? Dawkins suggested praying for one half of a hospital ward. He didn’t see the problems inherent in that; but other people did.

    • dannybhoy

      http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/february/marriage-divorce-and-body-of-christ-what-do-stats-say-and-c.html

      As an indication of the number of practicing Christians in the UK..
      http://faithsurvey.co.uk/uk-christianity.html

      Regarding practicing Christians in the UK marriage and divorce..

      http://www.cmfblog.org.uk/2012/10/01/do-christians-divorce-at-lower-or-higher-rates-than-others/

      “God is supposed to transform us. So you would expect Christians to sin less than the general population. But there’s no evidence of this.”

      Being a true Christian is all about being in a relationship with Him who is Compassionate Perfection, the self existent Creator.
      We are not worthy. We are not worthy!
      We are creatures who through Grace have recognised our failings and inconsistencies, but through the indwelling Holy Spirit are being transformed into the likeness of our Lord Jesus.

      • The Explorer

        Well speculated. Certainly has Linus’ intelligence and theological knowledge.

        • dannybhoy

          Bless the man anyway..
          Maori??
          How do you find all this stuff out Explorer?

          • The Explorer

            Tutanekai and Hinemoa is a famous Maori love story. I read it in a kid’s book about love stories from around the world; along with the willow pattern plate. The birds in that are the souls of the two lovers.

          • dannybhoy

            “Tutanekai and Hinemoa is a famous Maori love story.”
            Really?
            Amongst Maoris maybe.. :0)
            You remain in my AC top learned commenters league!!

          • sarky

            Or he’s just good on Google.

          • The Explorer

            A mixture of Google and my personal library. In this case, my library.

          • dannybhoy

            If you visit his blog you will realise that our Explorer is a learned Christian man who really thinks about life…

          • It’s a love story with ‘gender-bender’ connotations, if one reads it. ‘Linus’ claimed to be homosexual; ‘In Perfect Ignorance’ claimed to be married to a woman. Seems like a logical progression to Jack.

          • The Explorer

            I read the story as a child, and gender bender connotations were lost on me. (I remembered the name because of similarity to Tutankhamun.) Like Pyramus and Thisbe, and the WIllow Pattern Plate story, the key seemed to be parental disapproval. So, yes, I can see connotations of socially-forbidden love.

            I was never clear about which Linus ‘LInus’ represented; but, given his predilections, Tutanekai as a choice of name makes sense. Interesting if he’s still around with a new persona. I didn’t have much interaction with ‘In Perfect Ignorance’, and certainly wouldn’t have associated him with our French friend. But you’re probably right that he’s out of the same stable, and with Tutanekai I can certainly see a similarity of thought patterns, if not of style.

            Thanks to you and Danny for pointing out the resemblances.

          • The original Maori version is slightly more ‘nuanced’:

            “Derivatives of takatāpui include takatāpui kaharua for bisexual, takatāpui wahine for lesbian and takatāpui wahine ki tāne or takatāpui tāne ki wahine for transmen or transwomen. Takatāpui serves as an umbrella term for all these identities.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takat%C4%81pui

      • Anton

        “God is supposed to transform us. So you would expect Christians to sin less than the general population. But there’s no evidence of this.”

        That’s a complex issue because people start from different places, but you would expect Christians to sin less after their conversion than before.

        • dannybhoy

          And in my own experience I think they do. Spiritual conversion involves a revelation firstly of God in His holiness, and then an awareness of our own failings.We realise that all our carefully constructed facade of integrity and morality falls apart when we indulge our lusts or slavish indulgences.
          That’s my experience anyway, and all my Christian brothers and sisters admit the same dilemma.

      • chiefofsinners

        It is evidently Linus. Tutanekai was a homosexual in a Maori legend, I think.
        I wish he’d just come back as Linus.
        Admit he was wrong and
        continue hurling bile at us.
        Nobody really minded.

        • Pubcrawler

          I’m not so sure. Linus never missed a chance to show off his facility with the English language in venemously florid diatribes, fizzling with impotent rage. I don’t see that here. In fact, to give Linus some credit, I don’t this chap could match that.

          • Nah, it’s Linus.

          • Pubcrawler

            I remain unpersuaded.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, it’s like Linus without the venom. But if this is Linus, then Linus is intelligent enough to withhold the venom until later.

          • CliveM

            See his comments 3 days ago under the Chartres Lambeth lecture blog.

            I’m 50/50 on if this Linus.

          • dannybhoy

            For a bloke who apparently left us, he gets an awful lot of attention. If it is him I bet he’s loving it. ;0)

            Macavity springs to mind….

            “Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw—
            For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
            He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
            For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!

            Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
            He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
            His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,And when you reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!

            You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air—But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

          • CliveM

            His ego will be split two ways. Pleasure at being spotted, frustration at being spotted!! :0)

          • The Explorer

            Thanks for the reference. Reading that little lot I’m 80% confident we’re dealing with a reincarnated Linus. Never really got a handle on ‘In Perfect Ignorance’. Is he still posting, do you know, or did he stop when Tutenekai started?

          • CliveM

            He stopped posting in protest at being identified as Linus! Whether that coincides with the appearance of the Maori I have no idea I would need to check.

            Thinking about it probably.

            Also something in the favour of this being Linus, the posts have got longer and more self reverential

          • Pubcrawler

            IPI posts on other blogs; as far as I recall, Linus devoted all his attention to us.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, I have no views on IPI, not knowing enough about him. Not a Linus-type name: can you imagine Linus conceding ignorance about anything? But Tutanekai and Linus have definite similarities of world view, and comparable levels of knowledge about both evolution and theology.

          • It is a Linus-type name …. Think about it.

          • The Explorer

            Too subtle for me.

          • Pubcrawler

            Cancel that, I was thinking of someone else with a superficially similar tag. IPI’s Disqus profile seems to have been deleted.

          • CliveM

            Curiouser and curiouser.

            Almost like Linus!

          • He stopped when Carl and Jack outed him.

          • The Explorer

            I’ve now identified the ‘Dignity in Dying’ thread on which it happened. Interesting detective work. Avi played his part as well. A fearsome threesome for the deceiver: you, Carl and Avi.

          • Pubcrawler

            Ah, I missed that, too. Dead cert in that case.

          • Pubcrawler

            Ah, I missed that. OK, I’ll admit the possibility.

          • CliveM

            Yes I would say its a strong possibility, but no more then that.

          • Didn’t take him long as ‘In Perfect Ignorance’ to slip back. The venom is already there in his posts. The first clue is his choice of name; the real ‘tell’ is his precise sentence construction and grammar.

          • sarky

            Don’t think so, the wit is missing.

          • chiefofsinners

            What is missing is any kind of denial from Tutanekai. Surely by now he would have said ‘Who’s this Linus bloke? I’ve never heard of him.”
            When ‘In Perfect Ignorance’ was unmasked we never heard from him again. Same with this incarnation.
            Overall, I am encouraged that Linus has come to believe in the doctrine of the new birth. However, returning to the point of this article, the idea of new birth is not to carry on in the same old ways. He’s a bit like Peter Ball – claiming to be a new person but actually the same.

        • dannybhoy

          I preferred the old Linus, not these periodic reincarnations..
          It’s time he came out of the closet, picked up all his teddies and accepted that we quite like him.
          Incidentally I think this Peter Ball should have been dealt with straight away, faced those he abused, been drummed out of the CofE and faced the full weight of the law. There will always be sexual predators in the church(es), and church authorities should deal with it without compromise.
          1st Corinthians 5-11
          ” It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you…..>

    • Anton

      You are right about the church and Christians in our culture and it is high time that they (as far as I am concerned, we) accepted this. Until we confess it before God he is not going to sort it out. I believe that God CAN do this and that you can find the church moving in exactly the same strength as in Acts of the Apostles in, for example, China. Something about Western culture gets into people that makes the gospel harder to hear, ie harder to move from head to heart.

      • sarky

        ‘Something about Western culture gets into people and makes the gospel harder to hear’

        Its called education….

        • Anton

          You are living up to your name (!) but I suspect that you are conflating two things: whether the gospel is true and whether the supernatural is real. The latter issue has nothing to do with education.

          • sarky

            Education had nothing to do with whether the supernatural is real?

            It has everything to do with it. Generally, well educated people don’t tend to fall for superstitious mumbo jumbo.

          • Anton

            The supernatural is partly experiential and that has nothing to do with education. Some things can validly be explained as at the datum level of coincidence but others cannot.

          • dannybhoy

            “It has everything to do with it. Generally, well educated people don’t tend to fall for superstitious mumbo jumbo.”
            Well educated people can be just as perverted Sarky.
            Want evidence?

          • Royinsouthwest

            Just think what people like Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and Michael Faraday might have achieved if they had been well educated!

          • DanJ0

            It’s interesting that active belief in the things like ghosts, demons, sprites etc seems to have diminished dramatically with the advent of the light bulb.

          • Lol …. correlation is not the same thing as causation.

          • DanJ0

            I daresay there’s a metaphor in there somewhere about light (i.e. knowledge) chasing away fears of the unknown. Living in Scotland, I expect you’ve been in close to true darkness at times. Perhaps wild camping in winter with a thick cloud cover, for example. There’s something primeval about the experience I think, and I can easily imagine how people in our early history felt in the dark of the night. Similarly, there’s something awe-inspiring about the thousands upon thousands of visible stars against a black sky which can move me to tears in wonder even though I have a scientific understanding of what I’m looking at.

          • Jack is fortunate enough to live on the edge of the New Galloway Forest – one of the designated areas free of light pollution in Britain. Being close to nature does somehow connect one with something outside of oneself. Science is of the mind; awe comes from the heart and the soul. These aspects of experience are not necessarily in contradiction. One of Jack’s favourite places to visit is Ninian’s Cave in Whithorn. Everyday is different according to the light and the seasons.

      • It’s called secular humanism.

        • Anton

          Yes absolutely, but WHY does it make people so resistant to the gospel, to the extent that even converts from it seldom find their life changed the way it is in Acts? There is a deeper unanswered question here.

          • Only God knows the answer to that one, Anton. Jack could discuss Fatima with you and a series of personal revelations concerning this. However, it’s amply covered in 2 Thessalonians.
            As Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.…” This applies to all ages.

          • Anton

            I agree with what you say, but I think I’m not making my question clear. Converts from secular humanism seem to find it harder to be whole-hearted Christians than converts from other belief systems. Why is this? Like you I can give one or two answers, but none of them satisfies.

          • Define “whole hearted Christian”. Jack doesn’t believe the power of the Holy Spirit is contingent. However, the approach to evangelising perhaps should be. Pope Francis has been addressing this very issue over the past 2 years – as have the authors of this weblog on various occasions.

            It’s not too difficult to understand when one considers the people the Apostles preached to were raised believing in God and were awaiting the Messiah. The whole Jewish culture was directed at worshipping God. One doubts too they were living the inherently and objectively sinful lives many do today. Family life today is weak, a sense of community with others is weak, and people are inculcated with the belief there is no God and science can answer all questions. Happiness comes from consuming and satisfying one’s desires.

            All that said, God in His wisdom knows from before creation how individual souls will react to His call and places them in situations in time that optimises their opportunities for salvation. This means He also knows those souls who will refuse Him and are damned. He determines when and where people will be born to fulfil His plan – just as Mary was born when she was and Judas.

          • Anton

            Look, I’m not interested in legalism here (re your opening sentence). I think there is a deeper answer we haven’t twigged yet and that the things you point to are symptoms of something deeper rather than root causes. But I freely admit that I don’t know what.

          • Jack wasn’t referring to “legalism” but connection with Christ. It’s oneness with Him that defines a Christian and this doesn’t change according to historical circumstances.

            Conversion is more difficult nowadays as loving God with one’s whole mind, heart and soul is not so easy. Growing up, Jack learnt the basic Catechism which he didn’t understand or fully accept. When he did ‘convert’ more fully in later life the basic precepts were in his mind and could be recollected because of this grounding. Many children are denied this today.

            The “deeper symptom” Jack believes is pending judgement on Western civilisation.

    • DanJ0

      It’s never gone down very well here on the numerous occasions that I’ve made that argument. Heh.

    • chiefofsinners

      Nice to have you back, Linus. Pissoir.

  • Dreadnaught

    Just like Savile wore whizz-down joggin pants and no jocks – the Bish chose a monks frock – so much easier to drop when someone unexpected walked in. He thought his actions through more thorougly than just donning the robes of a humble monk to dupe the faithful. What a nasty little git.

    • dannybhoy

      Yeeeeuk.
      The thing is though that people who have an unhealthy interest in young people will gravitate towards careers/positions that allow them access..
      Christianity teaches that people who have done evil or perverted things must accept the punishment due, even though they may have repented and been reconciled to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
      This man should have been exposed and dealt with as soon as his crimes became known.

      • Dreadnaught

        He’d already exposed himself enough i’d say.

  • DanJ0

    “In doing so He refines and changes us, heightening our consciences and turning us away from evil, not by our own strength, but through His.”

    That doesn’t seem to be a universally understood piece of theology amongst the Christians who frequent this place.

    • IanCad

      I think, DanJ0, that it is understood very well by the Christians on this blog.
      However in the fervor of a blogging controversy often we misspeak, get too worked up, and assume that everyone will understand.
      Let me add further that we are enjoined to be hot or cold. The lukewarm will be spat out.
      Well, that’s my excuse. I try not to offend but sometimes the wife has been nagging me more than usual.

      • DanJ0

        Actually, I was talking academically rather than practically. There’s a handful who seem to think that once ‘saved’, they can do what they like on the basis of ‘once-saved, always-saved’, or something. That is, there’s no obligation to try to be godly, and that all good works come from their god’s actions … in the sense of a conduit rather than through spiritual change. At least as I interpret what they say anyway. Extreme protestants, to a man.

        • IanCad

          Must be a small handful who cleave to the OSAS doctrine. Pretty much to a man/woman the witnesses on this blog seem to heed the words of Paul: (Philippians 2:12)

          “—work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

          • DanJ0

            It’s my understanding of Christianity that its followers believe that once their ‘spirits’ have been ‘reawakened’ they are a work in progress and that good works will flow more and more over time as they are changed. Years ago I traded many emails with a bloke in the States who was in a cell church and I think I’ve been influenced in my understanding by him. He talked about attaching to the vine as a branch and getting his life from the source. An allegory in John, if I recall correctly. I’ve since been surprised by differing approaches when talking to other self-identifying Christians.

          • chiefofsinners

            You’re absolutely right that real Christians believe they are work in progress.
            Jesus told another parable saying the kingdom of God would be like a mustard seed that grew into a great tree ‘and all the birds of the air came and perched in its branches’. This is so. There are endless oddballs, hangers on, good old fashioned morons and, tragically, paedophiles aplenty. All perching in the shelter offered by the church.

          • The Parable of the tares and wheat …..

          • sarky

            Sounds like such an appealing proposition.

          • chiefofsinners

            There are, of course, plenty of oddballs, morons and paedophiles outside the church too. The Houses of Parliament, by all accounts…

          • sarky

            But the church seems to be like a giant magnet. I wonder why that is?

          • CliveM

            Trusted access to young people.

            Music schools/colleges have a similar problem. Most normal teaching is classroom based, music teaching is frequently one to one.

          • chiefofsinners

            Because it offers a cloak of respectability and a willingness to think the best of people. You seem strangely drawn yourself.

          • sarky

            Only in the sense that, like most atheists, I have an interest (not belief) in religion.

        • dannybhoy

          “There’s a handful who seem to think that once ‘saved’, they can do what they like on the basis of ‘once-saved, always-saved’, or something.”

          Don’t be shy, give some examples, some names,,

          “At least as I interpret what they say anyway. Extreme protestants, to a man.”
          You’re not a Christian, so on what basis do you interpret and decide this handful are extreme Protestants??

          • DanJ0

            I don’t care for your pugilistic approach on this otherwise reasonable sub-thread. However, on this particular point I note that most people here feel comfortable commenting on Islam despite not being Muslim so I don’t see why I should feel any different. If that doesn’t suit you then you know what you can do.

          • dannybhoy

            Never mind all the flannel, just chuck out some names to back up your assertion..
            The Inspector is the only one who is out on a limb, but you will have noticed that whilst not agreeing with his theology, we nevertheless extend our Christian love and respect to him.
            So go on, name names or retract,
            I won’t think any the worse of you.

          • DanJ0

            I’ll do neither, thanks. You have no right or authority to make demands here as it is not your blog. Foxtrot Oscar.

          • dannybhoy

            Lol!
            Show some courage man! You made a derogatory statement, so back it up with names.

          • DanJ0

            You seem to have an ongoing intolerance of non-Christian views being expressed around here, despite the blog owner’s stated policy, but you won’t get your way unless the blog owner decides himself to limit the variety of the comments section. Hard luck.

          • dannybhoy

            DanJo,
            Just either add some flesh to your accusational bones or withdraw the statement. You’re not a Christian, you mock and attack Christianity at every opportunity.
            That’s fine. Sometimes you hit on a truth and we should acknowledge it. But this time you are accusing some of being a handful of extreme Protestants..
            So man up and name names or retract….

          • DanJ0

            Start your own blog if you want to make demands. I certainly won’t be joining you there though as you’re not much good at edification, either in the biblical or the secular sense.

          • dannybhoy

            No demands. Just appealing to your non Christian/anti Christian sense of honesty and integrity as a blogger.

          • DanJ0

            Had I been in the middle of a debate or argument with you about specifics, you might have a point there. However, I was not and names add nothing really to my point. Hence, you have no grounds for making such a demand. You’re just trying to pick a fight and, rather ironically given other comments down here, demonstrating your true nature. I’ve given a reference to the allegory of the vine below, in the reasonable part of the sub-thread before you rocked up doing your usual thing. You might find it edifying when you’re done causing trouble. No need to thank me for being a thorn in your side, biblically speaking. No, really.

        • CliveM

          It was also an early heresy in the Church. Which is where the book of James comes in.

      • dannybhoy

        Don’t apologise Ian. DanJo has his own axe to grind, and he knows very well that this is a Christian blog and that most of us agree on the basics.

    • It’s theologically complex DanJo, and a source of friction amongst Christians. The Catholic Church has no settled doctrine on predestination and on how grace which is made available to all becomes efficacious for those who are saved.

  • DanJ0

    The bishop appears to have escaped full sentence because senior figures in the Establishment have got involved. That’s not right, surely. Then, the conviction is a little curious. Two counts of sexual assault, I think, and misconduct in public office. The second one is the interesting one. Presumably, that’s been deployed because he’s a bishop in the established church.

    • CliveM

      DanJo

      Do you mean that establishment figures interfered with the judges sentencing? What evidence is there for that?

    • alternative_perspective

      And deeply un Biblical also.

      The established church did seem to attract a lot of scum in the past, we are living with the consequences today. The topic gets me hot under the collar and I am prone to ramble and vent my fury in such situations.

  • One practical question I have concerns this “misconduct in a public office” angle. Does this mean (a) that he’d have got away with offences of manipulation had he been a leader in some other religious group? and (b) that Anglican vicars are now confirmed as being “public officials”, too? If so, I can think of at least one other case from the 1990s that might be worth a second look.

    My own thoughts here.

  • Two texts that we should bear in mind before commenting on this subject:
    Romans 11:20. ‘Be not high-minded, but fear.’
    1 Corinthians 10:12. ‘Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.’

    We know that Christians are not perfect (eg. 1 John 1:8). Even David, the ‘man after God’s own heart’ could fall into the most dreadful sin. Yet as someone below says, there should be something different about Christians; we should give evidence of a new life. ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new’ (2 Cor. 5:17).
    .
    The accounts of the 1859 and 1904-5 Revivals in Wales, which were very well documented, give evidence of this. People’s lives were utterly changed: crime and drunkenness and wife-beating fell dramatically. Even today, anyone can read of how Christ has utterly changed the lives of prisoners, drug addicts and others. So how do we get these dreadful occurrences that we read of above?
    .
    I think we need to understand that those who are sexually attracted to young children will seek ways to get access to them. They will become teachers, Boy Scout leaders, sports coaches and churchmen in order to gain access. All one can do in these instances is to check thoroughly and be vigilant. Also, all allegations must be investigated by the police. I was involved in a situation like this once where a youth worker had transgressed. Although the child in question was a 15 year-old Lolita rather than a nine year-old choirboy, the law had been broken and the police were called.
    .
    But I believe there is another reason why the institutional churches like the C of E and the Church of Rome have this problem especially. It is the failure to preach the New Birth. This was the doctrine that transformed Britain in the 18th and 19th Centuries. However, if one has been taught from an early age that one is a Christian because one has been baptized, it is entirely possible to be confirmed, go to seminary, become a cleric and then a bishop without ever having one’s heart changed by the Gospel. Even in many Baptist churches, the aim seems to be to give a child the minimum possible amount of information to get to make some sort of declaration of faith at the earliest age. The greatest besetting problem of the Church today is an unconverted ministry. It is only going to be solved when the New Birth is preached in the churches and evidence of regeneration required for church membership.

    • dannybhoy

      Well said Martin.

    • William Lewis

      Good comment!

    • “However, if one has been taught from an early age that one is a Christian because one has been baptized … “

      That’s not what Catholicism actually teaches. It teaches one is freed from the collective human guilt of Original Sin through baptism but that one then receives the gift of the Holy Spirit and must respond to these graces.

      “It is only going to be solved when the New Birth is preached in the churches and evidence of regeneration required for church membership.”

      And just who makes this judgement and on what basis about permitting people to worship God?

      • chiefofsinners

        People can worship God in a church without being members.
        Membership means bearing the good name of the church. For those who unrepentantly fail in this, there is the concept of excommunication – which is well understood in Catholicism. Many churches also, quite rightly, are careful about who is recognised as a member in the first place.

        • In the Catholic Church even excommunicated members are encouraged, indeed required, to attend Mass on Sunday, although they are not permitted access to the Eucharist. This is part of what the Synod on the Family is considering.

          • chiefofsinners

            Considering allowing them access to the Eucharist or considering not requiring them to attend mass?

          • The former. There is a push from liberal bishops to permit divorced and remarried access to the Eucharist if evidence for annulment cannot be established to be pastoral and merciful – and this is also being mooted for active homosexuals too by some.

          • chiefofsinners

            Homing in on the point of today’s article, what about active paedophiles?

          • Active paedophiles, that is those with no intention of changing, would most certainly be barred from the Eucharist and any active role in the Church. However, unlike the divorced and homosexual, they are difficult to identify. Nowadays though priests are discouraged from publically withholding Communion from anyone who presents themselves.

      • That’s not what Catholicism actually teaches. It teaches one is freed from the collective human guilt of Original Sin through baptism but that one then receives the gift of the Holy Spirit and must respond to these graces.

        Well it’s wrong, and egregiously so. But the 1662 Prayer Book is no better. It assumes that the baby is regenerate.

        And just who makes this judgement and on what basis about permitting people to worship God?

        The judgement about who should come into church membership is ultimately made by the congregation on the advice of the minister, led (we trust) by the Holy Spirit and based a credible profession of repentance and faith by the candidate (cf. Luke 19:8-9). We know that errors can be made, and were made even in Biblical times (Acts 8:13, 20-21), but it certainly beats assuming regeneration based on sprinkling water on a baby’s head. However, not being a member does not prohibit anyone from coming into the church, worshipping, and hearing the Gospel.

    • Albert

      I believe there is another reason why the institutional churches like the C of E and the Church of Rome have this problem especially.

      I would like to see the evidence that they do have this problem especially, as opposed to their names coming up more regularly because of their size and unity. For example, in the Catholic Church, I think the number of priests and religious at anyone time is about 2 million. Now even if the proportion of those abusing is tiny, you are still going to have a large number of tragic cases. But if Pastor Bob of “Make your own church because you’ve fractured from a fracture from a fracture of a sect” no one else thinks it has much to do with them.

      • Powerdaddy

        It’s not about the proportion of abusers. It’s about how you deal with them. So many cover ups. So much abuse enabling. Your cult is a joke.

        Albert, do you believe it is always wrong to kill babies? Or can drowning of ALL babies be just?

        • Albert

          You’ve missed the point. An independent congregation will be more likely to cover up an accusation against the minister, because the accusation is either made to the minister himself, or to the local parish who will be less likely to believe the accusation because they know and love the minister.

          Cover up, as every can see now, is unfortunately, a feature of how everyone dealt with this.

          • Powerdaddy

            “They are more likely to do it than us” is a moot point and carries no weight if you have already done ‘it’, don’t you think?

            And cover up isn’t how “everyone dealt with this” or we wouldn’t be typing about it. The church covered it up. Your church.

          • Albert

            Powerdaddy, I think you fail to read the comment that comes before the one you address. My comment was necessarily about proportion, because that is what was raised in the comment I was answering.

            If you can’t see that everyone covered this stuff up, then I can only assume you are completely ignorant of the news.

          • An independent congregation will be more likely to cover up an accusation against the minister

            Since you demand evidence from others, I’d like to see your evidence for your unsubstantiated claim. You seem very eager to smear as many churches as possible. I wonder why that is.

            I began my initial post with two Bible texts; they apply to all who bear the name of Christian.

          • Albert

            My apologies, I’ve wrong footed myself. I was trying to express the view that I was offering a hypothesis that an independent congregation will do that. I found I ended up with the word “likely” twice, took one out and didn’t notice it looked like I was stating a fact. I think it likely though that people will gather around the minister in that way, because that is actually what often happens when clergy in other traditions are accused – the bishop suspends the minister and the people don’t believe it. If there is no bishop, and no supervision higher than the accused minister, it is hard to see how the congregation of an independent community will deal better with the problem than those with external oversight.

            Now that I’ve clarified my comment, will you now defend your original claim…

            I believe there is another reason why the institutional churches like the C of E and the Church of Rome have this problem especially.

            …after all, the scripture says Romans 11:20. ‘Be not high-minded, but fear.’1 Corinthians 10:12. ‘Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.’

          • CliveM

            I’m sorry I don’t see what the point of this is. Are we playing a game of my Church is not as vile as your Church or my Church abuse is not as bad as your Church abuse?

            I think this is Gillans point. The Church, in its broadest sense, has failed in this issue. It hasn’t protected those it had a duty to protect and has protected those it had a duty to expose.

            Frankly having a debate whether the CofE is worse then the RC, or whether the Independents are better then both, misses the point.

          • Albert

            Actually, that’s what I’m objecting to. If I were writing an article on the Catholic Church on this, and I happened to say something like “of course things have been worse for the CofE, they even had an Archbishop of Canterbury who allowed a convicted abuser to be ordained and then left that clergyman unsupervised to abuse for decades following” then I think most people would find that rather vile, even though it is true. Yes, we all have reason to be ashamed, so comparisons with others should not be made.

            But if they are made and they are false, why would anyone complain if someone corrects the comparison? Again, let us suppose I said “of course things are far worse in the CofE which has three times the amount of abuse” people would rightly take me to task for saying something that is false.

            Even if what Gillian says is true, it’s still like a murderer saying “At least I only murdered five people, not the ten that X murdered.”

          • CliveM

            I think this is a pissing contest best avoided. Even if their is an innocent party everyone is soiled.

          • Albert

            I agree. My objection is to Gillan doing this, and to Gillan doing this with tenuous evidence, with the result that his own communion looks better than it perhaps deserves.

          • CliveM

            Albert

            I tend to agree with Happy Jacks interpretation of his comments.

          • Albert

            I would welcome Jack’s interpretation as being correct, but I cannot see from the OP that it is. In the light of what has happened, surely the only thing to do is to put one’s hand up, accept shame for one’s own community, and in no way implicate anyone else?

          • CliveM

            Now here’s the thing, RCC, CofE, CofS, Methodist, Independent, I see us as one community. I feel personal shame over the failing of anyone of our family, I feel no pleasure at all that’s it’s another member of the community who has failed.

            Maybe that’s where Gillan is coming from.

          • Albert

            It’s a nice sentiment, but the articles Cranmer at least wrote against the Catholic Church on this matter, are for me, the context. But yes, if I’ve misread the OP I will of course withdraw my remarks, but I haven’t seen any evidence for that.

          • CliveM

            Albert

            I can’t comment on Cranmers blogs, before my time.

            But also before Gillans.

            You tend to use language in a very precise manner. Certainly in a way I’m not capable of. I think most communication tends not to be precise in the way you achieve and I think that maybe the issue here.

            That is not a criticism btw!

          • Albert

            Thank you, Clive. I don’t take it as a criticism.

          • Do, please, stop this. The Deputy Editor is not “anti-Catholic” except insofar he’s Anglican. And if you’re alleging (yet again) the same of His Grace by alluding to whatever “context” you appear to be trawling (conveniently ignoring, it seems, blog posts written in the past on child abuse within the Church of England), then you’re welcome to set up camp on a Roman catholic blog which will be much more to your to your liking. Reading through all your comments obsessing about the Deputy Editor’s supposed shortcomings and turning this into “anti-Catholicism” is shameful. This is a post about hypocrisy, shame and evil. There were real victims. Try focusing on that instead of defending your denomination from fabricated slurs.

          • Albert

            Precisely. Which is why the comparison was unworthy.

          • Albert

            And by the way, I never said he was anti-Catholic – in fact, I think I said he wasn’t.

          • The Deputy Editor’s name is GILLAN.

          • Albert

            Apologies. I’m perhaps dislexic than I realise…

          • dannybhoy

            Gillian’s quite sweet..

          • Powerdaddy

            Wrong footed yourself in the same way as saying drowning ALL babies can be seen as just?

            Albert, how can you type “An independent congregation will be more likely to cover up an accusation against the minister” and mean something else?

            One hell of a typo.

            Surely you should be removing the word ‘more’ rather than twittering on about an extra usage of ‘likely’ in your sentence?

          • Albert

            I have never said drowning any baby is just. Neither did I say my error was a typo. I have explained what I did. It happens.

          • Powerdaddy

            I wish you would make your mind up. So the Great Flood isn’t a story of God acting in a way, and having a character, that is perfectly just?

            Having another off day was he?

            “An independent congregation will be more likely to cover up an accusation against the minister”

            Just curious to know…whereabouts was the deleted word ‘likely’ placed in your sentence that would so drastically change its meaning?

          • Albert

            Powerdaddy, as I’m not a fundamentalist the issue does not arise. But your point is still illiterate. Justice means to give to each what is owing to them. God does not owe us anything. Therefore, God’s justice does not come into this.

            Just curious to know…whereabouts was the deleted word ‘likely’ placed in your sentence that would so drastically change its meaning?

            Do you not write much? I did this change in about 7 seconds. I had a sentence with “likely” in twice, rewrote part of the sentence accordingly, and later saw that the sentence didn’t quite convey what I intended. Is that so unlikely to you?

          • Powerdaddy

            It’s hard work towing the party line when the party line is incoherent.
            You said earlier, “You see, according to the story, according to the very passage you quote, the Flood is a punishment for sin. That is, it remains an act of justice.”

            Either the babies that perished in the Flood were “owed” a death by drowning or they were not.

            Drowning ALL babies on the planet can be seen as either morally good or not. Which is it to be today, Albert?

          • Albert

            Both positions are entirely consistent. Let us assume the story is literal historical fact (not my view). God justly punishes the guilty for their sins. That’s justice. But you say, what about the babies, they didn’t sin? True, but, as I said, Justice means to give to each what is owing to them. God does not owe us [in this case the babies] anything, therefore, if the babies get caught up in God’s punishment of the guilty, then he is not being unjust to the babies, as he does not owe them anything.

            You’ll find it helpful and more rational if you wait until all the evidence is heard before you draw your conclusions.

            A reason I am unhappy with this literalist account BTW, is that it does not seem to fit well with the picture of God as given in Jesus. But I cannot fault it from the point of view of justice.

          • Powerdaddy

            It is always wrong to kill a baby.

            Versus-

            I cannot fault the killing of all babies from the point of view of justice.

            Both positions are not entirely consistent, are they Albert?

            Why would you suggest otherwise, Albert?

          • Albert

            How explicit do I have to make the points for you, Powerdaddy? Goodness is not a word that can be used univocally of God and creatures. A good doctor does the opposite of a good assassin. Thus the word “good” has a different meaning, depending on what it is referring to. Therefore, “goodness” does not relate to God in the same way as it does to us. This ought to have been obvious from the fact that, while we have obligations to each other, God does not.

            Thus while it is always wrong for us to kill a baby, it doesn’t follow that it is wrong for God to kill a baby. Although even here, even on a literalist interpretation (which I reject) it is not clear that God is directly killing babies, rather than them being collateral of another action of God’s. Thus my two statements are:

            It is always wrong to kill a baby. This is true for human beings.

            I cannot fault the killing of all babies from the point of view of justice. This is true for God.

            Perhaps if you quote my in the context in which I place my words, it would help.

          • Powerdaddy

            “I cannot fault the killing of all babies from the point of view of justice. This is true for God.”

            lol Albert!

            Does God have an obligation to act morally good or, are God’s acts morally good by definition?

          • Albert

            LOL Powerdaddy. You’ve just missed the entire point of my last post! Moral goodness, applied to God is meaningless. You may as well say God is good a running four minute miles, as say he is morally good. This isn’t to deny he is good, it’s just to preserve against the anthorpomorphism, which appears to be the reason you don’t believe in God.

          • Powerdaddy

            Every moral agent can be judged on their moral actions. Size power and intelligence is irrelevant.

            If moral goodness is meaningless applied to God how can you make the moral decision that he is worth worshipping?

            How have you decided that God is the ‘good’ one and the devil is the ‘bad’ one?

          • Albert

            God is not a moral agent, therefore, the decision that he is worth worshipping is not based on his morality. With regard to your last question, it depends on whether you want me to answer philosophically or theologically.

          • Now that I’ve clarified my comment, will you now defend your original claim…

            I don’t see that I need to. The written record stands in a thousand newspaper reports. If you have written evidence that thousands of Baptist and free-church ministers are pederasts, kindly produce it. Otherwise stop trying to spread the muck about.
            .
            My point was, and remains, that all men are sinners, but that he that is born of God will not continue in sin (1 John 3:9, NIV). It is therefore vital, for many reasons, that Christian ministers are born again by the Holy Spirit and therefore the very first step in the selection of any ministerial candidate is that he show clear signs of regeneration. This was the principle adopted by the famous C.H. Spurgeon when he founded his Pastors’ College. Alas! It has passed into the hands of the ghastly Baptist Union, and its standards have changed accordingly.

          • Albert

            The written record stands in a thousand newspaper reports.

            Child abuse is everywhere. There are two factors that affect the amount in any institution: 1. the number of adults, and 2. the access to children that they come into contact with. Since the Catholic Church is miles bigger than all the others, and does so much more for children than all the others, I’m afraid, that means, we know there will be more Catholic abuse.

            If you have written evidence that thousands of Baptist and free-church ministers are pederasts, kindly produce it.

            It’s this kind of naivety that feeds off anti-Catholic prejudice that puts children in your communities at risk.

            http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/29/protestants-abuse-catholics-methodist-church

            From this website: http://stopbaptistpredators.org/alarmingnumbers.html

            A Baptist-published brochure states that 35% of ministers surveyed “had engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior.” It also states that Protestant clergy are “sexually exploiting their parishioners at twice the rate of secular therapists.” (Broken Trust, published by the Christian Life Commission of the BGCT)

            Other studies “have shown no differences” in the frequency of clergy sexual abuse “by denomination, region, theology, or institutional structure.” Thus, “the problem of clergy sexual abuse is not just a Catholic issue – the problem extends to Protestant denominations as well.” (Ministerial Ethics at 162*) Penn State professor Philip Jenkensreported that between 2 to 3 percent of Protestant clergy are pedophiles. His same study reported that less than 1.7 percent of Catholic priests are pedophiles. There is simply no reason to think that clergy child molesters are solely a Catholic problem.

            What kind of regeneration is that?

          • The American website you linked is no longer maintained and most of the links don’t work, including some to Church of Rome sites. There might be a variety of reasons for that.
            .
            The link concerning the Methodists confirms my point. Methodism was built upon the doctrine of the New Birth and had immense beneficial effects upon Britain in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Now it is fighting it out with the ‘United Reformed’ Church for the unenviable title of most liberal denomination in the country. There are a few evangelical congregations left, mostly in Devon and Cornwall, but they need to come out of the denomination, and several are doing so.
            .
            A converted ministry is vital for a whole host of reasons of which child abuse is one. I have said before that Britain desperately needs a second Reformation to clear away every vestige of Erastianism, to bury the mixed denominations and to establish true Christian unity on a spiritual, rather than an organizational basis.

          • Albert

            The website appears to me to be maintained, though, it is often the case that some links don’t work. There is enough there to prove the point I am maintaining. As there is if one simply googles the issue. The idea that because someone has received some kind of Evangelical regeneration that therefore they won’t commit these kinds of sins, seems odd to me. Is not the principle simul iustus et peccator? Thus your position seems to me to be evidentially wrong, and also theologically wrong (if I understand your point about regeneration, which perhaps I don’t).

            Your comments about Methodism and the URC are moot in the light of what you asked me to do: find evidence in Free Churches.

            What bothers me about your position is that, in your attempt to make this a problem of “the others” (happily you don’t seem to be pointing the finger only at the Catholic Church), you are less able to notice the risks to the children in your own community. Perhaps you should ponder these things.

  • Inspector General

    Rotten blighter! It appears he had hardly unpacked upon arriving at Gloucester when he started to sodomise the (vulnerable) flock.

    One doubts he’s repentant even now. In much the same way that some Synod members are unrepentant when it comes to desiring to pollute their denomination with the latest manifestation of the Golden Calf – the cult of homosexuality – the evils of which Ball has given us a most unpleasant insight. If the Church of England throws away its purity for the vain worship of political correctness, then all is surely lost…

    The scoundrel deserves to be beaten with rods by those he abused, what!

    • The Explorer

      First Fred West and now this. What is it about Gloucester? Something in the water?

      • Inspector General

        Gloucester’s well water was renowned in the middle ages for it’s sparkling properties. However, this is now attributed to the extremely dense Severn clay upon which the town was built which prevents urea compounds from leaching through the soil, and thus remaining where it was deposited, obviously close to wells…

        • IanCad

          And I’ve been rinsing my hair and washing my smelly feet in pee all these years.
          You’ve got me worried.

          • Inspector General

            The most honest thing in all the world is a bowl of piss. It is exactly what it is, nothing more or less. No airs or graces. Surprised the great still life painters didn’t paint the subject.

            We should all endeavour to be as bowls of piss to each other. To wit, honest…

          • chiefofsinners

            Could it be? You are the famous Inspector Foster who stepped in the piddle right up to his middle?

          • Inspector General

            Ah, that infamous rhyme. It dates from the early 1980s when Gloucestershire County Council road maintenance committee effectively washed its hands of all responsibility for potholes. Acts of God they were, apparently…

          • Inspector General

            I say Avi, every doctor’s surgery should have a print of that masterpiece hanging!

          • Indeed so, Inspector, if for no other reason than to serve as a cautionary public health illustration against holding a vile vial of urine with one’s fingers on the inside, as Monsieur Trophime Bigot’s physician appears to be doing.

            A higher resolution reproduction in the public domain, should you wish to print out the image for presentation to your family leech this Christmas:

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Bigot%2C_Trophime_-_A_Doctor_Examining_Urine.jpg

          • Inspector General

            Duly saved, my good man.

          • magnolia

            Bigot Trophime ……now there’s a name to conjure (ahem, metaphorically) with, but perhaps not on this blog as His Grace does not like the word “bigot”. Perhaps though it is one for the Inspector to store up as a potential nom de plume for his forays into sorting out the pinkos….Accompanied by the picture, clearly, which might go down all too well…

      • Pubcrawler

        A fine cathedral, Gloucester. Also some fine pubs.

      • Merchantman

        Maybe the flooding of the city on a regular basis is an indication of God’s cleansing provision. I’m not sure why he would allow the urea to stick around. They used to wash wool in urea as a preservative so maybe that had something to do with it.

      • magnolia

        Are you winding the Inspector up by chance?

      • Old Nick

        Doctor Foster
        went to Gloucester
        in a shower of rain.
        He met Fred West
        and thought it best
        not to go there again.

  • IanCad

    Sabbath’s here.
    Blessings all.

    • dannybhoy

      God’s Blessings on you Ian.
      Here’s a beautiful Jewish song sung by Simcha Leiner entitled “Depths.” alluding to the descent into the cold, bare underground shelters (miklutim) during a rocket or artillery attack. Like the descent of a soul into the grave…

      It’s not about Shabbat specifically, but just listen to the passion in his voice; the eternal longing and devotion of the Jew to his God..

  • Kevill Davies

    I notice that in the post and all the comments the emphasis has been on the Bishop, his failings and that of the Church of England. There is not one mention of the innocent victims, their sufferings and needs. Just tell me all you apologists for God, where was he when these disgusting deeds took place, often I suspect in His own ‘house’. Isn’t it better and more honest to believe that no such entity exists? The problem is not new and confined to the Church of England.
    Next year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Aberfan, when 144 children and teachers never returned home from school. The young innocents were dead and out of it, all those years ago, but, again, what of the suffering of those left behind? Parents, I hope, were comforted by the idea that God needed more angels but now some of them might reflect that their lives, those left behind, have been destroyed by the lack of God’s Mercy and Compassion. They will never watch their beloved kids grow up; will never see their children marry and have their grandchildren. Never will they hold their son or daughter’s children in their embrace. It is difficult, almost impossible to see any Mercy here and impossible to fathom out the allocation of justice.
    Never has the world had less need of a God and never has the world needed a wholesome, more caring and Godless Church.

    • William Lewis

      “Next year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Aberfan … It is difficult, almost impossible to see any Mercy here and impossible to fathom out the allocation of justice.”

      Indeed, but any “Godless Church” cannot provide these either: no mercy in death, nor ultimate justice. Your solution to these problems doesn’t really cut it.

      It seems that our God’s answer to death is to suffer it, in extremis, Himself and show that it can/will ultimately be defeated. I’m sure that is not how you (or I) would choose to deal with it, but there we are.

      By the way, Aberfan was ascribed to human negligence. Are we also to blame God for our crimes?

      • Pubcrawler

        There’s also Luke 13.1-5.

    • Albert

      Isn’t it better and more honest to believe that no such entity exists?

      If you think so, why don’t you set out an argument for that conclusion? I.e. an argument with clear premises and formal logic.

    • Inspector General

      God isn’t our wet nurse. These things happen in a creation where we are left to get on with it…

    • Phil R

      We cannot determine justice from our viewpoint.

      We are not God

    • magnolia

      So how would you comfort the bereaved? As it happens I have suffered multiple bereavements recently and the anti-God anti-afterlife anti-Heaven line, had I been so foolish would have left me in despair. Atheists offer nothing to the bereaved or the dying except their own version of bleak despair and a supposition of going into nothingness.

      I would myself, and also would advise others to keep well away from atheists if you are dying or bereaved. They offer only the solace of saying everything someone has been, all their thoughts and love and idiosyncrasies go to zilch and there is no end purpose whatever. Miserable gits!

      • sarky

        Oi who you calling a miserable git?

        Death is a lot easier to deal with if you are not pinning your hopes on the afterlife. It has a habit of focusing your mind on the moment and not wasting time wishing for something that in all probability is a lie.
        As for only offering the bereaved bleak despair, what utter rubbish. We offer them a shoulder and an ear and practical help in the ‘real’ world. What do you offer the grieving family of an atheist? Oh yes that’s right, the vision of their loved one burning in hell for eternity bring tortured daily by fiery demons. Very comforting I’m sure.

        • magnolia

          Putting words in our mouths? We offer them “sure and certain HOPE of the Resurrection to eternal life.” Like the last workers in the vineyard it is quite possible for the soul of the deceased to find forgiveness and restoration at the last moment of their lives or at the meeting with Jesus along the way. Atheists have died, met Jesus, and been given a second chance to get things right. Read a few near death experiences and you will find this out.

          It is better to find the Lord and “remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12.1) for then you may sow more abundantly into the life of others doing those things which last into eternity. Nevertheless the reward for the last workers is the same as that for the first, and that is just fine.

          • sarky

            Atheists have died met jesus and been given a second chance.

            How could you possibly know that if they died? Or are you the doris stokes of cranmer?
            As for all this NDE nonsense, if it is true than christianity is wrong, because the majority who seem to end up seeing heaven have no religious belief at all.

          • magnolia

            How could you know? Because there are people who have flatlined, been taken to the morgue, and come back to life to tell their stories. Look on Youtube and you will find some intelligent coherent verifiable stories, for a start.

            I don’t know who told you Jesus belongs only to Christians..He didn’t only die for us. He doesn’t only love us. Why shouldn’t others see heaven? It is entirely up to Him, not up to our dogma. Not all who cry “Lord, Lord” we are told belong to him. Conversely……

          • sarky

            Cool, I’ll get my place without having to deal with all this christianity nonsense.

          • magnolia

            You need to love Jesus! If you don’t like what he said and did it might be hard to accept him as your Lord. But some who have never known him or had the opportunity to know him have yet met him in visions and dreams on this earth. This has been so for quite a number of Muslims. It is not hard to find their testimonies on the web. They then get very excited as they find the words and explanations in Scripture that they have never seen or heard before and they are already alive with meaning.

            So you get experience –> Scripture–> deepening faith. Which is a different dynamic from what we who have read Scripture before we were committed Christians experience.

      • Kevill Davies

        Please accept my condolences on your loss. It is very hard to know what to say to people that have suffered loss and different people have different needs, especially when life ends early and tragically.

        I recall a story from 2004, when a Muslim man, having completed the Hajj returned home to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the tsumani to discover every member of his family wiped out. I wondered then how he would react; curse God for his heartlessness or thank God that he, at least, had survived.

        You ask what I would do. Recently, Pope Francis is reported as having said that Christians in the twenty-first century might have to change their perception of God. I dont know what he means by that but I hope that he has recognised the innate spirituality of mankind, especially of Jesus, the man. The Archbishop of Canterbury has also admitted there are times he doubts the existence of God.

        In my post, I talk of the need of a Godless Church, one that doesn’t rely on falsehoods and myth. As hospitals mend the physically ill, I see the principal, but not only, role of this revised Church as mending the spiritually ill. One of those roles would be to provide comfort for those in need, not only in bereavement, but in all manners of distress.

        I don’t for a minute think we atheists are miserable gits, but we do want people to be aware how fantastic life is. Life is a miracle of nature, so rare in the universe and possibly unique in our human form. We are privileged to be part of it however short the duration and need not dwell on there being nothing to follow. For those able to have children, people will live on through their offspring.

        • magnolia

          1. Thank you for your graciousness.
          2. In my albeit limited experience of the dying, their faith in God and the after life often becomes almost tangible in the air. Quite a number have a “Steve Jobs” moment when they see something wonderful and awe-inspiring just before they depart.

          Many are fully aware as they die, and fully experience that event and what comes after. Some people who have had NDEs and come back have amazed those who surrounded them as they died by being able after coming back to life to tell them what was happening not only in that room but in other parts of the hospital.

          You appear to fall into the trap that some of the Romantic poets fell into of talking of spirituality and in Christian spiritual terms which are drifting from their roots.

          I am glad you do not think man is solely mechanical, for that seems to be a frequent shortfalling of us all, even in the middle of the church, where we should know better!

          But how you can have spirituality that is mortal and yet dissociated from the Holy Spirit eludes me, just as those who believe in evil, even as a spiritual force, but not in God make to me no sense whatever, though I have met some who thought as much. Metaphysics needs a rational coherent pattern, and the whole lot needs to make sense and have significance in all dimensions, including time and eternity.

          A Godless church just doing somewhat amateur social work? There are enough of those already. They are the world’s problem, not the solution! We need more godly churches run by those with genuine gifts of the Spirit. Just look at what Teen Challenge achieved for an indication of the difference.

  • Good article, Gillan – apart from the misrepresentation of Pope Francis’ comments. There’s considerable evil at work in this world and it has always targeted God’s Church.

    May God bring peace to the victims of these grave crimes made more acute emotionally and spiritually because, in addition to the harm any sex abuse causes, they put significant barriers between the victims and God’s redeeming love.

    • Thank you Happy Jack. We are at the mercies of the media with these reported comments. The truth is not always easy to ascertain.

      • Thank you, Gillan.
        Jack has been following this affair closely and it has to be acknowledged Pope Francis took a risk here. He made the comments but they were not directed at the victims of clerical sexual abuse. There are groups and organisations within the Catholic Church seeking to use every opportunity to damage its Apostolic foundation and male only sacramental priesthood. In war, and it is one, the truth is often the first casualty.

        • Anton

          Are you saying that the man who claims to have been molested by a priest in the presence of the man subsequently made bishop during Francis’ papacy is a liar? (See Gillan’s link above.) Those who hate the Roman Catholic church would have nothing to hang their grumbling on if there were no specific claims. If you believe this man is is lying, evidence would be welcome.

          • Evidence he is being truthful would be more to the point, don’t you think?

          • Anton

            I don’t want to fence and I have no views on the subject of what happened. But evidence is what counts, either way.

          • Albert

            What’s the clue here? The video is not translated. If it’s evidence you want, then what Francis says is (and this comment is mysteriously missing from the WP article as well):

            The only charges brought against Barros were discredited by the judicial court, so please do not lose serenity.

          • Anton

            Thanks; that’s the sort of information I was requesting.

          • Then why raise the question is such an accusatory manner?

          • Anton

            When you make an assertion and I ask a question I think it’s pushing it a bit to say that I’m the one accusing!

          • What assertion did Jack make?

          • Anton

            Every sentence in your comments above that didn’t end with a question mark. I don’t object to those comments, but nobody reading them would guess that the real issue is the veracity (or not) of a statement that a future bishop was watching when a man was indecently assaulted. I welcome all evidence-based discussion of whether that man is telling the truth. Diversions are irrelevant. Albert provided some useful indirect evidence that he was not telling the truth, in fact.

          • Jack simply pointed out Pope Francis’ comments were not directed at alleged or actual victims of sexual abuse but at those with a political agenda in using such suffering as a weapon against the Church. This was the “real issue” so far as Jack was concerned and not conducting a trial by blog on a bishop.

          • Anton

            You are imputing a motive to them (somewhat indiscriminately albeit plausibly) but they would not have had a causus belli but for that man’s claim.

          • It is not imputing a motive when the organisations concerned are self declared opponents of the Church’s doctrines and teachings. To not take this into account was “dumb” as Pope Francis correctly pointed out.

          • Anton

            Organisations perhaps, but I was talking about individuals and some simply wish to see justice done after multiple coverups. My point is that nobody reading your comments would guess that it all began with a man saying that a future bishop had watched him being abused; hence the core issue is whether he is telling the truth or not (upon which I have no views).

          • The core issue Jack was addressing was whether Pope Francis had offended victims of clerical abuse by calling those supporting this orchestrated campaign against this bishop “dumb”.
            Can you advise Jack what the point of this exchange actually is? What is your motive in repeatedly stating allegations which have been found to lack credible evidence both by civil and church authorities?

          • Anton

            We have different interests which is why this exchange has become somewhat circular. It is not, however, the Inquisition.

          • And your interest is?

          • Anton

            As I said, I am not in your courtroom.

          • Umm …

            It seems you imputed motive to Jack when you said “some simply wish to see justice done after multiple coverups (sic)” and then saying “we have different interests …”

            It’s not unreasonable to ask what you consider your interests to be and how they might differ from Jack’s in this.

          • Anton

            To answer the second question I’d have to know what yours are!

          • Indeed you would, so how can you assert our interests are different?

          • Anton

            As I said, I am not in your courtroom and you are not an Inquisitor. My interest is simply whether the man who said that a future bishop watched him being abused is telling the truth – something I do not know but would like to. I regard all else as diversion, for had he remained silent then this entire exchange would not exist. What do you think, and why?

          • “My interest is simply whether the man who said that a future bishop watched him being abused is telling the truth – something I do not know but would like to.”

            There appears to be no credible corroborating evidence to support the accusation which has been investigated and is denied by the bishop. Is that not sufficient? Should one assume guilt in all these situations because of past cover-ups by both civil and church authorities? Jack said to Gillan, Pope Francis was brave (or foolish) in this matter and has been attacked by both ‘progressives’ and ‘traditionalists’ in the Church for this appointment.

            Jack may be wrong here, and apologies if he is, but it does seem to him you are simply muck-raking.

          • Anton

            I was unhappy that you chose to discuss the issue without saying what lay at the core of it, so I made that explicit. I made no judgement of whether the claim was true or not.

          • Yeah, sure, Anton. That’s why you posted this adversarial comment and then accused Jack of conducting an Inquisition:

            “Are you saying that the man who claims to have been molested by a priest in the presence of the man subsequently made bishop during Francis’ papacy is a liar? (See Gillan’s link above.) Those who hate the Roman Catholic church would have nothing to hang their grumbling on if there were no specific claims. If you believe this man is is lying, evidence would be welcome.”

          • Anton

            Readers may judge for themselves.

          • Inspector General

            Oh! hasn’t he racked you yet? My, we are honoured…

          • Single malt with the cheese, Inspector?

          • Inspector General

            Hello children everywhere!

            And that just shows that if you stick pins in a demon, he’ll invariably come after you. Mind how you go…

          • Oh Jack’s more than capable of dealing with annoying little pricks, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            : – >

          • Anton

            What was that about kicking against them?

          • Indeed … that was the reference Jack had in mind.

          • Anton

            I’d steer clear of the bitter…

          • Indeed … but its not their judgement that matters.

          • Anton

            I expect to meet you in the New Jerusalem.

          • Jack prays it may be so, Anton.

          • Anton

            Thank you and likewise!

          • Of course Jack’s prayers will carry more weight, Anton … ;o)

          • Anton

            If you pray directly through Jesus Christ, that is indeed possible.

          • Inspector General

            It’s like having your collar felt…

          • Anton

            I don’t have any felt collars.

      • Inspector General

        You’re doing very well of late. Do keep it up, that man!

        • The Explorer

          You’re a good Linus spotter. Do you think that Linus is back?

          • Inspector General

            Not sure. One has his suspicions, but unless the sodomy is present, it doesn’t seem to be Linus…

      • Anton

        Some of it re Bergoglio is here:

        http://www.bishop-accountability.org/Argentina/

  • len

    Good article Gillan. It is the attempt by man to cover up his sins by his own efforts that has led to many of the problems of humanity.When Adam sinned he attempted to cover himself and hide from God.

    Man( in the past ) either acknowledges his own sinful nature or attempts to hide it and continues in hypocrisy professing to be’ a good person.’ God defines sin and says “there is none righteous not one”(Romans 3:10)
    Mankind is now in the process of ‘re- defining’ his sin nature and beginning to call ‘good’ what God calls sinful in the attempt to appear’ a good person'(in his own eyes at least).

    The only covering for our sins has been provided by God himself through Jesus Christ through His atonement for the sins of humanity on the Cross at Calvary.
    So we either accept Gods solution for our sinful natures or carry on the pretence of being’ good people’.

  • Albert

    For the Catholic Church it has been far worse globally

    I think it is pretty shocking, Gillian for you to be somehow trying to make yourself feel better by making such a comparison.

    Firstly, the files of the Catholic Church in the US and the UK have been in public hands for a long time. This is not true, I think of the CofE. Naturally, this results in inflated figures for the Catholic Church. Therefore, the comparison cannot yet be made. On the contrary, Welby himself warned of more trouble ahead.

    Secondly, all the evidence suggests the Catholic Church was no worse than other similar organisations. So when the CofE’s evidence is finally exposed, it seems unlikely that the Catholic Church will have a “far worse” proportion.

    Thirdly, the evidence also suggests that the rise of child abuse correlated with, and was probably caused in part by, the loss of sexual morality in society. Since this loss was far more noticeable in the CofE than the Catholic Church, it is reasonable to fear that, when all the figures are out, the CofE will in fact be far worse (coupled with the fact that the CofE has a married ministry, and most abuse takes place in the home). When I grew up in the CofE it was obvious that there were clergy about who had an interest in teenage boys – everybody knew, but no one seemed to care, largely because it was just brushed off as homosexuality.

    Fourthly, it must be remembered that the CofE has been very slow to put in place even the most basic elements of child protection – some of this has only been sorted out within the last five years! So even if it turns out that the CofE has lower rates of abusing clergy, the response of the CofE to the problem was worse. This actually is the worse part of it: the failure of those who were not abusing to manage those who were and protect those who were vulnerable.

    Fifthly, my guess is that the CofE’s disgraceful failure to respond to the problem in anything like an adequate way was because of this attitude to see this problem as a Catholic or celibacy one as far as possible.

    A conclusion should come when all the evidence has been heard, not before it. And in this case, no one has any cause for any conclusion than one of shame, sorrow, and the desire to put things right. A childish “but we weren’t as bad as them” when there is so much evidence against everyone is actually part of of the ongoing problem.

    • len

      I cannot believe any Catholic would attempt to take the high moral ground on matters pertaining to abuse.The whole history of the Roman Church is one steeped in incest adultery murde(and that is just the Popes) of which Jorge Mario Bergoglio is just one of a succession of many.

      • Albert

        I didn’t take the moral high ground, Len.

        The whole history of the Roman Church is one steeped in incest adultery and murder

        Welcome to humanity – or didn’t they teach you the doctrine of original sin?

        • len

          Not ‘all of Humanity’ claims to be the leader of the one true Church church Albert.

          • Albert

            I think you are probably a Donatist.

          • Anton

            Paying compliments?

      • Albert

        BTW, what’s your evidence for the last claim? Or is the fact that he is the Pope sufficient to condemn him?

    • William Lewis

      Albert

      Gillan states some facts, that are damning of both Churches, from which you have selectively quoted. The fuller quote goes thus:

      “Of course we’ve been there before. This may be the most high profile conviction of a Church of England priest in recent times, but over a hundred more allegations have been made in the last year alone relating to historical abuse in the Church of England. For the Catholic Church it has been far worse globally; in 2010 around 4 per cent of American priests and deacons in active ministry were accused of abusing children in cases dating between 1950 and 2002. Every single one of these cases represents an utter failure of the Church to be a place of safety where God’s love is demonstrated.”

      To then accuse Gillan “of making himself feel better” by listing the many problems that have come to light seems presumptive, judgemental or perhaps even bearing of false witness which, as you say, is a sin. Could it be that he is just as upset by these abuses and cover ups whatever their “Christian” prevenance?

      No doubt if/when more of these abuses come to light from within the CoE I am sure that you will not be mentioning them at all. Although you seem to have already “priced in” a worse scenario for the CoE than we currently know of for the RCC!

      • Albert

        Quotation is necessarily selective, the question is whether it is just. I stand by my comment. What is the purpose of Gillian mentioning the Catholic Church in this? Is it relevant to the CofE’s position? It does not seem that it is relevant and so the purpose appears to be what I suggested. Anglicans should hang their heads in shame at what has happened and not draw unevidential comparisons with others.

        Yes, I do expect a worse outcome for the CofE than the Catholic Church – or certainly than the Catholic Church in the UK. This is based on my personal experience of the CofE and of the evidence I have set out. If you want to disagree with that evidence, provide some more or argue my reasoning, I will listen with respect. But if I were in the CofE at the moment, I would simply say how ashamed I am of this mess and not make any comparison with others.

        • William Lewis

          Albert

          Anglicans should be ashamed of anyone who professes to follow the way of our Lord yet perpetrates such vile abuses as these or tries to cover them up! That is my reading of Gillan’s piece. It is also the more charitable one.

          • Albert

            It’s a nice kind of charity that reaches out and points the finger at someone else’s sins – especially doing it by way of comparison, and when the comparison does not stand up. What kind of Christianity is that?

            I find it odd that people who had read the OP, which made the original comparison, said nothing. Then, when I condemned the comparison as being wrong in principle and quite possibly possibly wrong in evidence, I get condemned for making a comparison. How does that work William?

          • William Lewis

            Albert

            It works because the paragraph that makes the comparison ends with the following confession:

            “Every single one of these cases represents an utter failure of the Church to be a place of safety where God’s love is demonstrated.”

            Therefore that paragraph does not point the finger at others’ sins but describes the scale of the problem in the Church (catholic not Roman) as a whole, of which Gillan is a part. If you think that the numbers are actually worse then show your workings if you wish but that doesn’t alter the principle that the paragraph conveys.

          • Albert

            So then why object to me saying things like “Of course, in terms of response to the problem, things have been far worse in the CofE”? Your position is special pleading.

          • William Lewis

            So then why object to me saying things like “Of course, in terms of response to the problem, things have been far worse in the CofE”?

            I have not objected to this. It may be true. I objected to your accusation that Gillan was trying to make himself feel better by (according to you) pointing out the greater sins of the RCC when he appears to be lamenting the state of the Church as a whole. I also found it odd that having attacked the comparison in principle (which wasn’t the point of the paragraph, I believe) you then proceeded to try to reverse the numbers in the comparison with theoretical, anecdotal and unsubstantiated evidence.

          • Albert

            Here’s what’s happened: Gillan said something which has caused double offense: Firstly, I think the making of comparisons in this is wrong, when someone is expresing shame, and secondly, the comparison seems unfair. Now, if your interpretation is correct, I’d be delighted to hear it. But I would have thought that if it were, we should have heard from Gillan now, apologising for any unclarity and making it clear that s/he was not guilty as charged. But we haven’t.

            If your interpretation is true it means that the CofE must “own” the abuse of the Catholic Church. This seems rather unfair and unreasonable to me, and wholly unlikely on this blog. So, in the absence of evidence from Gillan,this seems interpretation seems implausible.

            I also found it odd that having attacked the comparison in principle (which wasn’t the point of the paragraph, I believe) you then proceeded to try to reverse the numbers in the comparison with theoretical, anecdotal and unsubstantiated evidence.

            As for evidence it is abundant, I offered some on a link to a different commentator earlier today. As for the first complaint you make here, then I cannot see that it stands. If you make an invidious comparison, which is also, as far as evidence, shows, false, then you can hardly complain if someone points out the error. I didn’t start the comparison.

          • William Lewis

            “Moreover, when the Catholic abuse was breaking there was no sense, especially on this blog, that this was something that was just “the Church” and just as much a CofE thing as Catholic. You cannot have it both ways. You must either “own” all the Catholic abuse or you cannot make the argument you are making”

            I am not having it both ways. I am just as disgusted with abuse and the protection of abusers in the CoE as the RCC. I will “own” the abuse in these organisations in so far as they denegrate the Way, the Truth and the Life. But I am not this Blog which consists of many contributers with differing opinions and observations. Why are you conflating me with the blog?

            “This blog did not “own” the Catholic abuse – it used it, rather inadvisedly to justify the CofE. And therefore, this post can only be understood as finger pointing, not as ownership.”

            It is quite possible to have both ownership and finger pointing. Indeed we are called to rebuke our brothers and sisters in Christ where they have erred. I do not know what you think was inadvisedly justified in the CoE on the basis of Catholic abuse but your conclusion is specious, I think.

          • Albert

            Why are you conflating me with the blog?

            Because you are defending the OP.

            I do not know what you think was inadvisedly justified in the CoE on the basis of Catholic abuse but your conclusion is specious, I think.

            I don’t think you have been posting here as long as I have. Some of the things Cranmer said about the Catholic Church in years gone by, on this issue, would look pretty silly in the light of more recent developments in the CofE. They were clearly designed to tarnish the Catholic Church and to make the CofE look better. I would expect that, with enough trawling, it would be possible to find explicit examples of the kind of comparison you are saying is not going on.

          • William Lewis

            I have been reading and commenting on this blog for quite a while now. The only people still here who were commenting when I first found it are Len and, occasionally, Rebel Saint. Anyway, it seems to me that your gripe is with Archbishop Cranmer rather than Gillan. Your, still unsubstantiated, accusations of this blog tarnishing the RCC in order to make the CoE look better are aimed at the wrong man.

          • Albert

            You may be right that my complaint is against Cranmer than Gillan. But no text appears in a vacuum. It is in that context that I read Gillan’s post.

            BTW how long have you been blogging here? Your profile says only since September 2014. Have you changed your profile?

          • William Lewis

            I have a couple of gmail accounts and probably switched to the newer one. Prior to that I commented as William until someone else occasionally commented under that name and I decided to change it. Initially, prior to 2010, during the days of anonymous comments, I commented as It’s faith, stupid – a flippant name in response to a large secularist flare up on this blog that was a response to a Richard Dawkins post by Cranmer.

          • Albert

            Okay – that makes sense. Anyway, Dr C has forbidden me to continue my line of reasoning, so it’s probably for the best that it seems to have run it’s course here.

    • Anton

      According to the book “Goodbye Good Men”, written by a traditionalist Catholic called Michael Rose, the Catholic seminaries in the USA are packed with gays. Do you believe that there is a correlation between homosexuality and this problem?

      • He was writing about the 1970’s and 1980’s and his claims have been corroborated by others both before and since his book in 2002. It’s not so much they were “packed with gays”, though it seems homosexuality was rife, but more that the liberals screened out orthodox Catholics and at the forefront of this was a homosexual agenda.

        • magnolia

          I like to call it infiltration. Ok, maybe a bit lurid, maybe an exaggeration, but not far off the mark.

          • Ascendency more like, Magnolia. The Church as far back as Saint Peter Damien’s time was riddled with homosexuality and the sexual abuse of children. It’s only recently these grave sins have been considered acceptable because of the liberal and so called ‘progressive’ approach to theology.

          • Anton

            It does, however, raise the question of whether there was more of it in the church than in the culture. In an organisation that claims to give the moral lead, that would be damning.

          • The sexual abuse of children is endemic and probably has been since the beginning of time, Anton. Jack remembers reading about this understanding being one of the final frontiers in conquering the abuse of children. Physical and emotional abuse are more apparent and more readily identified. We’ve come to recognise neglect. Sexual abuse by parents and by siblings was, until recently, something our society was in denial about. It was all about “stranger danger” and “men in macks” until the mid-1970’s and even then there was an evangelical notion it was connected with satanic, ritual abuse. Remember Cleveland and the Orkney Islands?
            Why would it be damning in the Church? Tares and wheat … To Jack, its prevalence in the Church suggests evil attacks and concentrates itself where it can render most harm. There is no evidence that Jack is aware of that it is higher or lower in the Church. However, the harm it causes is surely amplified in the victims because it places a huge barrier in the minds of its victims between themselves and the love of God.
            It would be no more damning in the Church

          • Anton

            It is more heinous in the church (any church) because the church thereby loses all moral right to preach morals to the people, which is one of its tasks.

            How prevalent it has been at various times in history is an extremely difficult question to answer but worth pondering. When you say that it is “one of the final frontiers in conquering the abuse of children” I think you mean “recognising” rather than “conquering”, as I suspect there is more of it in these sexually degenerate times than before, although I agree it went on then too. I regret that you dismiss SRA as a frontier beyond this one. It is getting exactly the same dismissals as child sexual abuse did a generation ago.

          • “It is more heinous in the church (any church) because the church thereby loses all moral right to preach morals to the people, which is one of its tasks.”

            No, the Church does not loose its responsibility to teach objective morality because some of its members are grievous sinners. What it looses is credibility – as in Ireland and America.

            Jack hasn’t dismissed satanic ritual abuse at all. It is just that in 40 years working with the victims and the perpetrators of sexual abuse he has never encountered it. He has met pure evil occasionally, yes, but organised, ritualistic abuse, no. That said, Jack has no doubts it occurs.

          • Anton

            I’m glad of the clarification and I agree that it will be less prevalent than the forms of child abuse that have been brought to light in the last few decades.

      • Albert

        It depends on the nature of the problem. If the problem is with teenage boys, then I wouldn’t rule it out. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not dodging the shocking failures of my own Church. I just think that the kind of comparison Gillan made is invidious by the nature of the case, foreclosed, and, as far as we can see, in terms of response, just wrong.

        • Jack thinks you may have misunderstood Gillan, Albert. Perhaps his language was not as tight amd precise as it should have been. In rereading the article this morning Jack has no sense of there being an intended denominational “you lot are worse than us”. Gillan just isn’t into that type of sectarian strife and his words probably reflect the anguish all Christians feel over this betrayal of Christ by its ministers from whatever faith or church.

          The sense Jack made of the ‘offending’ sentence: “For the Catholic Church it has been far worse globally; in 2010 around 4 per cent of American priests and deacons in active ministry were accused of abusing children in cases dating between 1950 and 2002. Every single one of these cases represents an utter failure of the Church to be a place of safety where God’s love is demonstrated,” was not that the Catholic Church is worse than the Church of England but that the exposure has been greater and, consequently, the damage to the Body of Christ more grievous. And this is true. As pointed out above, an accusation is not the same as a substantiated accusation and this was a lack of precision on his part.

          In America, the Boston Globe and a number of so called ‘Catholic’ individuals and organisations ruthlessly dedicated themselves not just to exposing this appalling abuse but also to misrepresenting its root causes and also framing the reactions of the Vatican and local bishops in the worse possible light. It became a lucrative industry too – and still is. All that said, there are no words that can mitigate the shocking actions of those priests who abused children and those bishops who consciously covered for them. Some of the latter acted out of ignorance, however, some will have known what they were doing and did act to defend the organisation rather than children. We are all wiser now.

          One suspects, as you say, the level of abuse in the Church of England and in other churches is unknown and there may well be more revelations to come, not just from churches but also, as we know already, from other organisations and bodies.

          • Albert

            I hope that you are right, Jack. However, you know as well as I do, that this blog has, in the past, used child abuse as a stick with which to beat the Catholic Church. Not for one moment do I think we should do the same, but given that context, given the actual words spoken, and the lack of clarification from Gillan, I think the least that can be said is that it is unclear that he means what you take him to mean, rather than what I take him to mean. In the end, he uses the word “worse” and gives figures in supply. But the matter could easily be resolved with a clarification.

          • Jack can only speak as he finds, Albert.

            Having read Gillan’s posts for some time now he has no sense of him being anti-Catholic. It is true some on this blog have, in the past, used the sex abuse scandal to attack the Church. Indeed, there is one notable example of this on this thread.

            Many who claim to be Roman Catholic do so too. Many have had their faith undermined by this scandal; some have lost their faith; for others it serves as an excuse to push for impossible changes in Church teaching.

            It seems to Jack, having looked into this in some depth, the real enemies of the Catholic Church are amongst its own members.

          • Albert

            I do not see Gillan as anti-Catholic either. However, I think there was a slip here – understandable enough in itself, which, in a post which was supposed to be about the CofE’s shame, somehow brought us into it. That’s not what apologies and shame look like – especially not, as here, prior to all the evidence coming out.

          • Jack read the article as being about shame amongst all Christians and the whole Body of Christ, not just the Church of England, and how this can wrong foot evangelists.

            Still, as some of your comments helpfully highlighted, the sex abuse scandal is not specific to Roman Catholicism, to clericalism or to priestly celibacy. Indeed, we know it is not restricted to Christianity or to faith organisations.

          • Albert

            Jack read the article as being about shame amongst all Christians and the whole Body of Christ, not just the Church of England

            Which part of the post specifically gave you that impression?

          • No specific part that Jack can identify it was just his overall impression. He may be wrong.

          • Albert

            Quite. It’s all rather vague. Anyway Dr C has come down now to stop all this, so that’s it at an end.

          • Probably for the best, Albert. Jack trusts you understand he was not being critical of you as he always reads your comments and posts with interest even when we disagree.

          • Albert

            Thank you, Jack. Ditto!

          • Apologies fir taking so long to respond…
            I am certainly not anti-Catholic and take no pleasure in drawing attention to failings in any part of God’s Church. The point is that these issues are not confined to one part of the body and that we all have a responsibility to address it with utter seriousness.

          • Albert

            Thank you Gillan. As I hope I’ve made clear somewhere, or other, I didn’t think you were anti-Catholic. My apologies for “going off on one.”

          • It’s always a danger with writing that you will be misinterpreted. Glad we’ve cleared this up. Apologies accepted 🙂

          • Albert

            And also, apologies for keeping calling you Gillian!

  • CliveM

    Yippee we won………… :0)

    • Anton

      We?

  • Inspector General

    INTERMISSION. It’s tea time, and one has some glorious cheese, bought from Gloucester Cross outdoor market yesterday. If you like your cheese both smelling and tasting of a cow shed floor, this is the stuff for you…

    http://www.gouldscheddar.co.uk/products.php “Fiery Fred’s Crazy Cheddar” This cheese has been matured longer than most and has developed a unique flavour with a powerful bite. Is not for the faint hearted.

    • i prefer a bit of Tickler myself Inspector.

      • Inspector General

        Just as well Marie. Fiery Freds is not for girls…

        • Pubcrawler

          Would it beat Stinking Bishop in a fight?

          • Anton

            Epoisse would.

          • Pubcrawler

            Possibly, but it’s not made in Gloucestershire.

          • Anton

            Undeniably, but I’m sure it can be had there and in any case most cheddar is not made in the West Country.

  • magnolia

    Maybe it is a case of a dual personality, as strangely was it not this Bishop who refused to wear purple on the grounds that purple was the colour of the Roman Emperors and therefore of domination and power? And yet here we have “sexual abuse” (though it has precious little to do with sexual “making love” that lovely old phrase from before the time it was culturally changed to the insensitives’ “having sex”) and everything to do with torture and sadism and exercise of power and abysmal lack of empathy and normal knowledge of human stages of development let alone consent.

    Dual personalities are very baffling. What happened in Chichester was gruesome to say the least, though it is fair to say that part of the problem was the hesitancy to judge in the way that Christians should judge others, not ultimately, nor nastily, nor hastily, but in a measured way as to whether they pose a risk to others. It has become common to chant the mantra that we shouldn’t judge anyone, but sometimes we really really must. The words need unravelling. It is silly to beat our breasts and say we could all fall, but the simple fact remains that for most of us we couldn’t, realistically, in this respect, (though no doubt we can and do in others) but it is nevertheless dangerous to assume that of others. There are red flags, but they are sometimes difficult to see immediately, and seeing them where they are not by an overproductive imagination is also a terrible act of abuse. It’s complex.

    • Inspector General

      Just had some more cheese, Mags. Seems to help…

      • magnolia

        Ah, normalcy bias. Not nice talking about these things, but as a nation it seems we must…..We are really not in a healthy state….David Wilkerson prophesied “a tidal wave of filth” and indeed we have it. The 60s 70s and 80s seem like a time of innocence now.

        • Inspector General

          Forgive the joviality Mags, but one was thinking that the CoE acceptance of practising homosexuals into its priestly ranks has probably been put back for a couple of decades.

          You see, there is good about if you look for it…

          • magnolia

            One can hope, but parts of the Anglican communion are already highly accommodated to the mores (if such is an appropriate word) of the time.

    • dannybhoy

      Some struggle with tendencies/ weaknesses that could become unhealthy passions. Much like an alcoholic with drink (Inspector) they come to be both controlled and dependent on the vice. Ultimately resulting in an emotional and criminal train wreck for all concerned.
      There are people like this in the Church, and whilst we may feel pity and compassion towards them, that does not mean we should aid and abet them in avoiding the consequences of their actions..
      1 Peter 2:20-21 (ESVUK) 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

      1st Corinthians 5 and 6 talks about disputes etc. being resolved within the congregation. I wonder whether St Paul and the Apostles would have accepted that cases like this one with Peter Ball would have to go to civil law?

  • The Explorer

    Well it looks like goodbye Tutankemai. The Inspector is offering a case of best malt to the first to spot the next incarnation of you know who.

    • Has he left us, Explorer?

      • The Explorer

        Yes, if he’s Linus. (Which I think he is. Skimming through Tutankemai’s comments on threads I’d missed, his views on evolution, abortion etc tally very closely with those of our French friend.) In Perfect Ignorance tried to bluff it out and deny knowledge of Linus. It didn’t work. Linus is intelligent enough not to try that twice.

        He’s also intelligent enough to make use of symbolism. So it’s worth looking closely at the names of new contributors. (Although ‘Linus’ itself as a name offers few clues. Not to me, at any rate.)

        • The origin of that name was quite innocent. He used to post on an Anglican blog -self pity mainly about being homosexual – where some other person used his name (Jack cannot remember it now) so he changed it to Linus.

          He’ll be back ….

        • Inspector General

          L’anus

          • Pubcrawler

            I shouldn’t laugh, but…

        • Old Nick

          Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian,

          • The Explorer

            Well, at least he didn’t call himself Innocent. The other possibility, of course, is an overbearing sister, like Lucy van Pelt.

    • Tutanekai

      Still here…

      • The Explorer

        Ah. That raises two possibilities. 1. I’m on the wrong track. (Eminently possible.) 2. Linus has changed his tactics.

        Since Linus left voluntarily, there’s nothing to stop him from posting (and posing) under whatever identity he chooses. It’s just that knowing you are he would save time in discussion, and void the need for going over ground already covered.

        • dannybhoy

          I am not sure that Linus would play these sorts of games though….

          • The Explorer

            I’d have agreed until I saw that thread (Dying WIth Dignity, Archive 4) in which In Perfect Ignorance was outed. Married for four years. It calls into doubt everything Linus told us about himself.

          • Lol …. read the thread Explorer has referred to.

            Happy Jack
            “Dear “In Perfect Ignorance”, did you once post here in the past as Linus?”

            In Perfect Ignorance
            “Who is this Linus person? He seems to have left quite an impression.

            My name is not Linus. I’m not minded to tell you what my name is. It doesn’t seem necessary given the anonymous nature of this kind of communication, and I note that you post under a pseudonym too.

            As everyone seems to think I’m Linus resurrected from whatever hell he may have been cast into, there may not be much point in continuing to post here. Funny that Christians should provide such a perfect example of the retributive cyncism their faith tells them to avoid.”

            Happy Jack
            “Did you once post under the name Linus? That was the question, dear sir, and you haven’t answered it.

            Happy Jack was banned from this blog (twice) for being offensive to the web owner and making a general nuisance of himself. He created a new avatar and identity and pretended to be another poster. Eventually his duplicity was discovered and he was forced into a confession – not a pleasant experience – and was pardoned again. So, Jack (real name Peter) has no issue with who you are or might have been. However, honesty is always the best policy in situations like this. And Jack knows this from personal experience.

            So do think about your answer.”

            In Perfect Ignorance
            “If this Linus was banned from this blog and I am he, then it’s a fair assumption to think that I would already have been identified and banned anew.

            And yet here I am.

            My name is not Linus. Can I be any clearer than that? Even if I could be, I know of no reason why I should obey your command to confirm or deny my identity. Who made you king of this blog?

            Happy Jack
            “Linus was not banned. Jack knows your name is not Linus. That’s not what he asked. Have you ever posted here using the name Linus? This is the question. A straight “yes” or a “no” will suffice.”

            Thereafter, Linus deleted the name ‘In Pefect Ignoranc’ from these particular comments.

          • dannybhoy

            Rapidly losing interest.
            As I understand it the point of this blog is for Christians of different shapes and sizes to share their views on things temporal and spiritual.
            Allsorts such as homosexuals, doubters and antagonistic atheists are also welcome, especially if they are sincere and are willing to listen rather than score points.
            If Linus is not Linus the French homosexual, with Scottish English family connections, who recently ‘married’ his partner….

          • The Explorer

            What I don’t understand is why Linus feels the need to pretend he’s not Linus. It would make sense if he’d been banished from the site, but his exile was entirely self-imposed.

          • CliveM

            Well if you over react the way he did, it is a little embarrassing to come back and pretend nothing has happened.

            Particularly if you’re a little sensitive about how you’re perceived in the first place.

          • dannybhoy

            He may have embarrassed himself (who hasn’t?), and tried coming back in another incarnation?

          • The Explorer

            Ridiculous overreaction and histrionics were part of what made Linus Linus. We’d come to expect that of him. He seems to be the only one to have a problem with that.

          • Perhaps too much personal self disclosure about property and addresses? He deleted all of his posts before closing down his profile.

          • Pride ….

      • Good moaning, Linus.

  • None of the above

    “[O]ver a hundred more allegations have been made in the last year alone … in 2010 around 4 per cent of American priests and deacons in active ministry were accused of abusing children … Every single one of these cases represents an utter failure of the Church…” (emphasis added)

    Whoa, hold on there, Gillan. Do you really not get the difference between accusation and guilt? Do you think it a comparatively trivial matter, to be set aside in the interests of justice for victims? Do you, indeed, not “get” that the utter destruction to lives that results from false accusation means that there are victims just as fully among the accused as among the accusers?

    Have you not been following the sorry story of Tom Watson, “Nick”, and Lord Brittan, Lord Bramall et al.?

    I would rather have hoped that you’d choose your language a lot more carefully in this incredibly sensitive area.

    • sarky

      Have you not been following the sorry story of jimmy saville, rolf harris, Jonathan king, gary glitter et al?

      • None of the above

        What on earth is the point of that comment? Some allegations are true; some are false. Casually lumping them all together, as Gillan does (whether or not that is his intention), merely compounds injustice and multiplies victims.

        • magnolia

          Yes some allegations are false, and create very real victims. Unfortunately these cries have gone up also in the early days of accused people who later turned out to very guilty indeed.

          No wonder therefore that sometimes people assume guilt too early too readily, really, is it? The waters are muddied by claims of famous people that victims are just after money, or publicity, or revenge.

          Indeed they have used their fame to accuse the downtrodden and add to their sufferings, and also by one remove, added to the suffering and suspicion of the genuinely innocent accused- by using and trashing by association their genuine defense. It’s not easy, and compounded by the fact that victims often resort to drink, drugs and also dissociative disorders to dull the pain, and can therefore make poor witnesses.

        • sarky

          Because people should be free to make allegations and have them taken seriously otherwise people like the ones I mentioned get away with it.

        • CliveM

          If Gillan had mentioned names, I would share your concern. But he didn’t, so no individual has been blackened. I think quoting is legitimate. Some of the language was lazy however.

          • None of the above

            On the contrary, “every single one” (Gillan’s words) of the individuals accused has been blackened by Gillan’s presumption that they are guilty (for what else can be meant by saying that “every single one” represents a failure of the Church?) The fact that no names have been mentioned is irrelevant. Every accusation is against an individual, and Gillan is encouraging the notion that in every single case the accusation is true.

          • Inspector General

            Why do you call him Gillan. His name is Scott, unless that is you presume some familiarity with the fellow, which seems unlikely considering your posts.

          • His name is Gillan, Inspector. What’s wrong with using his Christian name? Why the need for formality? We’re not public school masters or prefects.

            Did you know Gillan is of Irish and Gaelic derivation and means “servant of Saint John”?

          • Inspector General

            Good grief man! We must maintain propriety at all costs. Standards are at stake, especially on this site, the greatest blog in Christendom! If we can’t get it right here, then God help the young who look to us for guidance in these things.

            Still it could be worse. The chap could be starting off his memos with “Hi”. That would be quite unforgivable…

          • Hiya, Mr Inspector ….. Do you have a Christian name you would be willing to share?

          • Inspector General

            Aloysius, if you must know…

          • Ludwig it is then.

          • Anton

            You teddy bear, you…

    • Yes, that is a very valid point and I certainly should have made myself clearer. When talking about these allegations, I am referring to those that are proved to be true. I am very aware of the way that false allegations can also wreck lives, hence the related comment later on.

      • None of the above

        Gillan, thanks for troubling to reply, and for altering your piece accordingly. I’m glad you understand my concern. I’ve had to pick up the pieces from two separate cases of clergy colleagues being accused falsely (as was eventually proved). The experience was so traumatic that, despite being cleared, the ministry of both was effectively destroyed, as was the family life of one of them. So, while naturally supporting rigorous investigation of such allegations, I’m also particularly sensitive to any hint of premature judgement.

  • len

    God is exposing corruption (and hypocrisy) across a wide spectrum of humanity.Those who were in positions of trust and have betrayed that trust could and should be prosecuted under the law.
    But….. those who proclaim to be priests in the church ordained by God have not only betrayed those in their care but have brought the Word of God into disrepute.People are now calling those who have led their congregations ‘hypocrites(and worse) and rightly so.
    ‘Albert’ has said further down this thread when I remarked about the corruption shown by the example of the Popes) retorted “Welcome to humanity – or didn’t they teach you the doctrine of original sin?” Which makes my point entirely. Do we want people demonstrating ‘original sin’ by example to those that are leading?. And by those who claim to be ‘in the place of Christ on Earth’;
    Vicarius Filii Dei
    (Latin: Vicar or Representative of the Son of God) is a phrase first
    used in the forged medieval Donation of Constantine to refer to Saint
    Peter, a leader of the Early Christian Church and regarded as the first
    Pope by the Catholic Church.

    There is only One Head of the Church the only perfect being Jesus Christ Himself not these fallen imposters dragging Christ`s Church into disrepute……

  • Dennis Lessenis

    I think people WANT to believe there are saints in the world. In the late 1980s, I well remember reading Adrian Plass’s eulogy about Peter Ball – and a friend of mine (himself now a senior member of the ordained staff at one of the CofEs conservative ordination colleges) saying how Peter Ball was an example of someone who burned with the Holy Spirit (we were both fresh out of university at the time and in lay ministry at an Evangelical Anglican church in London). Later Peter Ball had some pastoral responsibility for me, and I too was full of admiration for the man, whom I met in the (irony, I know) confessional every few months or so for a year or more. In fact, not a few feet away from my left foot, as I type, there is a box that contains letters from Peter Ball. They were written in response to my support of Peter during his initial exposure in 1992. He certainly convinced me of his innocence… Although I was in my 20s at the time and in awe of the man.

    I also met Neil Todd and was on the periphery of the initial the investigation into Peter Ball’s wandering hands in Polegate (where he lived when he was Bp of Lewes). Eric Kemp initiated these investigations – and the weight of investigation (making use of an ex-policeman who had then been ordained) was to discredit Neil Todd – whom Bp Eric decided was nothing more than a trouble maker… What appeared important to Eric Kemp and the diocese as a whole, was the need to protect the institution of the Church – I don’t think there was any thought given to Neil Todd or the others in Peter Ball’s little harem at Polegate. Yet – with the benefit of 25 years hindsight – we know some pretty weird stuff was going on in Polegate and that Peter Ball was allowed to get away with it.

    Yet even in 1990 there were voices of caution – I remember chatting to a CSMV sister and mentioned my connection to Peter Ball (name dropping really – as is the wont of a young man) and she pulled her face and said – ‘I wouldn’t get involved with that man, if I were you….’ I treated her as Cassandra was treated – but her words have stayed in my mind ever since.

    Gillan Scott presents us with a likely contributory factor as to why people like Peter Ball are able to ‘get away with it…’ In a recent post Scott tells us that we need more Christians in the professions and banking – as if Christians are bearers of morality and influence organisations for the better. Although as I note in my comment on this topic, if this is true then it is curious that the more secular a society (in terms of the Western, secular liberal model of society) the lower its rate of divorce, teen pregnancy, violent crime, murder, internet pornography downloading, social inequality, rates of child poverty, better life chances for children, the more likely a society to have free at the point of access health care, low rates of prisoners and crime in general, etc. etc. (see my previous comment for sources and stats) – therefore there is scant evidence for Scott’s assertion – except the self-deluded narcissism of the believer – ever wanting to pat himself on the back and think ill of others and wallow in covert self-praise.

    Scott himself acknowledges the limitations of his thesis in the above, where Scott tells plainly that you can’t make yourself a good person, just because you huddle under the umbrella of ‘Christian’. The problem is Christians, often steeped in self-congratulatory narcissism – ever wanting to think the worst of others, as means of thinking the best of themselves and their institutions, are eager to disbelieve any attacks on the Church or her servants.

    This is not a new phenomenon. Sexual abuse – particularly of children/young people and women, appears to have been common throughout Christian history. Victorian Britain may have become a byword for conservative religious and social values, yet it was a time of considerable promiscuity, sexual abuse of children – and of course the Foundling Hospitals attest to the number of servant girls in middle-class houses who became pregnant at the hands of their socially respectable masters. As is the case throughout history – the great commandment of Victorian Britain was ‘Thou Shalt Not Get Found Out…’.

    If anything, we now live in a far more moral society than when the churches were full and bible well known. The likes of Ball can no longer hide behind their office and powerful friends and institutions protecting them. We have come to a time where Christians have to earn their credibility and integrity – and not just assume it because they claim the appellation ‘Christian’ – despite Scott’s obvious self-flattering belief that Christians are our moral superiors – judging from his previous post.

    Moreover, we have to stop just pointing the finger at some pervert like Ball – there are others in the Church who are no less of abusers when it comes to the use of power or financial abuse or other, less easily defined modes of abuse. I find it curious to this day, that when I worked in Evangelical lay ministry among the homeless in London, in the 1980s, that we happily dismissed a voluntary worker because he had a male partner, but turned a blind eye to a paid member of staff we knew was a thief and another who on more than one occasion punched a homeless person in the face. Today – almost 30 years on, it is likely this behaviour wouldn’t be condoned, but still I think it demonstrates the hypocrisy we have when it comes to gradation of ‘sin’ and professional and religious integrity.

    In conclusion, I am afraid I find it hard to believe that ABC Cary had the victims of Ball at the forefront of his mind when he was able to forge a deal with the DPP – in some ways, as we have seen in the RC church worldwide, the Presbyterian church in Northern Ireland, etc. etc. church leaders are just as much to blame – God commands impartiality in judgement (Deut 1:17) – there is considerable evidence that this has not been the case with our religious brethren – when their main concern has been protecting the institution at the expense of the victims.

    • Albert

      I don’t think this is about being more moral. I think that all human institutions have a tendency to want to defend themselves. In an age in which communication and scrutiny are both difficult, institutions are able to defend themselves. Now they can’t and so everyone raises their standards. But it’s only on the things a society care about that the standards are raised. Personally, I hope that in the future people will feel about abortion as much as they do now about child abuse. But there’s little hope even of getting everyone to abide by the law on abortion, because no one cares, as we have seen of late.

    • dannybhoy

      Apologies in responding to your comment. In fact when I read it, it was the name of Adrian Plass that caught my eye. Nothing sinister, but I have met him in a social context and only once to really engage in conversation.
      I think your comment outlines one of the negative aspects of our tribal humanity. In order to survive and thrive, mankind must have its social hierarchies and social mores and means of enforcing its laws.
      I don’t think there is anything essentially wrong in this, as long as tribal man has his written laws and prophets that speak out when the tribe is starting to wander away from the code…
      So in English/British society we respect those who occupy positions of influence over us. We may be inspired by them, seek to emulate them or even to please them..
      There are very few people in a society willing to sacrifice their lives for the foundational freedoms and practices of their culture. So in creeps cynicism, and cynicism grows and corrupts.
      As it grows it becomes more dominant and eventually, anyone who wants to get anywhere has to accept that this is how things are done…
      This is as true for the organised Church as it is for any other organisation.

    • magnolia

      OK so some people didn’t perceive a very hidden part of Bp Ball’s character, and not one he showcased in public is effectively what this boils down to. Many times we experience thinking we knew the parameters of a person to be sorely deluded. Isn’t that all a part of life and learning? “Si jeunesse savait, si vieillese pouvait.” Adrian Plass was certainly right that he burned, maybe just not, or not more lately “with the Holy Spirit”. Sometimes people go off the boil, sometimes they have dual personalities. Bad stuff happens. He was the high church monk Evangelicals liked to adopt to show ecumenical credentials to some extent, and there has been unexpected blowback from that as they- OK maybe we- clearly chose the wrong guy. And in terms of dual personality the good side of the person is just that, no matter how complicated that is. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; we need to acknowledge that they can co-habit the same person. You were not fully wrong, maybe just half!

      As for George Carey, as Archbishop he was probably holding many thoughts of many things in his head simultaneously in that job, many of which were confidential and difficult, from places all across the world. We cannot speak as if he was fully focused on this for a long period with the luxury of a fully analysed position taken at leisure; that is not how the job is. Of course he would have wanted closure. So would anyone juggling too many things at once want closure. So would you or I. So what? He wasn’t a one man police department, nor should he have been expected to work like one. The Church is not supposed to do its own investigations but merely turn over any coherent suspicions. Which it clearly did.

      • dannybhoy

        So what are you finally saying here Magnolia?
        That these things happen?
        (Agreed)
        That the Church should try to deal with these things without involving the civil authorities?
        (Disagree)
        That the Church should try to deal with it, and then decide that because of the ramifications and damage done to individuals it has to go to the civil authorities?
        (Also agreed)

        • magnolia

          I am saying he shouldn’t feel disorientated, disillusioned or doubt his ability to understand by this stuff. He shouldn’t allow himself to be dragged down. He was fooled. So were many. If someone has had a bad experience, which hypothetically Bp Peter Ball might have had, maybe abused at boarding school ( who knows?) sometimes the character dissociates, and a subsidiary personality develops, which the main personality may not even like. You are not likely to see this side of the person showcased, so unless you know them very well you will be fooled, and there is no good served by people beating themselves or others up over it.

          Those who recommended him for ordination do bear a proportion of the guilt, as do those who let him through the system unhealed or underhealed. Once you are in the system with this kind of dual personality it becomes much harder to track. Those who refused to listen to victims would be culpable, as would those who knowingly attempted to shield him or cover up. There the blame needs to end, frankly, or it is unwholesome.

          And no, the Church should not and does not attempt to deal with this sort of thing without involving the civil authorities. I never did nor would suggest otherwise. If you are in any doubt that the church doesn’t know what it should do listen to the excellent Bp. Paul Butler.

          • dannybhoy

            I agree.
            People can slip through the net, even in Christian circles. There is a spiritual gift of discernment that can reveal what is hidden, but usually we Christians like to believe the best of other people.
            In the selection process it will depend on how spiritually discerning the interviewers are. If it’s all about quotas any anomalies may be overlooked..
            I’m not in any doubt. The Church must exercise Godly discipline. We cannot afford to cover things up if we truly want the power of the Holy Spirit to be made manifest through us.
            Those who point out the hypocrisy of the Church in trying to cover up scandal are quite right to do so.

          • CliveM

            There maybe gift of discernment, but there also needs to be full and comprehensive processes in place.

          • dannybhoy

            I think the two things should go together Clive. Look at 1 Corinthians 6..
            ” When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?”
            So it seems to me that the Church should deal with the issues, and in accordance with the laws of the land turn them over to the civil authorities.

    • Anton

      Thank you for posting these comments. The church must not be in denial.

  • CliveM

    One of the Churches my wife attended was targeted by a paedophile. It was in the days before the sex offenders register and before those working with children had to be checked.

    He turned up and started attending. Made friends with people, volunteered to help round the Church. Waited a few months, then volunteered to help out at the youth group. Helped out for a few weeks, then fortunately the Church got a tip off that he had a conviction. The Elders summoned him to a meeting where he confessed.

    He disappeared immediately afterwards.

    Thing is these men are cunning. They know where to target. They aid each other and pass on ‘tips’. There was no evidence that anything on toward had yet happened. Probably to soon. But Churches are targeted by these people, as very often there are youth groups, run by an organisation desperately short staffed of volunteers.

    • magnolia

      The question is which church did he target next? Is there enough sharing of information across churches and denominational boundaries. It might make some lives happier if there were more…

      • CliveM

        Well we don’t know. He probably also changed his name. But yours is an interesting suggestion.

        • Inspector General

          Wasn’t DTNorth was it?

          • CliveM

            You wish :9)