Church of England

Safeguarding in the Church of England: when is a victim of child-abuse not a victim?

This is a guest post by Martin Sewell, a retired Child Protection Lawyer and a member of General Synod.

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Yesterday I advanced a more sympathetic perspective on why Lord Carey might have acted so imprudently in the case of Peter Ball. I did so because my experience in dealing with such tragic cases is that everybody involved is damaged in some way, even the ‘neutrals’ and the ‘winners’. By the time you finish reading this piece, you will, at the very least, be convinced of that proposition.

When Safeguarding goes wrong everybody gets hurt.

So today I grasp a much more uncomfortable nettle and explore whether things have changed sufficiently to enable us to be confident that similar errors are not being replicated in the Church of England today. If we have continued to make the same mistakes, then we truly have to rethink our whole Safeguarding regime and to introduce a significant outside professional element.

I do so having read and discussed personally the account of abuse experienced by Matt Ineson, and the response of the church. That account is contemporary, though rooted in historic abuse.

I shall be as fair as I can be for the benefit of all parties: the legally correct way to handle all such allegations, established from the days of the Cleveland Report of 1987, is to “listen to what the complainant says and take what they say seriously”. This differs from current church policy, and it makes a difference, as we shall see.

In a nutshell, Matt Ineson describes historic abuse perpetrated by a priest, Trevor Devamanikkam, which was reported many years later to the police, and verbally and in writing on various occasions to a succession of church figures of increasing seniority. He explains that the police had asked him to delay initiating a Clergy Discipline complaint lest it alert the perpetrator.

The victim was sufficiently credible for the police and CPS to finally bring a prosecution many years after the events. This is unusual and a high bar to clear for any victim in pursuit of justice. There were six counts of serious sexual offences; three of rape and three of indecent assault on a child.

After the police had confirmed that he may do so, the CDM was lodged, alleging that there had been an insufficient response by the Church of England after initial disclosure to its clergy representatives. On behalf of its clergy, a defence was raised based upon the one-year time limit for such cases to be lodged. This submission was upheld for most of the clergy and the discretion to extend the time limit was not exercised.

There is no reason to believe that the rules have been other than correctly invoked and upheld, but how does that look to victims and the public?

Should we even have a time bar on an allegation that clergy allegedly failed to actively respond to ‘victims’?

The successful pleading of such a limitation means that the substance of the complaint receives no public airing. It will inevitably mean that outsiders will perceive it as senior church figures ‘getting off on a technicality’, which may be acceptable for ordinary folk, but as a perception of Church leaders? Those benefiting from the limitation seem prima facie immune from further scrutiny. One cannot even question the quality of their duty to be effective shepherds to the lambs put in their charge. Whether he is right, wrong or even deluded, this clergyman complainant was a child of God in deep need, anxiety and pain.

Of course, the victim may be mistaken, prone to exaggeration, wrong, malicious or ill, but that avails us little benefit in the court of public opinion, or perhaps at the Last Judgment. On earth the victim has not had his day in court and that is ‘not a good look’. Worse, he asked for a fish and we appear to have given him a stone.

He believes he received defensive and bureaucratic responses when he needed the love of his pastors. That might be a by-product of the structurally inconsistent roles we place on our Episcopacy. We might read and talk about ‘Dethroning Mammon’, but crossing the insurance company if you have corporate responsibility is not something to be done lightly.

A complaint against living clergy with a close proximity to the events in question has been defeated by pleading a legal time limit, yet in the case of the late Bishop George Bell – a case of historic allegations over 50 years old – the church privately settled a claim seemingly without raising a defence on a similar objection. There is a reason that statutes of limitations exist, but in Bishop Bell’s case the merits of limitation were not even tested.

We may be able to tease out a satisfactory answer when Lord Carlile presents his report into that matter, but might it be unfortunate if we are perceived to be more tenacious in defending our present clergy than standing up for those of an earlier vintage?

It was partly with that thought in mind that I note the alacrity with which we have condemned Lord Carey for aiding and abetting injustice, whilst worrying that the victim in this current matter finds himself deprived of any sense of justice having been done.

Among the difficulties in such cases is what may constitute ‘notifying’ abuse.

Let us be generous to those currently accused. Do our present arrangements do them a disservice if any oral notification of impropriety may be later considered a formal notification which ought to have been actioned? Might not clarity be advanced and misunderstanding avoided if we tighten up what is formally regarded as a ‘notification of abuse’?

In the case under consideration we have a victim clear in his recollection that unambiguous notifications were not acted upon. We also have a clear refutation from the senior clergy involved.

Speaking as a lawyer (albeit retired), a system that results in the most serious of allegations turning on a ‘he said/she said’ argument is hardly fit for purpose, nor does it make for Christian harmony.

This is by no means a novel observation. In the 2016 Elliott Review in another case of poor practice, the following observations were made:

It is hard to accept that those who receive a disclosure of sexual abuse can fail to recall that it happened or to make an appropriate record of what was said. It is reported that this is what happened in this case. Practice of this nature is simply not acceptable and must be addressed. All who find themselves to be in this position must know what to do and must have some understanding of how they should respond. To have no records and to rely entirely on memory is simply not good enough.

…As outlined to me, the role of the bishop is critical and exerts a strong influence on the safeguarding decision making that takes place. Within this case, it is alleged that two of the abusers were senior members of the hierarchy which would suggest that they would be unlikely to make sound safeguarding decisions. Similarly, if a bishop is unable to recall a disclosure of a serious sexual assault occurring, this would cause the reviewer to doubt their ability to respond appropriately to identified risk in their diocese. These are not trivial issues. Behind every disclosure that is received lies human pain and suffering that can be so intense as to be life threatening. It deserves everyone’s close attention.

In the case of the long dead George Bell, we were told that the victim ‘must be believed’; in the case Matt Ineson – a very much alive complainant – not so much.

This leads us to the most worrying inconsistency, and demands us to contrast how George Carey – another member of the Episcopate ‘past his sell-by date’ – is treated differently from current leaders in not dissimilar positions.

At our February Synod, we passed a set of rules that enable clergy to be required to undergo a Safeguarding Risk Assessment. We did not have the guidelines at the point we voted, and my suggestion that we await their terms was defeated. It was insisted that all complainants be termed ‘victims’.

Our National Safeguarding Team has insisted this remain, in accordance with the view (advanced in the case of George Bell) that the church must proceed on the basis that ‘the victim must be believed’.

So be it.

That is the standard which the Church of England chose to adopt (against my advice), and must be applied.

The victim in this case – Fr Matthew Ineson – claims that he has been the subject of clergy abuse and institutional or negligent cover-up. He has been denied his day in court in a significant part of his complaint by the invocation of a legal time limit. His abuser recently committed suicide, so there will be no criminal trial.

There is accordingly currently an insufficiency of church mechanisms to test his case against each of those he claims to have wronged him.

Except, not quite…

For surely, if he is a ‘victim’ who ‘must be believed’, there is now a requirement under our policies that those whom he alleges to have inadequately responded to his reported abuse must be risk-assessed under the new rules.

The Elliott Review tells us why: Canon C30 identifies a safeguarding issue where clergy have: “put a child or vulnerable adult at risk of harm”.

Are not children and vulnerable adults put at risk of harm if clergy in authority fail to take action against a member of clergy who was subsequently arrested, charged with the most serious of criminal offences, and who killed himself? Are they not put at risk if the allegation of institutional lethargy if not cover-up are not fully explored?

Is a legal time limit sufficient basis to pay no further heed to the ‘victim’ who ‘must be believed’? At what fair point in the process did we cease to believe him?

On what basis can further action including full Risk Assessments of all concerned be properly denied?

The assessors must have a comprehensive chronology, the full account of the victim, all church records pertaining to these matters (including the advice and actions of the National Safeguarding Team), comprehensive responses to the allegations from those accused and, where appropriate, the police must be asked to give full co-operation by providing their records of the original reports of allegations, the pertinent evidence relating to the case and what contact they had from the church, if any.

Matt Ineson cannot see that any of these steps have been taken in accordance with our declared standard of believing the victim, and so we come full circle.

If a robust investigation is not undertaken and matters are left in the currently unsatisfactory position, consider the plight of our current Bishops and Archbishops with relevant responsibility in 20 years’ time. Might they be standing in George Carey’s shoes, defending ‘no further action’, offering the same excuse of ‘I believed the Bishop’?

The church must respond with decisive clarity to these matters.

These are not trivial issues.

  • Anton

    I can only repeat that the problem is essentially insoluble in a hierarchical multilevel church hierarchy, because hierarchs will inevitably display compromised loyalty between the system which put them there and the people they are meant to oversee. No improvement to “management systems” can overcome that problem. God wrote into scripture a nonhierarchical structure: after the founder of a congregation had passed on, that congregation was led by an internal council, but was otherwise autonomous under Christ. (See the thread 2 days ago.) Problems like this are why.

    Paul also wrote to Timothy (1 Tim 3) that leaders of congregations – for that is what the Greek words he used meant at that time – should be regular family men. Again, problems like this are why.

    Men of evil might still get into church leadership in any system, but in the absence of a hierarchy the problem will not be generic. Adiaphora be blowed. And I stress that I am not thinking of any particular church hierarchy.

    • bluedog

      Large Human societies of every type have organised themselves on a hierarchical basis since time immemorial. There have always been practical limits to collegiate models of collective endeavour. Despite what len would have us believe, the established churches largely descend from the model devised by Constantine, and that model has bequeathed us the Trinitarian Christianity we know today. It seems completely unrealistic to embark on revisionism suggesting that the spread of Christianity could have been achieved by house churches acting in unison during late Antiquity, or in any other period. We have what we have in the established churches and the current challenge seems to be a lack of temporal accountability. It may be necessary for churches that are structured on the Roman model like the CoE to look at measures which ensure accountability; a degree of congregationalism going beyond Synod if you like. Certainly the Jesus-themed Marxists who currently run the CoE are making a complete dog’s breakfast of the job.

      • Notforinfants

        Bluedog. Of course human societies have organised themselves on a hierarchical basis.
        But not so the church of Christ, His body, if it is to be faithful to a NT doctrine of the nature of the church.
        The church is most emphatically NOT to imitate the world in this respect.
        It has rightly been said that “When the Greeks got the gospel they turned it into a philosophy, When the Romans got it they turned it into a government. When the Europeans got it they turned it into a culture, and when the Americans got it they turned it into a business.”
        I would only add: When the Anglicans and RC’s got it they turned it into an institution which is what we have today, instead of the simplicity of the NT pattern. That pattern has within it a God given mechanism of dealing with both doctrinal error, and moral failure which the institutional church cannot properly address which is reflected in the many current failures to exercise discipline.

        As Anton once again has put his finger on it, and it should therefore be emphasised: “God wrote into scripture a nonhierarchical structure: after the founder of a congregation had passed on, that congregation was led by an internal council, but was otherwise autonomous under Christ.”
        Indeed so, and the NT letters tell us how the headship of Christ, as opposed to a hierarchy of clerical leaders, is to be exercised in his churches.

        • bluedog

          You write with the benefit of hindsight, so does Anton. I’ve read Anton’s earlier posts and it is easy to challenge the existence of the churches from the security of a state that has Christianity woven in to its fibre. There is nothing inconsistent with the headship of Christ in say, the CoE. Would the Supreme Governor hold herself above Christ? Possibly not.

          Please read my post again. Our positions are not that far apart. What the CoE needs is degree of accountability that is currently lacking; a bit more bottom up rather than top down.

          • Notforinfants

            Bluedog.
            I fundamentally disagree with your: ” There is nothing inconsistent with the headship of Christ in say, the Cof E.” and I will explain.
            Both the C of E and RC churches are in organisational terms completely alien to the NT pattern. Here we have two mutually differing and indeed incompatible view of the nature of the church.
            I’m sure you know there are historical reasons for these fundamental and deep fault lines in the institutional churches which have never been addressed, let alone reformed at the Reformation.
            1. The “priest/laity dichotomy is alien to the NT and thus prevents the whole body of Christ functioning and ministering mutually as the NT envisages.
            2 The practice of the “one bishop rule” (call him vicar, bishop, pastor,) again effectively prevents the priesthood of ALL believers to function in the church.
            3. The failure to separate church and state (as it began under Constantine in the early 4th century) is still with us and is largely responsible for the present hierarchical structures which so hinder a return to the NT simplicity.
            So, we are indeed “far apart” unless and until these fundamental issues as to the nature of the church are addressed.
            To give you one example, and it has a very contemporary ring, – Paul’s directive about restorative care in Galatian 6:1-2 is given to the whole body of Christ, not simply to one bishop, or vicar alone, or then to be referred “higher up” the hierarchical ladder. Likewise, all Paul’s corrective exhortations to the erring Corinthian churches were set in front of the WHOLE body of Christ.
            This cannot happen under the present C of E structures.

          • bluedog

            After almost 2000 years of Christian worship the model you advocate has yet to emerge, biblical authority notwithstanding. It would be hard to get odds on the likelihood of a change, although social media could be an enabler.

          • Selection of bishops and decisions about doctrines on faith and morals via Facebook and Twitter with majority votes? Momentum would have a field day!

          • “This cannot happen under the present C of E structures.”

            Under your “model” anarchy rules because each “church” is free to ignore other “churches” as there is no central unifying force – except scripture and each man’s understanding of it. Indeed, why should they even pay attention to “Paul’s corrective exhortations” given the “WHOLE body of Christ” is splintered into little autonomous bodies? Under this “system” there would still be Christian churches demanding circumcision and adherence to Mosaic dietary laws; there would be Gnostic churches denying Christ’s divinity; and there would be a multitude of divergent teachings about our faith and morals. This isn’t what God intended when Christ gave Peter the “keys to the Kingdom” and the Apostles the authority to “loose and bind” in His name.

          • What it needs is bishops appointed by spiritual leaders for the quality of their faith, not by the state for other reasons. What it needs is spiritual and religious liberty unshackled from and free of state interference.

          • Anton

            China today and the early church – decentralised structure, reliance on God and his word alone, spread like wildfire. Those are facts and as for hindsight it is difficult to write history in advance!

          • Rhoda

            This state seems currently to be determined to remove any Christian principles that were “woven into its fabric”.

            If one reads accounts of Christian perseverance shown by Chinese Christians in the house church movement, who dare call them spiritually impoverished for not being under a hierarchy? They expect to spend time in prison for their faith.

        • ” …. a NT doctrine of the nature of the church.”
          Is that an infallible pontification or an opinion?

          • Graham Wood

            HJ. I suggest neither as no man or church is or ever has been “infallible”. Neither is an emergent doctrine of the nature of the church an “opinion”. So your comment is something of a straw man.
            Whilst much of the NT, and mainly in the book of Acts is descriptive, the remaining letters of the Apostles are prescriptive and foundational for the ordering and functioning of churches.
            The NT letters delivered by the Apostles were indeed infallible and a normative element of Scripture having the full authority of Christ himself – hence the great commission to them to teach “all things I have commanded you”. (Matt. 28: 20)

          • Please point to a passage where Paul prescribes a once and for all model for the worldwide universal Church.

            Were the decisions of the Council of Jerusalem “infallible” or not and on what did these men base their authority? Scripture alone was insufficient as it hadn’t been written – so, it’s Sacred Tradition. However, did Christ actually give detailed instructions for the day to day running and organisation of the church or did He leave this to men?

            In A.D. 110, Ignatius of Antioch writes:

            “Ignatius . . . to the church also which holds the presidency, in the location of the country of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and, because you hold the presidency in love, named after Christ and named after the Father ….

            You [the church at Rome] have envied no one, but others you have taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force.” ((Letter to the Romans)

            As early as AD189, Irenaeus writes:
            “But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition.” (Against Heresies 3:3:2).

            And by A.D. 251, we have Cyprian of Carthage stating:
            “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]). … On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?

            With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source” (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4).

            In a wide variety of ways, these Fathers attest that the church of Rome was the central and most authoritative church. They attest to the universal Church’s reliance on Rome for advice, for mediation of disputes, and for guidance on doctrinal issues. They note, as Ignatius of Antioch does, that Rome “holds the presidency”,/i> among the other churches, and that, as Irenaeus explains, “because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree” with Rome. They are also clear on the fact that it is communion with Rome and the bishop of Rome that causes one to be in communion with the Catholic Church. This displays a recognition that, as Cyprian of Carthage puts it, Rome is “the principal church, in which sacerdotal unity has its source.”

          • Little Black Censored

            HJ, there are people who comment here who take no account of the early Church as it was, notwithstanding their professed desire to recreate it. I am so glad that at last somebody has appealed to the Fathers, beginning with Ignatius and Irenaeus. Polycarp, Clement and Tertullian, among many others would also help us towards a balanced view about this supposed NT blueprint for the Church’s organization.

          • Martin

            LBC

            You do realise that the evidence is that, even in the Apostles time, errors crept in. Therefore we can expect that errors were made, over time, by the early Church Fathers in the organisation of the Church. Clearly the NT model is of multiple elders/overseers, the monarchical bishop was a corruption of that.

          • Notforinfants

            HJ I am not I trust being simplistic, and certainly not facetious, in my response to your opening question:
            “Please point to a passage where Paul prescribes a once and for all model for the worldwide universal Church.”
            I suggest the answer must be in terms of the general principles held out in the New Testament, as opposed to human traditions, be they never so hallowed by time or venerable. The NT alone is our source of authority which is not vague as to the nature and function of the church. So the answer lies in the whole thrust of NT teaching which is full and often detailed.
            It is then to the NT Scriptures that appeal alone is to be made, so confirming the generally accepted principle of the sufficiency of Scripture to test all claims and all practices.
            So, “the world-wide universal church”. It is present whenever and wherever Christians gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, irrespective of time or place. Thus the Lord: “Where (even) 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst” Where that gathering meets thus in his name, there the church is present (Matt. 18:20).
            That simple principle therefore enables a universality to be a reality, cross cultural, cross national, cross racial, and therefore non sectarian.
            That model is constantly reiterated in the book of Acts (check out the operative words “gathered together) and you have the picture.
            The Apostle Paul develops the theme more fully in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 so that the risen Christ is now head of a gathered community called the body of Christ. – see also Eph.1:22.
            I overlook your voluminous reference to several church fathers who I respect but who on no account can be equated with the authority of Scripture, or of Christ himself as Paul asserts in 2 Timothy 3:16.
            As for “ultimate spiritual authority” being held by the Bishop of Rome, how can that be if Christ himself has “ALL” authority? The claim by Rome therefore is indeed without foundation.
            Did Christ delegate that authority to humans at any point? Indeed no. (The passage concerning the ‘keys of the kingdom” in Matt.16:15-19 is relevant but not one which time or space allows here, and for another occasion)

          • “The NT alone is our source of authority.”

            Where is that written in scripture? It isn’t and 2 Timothy 3:16 doesn’t rule out the authoritative teaching of the Apostles as passed on by the written word and by mouth. Whereas this scriptural passage is clear: “And I tell you, you are Peter” (Gr.—petros—‘rock’), “and on this rock” (Gr.—petra—‘rock’) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

            Are you seriously suggesting that the members of the second century Church, as well as the Church Fathers of this time, were acting “unbiblically” when they established an Episcopal Church centred on Rome?

          • Notforinfants

            “”The NT alone is our source of authority.” HJ Indeed it is and I Tim.3:16 is but one reference out of several scores of others that could be quoted. According to the Apostles ALL Scripture was believed and preached as the very Word of God = OT and NT..
            The word for Scripture in the NT is graphe – used 51 times in the NT and in every instance refers to OT quotations which the Apostles used repeatedly in their preaching.
            Likewise the NT where the Apostle Peter classifies all of his brother Paul’s writings as scripture in 2 Peter 3:16.
            Similarly in 1 Tim.5:18 Paul quotes Jesus’ words as found in Luke 10:7 and calls them “scripture” See also Paul’s authoritative word in 1 Cor.14:37.
            So to answer your difficulty the words of the Apostles as recorded in the NT are scripture and I’m not aware that there was any dispute about that when the NT Canon was finally agreed.
            Thus the Apostles were given unique gifts of understanding by the Holy Spirit to recall accurately the words and deeds of Jesus and to interpret them rightly for future generations.
            Re your point – “Are you seriously………. ? The sad fact is that the Church fathers meant well when they established the gradual development of the one bishop rule in the church but it was indeed unbiblical and a departure from Paul’s clear teaching – Eph.4 and 1 Cor 12. .
            around 150AD Clement made a distinction between “priest” and “laity”. This set in motion the unbiblical divide of “clergy” and “laity”, the “ordained” and the non ordained parishioners. Those “ordained” are “officially” invested with the priestly function by titled offices. This was a new innovation human based type of church order still with us today, and which robs the ordinary church member of his God given right in what later was recognised as the priesthood of all believers – re-discovered by the Anabaptists, but not sad to say, understood or accepted even by the Protestant Reformers.

          • len

            Christ is the Rock , scripture cannot be any plainer of the fact.

          • Jack repeats, where is it written in scripture that scripture is the only source of authority?

          • Martin

            HJ

            How many times does Jesus say “it is written”. Indeed, that is His answer to Satan when tempted. Again, Jesus repeatedly said “have you not read”. Seems to me that Jesus’ authority is the Bible, can we have any less?

          • Er, Jesus was referring to the Jewish scriptures. You know, the Covenant He fulfilled. The Council of Jerusalem was a game changer.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Do you imagine that Jesus regarded the OT to have more authority than the books His Apostles would shortly write? The Council of Jerusalem did not change the authority of Scripture, it just recognised the differences between the Church and Israel. While Israel had a daily sacrifice, the Church has one sacrifice for all time, never to be repeated.

          • No, the Jerusalem Council established the authority of the Apostles and their successors as being able to infallibly interpret and apply Christ’s teachings outside of the written word of scripture.
            So back to Jack’s original point – where in scripture does it say that scripture alone is the sole source of Christian authority?

          • Martin

            HJ

            The Jerusalem Council was about what was required of the Gentiles and the Apostles had no successors because none were needed. They Scriptures are sufficient and contain the Apostles teaching. Jesus’ sole authority outside Himself is Scripture.

          • The Jerusalem Council did a bit more than that, Martin. And it did it before the Gospels were written or the epistles collected together.
            And scripture alone? Where’s the scriptural evidence?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Do you imagine the epistles had to be gathered together to have authority?

            As I’ve said, Jesus is the evidence, His use of Scripture.

          • Regarding your last paragraph – yes.

          • Martin

            HJ

            The Scripture was being written in the time of the Apostles and was clearly accepted as such by the apostolic Church:

            And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
            (II Peter 3:15-16 [ESV])

            Peter is clearly stating that the writings of Paul were Scripture.

            I’ll ask again, why does Jesus not say “You are Peter and on you I will build my Church” if He is indeed saying its foundation is Peter? Instead Jesus says “on this rock”, implying that the rock isn’t Peter. Indeed, Peter is hardly someone you’d want to build something on.

          • Martin

            HJ

            You will note that Ignatius of Antioch writes:

            to the church also which holds the presidency

            Not, you will note, to the bishop or pope but to the church. That is he is writing to the people, to the congregation. The authority in Rome rested in the people and their elected elders. The reason for this primacy of the church at Rome is clear, Rome is the capital and hence the most influential church was there.

            It is interesting too, that Irenaeus doesn’t speak of Peter as pope or even bishop.

            As for the quote of Cyprian, it is unclear here the quote ends and I suspect that most of that passage is not his.

      • len

        The House Church system seems to be working well in China far better than the failing hierarchical system in the West
        Constantine corrupted Christianity , I fail to see that as ‘a good thing?’

        • bluedog

          In Africa, Anglicanism grows within the traditional structure of the church.

          • len

            We need African Anglicans as missionaries to the UK.

        • Just how did Constantine “corrupt Christianity”?

          • len

            You really need to ask that question?.

          • How did Constantine “corrupt Christianity”?

          • Martin

            HJ

            By making Christianity part of the state. By causing the institutional Church to persecute Christians as the state had. By making the leader of the institutional Church Pontifex Maximus.

      • Rhoda

        “It seems completely unrealistic to embark on revisionism suggesting that the spread of Christianity could have been achieved by house churches acting in unison during late Antiquity, or in any other period.”

        The church in China has spread rapidly as a house church movement. The early church also grew rapidly in both the east and west before Constantine.

        • bluedog

          Could it be that house churches work in China because they are backed by the established churches in the West? Where did the KJV come from, a house church in Dagenham? Where did Trinitarian Christianity come from? The Chinese house churches are not autonomous and depend on Western intellectual property, most of which derives from the established churches.

          • Rhoda

            The growth of the house church movements in China has come about under a regime that persecutes believers. The number of believers has grown because of the faith and courage of Christians under persecution not because of backing from Western churches.

          • bluedog

            The point I have tried to make is that Chinese house churches derive their doctrine from Western precedents. Indeed, one understands that they faithfully replicate the Catholic-Protestant schism.

          • Anton

            They derive their doctrine directly from the Bible, actually. They are explicit that that is all they had during their formative era of persecution when there were no western missionaries nor outside communication.

          • Rhoda

            I expect those in the house churches would be surprised to be called protestants as they think of themselves as Christians.

        • Notforinfants

          Rhoda. You are right about the early church and more recently China where persecution forced churches underground and met largely in small house groups.
          Interestingly the same is happening in Iran today where there is an unprecedented and very wide turning of Moslems to Christ.
          In this respect I would strongly recommend the excellent witness to this by David Garrison in his book ‘A Wind in the House of Islam’. Truly an astonishing work of the Holy Spirit.

          • bluedog

            What seems to be happening in Shiite Iran is remarkable and welcome. It seems important to draw a distinction between Iranian history and Chinese history. In China it can be argued that Christianity became established as a belief system over the century 1840 to 1941, when China was dominated by Western powers. Nothing quite like that happened in Iran, even though it spent some time as a British protectorate before Indian independence in 1947. It would be interesting to know what form of Christianity the Iranian house churches follow. It would not surprise to learn that it is Chaldean or similar.

          • Rhoda

            Yes, a very interesting read.

          • Rhoda

            There has also been an considerable turning of Muslims to Christ among the Kabyle people in Algeria.

            https://www.e-n.org.uk/2017/06/world-news/algeria-god-has-raised-up-his-church/49d0d/

      • All the reforms of the 20th century – synods on every level, PCCs, parish reps for appointments – were designed to introduce a more mixed polity into the CofE hierarchy. I think it works tolerably well. If anything I hear more voices calling for fewer representative bodies than more.

      • Martin

        Trinitarian Christianity existed long before Constantine. What we get from him is the error of sacralism.

    • Bit simplistic that, Anton.
      As Jack’s Mum used to say: “If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no need for tinkers.”
      The New Testament describes the very early church when the Apostles were with us and laying the foundation of what was to become a world wide movement. The idea that local congregations should be free to interpret the message of the Gospel as they chose and practice the faith as they chose, is, quite frankly, ludicrous. We see at the Jerusalem Council and its aftermath the beginnings of a central teaching authority and oversight of doctrinal consistency by episcopal authority. And Paul didn’t make it mandatory for priests to be married or that they have children.

      • … nor did he make it mandatory that they were not to marry and have children. Though of course he would not have spoken of a distinct group of leaders as priests as this would have sown confusion since priesthood belonged to all believers.

      • Martin

        HJ

        Paul said nothing about the office of priests in the Church, nor does anyone else.

    • You are failing to appreciate the benefits of hierarchy, what blessings it brings to the body of Christ – order, unity, strategic oversight, fidelity to the apostolic inheritance, and ability to address problems on a wider scale. That it can go wrong does not invalidate those. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that the free churches have largely abandoned orthodoxy? Independence is no guarantor of fidelity.

      What’s more, the common complaint within the CofE is that it is not consistent and uniform enough and there are continual calls, and continual movements, to standardise and centralise and become more ‘efficient’. It is by no means a monolithic organisation.

      • Perhaps because it wants to have its cake and wants to eat it.

        Authority

        A vexed question in the Church of England! Very simple, in essence: the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church: there is no question of that. The problem comes in deciding how that authority is mediated to the church in practical everyday problems and situations. There are broadly three strands of belief. The catholic, which regards the church’s tradition as the final arbiter; the evangelical, which regards Scripture in that way; and the liberal, which gives final authority to human reason. It is not as clear cut as this simple division would suggest, for the Catholics have a high view of Scripture, the evangelicals do not ride roughshod over tradition (and both recognise that the interpretation of both tradition and Scripture in today’s culture calls for the application of reason), and the liberals are not without regard to tradition and Scripture. However, there is also fourth strand, the charismatic, which runs through the other three and which holds that the individual believer can experience the direct revelation of truth and its current application from the Holy Spirit. All this, however, raises the further question of how this authority, however it is derived, is mediated to the church. The Church of England does this through a system of synodical government, in which both clergy and laity take part.

        http://www.churchofenglandglossary.co.uk/dictionary/definition/authority

        And it’s not just problems in “practical everyday problems and situations”. It runs far, far deeper into issues of faith and morals. The Church of England is “episcopally led”, by 108 bishops, and “synodically governed”, by an elected group from the laity and clergy of each diocese. At these Synods the church forms its rules, elects its officials, and unifies or amends its doctrines.

        Then we have the “Anglican Communion”.

        There is no central governance of the Anglican Church. Each of the member churches or provinces of the Anglican Communion is governed independently …

        http://anglican.org/church/ChurchAdmin.html

        Then add this to the mix:

        It is the characteristic of the Anglican Reformation that the supreme and far-reaching regulative jurisdiction which was exercised by the Holy See was, after the severance from Rome, taken over, to all intents and purposes, by the Crown, and was never effectively entrusted to the Anglican Spiritualty, either to the Primate, or to the Episcopate, or even to Convocation. As a result, there is to this day the lack of a living Church Spiritual Authority which has been to the Anglican Church a constant source of weakness, humiliation, and disorder.

        https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/anglicanism

        Herding cats would be easier! The supremacy of the Spiritualty in the domain of doctrine, as the sole guarantee of true religious liberty, is lacking in the Anglican system, and the problem of supplying is, it appears, insoluble.

        • Anton

          I’m not Anglican.

      • Anton

        I gladly leave the benefits of hierarchy to other believers, thank you.

      • Rhoda

        If you read accounts of Christian perseverance shown by Chinese Christians in the house church movement, who dare call them spiritually impoverished for not being under a hierarchy?
        It is a real shame that so many of the churches in Britain whether part of a denomination with an hierarchy or not have abandoned biblical standards and conformed to the standards of the world instead.

    • alternative_perspective

      You may be interested to learn of a new technology called Etherium: “Ethereum is a decentralized platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship or third-party interference.”
      It operates on the block-chain principle and allows people to build decentralised organisations with embedded procedures and protocols that have no singular, central authority in charge but which implements authority in a diffused way.
      This medium would enable us to build a decentralised church with agreed procedures that do not depend on, nor could be subverted by, a centralised authority.
      In reality you could do away with government using this system, banking and every centralised means of governance. It puts power directly in to the hands of the people, or in our case, each local church, diocese or country etc…..
      Personally, I believe such a technology will be used to re-build the economic system in years to come and will be the means by which the “beast” system will be constructed. It will enable the masses to implement, rigidly, opinions that are commonly held by most. So you don’t acknowledge the equality of homosexual and heterosexual marriage – in which case, access to your finances is forbidden. This technology can implement this vision and without a central authority to appeal to we will all live at the mercy of the mob.

    • petej

      Most secular organisations manage to safeguard effectively. They have learnt lessons from the past, but the cofe has not. The CofEs safeguarding policy relies on every link in the chain wanting it to work, following the procedure, not influenced by emotional loyalties and being self-aware enough to ensure that they are behaving as they should be. Safe guarding can only work effectively if the structure is such that no trust is placed in any one individual.

    • Anton

      I am with you in much that you say on this matter. However, I take the mention of wife and children for an elder and deacon to be descriptive not prescriptive. What is prescriptive is that if he is a husband then it is of ONE wife and if he has children then they are to be CONTROLLED.

  • magnolia

    Why, when the Church of England has experts such as Martin Sewell, does synod act against his advice in an emotional kneejerk reaction. It runs in the face of commonsense to say all

    • Sybaseguru

      Because this synod, judging by the vote on the Bishops report on homosexuality, has been packed by liberals with an agenda. Emotion drives most liberal thinking (“thinking” is a misnomer here). After all liberals have nothing else to base their faith on as they’ve rejected scripture and tradition. Martins logic doesn’t fit their agenda so is rejected.

    • petej

      Clearly they *arent* being believed!

  • magnolia

    We need as part of our urgent and deeply honest self-reflection as a church to ask how paedophile priests got through the selection process? Who was not listening to the Holy Spirit, why, and how can that be avoided in the future? Vapid answers like “oh well, they probably seemed good on the day” are insufficient, because if the Holy Spirit is leading the process, God is beyond time, and knows a wrong choice is being made, so the selectors were quite simply badly out of touch, by a majority for a sufficiently long time for great evil to occur.

    Discernment and deep listening to the Holy Spirit, who may well choose the socially shy, the quiet, the less rhetorical, less flamboyant person like the shepherd boy David needs to happen, not a tick box exercise that sociopaths or psychopaths can wing their way through if they master the right array of tools and behaviours. If even 2% of the time wrong choices are made that spells disaster.

    • The Holy Spirit lead Samuel to anoint David as King – the murderous adulterer. Jesus chose Judas, and also Simon the right wing nationalist (aka Zealot). Scripture is riddled with ‘inappropriate’ people being chosen & used by God. [I personally always struggle with Samson]. Every member of clergy has some ‘fatal’ flaw – thankfully, not many as serious in magnitude as paedophilia.

      • magnolia

        I know I used the example of David, but I do not think the time before Christ and the time after should be interpreted in quite the same way. Nevertheless David was deeply penitent (Psalm 51) in a way alien to paedophiles. As for Judas, that is a whole debate in itself as to for what reason he was chosen that I don’t want to get into!

        I cannot believe it is ever within God’s will for someone who has the capacity to abuse children which He knows will be enacted to be put into leadership. And I believe the Holy Spirit is firmly antagonistic to that choice. Therefore I believe that any such ordination is an act of disobedience to the Holy Spirit. These things are not, nor should they be, easy.

        • I simply question whether having a paedophile evade the scrutiny of a selection panel means that the selection panel is not listening to the Holy Spirit. Is it just paedophilia that the Holy Spirit is meant to flag up or are there a whole range of secret sins that He ought to be bringing to light during the selection process? My childhood church was made up of many good & godly men, yet managed to appoint a child abuser into it’s ranks. Taken to it’s logical conclusion, if the discernment of the Holy Spirit was all that was required then interviews, references, practical exercises etc would be unnecessary, just prayer and the drawing of straws (as they appear to have done in Acts).

        • alternative_perspective

          Poor Matthew Ineson may well be the sacrificial lamb used by God, a front line soldier as it were, to confront the enemy and suffer for the sake of the church.
          Once such a sacrifice is given by God is not justice achieved? What if one goes back or turns away? One cannot crucify Christ twice. If this lamb of God, given to cleanse the church of its sin, is also cast aside, if the body is not consumed but defiled; surely all that remains for the church is the wrath to come?
          I predict (do I dare prophesy – no) that if this case is not dealt with justly. And the blood of God’s sacrifice used to cleanse the church and the flesh consumed by the priests judgement will befall the CoE and it will be driven out from the Body of Christ

    • The Church is a human organisation, subject to sin and the flaws and limitations of men. God never promised a sinless clergy. Rather, He guaranteed that evil would not overwhelm good or be victorious in the Church.

    • petej

      A larger proportion of church leaders are paedophiles/abusers of the vulnerable (or at least twenty years ago were) than the general population.

      This could be because abusers are attracted to a job where they will have a significant amount of power over individuals and can limit their own accountability.

      Or it could be that being in such a powerful role creates desires to abuse.

      I suspect it is a little of both. Such people tend to be hiding in plain sight, but charmisatic enough to mesmerise others into believing them.

      I think churches desperately need to remove the culture of secrecy around sex. This, above all, seems the most significant enabler of abuse.

  • len

    Satan inhabits darkness, spiritual darkness.
    That is why covering up sin(especially in the church) is such a terrible idea.

    ‘For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?'(1Peter 4:17)

  • CliveM

    One of the issues that needs addressed is the importance of local oversight. Who is the individual responsible too within the organisation? Who has the responsibility for oversight for them? One of the problems so many Churches have is that key roles frequently lack adequate, robust and local oversight. Whether the Priest or Pastor belongs to a hierarchical organisation, or a non-conformance, independent flat organisation, very often the person responsible for them is either isolated away from them (like a BIshop) and is reliant on being alerted to potential problems, or simply doesn’t exist. Unfortunately due to the ‘pedestal’ we have tended to place CHurch leaders, even if they exist locally, the person responsible may feel they lack the perceived status or training to ask the awkward question.

  • len

    I can see some similarities between’ the church’ and’ Israel.’ No, not ‘replacement theology’ which is a total misconception, but the time when Israel demanded that they had a King to lead them .Israel wanted a ‘visible leader’ someone they could relate to rather than God leading them through His Spirit.
    Men want’ the church’ which is a visible representation, but of what I ask?. Has the church become’ a Saul?’
    Has the church totally lost its way?, and having lost its way become a meaningless figurehead?.
    The Body without the spirit is dead. So to the church without the Holy Spirit is dead.

    It is the Spirit that gives Life the church cannot do that. Unless the Church unites with the Spirit the church is dead and meaningless. But how can the holy Spirit unite with an unholy, unspiritual, deceptive church?.

    • And before the appointment of Kings how did God lead Israel, Len?

      • len

        Through the RCC obviously.

        • Jack repeats: before the appointment of Kings how did God lead Israel?

          • ‘In those days there was no king in Israel.
            Everyone did what was right in his own eyes’
            (Judges 21:25 etc.).
            It sounds a bit like today.

          • len

            Jack repeats, jack repeats, jack repeats., squawk.

          • And Len is unable to answer …. as usual.

  • Manfarang
  • Dodgy Geezer

    …The victim was sufficiently credible for the police and CPS to finally bring a prosecution many years after the events. This is unusual and a high bar to clear for any victim in pursuit of justice….

    Not if you’re a celebrity. Then, a rumour going around on Twitter about something that happened in the 1960s is enough to have you banged up…

  • len

    So God had this plan for the salvation of humanity , put this plan into effect through His sufferings on the Cross at Calvary, then placed the authority to administer this salvation into the hands of fallen unscrupulous men?.
    No way!
    God would never have done this. Because as soon as man had any control over salvation he would have corrupted it.
    Man is to preach the Gospel, lead people to Christ. Christ the Holy Spirit saves their souls.

    The whole thing of’ Church’ is an invention of man. God has an Ekklesia a people called out of the world. ‘The Church’ is very much of this world.

  • len

    Seems that some on this blog think(because we are a race of fallen beings) we can expect little better from the church?.
    So why should anyone bother to come to Church ,might as well go the pub instead? Which is what they do.

    • Dominic Stockford

      The church, as an institution, should indeed respond differently to the world. Sadly it is because the CofE (and Rome) have become such monolithic institutions they are unable to act in a way that reflects Christ, but only in a way that defends their own existence.

  • The sad fact is that those who desire to abuse children will seek to infiltrate places where children are, be it schools, Scouts, Guides, churches or Top of the Pops. We all need to be vigilant.
    .
    I’m sure these things need to be reported and discussed , but am I the only one who feels, like Macbeth, that I have ‘supped full with horrors.’ I hope his Grace can find something more uplifting to report soon. Christians do some good stuff sometimes.

  • David

    Exposing the horrors of child abuse is very important. However this being the third such article in a close series, I’ll demur from commenting. Hopefully something more uplifting will follow.

    • IanCad

      It is also the second article seemingly unable, or unwilling, to hit the nail on the head.
      Most of the abuses against the little ones are perpetrated by those of the homosexual persuasion.
      Now; we all know that it is only by the unenlightened, the traditionalists, the ignorant, and the opposers of an inclusive ministry, that such concerns are voiced.
      Until those tasked with solving the problem step up to the plate and call a spade a spade nothing will change.

      • michaelkx

        I hope YG this does not upset the thought police, and get you in bother. But someone has to say it.
        How’s this for hitting the nail on the head: who wish’s to make the age of consent lower? Who wants to teach even small children that homosexual perversion is normal? Who wanted same sex marriage? And who is agreeing with it? If not by word, but by action. The holocaust happened because the churches remand silent. The same is going or is happening here in this matter. Homosexuality is a perversion, no other mammal does it, so we being higher should know better. I am NOT saying that we should discriminate against those who do this perversion we should pray for there souls.

        • Busy Mum

          But we should discriminate against them…..we should beware of proactively making careers in childcare/education etc ‘open and accessible to all, regardless of gender or sexual orientation’. These ridiculous employment laws tie everybody’s hands and prevent people from exercising their own private judgment as to whom they trust with a child, whether it be their own child or somebody else’s. And the ability and freedom to exercise one’s own judgment is surely the touchstone of liberty.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            So you seriously think that discriminating against homosexuals is a form of child protection? I wouldn’t put any person with such naïve beliefs in charge of safeguarding. Any paedophile or other sexual predator who knew what he was about would run rings round them.

          • Busy Mum

            I don’t want to be put in charge of any ‘safeguarding’, thankyou.

            Neither do I wish anyone else to think they know better than I do what constitutes ‘safe’ for my own children.

            And what beliefs do you think necessary for that post, anyway?

            Sexual predators run rings round anyone in an amoral society that is petrified of being ‘judgmental’.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            You don’t want to be put in charge of any ‘safeguarding’? Well, that’s something for which we can all be thankful.

            What is necessary for such a position of responsibility is not beliefs but knowledge. Anyone who seriously imagines that discrimination against people just because they are homosexual is protecting children or young people certainly does not possess the requisite knowledge. Sexual predators are generally skilled at picking up on people’s naïve prejudices and misconceptions and at turning them to their own advantage, using them to divert suspicion from themselves.

            What constitutes ‘safe’ for your own children is, of course, a matter on which you have both the right and the duty to use your own judgment, for better, for worse.

          • Busy Mum

            Has it ever occurred to you how hypocritical it is that the LGBT crowd, who either exclude themselves from producing the next generation, or are excluded by nature from producing the next generation, are convinced that they know better than those of us who do produce the next generation how the next generation should be brought up?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I’m not sure whom you mean by “the LGBT crowd”. I am just a gay man. There is nothing in the least hypocritical about pointing out that discriminating against people just because they are homosexual is unjust and does nothing to protect children and young people from paedophiles and similar sexual predators. As a former teacher, I know that such a preoccupation is something that those predators absolutely love, since it diverts attention from them, thus allowing them to get on with their nefarious activities unnoticed and unsuspected. Views about how the next generation should be brought up have no relevance to that.

          • Busy Mum

            How is your knowledge of paedophiles and predators linked to your career as a teacher?

            And the hypocrisy lies in the childless homosexual lobby taking a disproportionate interest in the young.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            How is my knowledge of paedophiles and predators linked to my career as a teacher? Well, I have spent quite a number of years teaching in boys’ boarding schools. It is a fact, however regrettable, that schools in general, and schools of that kind in particular, exercise an attraction for paedophiles and similar predators. We can’t blame schools for that, of course, any more than we can blame children for being children.

            Several of my colleagues were sacked and/or prosecuted and convicted for sexual offences against pupils; the same thing has happened at schools of that kind where relatives of mine have taught/are teaching. What is clear is that the perpetrators are seldom homosexual in the ordinary sense: they have no sexual involvement with other adult males, and you won’t find them in gay venues (pubs, nightclubs etc.). They are not infrequently married – in the traditional sense – or otherwise leading a heterosexual “lifestyle”. Any attempt to weed them out by discriminating against “homosexuals” simply puts up just the kind of smokescreen that protects them.

            I’m not sure what you mean by “taking a disproportionate interest in the young”, but I will say this much. Many of us over the age of thirty, and even some below that age, have survived various forms of anti-gay abuse – some of the latter delivered quite unwittingly by adults who didn’t realise what they were doing or to whom they were doing it – which not only clouded what should have been some of the best years of our lives but cast long shadows. Some of those now entering their teenage years will be tomorrow’s gay adults. Like all teenagers, they must be protected against abuse, and yes, whether people such as your good self like it or not, that includes anti-gay abuse. There is certainly nothing hypocritical, madam, about wanting their adolescence and youth to be an improvement on ours.

          • Busy Mum

            Some of those now entering their teenage years will be tomorrow’s thieves, adulterers, paedophiles, fraudsters, benefit claimants, single mothers….maybe we should get them into schools and tell children that this is how some people live and that they are not to worry if they find themselves drawn to the same lifestyles?

            Unwitting ‘anti-gay abuse’ simply never used to happen because the subject was off-limits. It was Stonewall who insisted it entered the classroom. Then they only wanted their version….That is abuse, telling other people’s children not only how some adults live, but that they have to accept and approve of this.

            Children do not need to know about it. That they do nowadays, is in no way an improvement from when children were kept in blissful ignorance; a child who does not know about it cannot talk about it and can therefore be neither the perpetrator nor the victim of ‘homophobic bullying’. Thanks to the removal of Section 28, we now have schools full of confused children.

            Stonewall – and indeed the entire sex education lobby – is all about squashing what they know to be children’s innate distaste for such things.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Yes, some of those entering their teenage years will be tomorrow’s thieves, adulterers, paedophiles, fraudsters etc. etc. You are, however, ignoring two important differences. Firstly, while there are plenty of different heterosexual and homosexual lifestyles, homosexuality itself, like heterosexuality itself, is NOT a lifestyle. Secondly, and more importantly, there is nothing wrong with being homosexual, just as there is nothing wrong with being heterosexual.

            If you are seriously maintaining that anti-gay abuse and homophobic bullying never used to happen when the subject was “off-limits” and before Stonewall, then you are curiously ill-informed. Much of it was perpetrated by “adults” who kept telling young people that “homosexuals” were worthless people who, unlike everyone else, didn’t have the right to live normal lives or deserve to be treated fairly and decently, and that the most despicable attitudes and behaviour towards them could be condoned. What could be more damaging than that to a teenager becoming aware of sexual attraction to people of the same sex? Such irresponsible “adults” were also, of course, encouraging young people to bully any peers who they thought might be homosexual. I am not a member of Stonewall, and I am not answerable for any of their statements or policies. I think, personally, that they are now so much in search of a cause that they are going off the rails. I would point out, however, that it was precisely the ridiculous Section 28, whose purpose was to silence those who objected to the indoctrination of children with anti-gay attitudes, on the pretext of preventing the “promotion” of homosexuality, that led to the formation of Stonewall in the first place.

            I have often thought, of late, that there is really no longer any need for such organizations – that they have outlived their usefulness. When, however, I find someone crassly comparing tomorrow’s gay citizens to tomorrow’s thieves, adulterers, paedophiles and fraudsters, I realise that I am perhaps being a bit previous.

          • Busy Mum

            We could argue about this for years, but as a child/teenager, I never ever came across any adult who so much as mentioned homosexuality, yet alone told me what to think about it. Are you sure it’s not a case of homosexuals feeling innately uncomfortable with their temptations and then blaming their guilty conscience on others?

          • CliveM

            At my school the worst slur against a boys character was to abuse them for being gay. I know of no one who admitted to it, but I know plenty who’s lives were made misery by being accused of it.

            Whatever the right and wrongs of the therapy let’s not pretend that people’s lives weren’t made miserable by homophobic abuse.

          • Busy Mum

            Name-calling…or ‘homophobic abuse’?

            Maybe my schooldays were unusual…. but surely it’s one thing to be (wrongly) ‘accused’ of being gay, as though that is a bad thing to be… and quite another to be told that one might be gay, and encouraged to be so, as seems to be the case in schools now.

          • Rhoda
          • Busy Mum

            No, I haven’t – thankyou – some of that is absolutely outrageous, particularly the artful way in which they deliberately bypass RE/PSHE lessons and then say anybody opting out of LGBT lessons should be recorded as unauthorised absence.
            The school counselling service which most of the schools around my way use is called ‘Rainbow Counselling’, is based in a primary school and is available to all children whether their parents know they are accessing it or not. The counsellors go round the schools on a peripatetic basis and children are actively encouraged by teachers to use the service . Most parents are totally unaware of this, though the small print in school prospectuses says that parents are allowed to put in writing that they do not wish their child to use the service. When the school counselling service is mentioned in school newsletters etc, the name Rainbow is never mentioned; I found this out purely by doing my own research.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            That is a straw man. No-one on here is advocating telling pupils that they might be gay, or “encouraging” them to be gay. (Not that you can make anyone either gay or straight by “encouraging” them to be: human sexuality doesn’t work like that.) Young people should be left alone to discover their sexuality. The last thing that they need is officious busybodies trying to tell them what it is (or should be) or trying to tamper with it.

          • Busy Mum

            But this is precisely what they are getting!

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Then it must stop.

          • Busy Mum

            That means bringing back Section 28 and a complete ban on ‘sex education’.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            No, it doesn’t, any more than it means introducing an equally ridiculous piece of legislation – Section 28A? – banning the “promotion” of heterosexuality. (In fact, there is no credible evidence that either homosexuality or heterosexuality can be promoted, although irresponsible BEHAVIOUR, heterosexual or homosexual, no doubt can be.) It means banning sex education which is not age-appropriate. That is something that I would support.

          • Busy Mum

            And who decides what is ‘age-appropriate’?

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            That is a matter to be thrashed out by discussion and debate, as all other issues related to the education of children are.

          • Busy Mum

            ‘Age-appropriate’ is a load of rubbish. It needs to be ‘child-appropriate’ and the only people who can say for sure what that is, are the parents.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            If only that were always true.

          • Busy Mum

            If the parents don’t know, why should anybody else? And if the parents don’t know, that is symptomatic of a far bigger problem than we have been discussing…..no doubt we shall meet again on another thread.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I, too, never came across any adult who mentioned homosexuality to me, or told me what to think about it, when I was a child. I did when I was a teenager, though. The messages that I received were all cruelly negative, and they overshadowed what should have been some of the best years of my life. Like people who have been sexually abused as children, I can never get those years back or go back and put things right, but if there is anything that I can do to obstruct people – no matter who they are – who are trying to do that to tomorrow’s gay citizens, then I will gladly do it. (That some of them may eventually turn out not to be gay after all makes no difference to that.)

          • Busy Mum

            Teenagers are children. I think many people wish they could go back and relive their childhood for all sorts of reasons. That’s why I think it’s idiotic to tell ‘teenagers’ that these ‘should’ be the best years of their lives.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            I said SOME of the best years of my life. I wouldn’t want to live those years again in the way that I had to live them for all the tea in China. Paedophiles wreck people’s childhood. Anti-homosexual abusers wreck people’s adolescence and youth.

          • Anna055

            I don’t think you’re being fair here. I hold to the biblical view that, to quote the ABC, “sex is for marriage and marriage is between a man and a woman”, but the list you give are mostly people who have “done” certain things. That’s not at all the same as having particular feelings.

          • Busy Mum

            But Stonewall is not in the business of ‘feelings’ – it wants approval of actions. We are talking about future adults; what temptations are they allowed to indulge and which must they resist?

            And the fact is that the gospel/NT raises the bar much higher than actions anyway – it makes us accountable for our sinful feelings as well as our actions, with a lustful thought being equivalent to adultery and anger being equivalent to murder.

          • Anna055

            I agree with you in general, but I don’t think people should be made to feel guilty for their feelings, unless they are positively encouraging those feelings. For example I don’t think a married man needs to feel guilty for noticing an attractive girl walking by, but he is guilty if he gives in to the temptation to carry on looking! …..same with homosexual feelings.

          • Busy Mum

            Yes – agree. The problem is that Stonewall etc wish to positively encourage homosexual feelings, and the sex education lobby wishes to encourage any sort of sexual feelings. So we have adults with homosexual leanings feeling bitter that they were discouraged from pursuing their inclinations, but other adults are not going around wallowing in self-pity for having been discouraged from pursuing their inclinations, whatever those might have been.

      • Ian,

        That’s because your spade isn’t a spade. It’s a spade and a turd : homosexuality and paedophilia are clearly not the same thing . If you grasp this differential you may being to understand why the articles are written as they are.

        • IanCad

          Anna, I have done exactly that, as my comment in the prior thread will attest.

        • RobinHMasters

          Pederasty and pedophilia are not the same thing.

      • Martin

        Ian

        Sexual immorality is sexual immorality, it doesn’t matter what form it takes.

        • IanCad

          Of Course! However when opportunity presents to define the perpetrators of 90% of the assaults it is of no advantage to ignore it – that is – if it we wish to curb the problem.

  • Hugh Atterbury

    Will there be similar concern about the thirty bell ringers of York Minster dismissed last year by the Dean and Chapter without independent review?

  • Dominic Stockford

    These are indeed no trivial issues. As the CofE has gradually become more and more of a ‘professional organisation’ it has also walked away from the Gospel Christ, and from the truth-based compassion that should be at the root of all it does.