Category : CoE Bishops

God knows our Dying From the Inside

Jesus dies. His lifeless body is taken down from the cross. Painters and sculptors have strained their every nerve to portray the sorrow of Mary holding her lifeless son in her arms, as mothers today in Baghdad hold with the same anguish the bodies of their children. On Holy Saturday, or Easter Eve, God is dead, entering into the nothingness of human dying. The source of all being, the One who framed the vastness and the microscopic patterning of the Universe, the delicacy of petals and the scent of thyme, the musician’s melodies and the lover’s heart, is one with us in our mortality. In Jesus, God knows our dying from the inside.

–The Rt. Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Rowell

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Holy Week, Theology

God in Private and Public: A Bishop Tom Wright Maundy Thursday Sermon

Because the newly public message which is the good news of Easter is at one and the same time so obvious – the message of new creation, which answers the deepest longings of the whole cosmos – and so utterly unexpected that if we are to announce God in public in these terms, as Paul did so spectacularly at Athens, we need the preceding private stillness to rinse our minds out of preconceived notions and make ready for God’s startling new world. Note, by the way, that it is the public truth of Easter – the dangerous, strikingly political truth that the living God is remaking the world and claiming full sovereignty over it – that has been for two hundred years the real objection, in western thinking, to the notion that Jesus rose bodily from the tomb. Western thought has wanted to keep Christianity as private truth only, to turn the Lion of Judah into a tame pussy-cat, an elegant and inoffensive, if occasionally mysterious, addition to the family circle.

And part of the point of where we are today, culturally, socially, politically and religiously, is that we don’t have that option any more. We face a dangerous and deeply challenging future in the next few years, as the demons we’ve unleashed in the Middle East are not going to go back into their bag, as the ecological nightmares we’ve created take their toll, as the people who make money by looking after our money have now lost their own money and perhaps ours as well, as our cultural and artistic worlds flail around trying to catch the beauty and sorrow of the world and often turning them into ugliness and trivia. And we whose lives and thinking and praying and preaching are rooted in and shaped by these great four days – we who stand up dangerously before God and one another and say we are ready to hear and obey his call once more – we have to learn what it means to announce the public truth of Easter, consequent upon the public truth of Good Friday and itself shaped by it (as the mark of the nails bear witness), as the good news of God for all the world, not just for those who meet behind locked doors. Every eye shall see him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they realise the public truth of his Easter victory. But we can only learn that in the quiet privacy around the Lord’s Table, and the humble stillness where we lay aside our own agendas, our own temperamental preferences, in the darkness of Holy Saturday. When we say Yes to the questions we shall be asked in a few minutes’ time, we are saying Yes to this rhythm, this shaping, of our private devotion to our Lord, our private waiting on him in the silence, in order to say Yes as well to this rhythm, this shaping, of our public ministry, our living out of the gospel before the principalities and powers, our working with the grain of the world where we can and against the grain of the world where we must.

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Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Holy Week, Preaching / Homiletics

Canon Deborah Sellin Announced as the New Bishop of Southampton

Debbie is currently the Vicar of St John the Baptist, Wonersh with Blackheath in the Diocese of Guildford and is also the Area Dean for the Deanery of Cranleigh. She was ordained 12 years ago after spending time working as a Family and Children’s Worker in a Church of England parish in Guildford, and as a Manager in the NHS. She succeeds the Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Frost who moved on to become the Dean of York in January after over eight years of service as the Bishop of Southampton.

The Bishop of Southampton is a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Winchester and works alongside the Bishop of Basingstoke to support the Bishop of Winchester in the Diocese, with a particular focus on serving the areas of Southampton and South Hampshire, and Bournemouth and East Dorset.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Church of England bishops welcome introduction of online safety laws

Church of England bishops today welcomed the publication of a Government White Paper including plans to impose substantial fines against social media companies that breach their duty of care towards the vulnerable.

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, who in 2016 launched a campaign (#liedentity) to encourage a safer online environment, said: “The new plans unveiled today are an encouraging sign that the online world will start to be regulated to protect people like Molly Russell, 14, who tragically took her own life. We know that her family believe that social media was partly responsible for their daughter’s death.

“Research tells us that 4 in 10 people feel that tech firms fail to take their concerns seriously when they complain.

“It’s about time that social media companies are held responsible for their content and are accountable for their actions. No other organisation in the ‘real’ world has that freedom. We manage to regulate electricity, water companies, broadcasters, shops etc through consumer bodies, yet for years social media companies have been allowed to self-regulate. These new clear standards, backed up by enforcement powers will hopefully be the step change to start really protecting our children and young people online.”

The White Paper, which includes plans to hold individual executives personally liable for failings, follows the publication of a House of Lords Select Committee report on Communication.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Chester Standard) Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) lodged against Bishop of Chester Peter Forster

A formal complaint of serious misconduct has been lodged with the Church of England against the Bishop of Chester, it has emerged.

Known as a Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM), it was brought against Dr Peter Forster by Sir Roger Singleton, interim safeguarding director at the Church.

A spokesman told the Standard that permission is currently being sought to bring the CDM ‘out of time’.

This is because under C of E rules there is a 12-month time limit between the date of the alleged misconduct and the lodging of the complaint.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

The C of E Response to Royal College of Physicians announcement on assisted suicide

From there: Speaking following the Royal College of Physicans’ announcement of the adoption of a ‘neutral’ position on assisted dying The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, said:

“We note the RCP’s decision, and welcome the President’s assurances that the RCP will not be focusing on assisted dying, instead continuing to champion high-quality palliative care services, an emphasis that the Church of England shares and has always encouraged.

“We also recognise that fewer than one third of RCP members wanted the College to support a change in the current law prohibiting assisted suicide while fewer than a quarter said they would participate in assisted dying should the law change.

“The Church of England’s position remains to affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected.”

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

In the House of Lords the Bishop of St Albans asks about problem gambling related suicides

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of Gambling disorder, increased mortality, suicidality, and associated comorbidity: A longitudinal nationwide register study, published in November 2018; and in particular its finding that problem gamblers are 15 times more likely to take their own lives.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: Preventing suicide is a priority for Government, and we take new evidence on this matter very seriously.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Politics in General

(Mirror) child poverty figures released this week are a ‘national scandal’ as 4.1million kids are hit

Tory ministers are accused of presiding over a “national scandal” after damning new figures revealed 4.1million children are in poverty.

Stagnant wages and the cruel benefit freeze mean the huge total refused to fall – despite Theresa May’s pledge to fight “burning injustices” on her first day in Downing Street.

Annual Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show 4.1million children were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2017/18, around the same as the year before.

More than 2million (53%) are under five, up from 51% a year earlier. 700,000 children in “severe” poverty, up from 600,000. And the number of children in absolute poverty, a different measure, rose by 200,000 to 3.7million.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said: “It is surely wrong, in a just and compassionate society, that so many children are growing up in poverty.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Poverty

(Church Times) Lords will break silence on betting, says Bishop of St Albans

The announcement of a new House of Lords special inquiry into gambling has been welcomed by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith.

The new Lords committee, which will examine the “social and economic consequences” of the gambling industry, was announced last Friday. It will begin its investigation later this year, and produce a report by March 2020.

Dr Smith said: “This means we can start to meet the needs of problem gamblers, and honour the hopes of the families of those who have lost their lives as a result of problem gambling.

“It’s time we broke the silence for them. This inquiry is a vital part of that.”

The Liaison Committee of the House of Lords recommended the gambling industry as one of four areas for inquiries, as proposed by Dr Smith.

He continued: “An overdue inquiry, it will have the range, depth, and authority to mount a truly evidence-based investigation. Currently, we have seen levels of suicide and other gambling-related harms becoming part of the national consciousness, while 55,000 young people are now classified as problem gamblers.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Gambling

(Westmoreland Gazette) New Bishop of Penrith starts work with a Lent walk

The new Bishop of Penrith has spent her first few days in post out and about greeting hundreds of people on a Lent Walk.

The Rt Rev Dr Emma Ineson was officially installed and welcomed as the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – at a special service in Carlisle Cathedral on Sunday.

The following day she joined the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, as he continued his Lent walk across Cumbria with other ecumenical leaders from the county. The group was also joined by the Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander Roger Batt as they set off from Holme Cultram Abbey in Abbeytown bound for Silloth, Workington and Cockermouth.

ishop Emma, who will be based in Kendal, said: “I’m feeling wonderful and am raring to go. I can’t think of a better way to start ministry in this beautiful county than by joining the Lent walk. And we’ve just had some of the best sausage rolls and a lovely cup of tea provided by the ladies here at the abbey!

“This offers me a great opportunity to get out and about. The God for All strategy is really exciting and I’m keen to find out what that looks like on the ground; to see how people in the local churches and communities are living out that calling. What is it that’s going on in the clubs, in the shops, in the streets, in the churches to share the love of Jesus with everyone?”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(C of E) Response to Home Office letter regarding Iranian asylum seeker from Bp Paul Butler

“I am extremely concerned that a Government department could determine the future of another human being based on such a profound misunderstanding of the texts and practices of faith communities. To use extracts from the Book of Revelation to argue that Christianity is a violent religion is like arguing that a Government report on the impact of Climate Change is advocating drought and flooding.

“It is good that the Home Office has recognised that this decision is inconsistent with its policies and that its staff need better training, but the fact that these comments were made at all suggests that the problem goes deeper than a lack of religious literacy among individual civil servants and indicates that the management structures and ethos of the Home Office, when dealing with cases with a religious dimension, need serious overhaul.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Iran, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(SC) Martin Sewell–Too important to care about child sexual abuse? Problems for Church and State

To their credit, the Scottish Liberal Party have moved swiftly to suspend and investigate Lord Steel’s case. In this they put to shame the Church of England. At virtually the same time problems have again hit the Church of England with reports
from Chester Crown Court that the local Diocesan Bishop had received an admission from a priest abuser but accepted an assurance that he “would not do it again”. This has resulted in campaigning journalist Andrew Graystone writing to directly call for the Bishop’s resignation.

In both cases, plainly those exercising misjudgement are not bad people. I constantly remind readers that the context of the time must be factored in. However, the time for this to be an excuse allowing us to continue, simply apologising, undertaking a “learned lesson review’ and moving on, has surely passed. That scenario has been played out too many times in too many places. Victims need to see more robust responses either from the individuals concerned or from the relevant institutions.

Until such public figures pay a price, either through voluntarily resignation, through the withdrawal of honours conferred upon them, or through being shunned by the court of public opinion, we shall continue to have a culture of minimisation and cover-up. Hitherto the only ones who have paid a price for these matters coming into the public domain are the victims who have to revisit their history of pain, humiliation, anger and all the tragedies within their personal lives that go with this.

If the Establishment, secular or faith, is to retain any credibility, it is time for its members to grasp the personal responsibility that such cases require. Great reputation and personal advantage goes with pubic status: with great privilege goes great responsibility. Respect for both victims betrayed and the institutions served requires no more feet shuffling but bold moral acceptance of consequence through principled resignation.

Anything less would demonstrate precisely the kind of cynicism which our Archbishop advised us to give up for Lent when he addressed the General Synod last month. It will continue to poison our public discourse unless or until those privileged with public approval voluntarily surrender it when public confidence is no longer merited.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Telegraph) Longest serving Church of England bishop faces calls to resign after court hears he knew about paedophile priest

The longest-serving bishop in the Church of England is facing calls to resign after it emerged he knew about a paedophile priest in his diocese and did nothing.

The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Peter Forster, found out Rev Gordon Dickenson had become embroiled in a child abuse scandal decades earlier when the retired vicar wrote a letter about the affair in 2009.

Dickenson was convicted earlier this month of eight counts of sexual assault after pleading guilty to abusing a boy during the 1970s inside a church hall and even his vicarage.

But ten years ago, Dickenson had written to the Diocese of Chester which was conducting a review of past abuse cases admitting he been accused of the abuse during the 1970s and had promised the then Bishop of Chester he would “never do it again”.

Despite this admission, Bishop Forster failed to pass on the letter to the police or order an internal church inquiry.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

Church of England calls for Government action on problem gambling

A motion overwhelmingly passed by General Synod, the Church’s Assembly, on Saturday called for a reduction in gambling advertising, and to introduce a levy for gambling firms to help fund research and treatment programmes to combat addicting.

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith (pictured) who has campaigned for gambling reform, introduced the item by telling the Synod that 55,000 children were problem gamblers, and were being ‘groomed’ by gambling adverts.

The story of Jack Ritchie, a young man who killed himself after fighting gambling addiction, elicited many stories from members of Synod of their personal experiences of problem gambling as well as those of loved ones.

Nick Land, of York Diocese, identified himself as having formerly had a problem with gambling, warning that for reformed addicts, “every advertisement is a temptation.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

[Oxford] Bishop Stephen Croft–Rethinking Evangelism

Over 400 people assembled in the Vatican over three weeks. The initial work of the Synod was to listen to five-minute contributions from every part of the world. There was widespread agreement that we live in a time when the passing on of Christian faith is challenging and difficult everywhere.

There was widespread agreement around two further themes. The first is that the Church therefore needs to reflect more, not less, on the reasons for this and our response. The second is that as a Church we need to begin not with techniques or methods but with Christ: dwelling deeply, seeing the face of Christ afresh, exploring again the joy of the gospel.

There have been very significant shifts in our culture and the place of the church within our culture. We understand them only in part. But I believe more and more of the Church of England recognises now that technical solutions are not the answer. I have found more and more over the last three years that when I speak about church growth and how to do evangelism the energy leaves the room.

If I show even a hint of a downward sloping graph, I lose my audience completely. But when I speak of Christ and the wonder and character of Christ and the need to begin from a place of hope and love and nurture the Church as the Body of Christ in very simple ways, the energy levels rise and there is fresh hope and vision.

This is not because people are unwilling to face reality. I think our congregations and communities understand the reality of our situation very well indeed. I think we recognise together that technique or finance or strategies cannot of themselves “solve” the problem. We need as a Church to gather again around Jesus Christ and his gospel and find there renewal and healing and life for us and for the world. These convictions undergird the vision and call we are exploring in the Diocese of Oxford, to be a more Christ like Church for the sake of God’s world: more contemplative, more compassionate and more courageous.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(Church Times) Government too soft on gambling ads, warns Bishop of St Albans

Dr Smith said, however, that there were insufficient penalties for companies who ignored the new standards. “With little consequences for companies flouting the rules, and few teeth to enforce these new directives, the Committee of Advertising Practice needs to step up their approach.

“With so many of the proposals relying on betting firms to self-regulate, I sadly have little hope for major changes to the way gambling advertises.

“This endless barrage of adverts has normalised gambling, and we now have 55,000 children who are problem gamblers and it is time for the gambling industry to take this issue seriously.

“It is our moral duty to protect young people from gambling-related harm, and I hope the Committee of Advertising Practice will support my General Synod motion demanding tighter regulation around gambling advertising.”

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Facebook ‘delusion’ can’t replace religion, says Church of England bishop Rachel Treweek as social network’s numbers surpass Christianity

The idea that Facebook can replace religious communities is “a delusion”, a Church of England bishop has said, as the social network surpasses global Christianity in numbers.

Figures released by the social network for 2018 show that it has 2.32bn monthly active users, more than the most recent available figures for the reach of Christianity.

Data from the Pew Research Centre suggests that the faith has 2.3bn adherents worldwide.

Facebook was founded 15 years ago last Monday, and in a blog post to mark the occasion chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that “people’s experience in the past was defined by large hierarchical institutions – governments, mass media, universities, religious organisations – that provided stability but were often remote and inaccessible.

“Our current century is defined more by networks of people who have the freedom to interact with whom they want and the ability to easily share ideas and experiences.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology

(CEN) Peers bid to make clergy conduct same sex marriages

The Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell stated that ‘the Church of England seeks to welcome all people’, including those in civil partnerships and same-sex marriages but explained that ‘the reason we are having this discussion is that there are questions about how this welcome can be expressed’.

He said that the amendment introduces ‘a discordant note into your Lordships’ consideration of a Bill which is otherwise uncontentious and likely to receive clear support’.

He said that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 ‘seeks to strike a balance between the right of individuals to marry a person of the same sex, and the rights of churches and other religious bodies — and of their ministers — to act in a way consistent with their religious beliefs’.

“No religious body or minister of religion is compelled to solemnise such a marriage,” he said.

He pointed out that in its second report on the then Bill, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said that ‘religious liberty, as granted under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights is a collective as well as individual right’.

It stated that religious organisations have the right to determine and administer their doctrinal and internal religious affairs without interference from the state.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(John Stevens) Same-Sex Relationships: Sorry Bishop Bayes, But The Meaning Of Holiness Does Not Change From Generation To Generation

Bishop Bayes argument from the comparison with divorce somewhat ironically falls apart when it is remembered that Jesus explicitly stated that homosexuality was a ground for divorce (Matthew 19v9 – using the work porneia for “sexual immorality” which includes homosexual acts as well as heterosexual acts outside of marriage). This verse therefore affirms both that divorce is holy and permissible in some circumstances, and that homosexuality is unholy and a ground for divorce.

When it comes to homosexuality the Biblical message is entirely different. Whereas divorce is permitted in both Old and New Testament, and by Jesus and by Paul, there is not a single text in the entire cannon of Scripture that would suggest that same-sex sexual relationships are pure, holy and pleasing to God, In fact the exact opposite is the case throughout. Homosexual acts are forbidden in language which negatively contrasts them with the purity of holiness, and sex is to be rightly enjoyed solely in the context of heterosexual covenant marriage. This is true in both Old and New Testaments. It is a position taught not just by Paul but also by Jesus, who upheld the Old testament teaching about sex and marriage and condemned “sexual immorality” using language that in the cultural context clearly included homosexuality.

There can be no viable case made that the Scriptures indicates any change in God’s attitude towards homosexual acts, and not even the hint of a “redemptive trajectory” in this direction. He is a holy God and remains implacably opposed to all sexual acts that fall short of his holy standard. We are not at liberty to revise our understanding of holiness to fit with contemporary cultural mores.

The idea that God has revealed a different standard today is equally flawed. The Holy Spirit is himself God, and just as unchanging as God the Father. He cannot reveal something to be holy today that was condemned as unholy in the Scriptures that he breathed-out. The Holy Spirit is not a liar, and he has not learned anything new about human sexuality in the two thousand years since the closure of the Canon.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Peter Mullen on the George Bell case–A dark episode in the life of the Church

Lord Carlile’s report was eventually handed to the Church authorities and they kicked it into the long grass.

So much for Bishop Martin Warner’s vaunted “…safeguards of truth and justice for all, victim and accused alike.” All along, the only interests being safeguarded here were those of the Bishop of Chichester and the Archbishop of Canterbury. We know very well why these authorities leapt so precipitately to condemn Bishop Bell out of hand: it was because they had previously had to admit to the existence of so many perpetrators of sexual abuse among the senior clergy – especially in the Diocese of Chichester.

Warner and Welby, to salvage what remained of their reputations, wanted desperately to appear to be doing something.

Thus the name of the safely-dead Bishop George Bell was tarnished because the Church’s highest authorities sought to cover their own backs.

Let us be in no doubt as to the seriousness of the Church’s misconduct so eloquently criticised in Lord Carlile’s report. He said that Bell had been “hung out to dry,” he added that the Church’s procedures were “deficient, inappropriate and impermissible”; “obvious lines of enquiry were not followed” and there was “a rush to judgement.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

([London] Times) Football is grooming children into gambling, says Bishop of St Albans

Children are being “groomed into gambling” by football and betting companies must be banned from sponsoring clubs’ shirts, a bishop has said.

It is the first time a Church of England leader has called for an outright ban, pointing out that nine out of 20 Premier League teams and 17 out of 24 Championship teams have a gambling company as their main shirt sponsor.

Today the church unveiled a set of proposals to be put to its General Synod calling on the government to “reduce the quantity and pervasiveness of gambling advertising” and to force betting companies to pay a levy to fund education and addiction treatment.

The Bishop of St Albans, who sits in the House of Lords, led the church’s successful campaign to limit how much can be wagered on fixed-odds betting terminals. He said that 55,000 teenagers in Britain were classed as problem gamblers and not enough had been done to shield children from gambling advertising since laws were liberalised in 2005.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CEN Editorial) Bishop George Bell and a cloud left hanging over him

Archbishop Welby is no doubt trying to be kind to Carol and pastorally sensitive to her testimony, but nevertheless an evaluation of the strength of her evidence is a different matter.

The Bishop of Chichester took the same line, apologising for the failures of his Diocese’s procedures, but declaring that Bell cannot be pronounced not guilty of Carol’s allegation. “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited. There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved.”

This last sentence seems quite misleading: in judging the guilt or innocence of someone there is a presumption of innocence and a need to find proof of guilt. The fact that ‘certainty’ is not possible in such matters is a truism and not one which justice requires in finding someone not guilty. Bell surely needs to be declared found not guilty and not simply ‘under a cloud’.

The Church has not done justice to George Bell and no doubt the campaigners on his behalf will not cease in their labours to secure a full acquittal from this very serious accusation. Archbishop Welby added to his apology about the process: he said: “Bishop George Bell is one of the most important figures in the history of the Church of England in the 20th Century, and his legacy is undoubted and must be upheld.” But if this smear is left hanging, his legacy is indeed deeply damaged.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Guardian) Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt launches review into how UK can better support Christains under threat

Postcolonial guilt about Britain’s imperial past has held the country back from addressing the deepening persecution of Christians across the world, the foreign secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt was speaking at the launch of an independent review into how the government defends the rights of persecuted Christians. The review, which will be led by the bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, will study the scale, causes and geography of persecution and what more the UK may be able to do to raise the profile of the issue in its diplomatic network.

Hunt, a committed Christian, said: “We wanted to do this not just because freedom of worship is a fundamental human right, but because also freedom of worship is the invisible line between open societies and closed societies.”

He added he wanted “to banish any hesitation to look into this issue without fear or favour that may exist because of our imperial history, because of the concerns that some people might have in linking the activities of missionaries in the 19th century to misguided imperialism”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Telegraph) Charles Moore–New allegations have rightly been thrown out, but justice has yet to be done for Bishop Bell

The Church does feel uneasy. It admits its processes were wrong. Its tone has changed. It recognises Bell’s greatness, which it previously ignored: Archbishop Welby has personally tweeted to support the building of a statue to Bell in Canterbury, a project frozen by Carol’s original allegation. But it still cannot face the obvious point that if it had applied the Carlile processes it admits it should have used it would never have found against Bell in the first place.

Trying to make some amends, the present Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, wrote to Bell’s niece last week, expressing his sorrow for having ignored the rights of the family. He added in a separate statement, however: “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited.” It reminds one of Pontius Pilate, who found no fault in Jesus, but condemned him all the same.

In our law and culture, if guilt cannot be proved, innocence must be presumed. To do this is not to “discredit” a complainant, who might not be lying, but might be mistaken about identity or confused in other ways. Memory plays strange tricks, especially about events alleged to have occurred 70 years ago.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Church Times) Archbishop Welby apologises for ‘mistakes’ in case of George Bell

Professor Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer, who has been campaigning to clear Bell’s name, said on Thursday evening that the statements “show that they are clinging to the wreckage of their old position as best they can.

“It is simply self-justification, but it does indicate that they will just maintain for the sake of consistency the views that got them into such trouble in the first place.”

He questioned why, in January of last year, the Church had issued a statement and commissioned a second investigation: “What today has really exposed is the ridiculousness of what has been going on, and the foolishness of people who have real power in the Church. . .

“Many people will say that the Church was trying to control, or retrieve control, of the narrative of Lord Carlile, to shut down the critics, and create a doubt in the public mind that Bell might be a serial offender of some kind.

“They have nothing to hide behind now. It looks like a highly calculating, politicised outfit indeed.”

While parts of the Archbishop’s statement were “meaningful, welcome, and appropriate”, the reference to the Church’s “dilemma” in weighing up a reputation against a serious allegation did not exist, Professor Chandler argued….

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

An Open letter is released to the C of E bishops in response to their transgender services guidance

….This is the wider medical, social and political debate into which the House of Bishops have introduced their brief ‘Guidance for gender transition services’. The document is undoubtedly well intentioned but lacks the serious theological analysis required to address the philosophical, anthropological and social issues in play in public discourse.

We, the undersigned, are unreservedly committed to welcoming everyone to our churches and communities of faith, so that all might hear and be invited to respond to the good news of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. But we do not believe that the Guidance is the right way to do this, since it raises some significant issues for the Church’s belief and practice.

  1. The House of Bishops previously stated that no new liturgy would be offered. The title of ‘gender transition services’, the focus on the use of a person’s new name, the use of oil and water contrary to previous rubrics in Common Worship, and the description in the later explanatory note confirming that this service is to be used to ‘mark gender transition’ amount to the offering of a new liturgy, since existing wording is now being put to a new purpose.
  2. We are deeply concerned at what appears to be a misuse of the liturgy by which we celebrate one of the dominical sacraments, which are the founding markers of the Church itself (Articles XIX and XXV). Although reaffirmation of baptismal vows might well be appropriate at certain seasons of life, it should primarily be focussed on celebrating new life in Christ rather than a new situation or circumstance, as set out in Common Worship: Christian Initiation, and should always centre on salvation, repentance and faith rather than ‘unconditional affirmation’.
  3. We are similarly concerned at the inclusion of new biblical readings within the guidance and their suggestion that the changes of name for biblical characters in the light of God’s salvific action and intervention offer a legitimate parallel to the change of name associated with gender transition.

Read it all and note if you are interested the list of signatories (which number around 1600 as of this afternoon).

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell and David Lamming-How far is Bishop George Bell’s reputation restored? When is a cloud not a cloud?

The allegations were extremely serious. Archbishop Justin is to be applauded for treating the matter so seriously: we cannot ignore the fact that the evidence in all cases was not strong. Justice is a balance: if one finds it hard to administer coolly and dispassionately, it might be an argument for placing such decisions away from the Church. A pastor’s heart is a great thing, but perhaps not in one necessarily exercising judicial decisions and commentary.

The suspicion of dual standards between the living and the dead is illustrated by the case of the former Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, who was the subject of similar allegations which were also found unreliable after investigation. Upon his retirement he received a standing ovation from General Synod, with Archbishop Justin declaring that he was “glad to thank Bishop Perham wholeheartedly for his ministry after all the investigations and inquiries had cleared him”.

The Archbishop was, of course, dealing with someone he knew; a much-liked and respected colleague. But his acknowledgment that Bishop Perham had been ‘cleared’ followed the well established rule: innocent until proven guilty. It was good to see a faithful servant of the Church vindicated, but is hard to see how that precedent differs from that of George Bell, save that one was personally known to many of those insisting ‘innocent until proven guilty’ at the time, whereas few of us will have a personal attachment to a man who died in 1958.

If there is a clear and proper distinction between the cases, it needs to be fully articulated. As things stand, the discrepancy between the cases is hard to reconcile.

It seems to us that a black-and-white approach to these matters has the considerable merit of certainty, whereas once one moves into gradations of grey we will be asking for trouble. That is why an official approach that accepts the quasi-judicial decision is probably the wisest course of action in such cases. What one thinks privately and individually is, of course, entirely a matter of conscience.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Statement from the Bishop of Chester, Martin Werner, on the George Bell case and the Briden report

It became obvious that a more thorough investigation must be made before any public announcement can be considered and that the level of investigation typically undertaken for settlement of a civil claim is not adequate to justify an announcement. It is now clear that if an announcement about any other person is to be made, it must not imply certainty when we cannot be certain. We have also now understood much more besides, in particular about the trust that people place in us and their legitimate expectations of us as guardians of the inheritance of faith.

We recognise the hurt that has been done to all who have been directly involved, including the family of George Bell and those who continue to respect his achievements, as a result of the areas where we have fallen short. We apologise profoundly and sincerely for our shortcomings in this regard. The responsibility for this is a shared one, as are the lessons learnt from it.

For the future, we recognise how damaging and painful this has been. We have all been diminished by this case. The legitimate quest for certainty has been defeated by the nature of the case and the passage of time. Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited. There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved. We ask those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognize the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion. Moreover, we continue to believe that the good things that George Bell did in his life will stand the test of time. His prophetic work for peace and his relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer are only two of the many ways in which his legacy will go on being of great significance to us in the Church and we hope and pray we can go on learning from what he has given to us.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby on the George Bell case and the Briden report

The Church’s dilemma has been to weigh up the reputation of a highly esteemed bishop who died over 60 years ago alongside a serious allegation. We did not manage our response to the original allegation with the consistency, clarity or accountability that meets the high standards rightly demanded of us. I recognise the hurt that has been done as a consequence. This was especially painful for Bishop Bell’s surviving relatives, colleagues and supporters, and to the vast number of people who looked up to him as a remarkable role model, not only in the Diocese of Chichester but across the United Kingdom and globally. I apologise profoundly and unconditionally for the hurt caused to these people by the failures in parts of the process and take responsibility for this failure.

However, it is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation relating to an historic case of abuse and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. We need to care for her and listen to her voice.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has already questioned the Church of England over its response to the Bishop Bell case and the review by Lord Carlile. We expect that their report on our hearings will address further the complex issues that have been raised and will result in a more informed, confident, just and sensitive handling of allegations of abuse by the church in the future. We have apologised, and will continue to do so, for our poor response to those brave enough to come forward, while acknowledging that this will not take away the effects of the abuse.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(C of E) The National Safeguarding Team statement on Bishop George Bell

A ruling by Timothy Briden, a senior ecclesiastical lawyer, relating to fresh information received about the late Bishop George Bell, has been published today. Mr Briden was appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to make an independent assessment of the evidence that had been brought before the core group, the Church’s response to any safeguarding situation.

A range of people came forward with further information following the publication of a review by Lord Carlile, in December 2017, of the Church of England’s handling of an original allegation against the late bishop. The Church’s response has included an independent, thorough investigation by former Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway. This was submitted to Mr Briden. Bishop Bell’s living relatives were represented during this process.

To enable Ray Galloway to have an informed understanding of the case he also interviewed ‘Carol’, who brought the original allegation; neither he nor Mr Briden reinvestigated her claim in respect of which a civil settlement has already been made.

Read it all and take the time to read the full Briden report.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence