Category : CoE Bishops

(Telegraph) 7 prominent Academics call Archbishop Welby’s claims against Bishop George Bell ‘irresponsible and dangerous’

The  Archbishop of Canterbury has shamed his office with “irresponsible and dangerous” claims that Bishop George Bell may have been a paedophile, leading historians have said.

In a letter to The Most Rev Justin Welby, seven eminent academics say that they have examined the allegations against the former Bishop of Chichester and there is “no credible evidence” that he sexually abused a young girl.

A damning report found late last year that the Church of England unnecessarily besmirched the character of Bishop Bell when they publicly named him in an apology made to the accuser in 2015.

The signatories to the letter, seen by the Daily Telegraph, now call on Archbishop Welby to retract comments he made in the wake of the report in which he said that a “significant cloud is left over his name”. 

Read it all and make sure to read the full text of the letter.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Christian Today) Irene Lancaster–Bishop George Bell was a hero who saved Jewish children. It is time his reputation was restored

…may I suggest that readers of Christian Today take some time to read the very clear report written by Lord Carlile on the way the Bishop Bell case has been handled. Then please ask yourselves if, on the evidence, Bishop Bell is guilty of child abuse as charged, or simply a victim of the workings of the Church of England.

Lord Carlile was asked by the Church authorities to look into the way the investigation of this case was handled, and has concluded that the arrangements were shockingly cavalier and that as a result a man has been found guilty without any proof whatsoever.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to read the report. And on reading it myself, it is hard not to conclude that the evidence is overwhelming that Bell is a martyr not of the Church but by the Church. And if, after reading the report on the workings of the Church of England in this case, you agree with me, don’t you think that you should do something about it?

Because the biblical Moses was asked by G-d to entreat the Pharaoh of his time to let his own Jewish people go – in words that have enthused heroes such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

But what Bishop Bell did in the 1930s was if anything even more heroic: what he did was to take on the entire Church establishment of the day to ask them to take in the tiny remnant of the Jewish community in Germany and eastern Europe. And this the Church establishment found too difficult to contemplate.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Germany, History, Judaism, Religion & Culture

Bp Edward Condry of Ramsbury Announces his Retirement

The Bishop of Ramsbury, the Rt Revd Dr Edward Condry has announced that he will be retiring at the end of April when he will reach the age of sixty-five. His farewell service will be Evensong at St John’s Devizes on Sunday 15 April at 6.00 pm.

Bishop Edward said, “Sarah and I move on with some sadness but with much thanksgiving. I have been blessed here with great colleagues. We have loved living in the beautiful county of Wiltshire. It has been a privilege to serve the parishes of this Diocese.

“I have been constantly astonished at the generous and loving work of those who worship here, quietly serving Christ through their service to neighbours and communities.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Church Times) Bishop Holtam welcomes Government’s campaign against plastic

The ambition behind the Government’s new environmental plans is “terrific”, and shows it to be “caring for God’s creation” the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, has said.

Bishop Holtam, the C of E’s lead bishop on environmental issues, said on Thursday that it was good news that the environment had become a priority, and that there was “a recognition of the state we are in”.

It was “a very significant document”, Bishop Holtam said, and accompanied by a “very significant speech”.

The plan was unveiled by the Prime Minister on Thursday morning. The Government is to introduce a raft of proposals designed to eliminate all avoidable plastic by 2042.

Speaking at the launch of the Government’s new 25-year environmental plan on Thursday, the Prime Minister announced a war on plastic waste, calling it “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

The Bp of Salisbury’s 2018 New Year Message

Love is not a zero sum game which uses all our energy and exhausts us. Love creates energy and makes new possibilities. It knows how to give and receive. We are not here just to be consumers and gain us many things and experiences as we can buy. We are here as co-creators with God and one another and our to use our intelligence is to be used to make life better, to make an even better world. We are made for goodness.

So am I hopeful as we enter 2018? Yes, of course, and I don’t just mean I am optimistic. Hope is much more deeply rooted. It’s much more the sort of hope spoken by the survivors of Grenfell Tower after the memorial service at St Paul’s cathedral. They said that what they wanted is “truth and justice”. They didn’t think it especially complicated and said nothing about our living in a post-truth society with alternative facts. Their hope is that we will take the trouble to be a society that is about the truth. That is enduring and brings hope.

The prayer I often use as we enter the new year which was written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the dark years of Apartheid in South Africa.

Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.

Desmond Tutu (An African Prayer Book Hodder and Stoughton 1995)

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

The Bishop of Sheffield delivers his first Christmas Day sermon

For the next ten minutes, I want to say a few words about each of those two scenes in turn. I want to ask, first of all, what the manger might’ve meant to Mary and Joseph; and then secondly, what it might have meant to the shepherds. I hope that by the end we may glimpse what that manger can mean to you and me as well.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Preaching / Homiletics

(CEN) Church of England rejects key finding in George Bell review

The Church of England has apologised for its handling of the allegations of abuse by Bishop George Bell, who died in 1958, but resisted a key recommendation in the review it requested.

The leading barrister and former MP Lord Carlile of Berriew was asked by the Diocese of Chichester to review its handling of the accusation by ‘Carol’.

Although he accepted that the diocese had acted in ‘good faith’, one of his key recommendations was that there should be a confidentiality provision, at least where cases are settled without admission of liability, as in this case.

Lord Carlile was not asked to decide on the veracity of the claims, which ‘Carol’ asserted happened when she was a child. These events date back to the 1940s and 1950s. The terms of his review were solely on how the Church handled these.

But on this point he was damning. While acknowledging that the Church’s actions were informed by history, in which the Church has been seen to be slow to acknowledge abuse by its clergy, or even turning a blind eye, he concluded: “The process followed by the Church in this case was deficient in a number of respects.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology

(Church Times) BBC religion is entering a new era, says Bishop of Norwich Graham James

The BBC’s review of its religion and ethics output “feels like the beginning of a new era” the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, has said.

Bishop James, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on media issues, said on Wednesday that BBC had produced “the most promising review of religion and ethics at the BBC that I have seen for a generation… It is very promising all round.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the BBC published plans for reforming its religion and ethics output. These include the establishment of a religion editor for news, a global team of specialist reporters, a greater focus on religious festivals, and creating a “Year of Belief” in 2019.

Bishop James said he was hopeful that the proposals would be implemented, and that they would have an impact on religious programming.

“I’m confident that at the highest level [in the BBC] this is now being taking seriously, at a level I have not seen before.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(CEN) Andrew Carey A devastating critique the Church needs to heed

The cynic in me wonders whether there were any PR machinations involved in the fact that the publication of Lord Carlile’s review was sandwiched between the fawning and ingratiating visit of Radio 4’s Today programme to Lambeth Palace last week and the joyous announcement of Sarah Mullally’s appointment to London.

Surely not? But in my opinion, the Church of England has become a place where appearances matter more than the reality. Friday is, after all, a good day for burying bad news.

I do not think, however, that the debacle over George Bell will be easily forgotten, not least because to use the words of Lord Carlile, Church of England leaders have been less than ‘adroit’ in their reaction to his excoriating report.

Lord Carlile’s report is a model of brevity and propriety. It is a line-by-line study of something approaching a slow-motion train wreck. The story told is one in which hapless leaders believed positively ancient allegations with little understanding of the principles at stake and then did little or nothing to investigate the veracity of allegations. To compound their errors they were too concerned about the reputation of the Church and gave almost no consideration to the reputation of a long-dead man (and there was absolutely no thought given to surviving members of the Bell family). The minutiae of the mess is to be found in the unprofessional and bungled composition and process of the so-called Core Group.

But it is the Church of England’s response to the report that is most disappointing. Having appointed one of the most distinguished lawyers in the land, the Church of England failed to understand his key recommendation, which is also a basic principle of British justice, that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The Archbishop of Canterbury hides behind the Church of England’s recent conversion to transparency to reject Carlile’s central recommendation that, in certain cases where liability cannot be proven and is not accepted, the Church of England should explore a confidentiality agreement to preserve the anonymity of the accused.

But senior leaders of the Church of England demonstrate that they do not understand basic principles of justice in rejecting this recommendation out-of-hand, and they certainly have not understood Lord Carlile’s report.

The Church of England should have refused to name George Bell because the allegations against him couldn’t meet even a lower threshold of a civil standard of proof. That is primarily because even a deceased person should have a defence and the Church of England gave no dignity to Bell by refusing to recognise this.

I fear that the Church of England at its highest level lacks leaders who understand basic principles of justice.

But the serious problem is the Church of England has now badly handled all of its recent reviews, especially the Elliott review. Additionally, I have no doubt that it will not be long before the Gibb review will be found to be inadequate when IICSA looks into the Diocese of Chichester next March and Peter Ball next July.

The House of Bishops is currently responsible for safeguarding but there is an urgent case for the involvement of an independent safeguarding body. Members of General Synod are agitating for a serious debate on the ongoing problems of the Church on safeguarding, but action must begin before the February sessions.

My personal hope is that the Church of England’s senior leaders wake up to the problem, which is driven by a culture of fear, rather than a proper culture of compassion and justice. In particular, the Church’s longest-standing leaders, especially the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, a former high court judge who suffered under Idi Amin because of his stand for justice, must step up to the plate. A way must be found to bring all interested parties together– including victims and complainants, those falsely-accused, Church leaders, lawyers, politicians and representatives of clergy and laity in General Synod — in a serious attempt to bring about change in the Church of England before the Independent Inquiry introduces its own possibly unwelcome, unwanted, intrusive and even misguided reforms.

–The Church of England Newspaper, December 22/29 1017 edition; subsriptions are encouraged

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues

(CEN) Bp Michael Nazir-Ali–There Must be no retreat from the public square by Christians

I have worked for a number of years with persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, especially in the Middle East and South Asia.Sometimes I am asked about those who feel they are ‘persecuted’ nearer home, in the UK. At one level the comparison is only superficial; Christian faith in the UK does not usually mean putting your life or liberty at risk.

Yet.

I find, though, that persecution begins with exclusion and discrimination. What is being dismissed from your post for your Christian views on marriage if not persecution? Or being refused as an applicant for adopting or fostering children if not persecution? Or being suspended as a teacher because of your Christian beliefs? Or losing your job for praying with a patient, if not persecution? So many examples can be given.

The family has been under sustained attack in this country for the last 50years. The family is the basis of a stable society.Yet our country has just abandoned the biblical teaching of marriage in public law.These attacks will not stop there.

First, divorce is becoming ever easier with further proposals for no-fault divorce. Marriage is no longer a covenant or contract.There is no accountability for people who abandon a marriage for no good reason.Family patterns are being reinvented and we are being told that fathers are not necessary. Yet all the research shows that fathers are very important for the proper maturing of children.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) Martyn Percy: Why the Church’s response to the George Bell inquiry is so shocking

Since the publication of the Carlile Report, the Archbishop, Church of England National Safeguarding Team and the Bishop of Chichester have all been defensive. They recognise that there are criticisms. But they continue to speak and behave as though they got the right result – merely via a flawed methodology. I am reminded of the quote from Alan Partridge: ‘You know, a lot of people forget that for the first three days, the cruise on The Titanic was a really enjoyable experience.’

On the October 21, 2015, I had been rung by the then Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council and of the General Synod of the Church of England, Sir William Fittall. It was Fittall who told me, over the phone, that a ‘thorough investigation’ had implicated Bishop George Bell in an historic sex-abuse case, and that the Church had ‘paid compensation to the victim’. Fittall added that he was tipping me off, as he knew we had an altar in the Cathedral dedicated to Bell, and that Bell was a distinguished former member of Christ Church.

Fittall asked what we would do, in the light of the forthcoming media announcements. I explained that Christ Church is an academic institution, and we tend to make decisions based on evidence, having first weighed and considered its quality. Fittall replied that the evidence was ‘compelling and convincing’, and that the investigation into George Bell has been ‘lengthy, professional and robust’. I asked for details, as I said I could not possibly make a judgement without sight of such evidence. I was told that such evidence could not be released. So, Christ Church kept faith with Bell, and the altar, named after him, remains in exactly the same spot it has occupied for over fifteen years, when it was first carved.

What we now learn from Independent Review of the Bishop George Bell Case is that evidence against Bell is, at best, flimsy….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell–Carlile Report: Bishop George Bell has been traduced, and the blame lies squarely with Church House and Lambeth Palace

When you end up apologising to both the Accused and the Complainant for your institutional incompetence, it is time for a fundamental debate about what is wrong at the highest levels of the Church of England.

Yet now we see our Bishops picking a fight with Lord Carlile on the applicability of transparency in special cases. One is bound to suggest that he is not the one who needs lectures on the subject, and that our church leadership is not perhaps best placed to deliver them. I am all for the zeal of the convert, but there are many within Church House and Lambeth Palace who need such instruction more urgently than does one of the country’s leading lawyers, who is simply but patiently explaining why and where they are wrong. Victims of abuse will see these expressions of concern for transparency to be expedient rather than heartfelt. Turning that culture around is a significant burden of work, but one which each and every member of the General Synod of the Church of England must now shoulder in order to ensure greater truth and a better justice.

To adapt the words of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer: ‘Rend your hearts, not your policy documents.’

Read it all.

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

(AI) Did the newly appointed Bishop of London flub her first broadcast outing?

Mr Husain then asked how she would vote if she were able to vote. To which the newly appointed bishop said.

“What we have to remember is that this is about people, and, [pause], the church seeks to demonstrate love to all, because it reflects the God of love, who loves everybody, and obviously this issue isn’t just an issue for London, not just for us in the Church of England, but also the Anglican Community, [pause] and at the moment the church is taking a period to reflect, there is work that is going on, [pause], and I’m involved in that, and, [pause], for me that is important that we take a time of reflection, whilst, you know, standing on the traditions of the Church of England…”.

The interviewer interrupted her at that point and asked whether she would bless a same-sex marriage. To which the new Bishop of London responded that “At the moment there is no provision to do that.”

The interviewer rephrased his question, asking if Bishop Mullally would welcome a change. “Would you like there to be that provision,” he asked.

Bishop Mullally declined to answer, stating: “As I said there is a period of reflection that is going on at the moment, and I am part of that…”.

Mr. Husain came back to the issue, asking a direct question of the bishop. “Have you not decided how you feel about blessing a same sex marriage?”

She again refused to be drawn and refused to answer the question….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Spectator) Melanie McDonagh–The new Bishop of London is a far cry from her predecessor

Very much in the mould then of another evangelical, the Archbishop of Canterbury. She’s also a former Chief Nursing Officer who worked in the Department of Health for five years and was educated in a comprehensive (the last, a very good thing). So, a far cry then from Richard Chartres, her bearded predecessor, who is both theologically learned and with a profound knowledge of Orthodox Christianity. I don’t think Prince Charles is going to be best friends with Sarah in quite the same way, somehow.

Very prudently, she refused to take sides on the fraught question of whether homosexual couples can marry in Church; she is, as it happens involved in the deliberations that the CofE is undertaking on the matter. As she said: ‘I am clear about teaching of the church…but I also want to reflect an inclusive response to this issue. I’m chairing one of the committees which is reflecting on our teaching and tradition on this issue, the aspect of it dealing with social and biological sciences. I can’t give a sense where this reflection is going to go, but it’s important to stress that everybody is loved by God.’ I got a strong sense from this cautiously worded response that she would be taking the discussion in the direction of liberalising gay marriage. Let’s see.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) The First female Bishop of London is appointed

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues