— Archbishop Cranmer (@His_Grace) January 25, 2018
Category : CoE Bishops
A Letter from Martin Sewell in Today’s Telegraph about the Church of England’s handling of the Bp George Bell matter
What, then, should the House of Bishops have done? I think the statement they issued says some helpful and positive things, and I particularly appreciate the focus on the primacy of identity in Christ that is effected by the baptism of believers.
The emphasis is placed not on the past or future of the candidate alone but on their faith in Jesus Christ. The Affirmation [of Baptism] therefore gives priority to the original and authentic baptism of the individual, and the sacramental change it has effected, allowing someone who has undergone a serious and lasting change to re-dedicate their life and identity to Christ. The image of God, in which we are all made, transcends gender, race, and any other characteristic, and our shared identity as followers of Jesus is the unity which makes all one in Christ (Galatians 3.27-28)
(Church Times) Christina Beardsley–The (House of Bishops) decision not to provide a liturgy for trans people undermines the Church’s claim to welcome them
How much better, though, if the Church of England could authorise a form of prayer that busy clergy could take off the shelf when needed.
As well as being convenient for clergy and lay minsters, authorising a liturgy for trans people would also demonstrate that the Church was serious about the welcome mentioned in part one of the motion, aware of trans people’s specific needs, and willing to respond to their requests appropriately.
That was the basis of the Blackburn Motion and it passed by a huge majority in all three of Synod’s houses (Bishops, Clergy, and Laity) seven months ago. Since then, we have heard nothing, until last weekend when The Mail on Sunday leaked the story that the House of Bishops had decided that a liturgy for trans people should, in the Mail’s words, “be blocked”.
A hastily issued statement followed from the Church of England, in response to the leak, which insisted that it was welcoming to trans people, but would not be issuing a liturgy. Instead, clergy were advised to adapt the existing Affirmation of Baptismal Faith rite on these occasions and to be creative. Further guidance is promised later this week.
Like many trans people, I am deeply disappointed, and not a little angered, by this outcome. I’m sure that I will have further reflections once we hear the reasons for this decision, but here are my initial thoughts about what has happened and what we can learn from it….
(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Adrian Hilton–Archbp Justin Welby has staked his reputation and legacy on the maintenance of a profound injustice to Bp George Bell
Well, he could have done, but now he’s dug his heels in, the course is set; the trajectory is fixed, because the eminent historians, theologians and other vocal defenders of George Bell also have no intention of backing down, which is why Justin Welby’s statement is quite possibly the most bungling and inept piece of PR to have been issued by Lambeth Palace since he was installed as Archbishop in 2013. Honestly, where do they think this now goes?
How does Lambeth Palace think this will end? The issue isn’t just going to hang around like a bad smell: it’s going to hinder and detract from Archbishop Justin’s entire episcopal ministry; it’s going to bind and frustrate every utterance he makes on the themes of integrity, truth and justice.
On the one hand is an Archbishop who cannot with integrity rescind his statement, and on the other is a growing army of very eminent lawyers, historians, theologians and crusaders for truth who cannot with integrity cease their campaign for Justice for George Bell. And this is a battle which the Archbishop will certainly lose – perhaps not while in office (so over the next three years), but either five or 15 years from now, or even 20 years after his death – because that army of eminent lawyers, historians, theologians and crusaders for truth will enlist another battalion, and if necessary another battalion after that, because people care more about the late, great George Bell than they probably ever will about Justin Welby.
That’s harsh, but it’s true. It’s true because the man who perpetuates an injustice is never going to be judged favourably by historians, lawyers, theologians or crusaders for truth (especially those who despise the Church of England), so you can be sure – absolutely sure – that some time in the future one of Justin Welby’s successors to the See of Canterbury will find it expedient to sacrifice Archbishop Justin’s reputation as swiftly as the Church of England trashed that of Bishop George Bell.
Following the debate and vote at General Synod in July 2017 on Welcoming Transgender People, the House of Bishops has prayerfully considered whether a new nationally commended service might be prepared to mark a gender transition.
The Bishops are inviting clergy to use the existing rite Affirmation of Baptismal Faith. New guidance is also being prepared on the use of the service.
Read it all and follow all three links.
In an astonishing passage, he responds to the concerns of the historians, who are urging him to reconsider, by ludicrously comparing them to emotional defenders of Ball. He says ‘As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged. As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret. The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic.’
What sort of non-logic is this? It may *have been* suggested, before Ball was convicted and sent to prison, that what was alleged could not have been true. But is there any serious person (as serious as, for instance, Sir Ian Kershaw) who is suggesting it now? Who? How can Mr Welby possibly compare opinions held mistakenly before a fair trial and conviction showed them to be wrong, and opinions held where there has not been and cannot be any such trial, and where the evidence against the accused is solitary and weak?
The police arrested Ball, the CPS charged him, and Ball, who was able to ensure that he was professionally defended throughout, and was able to avail himself of the presumption of innocence, eventually pleaded guilty in court to serious charges and was sent to prison. I have not since heard it suggested by any of his former defenders that he is innocent of the charges he himself admitted. So those who may have found it difficult to believe that Peter Ball was a wicked abuser were shown to have been wrong in a fair and due process.
How on earth can Mr Welby equate this case with that of George Bell, who faced one uncorroborated accusation made years after his death, and was then condemned without any defence by what Lord Carlile found to be a sloppy and inadequate process in which key evidence undermining the accusation was not even seen by some of those involved, and in which key witnesses were neither found nor interviewed.
Mr Welby, in his very thin responses to the Carlile report, has never really addressed this. He has said that the report didn’t rule on Bell’s guilt or innocence, an almost childishly absurd response, since Mr Welby had told Lord Carlile in his terms of reference that he could not rule on this. In any case, Lord Carlile has repeatedly said since, in response to media questions, that no court would have convicted George Bell on the evidence which has been produced against him. It is clear that had Lord Carlile been asked to rule on George Bell’s guilt or innocence, he would have pronounced him ‘not guilty’….
Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury following letter from historians regarding the Bishop George Bell case
Following a letter sent to Lambeth Palace and also to the Telegraphnewspaper by a group of academics, I felt it important to send a considered, personal response and this statement reflects the essence of my reply.
“I cannot with integrity rescind my statement made after the publication of Lord Carlile’s review into how the Church handled the Bishop Bell case. I affirmed the extraordinary courage and achievement of Bishop Bell both before the war and during its course, while noting the Church has a duty to take seriously the allegation made against him.
“Our history over the last 70 years has revealed that the Church covered up, ignored or denied the reality of abuse on major occasions. I need only refer to the issues relating to Peter Ball to show an example. As a result, the Church is rightly facing intense and concentrated scrutiny (focussed in part on the Diocese of Chichester) through the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Our first hearing is in March.
“The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused. It should be remembered that Carol, who brought the allegation, was sent away in 1995, and we have since apologised for this lamentable failure; a failure highlighted by Lord Carlile.
(Economist Erasmus Blog) The case of Bishop George Bell–The legacy of a great clerical humanitarian is threatened by abuse allegations
Archbishop Welby responded by apologising for the sloppy investigation. But he insisted that a cloud still hung over Bishop Bell’s reputation. “No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness.”
That is what prompted the seven eminent historians to re-enter the fray and insist that “there is no credible evidence at all that Bishop Bell was a paedophile.” The professors, who include a leading authority on Nazism, Sir Ian Kershaw, added that
We believe the historical figure of George Bell is safe in the hands of historians even though, very sadly, it would appear to have been impugned from within his own Church of England.
The historians insist that they are not implying that the accuser is speaking deliberate falsehoods: merely that the things that she believes she remembers should be cross-checked against other available evidence.
On one point, at least, Sir Ian and his colleagues deserve a hearing. Bishop Bell’s record as an internationalist and humanitarian is a matter of general historical interest, not just a detail in the history of the church. It follows that the investigation of his life should be conducted outside the confines of the church, as transparently as possible, with a fair hearing for all interested parties. That has still not happened.
(Christian Today) Bishop Peter Hancock, the CofE’s lead Safeguarding bishop, responds to comments on the George Bell case
Lord Carlile’s review looked at our processes (as set out in the terms of reference) and concluded they were deficient in a number of respects. We have apologised for this. The Church’s National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) accepted the main thrust of his recommendations but differed on the issue of confidentiality as the review stated that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision’. We would look at each case on its merits but generally would seek to avoid confidentiality clauses.
In respect of the allegations against George Bell, had we imposed a confidentiality clause we would at some stage be facing the accusation that we had kept a survivor/complainant quiet to protect the reputation of one of our bishops. The review was about our processes; Lord Carlile states he has no doubt the Church acted in good faith.
Together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Chichester, we have accepted the criticisms in Lord Carlile’s report that our processes were deficient in a number of respects. But while accepting the main thrust of almost all his recommendations we have respectfully differed on this one around confidentiality.
Bishop Bell remains a man who did great things in his life but we should remember, not only Bishop Bell, but also Carol who emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity, and her welfare must continue to be fully respected.
(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.
(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.
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.”
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”.
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)
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.