*** DEBUG END ***

A shambles is no safeguard

16 March 2018

THERE might be a few people remaining in the Church of England who lament the rise of managerialism. No one, however, is carrying a flag for unprofessionalism. We make no apology for covering the hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IISCA) in such detail, painful reading though it makes. What is clear, even through the guarded, self-protective accounts of many of those called to give evidence, is that safeguarding in the Chichester diocese was, for a long time, a shambles. The criticism summarised by Fiona Scolding QC at the hearings, that the diocese displayed “a culture of amateurism”, seems mild in the light of earlier verdicts of dysfunctionality. Poor record-keeping, senior clergy at loggerheads, safeguarding officers ignored, seemingly limitless indulgence for clerical abusers, suspicion of those who reported abuse, accusations of sexism — the list of management failings is long.

If the clergy are unwilling or unable to function as effective managers, it is reasonable to appoint suitably trained lay people to these posts. But it is worse than useless to create managerial posts if the right degree of authority is not attached. The short history of safeguarding officers in Chichester illustrates this point. Janet Hind was regarded as an adviser, whose recommendations, therefore, could be ignored. One of her successors, Shirley Hosgood, was given more authority, but was obstructed. Roger Meekings, who produced a report in 2009 about some of the diocese’s safeguarding failings, told the inquiry: “Faced with a female safeguarding officer who was working to a degree of authority . . . provided a challenge to male authority in some ways.” This was denied by the former Archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings.

By choosing Chichester as the Church’s IISCA guinea-pig, we presume that the authorities hoped to show the Church’s active concern over abuse allegations. The diocese has, after all, been investigated in the past decade by Mr Meekings, Baroness Butler-Sloss, Bishop John Gladwin, and, to a degree, Dame Moira Gibb and Lord Carlile. Yes, mistakes had been made, but they were being tackled. Unfortunately, the magnitude and frequency of the mistakes, and the unwillingness of those appearing before the inquiry to own up to responsibility for them, is creating the overriding impression, especially when taken with the survivors’ accounts, of continued defensiveness. Chichester diocese, a by-word for poor control of its clergy, is in danger of being portrayed as typical of the Church of England. It isn’t, but perhaps the Church is guilty by association for allowing such a situation to continue for so long.

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Job of the Week


Priest in Charge (Rector Designate)

London and Home Counties

Our suburban parish on the border between the London Borough of Croydon and the lovely Surrey countryside and with a spacious modern Rectory, is seeking a Priest-in-Charge (Rector Designate) to lead our church as we seek to fulfil our mission to proclaim Jesus, change lives and serve our community.   We are looking for a leader who, with energy and dynamism, who will develop the vision for the church to enable the children and families work to be a priority in order to grow the church both in numbers and spiritual maturity. In addition, the new person will care and tend for the existing ageing congregation many of whom have ¬faithfully served the church for many years.   The person we are looking for should have: strong communication skills, the ability to engage and encourage people across the age ranges and to convey the church’s mission, vision and priorities; a commitment to preach the Word of God in thoughtful and stimulating ways; an energy and dynamism probably more extrovert than introvert; a pastoral heart, showing empathy and good listening skills, the ability, willingness and experience to help us to develop and enjoy a variety of worship styles, including a wider range of musical worship and a deeper corporate prayer life -whilst recognising and valuing our heritage;   For further information and to apply, please click the 'apply for this job' button below.   For an informal conversation with the Archdeacon of Croydon, please contact the Archdeacon’s PA Kathleen.bailey@southwark.anglican.org to arrange a time for a phone conversation.   Closing Date: Sunday 12 June 2022 Parish Visit for shortlisted candidates: Monday 11 July 2022 Interviews: Monday 11 July 2022   Please note we have a policy in Southwark Diocese that to be appointed to an incumbent status post, a priest must have served a title in an Anglican church in the British Isles.   This post is subject to DBS enhanced disclosure

Train-a-Priest Fund 2022 Appeal

Please consider a donation to TAP Africa this year. Every penny you can give goes to ordinands in Africa who face financial difficulty, to support them as they complete their training. 

Donate online

Read more about this year's appeal

Forthcoming Events

24 May 2022
Disability and Church: Intersectionality
A joint webinar from HeartEdge and Church Times.

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)