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Letters to the Editor

05 July 2019

Safeguarding and suspension, the Measure to change cathedrals’ governance, and Methodist ministry and interchangeability


Safeguarding and suspension

Sir, — With reference to the letter about safeguarding (21 June) from the Ven. Christopher Laurence, I have recently been involved on the fringes of a safeguarding case, and have concerns about the treatment of those against whom allegations are made (respondents), especially where the police have decided that no criminal activity appears to have taken place, but, none the less, there remains a prima facie case for an investigation by the authorities.

While no one can doubt the need of the Church to confront its many failings in this area, and do all in its power, in association with other agencies, to ensure that henceforth allegations are thoroughly investigated and appropriate sanctions are applied, my perception is that not enough thought has been given to the need that the respondent be fairly dealt with.

Various elements in the process which might justify further consideration include the extent of the information provided to the respondent about the allegation, and the way in which a parish, when the matter arises in a parochial context, deals and communicates with the respondent at both the beginning and the end of the process.

An (admittedly cursory) comparison of the safeguarding process as it operated in the case in question with the process which would be followed under the rigorous complaints procedure in another walk of life suggests that the latter is much more open, and more information is revealed and exchanged between all parties.

At the very least, I hope that, when the current practice guidance for managing safeguarding concerns is reviewed, more legal advice will be sought to check that the rights of respondents are themselves being safeguarded, and that there is sufficient guidance to all involved on how to achieve this, since they often have no previous experience in dealing with such matters.

The relationship between the Church and other cognate (e.g. local-authority) processes needs to be examined in this context. On suspension itself, it is often stated, as in the safeguarding procedure, that it is a neutral act, but surely the time has come to modify this statement. No one who has been suspended so regards it, and those responsible for such processes should recognise the consequences as outlined by your correspondent.


Measure to change cathedrals’ governance 

From the Very Revd Richard Lewis

Sir, — I note that a new Cathedrals Measure is to come before the General Synod this week (News, 21 June). Alas, the fears of many are well founded. Recommendations, after a shallow and inadequate inquiry following difficulties in one cathedral, in this new Measure has confirming evidence that it is about power and control. Inflation has crept in; the Cathedrals Measure of 1999 ran for 24 pages; this new Measure now has 38. In a time of financial constraint, the effects of the Measure have not been costed.

In time past, a strength both to Church and cathedral was the possible separation in temperament and churchmanship between Dean and Bishop to affirm the broad nature of the Church of England. Twice in this Measure it seems it is necessary to emphasise that the Chapter must “formulate” with the Bishop the direction of the cathedral and in the same clause “to consult” (9.1b and 9.2) on the “general direction” to be taken. Besides this, the Bishop’s placeman or woman is Vice Chair of the Chapter with access to the Bishop’s ear. There is trouble ahead!

The Chapter itself is to be constrained by a tangled spaghetti of appointed non-clerical members in every aspect of its work and the whole topped with a sauce — a cloak of righteousness — of a short Consultation to give a veneer of theology to gravely undermine future opportunities that cathedrals have and which they grasped to the great benefit of the whole Church in the past half-century.

The new financial accountability within the Measure is greatly to be welcomed, but the greater and potentially stifling new governance arrangements should be treated with caution and probably abandoned.

Dean Emeritus of Wells
1 Monmouth Court
Union Street
Wells BA5 2PX

Methodist ministry and interchangeability 

From Prebendary Norman Wallwork

Sir, — I am not sure where the Revd Geoffrey Squire (Letters, 28 June) studied ecumenical theology, but, if he consulted the Methodist Ordinal, he would discover that ordained Methodist ministers are also presbyters of the universal Church. Any suggestion that my Methodist Orders are on a theological or expedient par with the Anglican diaconate is either an ecclesiastical impertinence or total rot.

Methodist Minister and Prebendary Emeritus of Wells
Brookside Lodge
Three Horse Shoes, Cowley
Exeter EX5 5EU

From the Revd Ian Randall

Sir, — When thinking about the “temporary anomaly”, it might be worth considering the practice of the Orthodox Churches. Bishops receive clergy in Roman Catholic and Coptic Orders by concelebration. They share with the bishop in celebrating the eucharist and are thus given a share in his eucharistic presidency. The late Fr Lev Gillet is a well-known example of this.

Could not Anglican bishops do the same with Methodist clergy, either individually or circuit by circuit? They would then have a share in the bishop’s eucharistic presidency and be able to exercise that presidency in Anglican parishes. There might be a question about the necessity of a licence or permission to officiate, but that is a secondary matter.

12 Westmead Road
Norfolk NR21 8BL

Archbishopric of York 

From Simon Deverell-Bees

Sir, — Public consultation concerning the appointment of the next Archbishop of York (News, 21 June) has led some commentators to suggest that the next holder of the see might be a woman, a member of an ethnic minority, or a LGBTQ person. One minority in the Church that gets less consideration, if not hostility, is the traditionalist group.

Traditionalist Anglicans have a historic and dedicated record of ministry among the poor and marginalised often in urban priority areas. They continue today to make an important contribution to the Church, frequently in challenging parishes. Appointing a traditionalist Archbishop would demonstrate that the C of E truly respected all integrities, and was sincerely representative of the Church Catholic.

I write as a non-traditionalist who values their ministry and witness.

69 Newhurst Park
Wiltshire BA14 7QU

Anglican contributions to the Brexit debate 

From Mrs Melanie Grieveson

Sir, — Regarding the engagement of the Church in politics, let me assure the Revd Paul Skirrow (Letters, 21 June) that his forebodings about the state of our nation post-Brexit are not only shared, but rehearsed unfailingly week by week, if not in every pulpit in the land, then certainly in the pages of the Church Times, unfortunately. No doubt, if the whole thing falls through and Britain remains in the EU, then we can continue in the utopian state that we currently enjoy.

My recollection of the period leading up to the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should remain part of the EU is imperfect, but the Church of England, if it may be supposed to speak with one voice, did not appear to espouse any particular view on the subject. If it did, then it should have spoken with rather more conviction, because, other than a mention in passing of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s voting intentions, little in the way of a Christian view of the issue was broadcast.

So much for timely guidance from our Church; and in the aftermath, I dare say, the Bishop of Leeds has alienated more faithful Anglicans than this one with his oft-stated comments about the outcome of the referendum.

As for political content in the writings of Canon Angela Tilby, as commented on in disparaging and sarcastic, if not misogynistic, terms by Mr Mike Dixon (Letters, same issue) (I wonder why those quickest to take offence are often most likely in turn to give it?), it would have to be very trenchant indeed to come close to balancing those of other regular contributors.

Where is the optimism and excitement in our church leaders and opinion-formers at this opportunity to exercise agency, and influence the way in which we shape society, inspired by our Christian faith?

17 Overend Avenue
East Yorkshire YO42 2FS

Common humanity first 

From Andrea Chance

Sir, — After the appointment of Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin to be Bishop of Dover, I can’t help observing how much has been made, in the media as well as in our cathedral on Sunday morning, of her gender and ethnicity. Should we not, rather, see her as a fellow human-being who is called to an exciting but difficult role in our shared Church?

3 Norman Road
Westgate on Sea
Kent CT8 8RR

‘No parking’ is better 

From Mr Martin Carr

Sir, — In an issue drawing attention to the Bishop of Oxford’s call to the Church to declare a “climate emergency” (News, 21 June), it was disappointing to see the Revd Geoffrey Squire’s letter advocating hiring out church land for parking, especially in the context of our capital city, where we ought to be doing all we can to reduce the use of motor vehicles, not only for the good of our planet, but also for our respiratory health.

I work for St Paul’s, Marylebone, where we have recently gained an EcoChurch award for our work to safeguard creation. The scheme specifically addresses the issue of land, which could be used for a whole host of sustainable purposes other than car parking, such as increased provision for cyclists, the growing of plants, fruit and veg, and creating areas of biodiversity, especially important in big cities.

I understand that driving is essential for some, especially the most elderly and disabled. I also understand the urge to make some easy cash from hiring out an unused strip of tarmac. But if we, as a Church, are to respond to urgency of the ecological crisis, I would encourage us all to think more creatively about how we steward the material resources, including driveways, that are entrusted to us.

5 Warren Road
Croydon CR0 6PE

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