Thursday, 14 June 2018

Safeguarding debate at General Synod

On Saturday morning, 7 July, following Morning Worship and a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York, the synod will consider the topic of Safeguarding. There will be a presentation, followed by questions, followed by a debate. However, the relevant document, GS 2092 will not be published until Friday 22 June but we do now know the wording of the motion that will be proposed. It is highly likely to attract numerous amendments.


7 Presentation under SO 107.

Note: The Business Committee has determined under SO 107(3) that this presentation should include an opportunity for questions.

8 The Bishop of Bath and Wells to move:

That this Synod, recognising that safeguarding is at the heart of Christian mission and the urgent need for the Church of England to continue to become a safer place for all and a refuge for those who suffer abuse in any context:

(a) endorse the priorities for action outlined in the report (GS 2092); and

(b) call on the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to ensure that the plan of action is implemented as a matter of priority.

GS Misc 1192 Summary of decisions by the House of Bishops and Delegated Committees, contains brief reports of various meetings that have considered Safeguarding. The relevant extracts are copied below the fold. I have changed the order of the meetings to put them in chronological order.

House of Bishops Delegation Committee (HBDC), February 2018

A meeting of the House of Bishops Delegation Committee was held on 28 February 2018. The following matters were discussed:

15.The Delegation Committee took note of work on collating liturgical resources for Safeguarding.

House of Bishops Standing Committee (HBSC), March 2018

A meeting of House of Bishops Standing Committee was held on 14 March 2018.

The following matters were discussed:
27.The Standing Committee considered a number of Safeguarding matters, including the Independent Reviews from Dame Moira Gibb and Lord Carlile QC, additional staffing for Safeguarding work and the main points emerging from the first set of hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The Standing Committee considered the draft report from the Confessional Review Group and agreed that this should go forward to the May House for further consideration…

National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG)

The National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) met on 24 April 2018.

35.The NSSG considered the key themes arising from the recent IICSA public hearings on the Chichester case study.

36.The NSSG approved a number of pieces of practice guidance on behalf of the House. The first of these was “Practice Guidance on Safer Environment and Culture (A guide to Safer Working Practices and Activities)”. The second was guidance on “Responding to concerns or allegations related to children and vulnerable adults”. A third was guidance on Permission to Officiate. The fourth was practice guidance on “Serious Incident Reporting to the Charity Commission”.

37.The NSSG accepted the recommendations made in the Independent report of the review of the Past Cases Review 2007 – 2009 and agreed that this would be published following meetings of the House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council.

38.The NSSG agreed the draft motion on Safeguarding to be debated at the General Synod in July 2018.

39.The NSSG approved the terms of reference for the Anglican Methodist Safeguarding Group.

House of Bishops May 2018

A meeting of the House of Bishops was held at Bishopthorpe Palace on 21 – 22 May 2018. Those matters reported below were taken in Committee of the whole House, under SO 14.

10.The House discussed Safeguarding matters emerging from the recent hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The House approved the resources from the Liturgical Commission on “Towards a Safer Church”.

House of Bishops Delegation Committee (HBDC), May 2018

A further meeting of the House of Bishops Delegation Committee was held on 30 May 2018. The following matters were discussed:

23.The HBDC approved new policy for granting clergy Permission to Officiate (PTO).
They agreed that the House’s existing Safeguarding guidance should be reviewed to ensure that it reflected those parts of the policy on granting PTO that were concerned with safeguarding matters, with any changes to the House’s safeguarding guidance that were identified as being necessary to be referred to the NSSG.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 14 June 2018 at 4:59pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Thank you, Simon. Am I right in thinking that GS2092 which Synod will consider on 7 July is not yet published (as of 15 June)?

I am curious as to the reasoning that concludes we should consider a safeguarding document from the bishops BEFORE having the insights of the IICSA report on the Church of England hearings in March (promised for the autumn) but Synod can't give any time to PMMs on sexuality because we have to wait for the insights of the Teaching Document (scheduled for 2020). Odd.

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Friday, 15 June 2018 at 9:14am BST

GS2092 will come in the second mailing. I think the reason is that iicsa has already given an indication of their thinking, and that the AC and House of Bishops want to get on with things. Whereas we're not in that position on sexuality. In any case the AC and House determine what to do on safeguarding whereas the Business Committee of Synod decide what goes on the Synod agenda.

Posted by: Simon Butler on Friday, 15 June 2018 at 5:25pm BST

Thank you, Simon (Butler).

I am glad the House of Bishops and Abps Council wished to get on with things. So they should. But won't it be be hard for GS to interrogate and comment properly on GS2092 when it arrives without being privy to what IICSA has said to the HofBps in advance to the publication of its report? We won't have important evidence to help us assess GS2092. With the greatest respect, we need to see the actual briefing, not have it filtered through GS2092. But perhaps there will be a link when GS2092 is published. That would be helpfully transparent.

So, is it right to understand from what you have said that there *is* a briefing document from IICSA? If the House, or Apbs Council, has been briefed by IICSA, why not Synod? May we not see the briefing? IICSA is a public statutory inquiry and General Synod is the governing body of the Church of England.

I also have to say that I don't accept that we can't debate the PMMs before the publication of the Teaching Document. Debating PMMs would be a way of feeding into the process a 'sense of the faithful'. As a member of one of the work streams, I'd find that very interesting and helpful. It goes to the theological issue of reception.

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Friday, 15 June 2018 at 10:11pm BST

Seems like a 'mirage of debate'. You don't see the key document until last minute. And crucially, notice conflation of two distinct things: safeguarding and response to survivors - into one package. This deflects attention away from all the questions survivors are raising.

They don't want you asking damn awkward questions about episcopal denial, bishops under police investigation, corruption inherent in the insurer nexus, Church House’s dodgy leadership of core groups, why Richard Scorer representing many survivors at IICSA spoke clearly about NST being beyond salvage, reparation & justice issues, questions of honesty and integrity in a broken hierarchy, culture of diocesan deference and omerta, where is the leadership, etc, etc. But there is a fringe event for survivors to speak candidly to those Synod members who will be there. We are conscious that many Synod members are angry and bewildered and standing alongside us - you are the ones who have been unafraid to raise your voices (unlike almost the entire senior layer).

I urge you to be bold in your questioning. This Synod needs to show the bishops and powerful men of Church House/Lambeth Palace that if they do not undergo substantial change of direction and start working at authentic consensus with survivors they will continue to do massive damage to the Church. In five to ten years' time Synod will be asking them: Why? Why did you not embrace this crisis of yourselves properly and face the questions with courage and integrity. Why did you allow a powerful cabal to set the agenda and determine the outcome? Why did you allow the strategariat to do so much damage the Church? Why did you constantly manage the crisis away – when wise hearts know the best thing to do with a crisis is enter it fully and allow yourself to be changed by it.

Synod I urge you to bold and dynamic. This hierarchy and structure needs holding to account. Please don’t let survivors be the only drivers of this. Please find ways of combatting the stage-management and mirage of this Synod. Thank you.

Posted by: Gilo on Saturday, 16 June 2018 at 11:41am BST

Simon Butler says: "I think the reason [that paper GS 2092 will come in the second mailing to Synod members on 22nd June] is that IICSA has already given an indication of their thinking, and that the AC and House of Bishops want to get on with things." However, that is not a satisfactory or acceptable reason for the delay in publication of the paper. As I pointed out on another thread, the terms of the draft safeguarding motion were agreed by the National Safeguarding Steering Team 7 weeks ago on 24 April 2018: see para 38 of paper GS Misc 1192, "Summary of decisions by the House of Bishops and Delegated Committees." To agree the draft motion, the NSSG must have had at least a draft of paper GS 2092 to consider.

Further, we need to be told what IICSA having "already given an indication of their thinking" means. Is this simply an interpretation of remarks made during the public hearing in March, or has the Archbishops' Council been given an advance briefing paper? It is difficult to think it could be the latter, as this would involve giving preferential treatment to one of the core participants at the hearing. An independent statutory inquiry would be rightly censured if it did that.

Given that significant proposed amendments to the safeguarding motion are to be expected and that the 1½ hours allowed for the debate is likely to be inadequate, an adjournment of the debate to an additional group of sessions of the Synod on the contingency dates already allocated in November (Nov 19-21), when we should have the benefit of the IICSA Panel's report and recommendations following the Chichester and Bishop Ball hearings, might be sensible.

Posted by: David Lamming on Saturday, 16 June 2018 at 1:19pm BST

Receiving the paper so late makes it hard to do justice to a complex subject.

I am used to handling these issues but when I see the papers I am expecting to have to go back to the IICSA evidence and maybe the Carlile and Elliott reports to see if the concerns raised there are met by the new proposals. I already have some familiarity with these sources, and am retired yet
even for me, this is a daunting.

If we want widespread engagement by members we need to make it practical. The current approach will exclude many from participation simply because they will hesitate to look foolish

Posted by: Martin Sewell on Monday, 18 June 2018 at 10:16am BST

Martin, we already know that the Elliott Rvw has been trashed inside both Lambeth Palace and Church House. Ian Elliott stayed on at CofE request for six months to help boost the changes into being - but walked when he could clearly see there was no intention to carry out recommendations despite ABC Welby's promise. Even Welby's own adjutant told us recently that the "Church was under absolutely no obligation to carry out any recommendations of any independent review" [verbatim] and this was in direct relation to Elliott. Seems bizarre that Welby's promise can be treated in such a cavalier way by a member of the NSSG, a senior figure who seems now to be i/c of much of the church's response to all this. Makes a mockery of any promise made by the archbishop. I'll be saying this and other things clearly to Synod at the Fringe meeting. I gather ABC Welby will be there.

I think sadly Bishop Mullally never stood much of a chance against the range of powerful men inside Church House who took one look at Elliott recommendations and decided that they needed to restrict their scope almost immediately. This is why two years down the line - we are nowhere closer to seeing the independent structure called for - which was also called for in the Chichester IICSA hearings again and again. This delay gives the church time to redraw those recommendations to suit the agenda of a cynical strategariat. This is what we see happening so often. Creation of mirages - smoke and mirrors - and promises redrawn or rendered meaningless.

We are dealing with a dysfunctional and dishonest NST, coupled with a hand-wash episcopacy. Bishops play ‘power’ when it suits – when they need deferential diocesan structures to prop up denial, but then play ‘powerless’ also when it suits. So there is nowhere to go with effective complaint. I will be talking about this at Synod.

All we can do is bring daylight to this structure. The Church cannot be trusted to carry out its own safeguarding, nor to respond to survivors of abuse - without a rigorous *independent* structure to monitor, ombuds, oversee, call to account, review, etc. It is an unsafe and repeatedly dishonest Church for survivors.

Posted by: Gilo on Tuesday, 19 June 2018 at 11:38am BST
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