Comments: What Bishop Cathy Roskam said

As I said last time:

Figures abound, Interpretations are legion.

Someone on House of B/D said 1 wife in 4 is beaten in the USA. Can anyone here say when “disciplining the wife” became illegal in your country? In Sweden it was in 1908. The result is that 1 woman in 5 is beaten today by her husband/partner.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 7 August 2008 at 5:33pm BST

As I noted elsewhere that the media - even the "quality" papers - went straight to the gutter with this story, completely misrepresenting Bishop Catherine from start to finish. Riazat Butt was marginally better than the rest, challenging the "conservative" spin that there was no way any of the bishops could ever have commited an act of domestic violence.

The "conservative" lynch mob are still posting their dishonest spin all over the blogosphere. Just today, a poster who ironically refers to him/herself as "saint" has reposted the initial filthy falsehood in the comments section of Ruth Gledhill's blog.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 7 August 2008 at 6:58pm BST

Having known Bishop Roskam for many years, I have been waiting to see this story corrected. As reported in the press, it was inconceivable to me that she would have made such a statement about African provinces.

Posted by Phoebe Pettingell at Thursday, 7 August 2008 at 7:19pm BST

Any time hundreds of men gather, no matter who they are, what their vocation or where they are from, there will be wife beaters among them. (That's one reason some of us prefer not to be married!) That is all the good bishop said.

Riazad Butt of the Guardian and others in the English press owe the bishop a big time apology. Personally I am not too impressed with the quality of journalism right now.

Posted by Phyllis at Thursday, 7 August 2008 at 7:26pm BST

We all know how abysmally bad the corporate media in the U.S. are, but I believed, until recently, that the British news media were better.

Following them during Lambeth disabused me of that notion, though. As far as I can tell, the only difference between the "quality papers" and the tabloids is the lack of bare boobs in the former.

Posted by JPM at Thursday, 7 August 2008 at 9:19pm BST

...violence done in the body of Christ is violence done to the body of Christ.....the morning’s focus would be solely on violence against women and girls.

And as almost invariably happens, domestic violence against men is ignored. And those of us who have suffered it are left in silence.

Posted by Anon at Friday, 8 August 2008 at 9:03am BST

Hold on folks. All the newspapers quoted Bishop Roskam absolutely accurately and their interpretation of what she said is not untoward - that in any large group of men (even a group of bishops) there are likely to be some that beat their wives; and this is more likely if some of them come from socieites where wife beating is culturally accepted.

The sad thing about this episode was Bishop Roskam's attempt to deny what she had said once she was back among the bishops. Her blog merely reinforces the impression that Lambeth was a big love-in where the bishops were at pains to say nothing hurtful about or to anybody else present. 'Let's all hug one another and to hell with truth and justice.'

Posted by Terence Dear at Friday, 8 August 2008 at 9:17am BST

As the reporter who first picked up on what Bishop Roskam had said, I would like to challenge this idea that I misrepresented her.

She did not, contrary to what she now claims on her blog, just talk about domestic violence existing in the world generally or specifically in New York.

She quite clearly stated that among the 700 men present at the Lambeth Conference, "chances are" that some of them beat their wives.

I would say that unless she has any evidence, this in itself is a fairly offensive claim to make about a group of church leaders.

She then went on to claim that "many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife".

In another quote from the Lambeth Witness story, much of which was about Sudan, she talked about violence being used "as an act of war".

Where exactly do you think she is talking about? If she just meant New York then I'd be happy to correct the story to say: 'American bishop calls fellow clergy wife-beaters'.

However I do not believe she meant New York and apart from what she has said on her blog, at no point in the past week have Bishop Roskam or anyone in the Episcopal Church asked me to correct my story or suggested there was anything wrong with it.

Posted by Martin Beckford at Friday, 8 August 2008 at 10:09am BST

Someone out here knows it happens. It takes bravery to stand up and say it. I've seen the hostility and scorn that often greets a man talking about his experience of this.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 8 August 2008 at 11:31am BST


with all those men you'd of thought maybe one would get up and speak. Men made the agenda.
I think the idea is violence to women is much much higher than the other way around.

Posted by Bob in SW PA at Friday, 8 August 2008 at 3:36pm BST

No Martin. I think you completely distorted her comments.

Yes, she said "chances are." That's the point.

Hard stats are difficult to get for things that are typically unreported or under-reported. That said, various studies indicate that domestic violence occurs in between 10% and 30% of homes. While there are variances based on education, class, religious observance etc, all strata of society are affected.

Given that, it is UNLIKELY - though not impossible - that not a single man present at Lambeth had ever commited an act of domestic violence.

Had she said it was certainly so, I could see the demand for evidence.

Had she even made the statistical mistake of claiming that "70 to 200" of the men present had beaten teir wives, she'd have needed better evidence.

She didn't. She said "chances are."

"Chances are" does not even deny the possibility that the number would be zero - and God knows we all wish it were so.

And even your colleague Riazat Butt was prepared to scoff at the assertions from some quarters that holy bishopw would be immune from such a thing.

She was speaking of probabilities and she was telling the truth.

She did also say that some bishops were from cultures where such behaviour was more tolerated than others. She said that the varying cultural attitudes made the discussion of the issue more difficult. She did NOT say that Global South bishops were more likely to beat their wives. She did not say that North American or European bishops were immune.

Frankly, Martin, the way you twisted her comments was yellow journalism of the worst sort. It was as if I was reading the National Enquirer rather than The Telegraph.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Friday, 8 August 2008 at 11:19pm BST

I did not hear Cathy Roskam brief the media, and of course no journalist was admitted to the event at which she spoke to other bishops, but I note that when blogging on Friday 1 August, Bishop Nick Baines wrote this:

I felt a bit sorry for the media people. They have built today up into the day the explosion would happen and the Anglican Communion would collapse in on itself under a weight of sexual tension. But it didn't and we didn't. Mind you, this might have been an appropriate and just reward to the Daily Telegraph for its scandalous, misrepresentative and deliberately sensationalist article about wife-beating by bishops. The American bishop who had been interviewed was horrified to see what the press had done and explained herself to the assembled bishops in the afternoon session. Welcome to the British media! She should sue the journalist concerned. And the journalist should ask whether this sort of story really satisfies any sense of professional integrity.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 8 August 2008 at 11:46pm BST

Martin - the comment about 700 bishops does not single out any particular region. It means ALL the bishops. It is obvious to women that some of those men will be wife beaters. I begin to question your judgment as a journalist. As to the quote about Sudan, it has been well reported by good journalists that rape is often used as an act of war not only in Sudan but other parts of Africa and the rest of the world when there is military conflict. The bishop is quite correct and you are wrong. The wrongness of your response calls your journalistic judgment in to serious question. I repeat, the press owes the bishop an apology.

Posted by Phyllis at Saturday, 9 August 2008 at 3:31am BST

>>>It was as if I was reading the National Enquirer rather than The Telegraph.

There's a difference?

Posted by JPM at Saturday, 9 August 2008 at 2:07pm BST
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.