It’s been an intertesting day for the Church of England. Today was the final day of hearings by the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse, a commission that is examining the role of the church in child sex abuse. Among those testifying was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who had been criticized during previous sessions as unfit to lead. His testimony was, to put in bluntly, appalling, and showed that he was, and is, utterly clueless when it comes to abuse. And the really troubling parts of his testimony are startlingly similar to the tactics employed by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and Bishop Susan Goff in their efforts to avoid dealing with Bob Malm’s abusive conduct. Particularly ugly is Welby’s facially false claim he didn’t treat allegations of misconduct involving an adult with “casual indifference,” which is exactly how the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia treats complaints of non-sexual clergy abuse involving adults.
++Welby’s woes center around an unidentified adult complainant, who contacted him while Welby was dean of the Liverpool Cathedral in 2011.The complainant attempted to notify Welby that he was being sexually harassed by a member of the cathedral staff. The result? The abuser remained on Welby’s staff, while Welby barred the victim from the grounds of the cathedral on the basis that he had been threatening to staff, and that the latter were very frightened of him.
Sound familiar? Sure does. It sounds for all the world like Bob Malm’s claim that people at Grace Church are frightened of me. That’s cute, since most only found about Mom’s blog and its supposed threats thanks to — you guessed it — none other than Dysfunctional Bob himself. And in that respect, Bob went to church officials, telling them that his family and staff were, “anxious, sometimes fearful.” At the same time, he got his wife Leslie all spun up; he also was the one who told Leslie about Mom’s blog. And so, back and forth, Bob played his little game of shuttle diplomacy. (Although he did slip up once, telling diocesan officials that his wife and daughter [Lindsey] took the matter far too seriously.
My bet? The abuser on Welby’s staff played this up, or possibly Welby himself. Interestingly, Welby, like Malm, also appears to have made a statement against interest. On the one hand, he claims that staff was frightened by the victim, yet says he would have rescinded the ban had the victim apologized. All I can say is they couldn’t have been all that scared, now could they? And it fails to recognize that victims of abuse, not suprisingly, get really angry, especially when they get the big brush-off.
To make matters worse, Welby told the complainant via email that his account, and that of the abuser, were entirely inconconsistent, and that absent independent verification, he could not assess which was true. That underscores the notion that Welby is clueless, for evidence overwhelmingly suggests that sexual misconduct is rarely falsely reported. And my experience is that people are doubly reluctant to complain when clergy is involved, for they instinctively know that they face a power imbalance. Thus, Welby doesn’t even grasp the dynamics of clergy abuse.
Next comes Welby’s claim that he took the matter seriously. That appears to be total horse crud, as the abuser stayed, and the victim got the heave-ho. On this matter, Welby says he regarded the matter as a disciplinary complaint, not a safeguarding one. So what? Welby doesn’t think adults get abused or sexually harassed? Ironically, in the diocese of Virginia, about the only way to get the diocese involved is to implicate sex; sex is the touchstone for a disciplinary complaint. Be that as it may, nothing in the record suggests Welby took any meaningful action. So yes, it looks for all the world like Welby treated the complaint with “casual indifference.”
Of course, that’s how the Diocese and Susan Goff have treated Bob Malm’s perjury. “Hey, he didn’t get convicted. What’s the big deal?”
Then we have Welby’s claim that he apologized to Matthew Ineson, who allegedly was raped by a Church of England vicar; the latter committed suicide when the allegations came to light. I personally have been in touch with Ineson, and find his evidence convincing that Welby never did apologize, and that his one alleged apology was not even possible, given the larger timeline of events. This is much like the Rev. Caroline Parkinson’s false claim, in writing, that the reference panel in July 2015 considered Bob Malm’s decision to remove us from the church directory. The latter was an obvious lie:
- Bob did not remove us from the directory until October. Thus, Caroline would have had to time travel.
- I was given no advisor or written notice from a reference panel. Thus, it either didn’t happen, or failed to follow church canons.
So, I agree with Ineson’s statement that Welby has demonstrated “breathtaking hypocrisy.” And his comments about how the CoE has responded to his complaints exactly mirror my experiences with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia:
“I know from my own experience, and the experience of others, that safeguarding within the C of E is appalling,” Ineson said. “The church has colluded with the cover-up of abuse and has obstructed justice for those whose lives have been ruined by the actions of its clergy. I have been fighting for five years for the church to recognise its responsibilities and I’m still being met with attempts to bully me into dropping my case.”
Yes, ++is engaged in breathtaking hypocrisy. So is the CoE. And The Episcopal Church is equally culpable, with the corruption and hypocrisy extending all the way to ++Curry, +Todd Ousley, +Johnston and +Goff.
Any church that is willing to lie, deflect, bully, and ignore abuse in this manner is morally bankrupt.