As Common as Cockroaches

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Leaders of the Church of England are often not held to account for their behaviour and I thought that I might have blogged about this enough for now.  However I am intrigued by the responses from a few who want to emphasise legal rights as a form of remedy against these miscreants, and indeed the benefit of structures within the church as means to regulate wrongdoing.  I am intrigued because it may be an indication that there is a fair level of naivety around concerning church practice, organisation and clerical ambition.

I want to be very clear with you; I know that most of our clergy are hard-working, honest and valuable people who deserve our support at every level.  I hope that I am making this quite clear here.  However it is the deserved reputation of good people that the deliberately wicked people trade on; taking to themselves, by virtue of office, the reputation of honesty and truthfulness, goodness and selflessness whilst treating many in despicable ways.

However, this is not the point of this blog, railing against corruption in the church.  This blog is about the naivety of the people who are allied to the church when it comes to understanding the nature of the people governing that church.

When I wrote the blog, I was fully aware of the legal strictures and indeed the structures intended to regulate wrongdoing.  I wrote the blog because these things fail on a daily basis.  The appalling record of so many dioceses on employment, as an example, indicates that much is wrong in the system and this is just one example.

The culture of sweeping things under the carpet is alive and well in the Church of England.  However, it would appear that quite a few of us are utterly unaware that this is the case.  In addition to this ignorance, which we cannot be blamed for, when faced with the possibility that something may be rotten, many of us prefer to waft sweet smelling bags of disbelief under our noses and think as hard as we can of the good priests we know and have known.

In the case of some forms of scandal, senior clergy have learnt to drop the offender like a hot potato; begging the question, should the Church abandon sinners at all?  However in many other situations of potential scandal the senior clergy are willing to use financial incentives to keep things quiet; begging the question, should the Church reward wickedness?

It may be that in the end we all want things like this to go away and so nothing is done.  Life, these days, is full of bad news and cherished institutions, people and ideals are ‘exposed’ and destroyed so very often.  T.V. Programmes debunking heroes became quite an industry in the naught-ies, and now we have Newspaper Corporations, whole Police departments and politicians exposed as liars, cheats and ‘being on the take’.  Yes, I know, there are good people here too.

Living in a world like this is horrible and it may be that we have had enough and simply don’t want to expose more wickedness and certainly not in Christ’s beloved church.

The mini-principality type structure of the Church of England is a warm place for the bacteria of wickedness to grow, and it has.  Diocesan structures encourage cover up’s and personality cults, bullying and jealousies.  The behaviour of too many of our clergy is unbelievable and stories of their blatant arrogance are as common as cockroaches; if only you know where to look.


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5 Responses to As Common as Cockroaches

  1. J Smith says:

    I think that perhaps this topic is going round in circles. Yes, there are problems. Yes there are examples of mistreatment, bullying, denial of services, which should be the norm, for obviously dubious reasons, but to tar the whole church with such a broad brush, seems to me a doubtful way of achieving change where it might be needed.

    I agree that a cult of personality can cause harm, particularly where the personality is the Vicar, Arch Deacon, Chaplain or even the Bishop. But in many cases, more harm is caused by members of the laity, who feel that they own their local church and clergy and who have built a power base, which the priest finds unassailable. People refuse to collaborate, refuse to contemplate change, and are happy to let their church stay static, mired in tradition, and decline – than have the brass neck to blame the Vicar, the Diocese (building a them and us climate) or anyone else. How many times are the Vicar’s hands tied by decisions taken by the PCC, of which he is the nominal chair, but who ignore his or her guidance. Possibly more than we like to acknowledge.

    You state that the vast majority of clergy and laity are good, hard working and dedicated to their ministry and the well being of their community. You allege a conspiracy of coverup and sweeping things under the carpet. I would be interested to have quoted examples. I’m aware of some people who have been badly treated and shout it from the roof tops, Mad Priest, The Rev Jonathon Haggar is one such. He has publicised his treatment widely, is outspoken and honest about it. The Churches response has been to pull up the draw bridge and rely on misinformation. That’s the most prominent case I know, although I know of one or two more, But I have no evidence of such a widespread cancer within the body of the church as you describe – if it exists, point us towards it. Lay it out so that people can be informed.

    • mrcatolick says:

      Thank you for your comment Mr Smith. Much appreciated.

      Maybe I am going round in circles a little, and I apologise if I am. I did try to make this topic about the responses that I received from previous posts, and I wanted it to have some coherence for anyone coming into the subject for the first time. I am unable, at this time to give accurate details without causing considerable harm to innocent people, and in any case i am not wishing to expose individuals, rather seek a better organisational structure to prevent future wrongdoing.

      As to the ‘widespread cancer’, well it depends upon your point of view. Perhaps for some it is more like a widespread cough, rather than a cancer. it depends how seriously you take what people do. I will put this mildly; A rector who refuses to release a several hundred thousand of pounds for a project in a poor area of the parish because he wants to build a sports facility in his area, despite the money being explicitly for the poor area may not be a wicked person, or he might be. The Bishop who uses tens of thousands of pounds of money given for a particular purpose on something completely unrelated , and covers the fact up, may be wicked, or not. An Archdeacon, who deliberately destroys a liberal priest’s reputation whilst in conversation with other influential clergy and prevents him progressing, with absolutely no foundation for his allegations except his own jealousy, may be wicked or not.

      Reporting the bad behaviour of the Archbishop of York, and even Mr Williams, amongst many other examples, has been part of my Blogs, including the video blogs and regulars will be aware of this.

      I am trying to make people aware that this is the culture that many of us have to operate in and I am asking the question, how acceptable is it? I should say that attacking the wicked laity, as a form of defence, is not the way forward.


  2. Lindy says:

    How widespread does it have to be before you want to do something about it? It seems to me that if even one has been injured that is sufficient to get the church’s attention. The point is that there is no reasonable recourse. The bosses have failed. We have the same situation in the USA. The bishops can’t be trusted to protect people from their clergy.

    And I will give J Smith an example from real life, my own life, and I’ll use real names. I hope that will drive another nail in the coffin of this notion that the clergy can be left to govern themselves: About a decade ago I was a happy Episcopalian and had been since 1987 when I was changed over from the Southern Baptists. This is pretty common, I hear. I loved the Episcopal Church, I still do. My job required traveling around the USA and I frequently visited Episcopal churches, enjoying the constancy and variation of it’s worship. I served on some committees and taught some classes, all at the parish level. I was never a big shot. But the church was my one constant for many years. When I moved to Texas (big mistake, btw) I stopped traveling and settled into a nice little parish church where I was on some committees and taught some classes. Same as before. About that time I began to hate my job even more than before, my father died, I became depressed, and bought a convertible. In America we call this a mid-life crises, and I had a very hard one. In the midst of this crises. just as I was starting Prozak, my priest, the Rev. Mary E. Green, told me not to come back to church. I was completely taken aback by this so I asked, flat out, “Are you kicking me out?” And she answered that she was. In the following years I have tried to find out why I was kicked out, but Mary won’t tell me, nor will she let me back in. Apparently I am so bad as to be utterly beyond the capabilities of the church, so completely useless that I can tossed out like last week’s TV Guide Even not knowing what I’d done, I offered to repent of it. Still, it was a no go. I am resigned now that I will never get back into church and I will never know why I was kicked out in the first place. Now, that’s just wrong. I am one of the lucky ones because I know Jesus! Thanks be to Godde, I’ve known Jesus for a long time, and I know his mother too, so none of this precipitated a crises of faith for me. Otherwise, that and the Prozak would have probably done me in. And, though I less and less want to be a part of it, I still believe in the church. But you people, on BOTH sides of the pond, really do have to come up with a legitimate means for people to appeal the idiocy of their clergy. Oh, sure, I could have gone to our bishop. But I’d been around long enough by then to see how things work. First they circle the clerical wagons, then they discredit anyone who complains. It would have just been further abuse and I really don’t think I could have endured that. Oh, I’m better now. Mid-life has past. I wouldn’t let a god-damned priest get by with that sort of thing today. But this one took advantage of my weakness and, for whatever reason, did her damnedest to do me in. Sometimes I wonder if maybe she just gets off on it. I don’t know. What I DO know is that there should have been someone I could go to for a fair hearing. I do think that’s all that the esteemed Mr. CatOLick is saying.

  3. Erika Baker says:

    The question still is what to do about this.
    Would someone go to external mediation if it was set up as an independent body? Would we trust the process?

    The real difficulty here is that when the church hurts someone it goes really really deep because our faith and our belonging to a community of believers touches the core of our soul. And when a parish has worked against a priest for years, the effect is the same.

    Both, the mother of the child who was refused baptism and Lindy could simply have gone to another church. But that’s not how this works. We’re so desperately and unexpectedly hurt that we withdraw completely and end up feeling so insecure and battered that we lose a part of what makes us the kind of outgoing and capable people we usually are. There’s not only the hurt that this one priest or bishop or whoever treated us shabbily, but where are the others? Were was the congregation for Lindy? The colleagues for Mad Priest? We feel completely let down by everyone. The sense of disorientation is astonishing.

    When I felt terribly badly treated by the church I would certainly not have gone to mediation or a tribunal. If you cannot treat me like a normal human being, why would I want to fight to remain in your company? And as I had trusted the church and believe in it, I was so shocked that I ended up doubting everyone associated with it. An excessive reaction, to be sure! And that although I had massive local support in particular from my lovely priest. But even years later I have not been able to get my former light-hearted touch back when I’m talking with religious people, not until I know them really well.

    It’s as serious as discovering that your husband cheated on you. Mediation works in those cases, but only if your husbands wants to save the marriage too.
    The law will only ever result in divorce.
    The law is like an industrial tribunal – you can win it but you still won’t be happy in the company that first caused you to go to it.

    Because, ultimately, church is about relationships and you cannot legislate those.

    That’s not to say there shouldn’t be some body that calls people to account, be they from the congregation or from the church. And it seems obvious that someone like MadPriest (who isn’t the only one whose sad story I know) needs to have a means of external redress. And that Lindy would have welcomed some external support.

    But it would be dangerous to think that we could just set up a body somewhere or change our structures and all would be well.

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