The C of E’s clergy discipline scandal is symptomatic of a deeper problem

Aug 10, 2020 by

by David Baker, Christian Today:

A new report which has branded the Church of England’s disciplinary system “toxic” will come as no surprise to everyone who has been following the story.

The paper by Dr Sarah Horsman, warden of Sheldon – a retreat centre and clergy support organisation – described the C of E’s Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) as symptomatic of a wider “toxic management culture”. It also called for any replacement system “to be much more distinctively Christian, wiser, more transparent and… simply kinder”.

The report’s findings included the shocking facts that more than a third of clergy undergoing a CDM considered suicide; only 18 per cent felt they were treated as innocent until proved guilty; and just about half “strongly disagreed” with the statement “I felt supported by the diocese through the process”.

The good news is that bishops have all agreed to “work towards replacing the Measure and to making interim procedural changes to ensure the current system is more workable until new legislation is enforced”.

But one wonders whether, for one very simple reason, any replacement system will really be much better. And that very simple reason is simply this: the New Testament has quite a bit to say about church discipline. And, by and large, the Church of England mostly ignores it.

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