Last Friday the Church Times published a number of articles reflecting on the three weeks of hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) which focused on the Church of England in general and the diocese of Chichester in particular. Linda Woodhead named inadequate theologies as being part of the problem. She noted that everyone who spoke at the hearings agreed that procedural and structural change was insufficient without a change of culture, but none of them drew the obvious conclusion that this must include theology. There is a second critical element that is part of the problem, which again, no one seems to have identified at the hearings. The lack of interior awareness, a failure by the abuser to be conscious that what they are doing is abusive, is a fundamental reason for abusive activity.
I’ve been lamenting for a number of years the loss of quality of life in the Church of England compared with my experience in the 1960s and early 1970s. They were adventurous, exciting, imaginative, creative times. I was introduced to the work of theologians, prophets and mystics that continues to nourish my faith. Where has that energy and risk-taking exploration of faith gone? Because gone it certainly has. The centre of energy is shifting away from the orthodox, traditional patterns of church life and faith. I have a core of friends who are really living, living into God and the future, energised and inspired. I have no doubt they are being inspired by the same teacher and energised by the same Spirit and loved, intensely, gloriously, tenderly, unconditionally loved by the same God.