SHOW ME THE MONEY

ONE TRILLION POUNDS IS £1,000 BILLION – ENOUGH TO PUT A VERY LARGE DINT IN GLOBAL POVERTY AND PUT SMILES ON THE FACES OF EVERY UK CITIZEN.

The Church of England is thought to hold assets in excess of £15bn. Its church commissioners have an £8bn investment portfolio, it also has £4.7bn in dioceses, £1bn in cathedrals and an estimated £1–10bn in parish church councils. In reality the actual total wealth of the church is estimated at almost £17.12 trillion sterling.  ($23.5 trillion in US dollars). The Church of England may be wealthy but the churches are empty.

In January 2021 a Church of England multi-trillion-pound investment scheme  was unveiled. A somewhat incongruous image showed Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the global Anglican community opening the London Stock Exchange on July 2nd 2018 . The purpose was to publicise his address to delegates of the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) in a call for global partnership to address climate change issues. Welbey’s enthusiasm for partnering with international bankers, hedge funds and the London Stock Exchange are well known, perhaps a legacy of his past as an oil  executive. The TPI has since boasted that £10 TRILLION  has been amassed by the Church of England.

Warnings against avarice, the desire to accumulate more and more wealth, are given throughout the bible. Usury, charging exorbitant interest rates on a loan, has been expressly forbidden in Christian doctrine since the 4th Century BC, while the Law of Moses states:  “If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest”  Ways to circumvent this inconvenient Commandment have always been found. In the late Middle Ages the problem of financing the royal exchequer and setting up capitalist institutions in the face of the Christian ban on usury was resolved by allowing Jews to act as bankers.

While Jesus Christ famously overturned the tables of the money lenders in the Temple, the Archbishop, it seems, is willing to eat at their table, no doubt believing that the end justifies the means. It seems we have learned nothing from the global financial crash of 2008 or the words of Saint Paul that “the love of money is the root of all evil”

While few would argue the urgent need to address climate change, many would hope the same urgency might be applied to the plight of the hundreds of thousands currently living in crisis in the UK. Over two and a half million people now rely on food banks, almost one and a half million children require free school meals and more than 300,000 are officially recorded as homeless, these figures do not include those sleeping on a friend’s sofa or facing impending eviction due to pandemic restrictions.

In 2018, Archbishop Welby railed against poverty, harshly criticising payday lenders, however it then emerged the church held an indirect investment in the now defunct Wonga Pay Day lending company. Pay Day Loans typically charge 400% interest and more, the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) states that investments should exclude: “Any company, whose main business activity or focus  is the provision of home-collected credit (‘doorstep lending’), unsecured short-term loans (‘payday loans’) or pawnbroker loans, directly or through owned-subsidiaries.”

Welby also attacked Amazon for not paying a living wage and leaching off the taxpayer saying:  “they don’t pay for our defence, for security, for stability, for justice, health, equality, education.”  The media then discovered that The Church of England held substantial investments in Amazon, it has since said it will keep its shares as it considers the most effective way to seek change was to be “in the room with these companies” as a shareholder.

A 2021 pay freeze for C of E clergy means the archbishop of Canterbury who has two grace-and-favour homes including Lambeth Palace (below) will continue to receive an annual salary of £85,070. 

 

 

 

The salary of a diocesan bishop will continue at £46,180  while the stipend for a parish vicar will remain at £27,000. Three thousand  “self-supporting” ministers are not paid at all. Some vicars, many of them supporting families, are tens of thousands of pounds in debt and reliant on charity handouts or forced to use high-interest payday lenders. Clergy Support Trust – a centuries-old charity which supports destitute Anglican vicars, assistant or associate priests and curates-in-training gave £1.8m worth of grants to 459 needy clergy in 2019.

  • In 2017 the Church of England’s Head of Investments earned £515,000, more than six times the Archbishop of Canterbury’s pay, an increase of more than £50,000 on 2016.
  • In 2020 Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, the Church of England’s second most senior clergyman, was criticised for “sending out the wrong message” by advertising for a new £90,000-a-year Chief of Staff on the Charity Job website.  He later welcomed government recommendations for the rise in the “real living wage” from £8.36 per hour to £9.50, an average £29,600 annual income.
  • Meanwhile diminishing congregations of elderly parishioners sit in cold churches pondering on the state of the church roof, wondering how best to raise funds locally to help pay for vital repairs as volunteers give up their spare time to help maintain buildings. A £1.8 million grant to stop crumbling churches and other places of worship falling into disrepair somehow seems less than proportionate given church assets.

In 2018 The National Secular Society investigated the true wealth of the C of E and the church’s fragmented financial structure which makes assessment of the true value of its assets difficult. The government was asked to take the Church of England’s vast wealth into account before handing out any more tax payer funded grants to assist with building repairs for its 16,000 churches, since it has sufficient assets to meet the need. Applicants requesting taxpayer support must show financial need, which includes not only income but also savings and investments.

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IS EXEMPT FROM PAYING TAX UNDER THE CHARITIES ACT 2006.  IT IS THE BIGGEST UK CHARITY BY FAR WITH AN INCOME THREE TIMES THAT OF OXFAM. IN ADDITION IT CAN CLAIM BACK 25% IN BEQUESTS AND GIFT AID DONATIONS.

While tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance to benefit an individual or an organisation is lawful, it relies on effective accountancy to ensure a favourable  assessment. A centralised financial system allows the church to operate as a complex set of charities with each diocese registered as a charity in its own right. This provides entitlement for full tax relief while taking full advantage of all the public services providing a pretence of accountability while exerting assumed authority. Fudging the closing-to-opening balances from one year to the next and delaying publication of adjusted accounts is considered creative accounting. The Charity Commission for England and Wales continues to allow the Church of England to audit its own accounts due to “lack of staff” at the Charity Commission, not an advantage extended to most of us.

A centralised model of management and oversight diminishes the partnership relationship with parishes while ensuring financial control. Buildings become collective assets with financial outgoings reduced.

  • Churches are denuded of the capital asset, the building is no longer theirs, while the maintenance liability remains.
  • The local congregation’s responsibility to be self-funded as costs escalate, ensures that congregations cannot maintain their independence and accountability.
  • Centralised accounting prevents local congregations from holding sufficient reserves to buffer unforeseen expenses in a responsible manner.
  • Beneficiaries and windfalls granted to local congregations, are payable centrally further reducing available resources.

It is not money which is the root of all evil but the love of money, the need for    more. Money is the energy of life, when shared it is multiplied, when hoarded it impoverishes the soul and makes the rich poor. The Church of England may be wealthy but  we must ask why the churches are empty.

 

 

 

SEXUAL ABUSE AND ROYAL CONNECTIONS

WHY SHOULD LAWS APPLY WHEN SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS?

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, and Baron Killyleagh, born in Buckingham Palace, the third child and second son of the Queen, was for the first 22 years of his life second in the line of succession to the British throne behind Charles Prince of Wales. Following the scandal related to his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and personal allegations of sexual assault and sex trafficking by Virginia Giuffre, Prince Andrew made a strategic withdrawal from public life. He lives comfortably among the horses and dogs in the Royal Lodge at Windsor, former residence of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Virginia Giuffre meanwhile has no such protection and has for 20 years sought justice in the courts against powerful people who manipulate the Justice system.

4/8/2021  AFTER REPEATED REQUESTS BY HER ATTORNEYS TO INTERVIEW PRINCE ANDREW WITH REGARD TO THE EPSTEIN/MAXWELL ENQUIRY WERE IGNORED, VIRGINIA GIUFFRE FILED PAPERS WITH THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT OF NEW YORK UNDER THE ‘CHILD VICTIMS LAW’. CHARGES INCLUDE ‘RAPE IN THE FIRST DEGREE’ ‘SEXUAL BATTERY’ AND ‘SEXUAL ABUSE.’

The file states:  5.Plaintiff was regularly abused by Epstein and was lent out by Epstein to other powerful men for sexual purposes. 6. One such powerful man to whom Plaintiff was lent out for sexual purposes was the Defendant, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

The lawsuit went on: ‘In this country no person, whether president or prince, is above the law, and no person, no matter how powerless or vulnerable, can be deprived of the law’s protection’.

Under the Hague Convention, lawyers must serve papers in person within 120 days. Hours before her suit was  filed in New York, legal staff for Ms Giuffre waited in England for the Duke to go on his regular horse ride at Windsor Palace. They planned to hand him the documents in person before the news broke but Andrew foiled them and left for Balmoral Castle, where Queen Elizabeth II is currently spending the summer.

Requests from the criminal prosecutors of the Southern District of New York to “come in” and share information about what Andrew may know of Epstein’s sex trafficking network have fallen on deaf ears. Attorneys state: “We’ve reached out to Prince Andrew’s legal team a number of times over the last five years, we’ve made an attempt to engage with him to give him an opportunity to tell his side of the story, to provide any explanation or context, that he might have for his actions to try to resolve this without the necessity of litigation.The request, similar to issuing a subpoena, was made under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, an agreement between the two countries to share evidence and information in criminal cases. “They have totally stonewalled us just like they’ve stonewalled the criminal prosecutors in the United States. Every effort has been rebuffed”.

August 14th was the deadline allowing Ms Diuffre to sue under US legislation. As a result her attorney stated ” He’s going to be held to account…We can proceed with the suit, or proceed with a negotiation of a settlement. Unless previously settled the case will now go to jury trial. If he were to try to ignore the court the way he’s ignored us, there would be a default judgment entered against them,” he said. “That could be enforced in the United States or in England or elsewhere in the world.

As Ms Giuffre’s suit is a civil rather than a criminal matter there is no power of extradition to the US however Prince Andrew can make a statement under oath, or appear in an English Court to defend himself.  If he fails to respond within 120 days this can be viewed as Contempt of Court and  Miss Roberts’ could ask the US court to find in her favour in his absence without the need for a trial. This raises the possibility of the ninth in line to the throne being branded a sex offender and in view of his wealth, could result in compensation of millions of dollars. After looking at any potential US assets,  the courts could apply to claim assets in Britain through the UK courts.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, now an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse through her nonprofit organisation ‘Victims Refuse Silence’, has courageously detailed her many years of abuse by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislane Maxwell. She has stated “I did not come to this decision lightly…As a mother and a wife, my family comes first – and I know that this action will subject me to further attacks by Prince Andrew and his surrogates – but I knew if I did not pursue this action, I would be letting them and victims everywhere down.”

Dame Cressida Dick the head of Scotland Yard has revealed that a third review into the claims that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked a 17-year-old girl to the UK for sex with Andrew is underway. Stating that ‘No one is above the law’ and that British police are ready to help foreign detectives  into the Duke of York’s sex abuse allegations, declaring:  With one of the sex abuse claims made by Ms Roberts allegedly taking place in London any judgment against Prince Andrew in the US could put pressure on UK authorities to take action.  Legal experts have said such a civil case could drag on for years with profound implications for the monarchy.

The pending case against Ghislane Maxwell has international implications, involving paedophile power networks of politicians, heads of State, royalty and those charged with administering the legal system. Ghislane Maxwell is trying to get out of jail while others in her orbit are hoping never to go in. Due to stand trial in November on a charge of sex trafficking, Ms Maxwells choice of whether or not to co-operate with federal prosecutors to provide more information about all of the individuals (including Prince Andrew) whose names were written in his little black book, remains a  keen focus of interest for many.

THERE COMES A POINT WHERE THE REPUTATION OF THE ROYAL FAMILY IS GREATER THAN THAT OF ANY ONE MEMBER, AT SUCH TIMES THE STRATEGY IS TO CLOSE RANKS.  UNLESS  HE  IS  WILLING  AND ABLE TO CLEAR HIS NAME, IT WOULD SEEM THAT ANDREW  WILL  BE QUIETLY AND PERMANENTLY RELEGATED TO  A   SUBORDINATE  POSITION, WHILE  STILL  BENEFITTING  FROM  THE  LIFE  OF  EASE AND PRIVILEGE  INTO  WHICH  HE  WAS  BORN.

Within hours of the news breaking Prince Andrew arrived at the royal Scottish retreat of Balmoral with ex wife ‘Fergie’ Duchess of York, Princess Eugenie their daughter and her husband, for what was euphemistically described as ‘a few days holiday with the Queen’. Along with Prince Charles and Camilla senior members of the royal family will hear options from legal advisors as they confront the unimaginable crisis about to engulf the monarchy. We can perhaps predict a less lenient response  from the future monarch than that shown to Andrew by his mother. As Head of State and Supreme Governor of the Church of England we might assume that the Queen has the authority to compel her son to comply with legal requirements on either side of the Atlantic. After a lifetime of devoted service the Queen presides over a fragmented and some would say discredited House of Windsor during what is now viewed by many as the inevitable demise of the British monarchy.

An archaic UK law governing precedence states not only that the sovereign cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil or criminal proceedings but also that no arrests can be made in the presence of the monarch or within the surroundings of a royal palace, whether or not the monarch is present. This raises an intriguing possibility – would voluntary ‘house arrest’ be an acceptable alternative in the current stand off between the House of Windsor and the US legal system?  A cynic might anticipate a sudden ‘virtual’ change of residence for the Prince, to one of any of the royal castles and palaces… Balmoral, Sandringham, Windsor…? 

The enduring historical threads of monarchy and church ensure these Institutions are always defended, for this is where the power structures lie. Sadly this is not the first time that a member of the British royal family has resisted requests by the Courts to give an account of royal patronage for a convicted paedophile.

See: Friends in High Places – Royalty Protecting Paedophiles (published August11th 2018)

 

 

 

 

SEXUAL ABUSE COVER UP – Anglican Clergy

THE QUEEN IS THE SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, THE LARGEST CHRISTIAN DENOMINATION IN THE COUNTRY WITH OVER A MILLION REGULAR WORSHIPERS.

November 2020: The newly published Report on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse within the Church of England, gives a damning account of failure to respond to child victims and survivors of sexual abuse by people associated with the church. The report states that alleged perpetrators received more support than their victims, adding to the trauma already suffered. Attempts to report abuse were covered up by a church hierarchy who were often the very perpetrators. Safeguarding concerns were under reported with cases hidden, giving an inaccurate impression of the scale of the problem. In 2018, there were 2,504 safeguarding concerns reported to dioceses about either children or vulnerable adults yet there have been only 390 perpetrators convicted since the 1940s.

Offending clergy were supported and shielded by the most powerful people in the land including Prince Charles and Lord George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury who refused to  believe the allegations against Bishop Peter Ball, supporting him in the face of numerous allegations. In 2018 Carey was subsequently forced to resign after the UK Child Sex Abuse Report found that he had covered up allegations of sexual abuse within the church. 

  • Clerics benefited from deferential treatment, defended by their peers in an environment where power was invested without accountability to external or independent agencies or individuals.
  • The moral authority of clergy was widely perceived as beyond reproach by a naive public who failed to question their conduct. A tribal culture flourished where loyalty to peers exceeded consideration of the welfare or protection of children.
  • Members of a church hierarchy ignored reports of abuse, reintegrating abusers into church life, perpetuating further abuse.
  • Bishops ignored  safeguarding guidelines issued byThe House of Bishops, there is no requirement in canon law to require clergy to follow safeguarding guidelines  despite Ministerial guidelines to do so.
  • The Enquiry found that offending was repeatedly minimised and justified.

Reverend Ian Hughes was convicted in 2014 of downloading 8,000 indecent images of children, more than 800 were graded Category A level, the most serious, involving “penetrative sexual activity; images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism”. . It emerged during the hearing that The Bishop of Chester, Rt Reverend Peter Foster, declined to accept the seriousness of the offending of Hughes. He maintained his view, expressed in a letter to the President of Tribunals, that “many people who download child pornography believe it to be different from direct abuse of a child.” Forster had blocked a life-time ban from ministry being imposed on any minister jailed for pornography, recommending instead that Rev.Ian Hughes receive a 20 year ban.

  • Bishop Victor Whitsey was ordained in 1949 and was Bishop of Hertford, in the Diocese of St Albans, in 1971 and then Bishop of Chester, in 1974, a position which he held until his retirement in early 1982, despite 13 complaints made to Cheshire Constabulary about his serial abuse. In January 2018 an adult male disclosed to a vicar that he had been indecently assaulted by Whitsey as a child in the early 1980s. The safeguarding advisor was informed and also the Bishop of Chester Peter Forster who failed to undertake any enquiries. The complainant told the Enquiry that he had again informed Bishop Forster in 2002 when he was offered counselling but no further action was taken.
  • Further accusations were made against Whitsey by two males, stating he had sexually abused them as children between 1974 and 1981, during his time as the Bishop of Chester. A further 10 potential victims, including teenagers and young adults of both sexes were later identified.
  • In 1979, a 13 year old girl and her brother, both members of the church were invited to meet Whitsey during a time when her father (a vicar), had left the family home. The girl was left alone in a room with him for around half an hour, she described how he gave her a ‘body hug’ and told her that ‘men have urges’ telling her to sit on his knee, she was aware of his erection and recalled him quoting from the Bible ‘Suffer little children to come unto me” before stroking her through her clothes and ‘rubbing against me’. She was then ordered to leave the room and her brother was sent in. She did not disclose the abuse at the time as she ‘wouldn’t have known who to tell’ as the family were already being ostracized by the church because the family was splitting up. In April 2015, while attending the internment of her mother’s ashes with her brother at the church in Cheshire, they noticed Whitsey’s signature in the Book of Remembrance, her brother stated ‘That bastard abused me and she answered ‘Me too”.
  • Police enquiries showed that of 19 complainants, it was “clear that those who reported abuse had previously disclosed details of their allegations to the Church”.

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