Bishops Sound the Alert over Clergy at Risk

The Birmingham Post (England), March 4, 1998 | Go to article overview

Bishops Sound the Alert over Clergy at Risk


Clergy and their families facing a wave of violent attacks have been urged to improve their security.

Panic buttons, burglar alarms and personal alarms are suggested by the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

They should also separate the times they admit the public to their vicarages and rectories from the times they spend together privately, the bishops said, yesterday.

An increasing number of attacks include the murder of the Rev Christopher Gray who was stabbed to death outside his vicarage in Liverpool in 1996.

They have prompted the bishops to encourage clergy to think more carefully about how they go about their daily duties.

The Ven Gordon Kuhrt, chief secretary of the church's Advisory Board of Ministry, launched a discussion paper intended to "provoke discussion and action at diocesan and parish level".

In a foreword to the paper, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York said: "We are deeply concerned about the attacks on clergy and their families.

"Ordained ministry often takes dedicated clergy into areas of vulnerability and on occasion conflict.

"We hope that the paper will help develop a realisation of the personal responsibilities many carry on this matter throughout the church."

Matters recommended for discussion by the clergy include training in health and safety, and the prevention and management of violence.

They are urged to receive specialist training about alcohol abuse, drugs, mental health, rough sleepers and general community safety in the parish.

Mr Kuhrt said: "I guess the vast majority of clergy come in with high ideals and some of them are sometimes unwise in who they invite into the living part of their home. …

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