Your sermons on integrity are a bit rich, archbishop, given your faith in Paula Vennells

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The archbishop of Canterbury moved pinch awesome velocity erstwhile nan wide predetermination was announced, to punctual everyone to behave nicely. He urged people, “of each faiths and none”, to prioritise, supra all, “good grace and a committedness to truth and integrity”.

By immoderate miracle, nan predetermination news had already constrained sum of a imaginable disincentive to listening to nan further exhortations of J Welby: nan quality astatine nan Post Office enquiry of Rev Paula Vennells, nan erstwhile Post Office CEO and Church of England adviser.

Archbishop Justin, it is reported, once wanted this knowledgeable retweeter of his ain insights to beryllium bishop of London. True, Vennells didn’t get nan bishop job, she “stood down” arsenic a part-time curate and is nary longer nan church’s go-to governance authority, but while nary Anglican archbishop would consider himself infallible, it can’t thief erstwhile a favourite is exposed arsenic contributing to untold injustice and misery.

That’s if Vennells wasn’t much for illustration a mentor. In nan preface to his 2018 book, Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope (published aft 555 postmasters had already launched ineligible action against nan Post Office), Welby says she “shaped my reasoning complete nan years”. It was odd, you mightiness think, for a belief leader to salary tribute to a CEO whose theological scholarship, moreover if she was inspired by King Solomon, seems constricted to a part-time people and unpaid officiating. But possibly Welby’s Church of England is closer, spiritually, to L’Oreal, Unilever, Argos and different landmarks connected nan Vennells CV than nan mean non-believer tin comprehend.

By nan extremity of her caller transverse examination, immoderate declare Vennells mightiness erstwhile person had to Welby’s recommended “integrity” had, of course, been comprehensively trashed. Her “commitment to truth” didn’t look overmuch better. Why had this ordained curate told nan business prime committee successful 2015 that distant entree to branch transactions was impossible? After reports and warnings stating nan opposite?

As for nan “good grace” nan archbishop urges america to cherish, nan weepy Vennells would beryllium reminded, among galore inglorious episodes, of a “triumphalist” email from 2014. Following an point connected The One Show astir subpostmasters whose lives were devastated, Vennells said she had been “more saturated than outraged”. Unfavourable contented was dismissed arsenic “hype and quality interest”.

Around that clip nan C of E could still, possibly, person organised immoderate coherent-ish mentation for ignoring hundreds of postmasters whose claims nan Post Office, of which Vennells was CEO, was fighting. But moreover aft a precocious tribunal judge ruled, successful 2019, that location was a “material risk” shortfalls had been caused by nan system, nan religion grounded to grasp that little arguable business experts mightiness beryllium preferable, if only for appearance’s sake.

Over a mates of years, nan respective timelines of Vennells successful nan secular world and Vennells astatine nan Church of England, indicate, connected nan 1 hand, only causes for concern, connected nan other, continuing approval. In 2019, she was invited connected its Ethical Investment Advisory Group, successful 2020, she joined nan archbishops’ pandemic coordinating group, starring connected governance; nan Church Commissioners benefited too, from her “Lessons Learnt” commentary on a erstwhile religion buildings report. Reasons it failed, Vennells advised, included: “gaps successful activity and astatine times mediocre behaviours”.

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Imperial College NHS trust and Dunelm were also, inexcusably, recruiting her successful 2019, nan aforesaid twelvemonth nan Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy successfully put her guardant for a CBE. Grim. But Dunelm isn’t telling governmental leaders to volunteer. Imperial College NHS spot isn’t inviting nan public, for illustration nan Church of England, to opportunity regular pre-election prayers based connected its edifying “thematic reflections”. Day two, Integrity: “it is correct that citizens should expect integrity, honesty and humility of those who wield powerfulness complete nan lives of others”.

Vennells returned her utilized CBE earlier it was formally removed, nan Cabinet Office later announced, for “bringing nan honours strategy into disrepute”. To date, nan religion has shown distinctly little liking than nan UK’s already blighted honours strategy successful separating its ain estimation from that of Paula Vennells, who retains beatified orders. Welby concedes only that “more questions should person been asked” earlier she was fixed a bid of appointments aft nan Horizon ungraded emerged, specified that “we will request to bespeak connected it”. If Lessons person so been Learnt, location is small outward sign.

Some clerics expect more. One, aft nan disclosure that Welby favoured Vennells for bishop of London, nan C of E’s 3rd astir elder role, called for his resignation. Another has tabled a backstage member’s mobility for Synod’s information (if it gets nan required support): “That this Synod, successful nan ray of nan cardinal domiciled of Paula Vennells successful nan Post Office Horizon scandal, and nan remark by nan archbishop of Canterbury that ‘Paula Vennells has shaped my reasoning complete nan years’, petition that a afloat reappraisal beryllium undertaken of nan power of Paula Vennells connected nan culture, decisions, appointments, and strategies of nan House of Bishops and nan wider church.”

As overmuch arsenic a non-congregant is astir apt disqualified from debating managerial arsenic opposed to theological approaches to moving an established church, it seems reasonable for belief outsiders to expect immoderate mentation for his evident misjudgment from Welby nan House of Lords member, civilized figurehead and busy, if unelected, politician. A caller Spectator question and reply was headlined: “Justin Welby: why shouldn’t bishops beryllium political?” It looks for illustration we whitethorn have an answer.

That his caller contributions connected Rwanda and nan use headdress person appeared enlightened, only makes seeming sustained indifference to a monolithic miscarriage of justness much incomprehensible. The relation pinch Vennells continued agelong aft nan Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance said it was “stunned” by her CBE, awarded aft nan Post Office had “brought truthful overmuch suffering”. To beryllium fair, galore businesses were likewise unconcerned. Maybe, arsenic nan grounds of Paula Vennells has already indicated, we conscionable expect excessively overmuch kindness from salient clergy. Lesson Learnt.

Source theguardian