Reframing financial abuse of parishioners: an analysis of a Church of England disciplinary tribunal hearing regarding Rev. Karl Wray

Publication Date07 Feb 2020
AuthorMark Redmond
SubjectHealth & social care,Vulnerable groups,Adult protection,Safeguarding,Sociology,Sociology of the family,Abuse
Reframing nancial abuse of parishioners:
an analysis of a Church of England
disciplinary tribunal hearing regarding
Rev. Karl Wray
Mark Redmond
Purpose Traditional understandings of financial abuse are limited to particular situations and people
who have close accessto vulnerable adults. This paper aims to add to a debate thatintends to push the
boundaries of the understanding of financial abuse further. In particular, it seeks to add to the
understandingof what financial abuse might look like and who the perpetratorsof such abuse can be. In
so doing,it seeks to offer greater protection to the vulnerable.
Design/methodology/approach Focusing on exploringthe minutes of Church of England disciplinary
tribunals, held to provide accountability for clergy, this paper considers how the church seeks to
representand construct the victims of financialabuse.
Findings The paper identifies that the victims of financial abuse are whitewashed out of the tribunal
minutes and discoversthat the disciplinary tribunal is solely concerned withthe financial loss afforded by
the church.This discovery offers a new contextin which it is possible to explore the competinginterest in,
what has been regardedas, the ‘‘legitimate assets’’ of older parishioners.It provides an example of how
organisationsand individuals compete for them.
Originality/value This paper adds to the debate about the everyday nature of financial abuse and
when and where it might take place.It provides an opportunity to reconsider potentialoffenders and the
means by which abuse might be reduced.In exploring how the financial abuse of potentially vulnerable
people can be reframed so thatit is hidden by process and procedure, this paper offersan insight into
the means by whichit is possible to promote transparency and greater accountability.
Keywords Older people, Safeguarding, Legal, Financial abuse, Vulnerable adults, Church fraud,
Paper type Viewpoint
In recent years, the financial abuse of vulnerable adults has received increased attention
from both academics and practitioners. Work by Fenge et al. (2017), in particular, helped to
shift attention away from the “known” perpetrators, the sector has traditionally focused
upon, towards other abusers adopting new methods such as those related to “scamming”.
The combination of reviewing financial abuse as something perpetrated by “others”,
alongside the idea that financialabuse may not be as straightforward as previously thought,
permits researchers to look afresh at everyday financial exchanges and to reconsider them
in a new light. One area where this remains important is the weekly exchange of money
undertaken in churches. Indeed, it remains the case that religious organisations have a
problem with money. In March 2016, Brotherhood Mutual, a leading ecclesiastical
insurance company in the USA, suggested that fraud and theft within the global Christian
Mark Redmond is based at
the Health and Social Care,
University of
Gloucestershire Francis
Close Hall Campus,
Cheltenham, UK.
Received 4 October 2019
Revised 23 December 2019
10 January 2020
Accepted 13 January 2020
DOI 10.1108/JAP-10-2019-0033 VOL. 22 NO. 2 2020, pp. 93-102, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1466-8203 jTHE JOURNAL OF ADULT PROTECTION jPAGE 93

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