Inquiry concludes Church of England placed its reputation ahead of dealing with child sex abuse

October 6, 2020
The Church England has today been accused by the statutory Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse of placing its reputation ahead of dealing with sexual abuse of children. The damning accusations have been made in a report into the extent to which the Church of England and the Church in Wales protected children from sexual abuse in the past and the effectiveness of their current safeguarding arrangements.

The report sets out historic failings and continued shortcomings of both Churches and describes a culture within the Church of England that ‘… facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide’ (p6). Factors that helped create this environment in the Church included deference to authority, taboos surrounding discussion of sexuality, and a culture where the moral authority of clergy was widely perceived as beyond reproach. Perpetrators were often treated more supportively than victims, which presented barriers to disclosure that many victims could not overcome.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, the Revd Stephen Terry, said ‘The failings of the Church of England to deal with sexual abuse of children and young people makes sobering reading. Many victims have been failed profoundly and progress on confronting abuse within the organisation and reaching out realistically and meaningfully to those damaged by it has been far too slow.’
‘The Inquiry’s report rightly highlights how the Church of England has previously chosen to resist criticism and has shirked its moral responsibility. Activities involving children must be open to greater scrutiny and regulation by those properly qualified and experienced to do so.’
‘It is customary for institutions, when caught out in this way, to make bland statements of repentance, promising that lessons will be learned. What the Church has said so far falls neatly into that category. Fine words must be followed by real and effective action, properly resourced, and soon.’
‘There is a contributory factor here. It is a complete scandal that faith-based school providers, even in 2020, continue to enjoy exemptions that override the rights of children. These include blanket freedoms of faith schools to religiously discriminate in pupil admissions and to provide students with religiously narrow teaching. The latest report from the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse should prompt a broader conversation about the rebalancing of rights of religious organisations, so that safeguarding and upholding childrens’ rights are given their rightful place.’
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has statutory powers and was constituted in 2015 in response to serious concerns that some organisations had failed and were continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse. The Inquiry’s report into child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church comprises one of fifteen investigations it is currently pursuing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Accord depends on your support

Please give.

Sign up

find us on Facebook

News history