A call for a Public Inquiry into abuse of children and vulnerable adults by Clergy in England and Wales.

PRESS RELEASE — 17th June 2013

CHURCH OF ENGLAND SET TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT’S FAILINGS OVER CHILD ABUSE, TO OFFER APOLOGIES, AND PROVIDE A BETTER RESPONSE TO SURVIVORS.

(GENERAL SYNOD 7TH JULY 2013)

The STOP CHURCH CHILD ABUSE campaign (an alliance of clergy abuse survivors) has called upon churches and the government to hold a public inquiry into the extent of past child abuse within church organisations.

12 months of constant campaigning have resulted in the exposure of a hopelessly inadequate safeguarding system within the Roman Catholic church and the Church of England.

It is now beyond doubt that Bishops have engaged in dozens of cover ups and that child abuse reached endemic levels within these two church organisations.

The very recent events in the Diocese of Chichester which have resulted in the convictions of numerous church officials for child sex abuse is just one example of the appalling church culture that has allowed sex offenders to operate for years within almost all dioceses throughout the country.

Whilst the Roman Catholic church still refuses to engage positively with the STOP CHURCH CHILD ABUSE campaign, the Church of England appears to be taking the first step along the road to acknowledgement of the scale of the problem, improving it’s procedures, engaging with a full public inquiry, and proper recompense for victims of clergy abuse.

Following exploratory talks with the C of E in March 2013, representatives of the STOP CHURCH CHILD ABUSE campaign have been invited to attend the church’s general synod at which a motion will be debated calling for the church to apologise for abuse and for failing to act properly.

It is hoped that the C of E is sincere in this new concern for the welfare of victims of abuse and that it will join our call for the Government to set up a public inquiry into clergy abuse.

The wording of the invitation to the synod is produced below:

“The purpose of this invitation is to attend a debate on a motion for the Church to apologise for abuse suffered and for failing to listen or act properly.

This debate arises in response to the work of the Chichester Commissaries. In part, it is an opportunity for the Synod to hear from the safeguarding leads about the work we have already done in response to the commissaries’ reports. Further, it provides the opportunity for members to wrestle with the pain of this matter — the fact not only of abuse within the church, but of the failure of the church to listen or to act properly. This failure, as you well know, relates not just to listening to the victims or trying to provide appropriate support. It also relates to a failure to actively pursue reports about anyone who may pose a risk, including passing all information to the statutory authorities.

The Synod will be debating the appropriateness of offering an apology to victims for these failures. The Synod has done this once before, in relation to slavery, and much of the debate there was not about the core issue, but about whether or not a body such as General Synod can sensibly offer an apology in circumstances like this. It is hard to predict what may arise on this occasion.

It will be important for us to stress at the debate, as we will in any surrounding publicity, that this is only a step along the road of engagement with victims / survivors. We valued the discussion in February and look forward to moving on with you around the issues raised. Synod, whilst an important step, will only be one step in that engagement. In particular, since only Synod members are allowed to speak, your presence would be as observers rather than as contributors. We hope to develop a more reciprocal dialogue with you at a later date.”

This press release is sent by the abuse team from Jordans Solicitors contact abuseteam@jordanssolicitors.co.uk.

(Tel: 01924 868911)

Further information is available from :-

Anne Lawrence (MACSAS) – anne1mary@hotmail.com – 020 7269 7980

Graham Wilmer (The lantern project) lanternproject@yahoo.co.uk 0151 630 6956

Pete Saunders (NAPAC) — peter@napac.org.uk — 0203 176 0557

Richard Scorer, Pannone LLP — Richard.Scorer@pannone.co.uk – 0800 840 4929

Sue Cox — sue.cox@survivorsvoice-europe.org

The call for a public enquiry is supported by:

Ministry and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS),

National Association of People Abused in Care (NAPAC),

The Lantern Project,

Survivors Voice-europe.org,

National Secular Society,

Esther Rantzen (Childline),

Medical Secular Forum

Survivors West Yorkshire,

Simon Hughes MP,

William Chapman (Barrister), 7 Bedford Row,

Susannah Johnson, Barrister, 7 Bedford Row,

Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).


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