On Sunday evening, the General Synod of the Church of England voted unanimously to apologise for failing to adequately safeguard children in the past. It also voted to tighten procedures to better protect children in the future.
The debate was opened by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, who introduced the motion. He admitted “We were wrong. Our failures were sin just as much as the perpetrators sinned. By failing to listen or act appropriately we condemned survivors to live with the harm when we should have been assisting them”.
The Bishop also read out a statement by the Stop Church Child Abuse Campaign, which Jordans Solicitors have been involved in supporting since its foundation. The statement criticised the Church for not permitting survivors to “speak for themselves” and for failing to consult survivors on the motion. It also called for a full public inquiry into abuse by clergy and church officials in the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church.
Despite Sunday’s apology, the Church has not yet supported the campaign’s calls on the government to order an inquiry. However, acknowledging that there would always be dangerous people in churches, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commented “what we’re looking at today is far from enough.”
Jordans Solicitors welcome the apology and hope that the Archbishop’s comments point to future developments in the Church’s position soon.