Archbishop Justin Welby it seems, is not only open, but frank about the terrible truths that blight our institutions and the Church, here in the UK when it comes to child abuse. The Sunday Times reports today that the Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the Church for failing to address child abuse and says the Church’s inability in this area to “face the misdeeds of those in its service” has been “inexcusable”.
In a letter to Marilyn Hawes, whose sons were groomed and sexually abused by their headmaster, the Archbishop says:
‘I read your story with the same deep sense of sadness and dismay that I have felt on far too many other, similar accounts… The betrayal of Christ in such behaviour is complete; the church’s failure to face the misdeeds of those in its service is inexcusable…I can only apologise for what happened then, and for what has happened now, most sincerely and with deep sorrow…It is now clear that in a huge number of institutions and localities, the abuse of children and vulnerable adults has been rampant….’That is not in any way mitigation or excuse for the church, but is why I have been, with [Durham bishop] Paul Butler, pushing for the public inquiry that the government has promised….It is also clear that there is a very significant legacy of unacknowledged cases in the Church of England. We are taking all necessary steps to face these.’
With that in mind, Researching Reform is co-hosting an event in the House of Commons on 18th November to address these very issues. Our debate, “Religious Power: Risk & Regulation” is going to be looking at the many forms of child abuse prevalent in the UK today within a faith context and more broadly, and we are going to be asking the question: what is our government, and the Church, actually doing to bring this cruelty to an end?