In this very interesting news item published on Premier Christian Radio, we are told that survivors and victims of abuse have just sent an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, urging him to implement a full-bodied Inquiry into the Church of England.
The Church of England’s track record has been embarrassing when it comes to addressing child sexual abuse within its community. Because of this, we held a debate in the House of Commons last year to highlight the need for the nation’s Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to pay special attention to religious bodies and the extent of their involvement with child sexual abuse. There can be no question that these institutions need an independent and swift Inquiry – a significant number of schools and care homes were under the auspices of religious establishments during some of the worst periods for child sexual abuse.
The fact that these organisations still shield priests who abuse children by either forgiving them for their sins and allowing them to stay active within their community, or moving them to other parishes (where they simply continue to abuse other children), means that the law needs to assert itself and make it clear that religious custom is subservient to human rights legislation, not the other way around.
We have personal experience communicating with The Archbishop of Canterbury and his department (Churches have departments now, and TV stations, and comms teams), and whilst we found everyone to be polite and engaged, very little movement on the ground seems to take place. Case in point is the raison d’être of the open letter – it was prompted by the Methodist Church’s decision to publicly apologise, after an investigation uncovered reports of nearly 2,000 alleged abusers, including 914 allegations involving sexual abuse last month.
There is a short radio interview on the page too, with Revd Graham Sawyer, a spokesman for the excellent Ministers and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS).
Many thanks to Julian Whiting for alerting us to this news item.