Synod apologises for safeguarding failures after Chichester report

A REPORT into child abuse in the Chichester Diocese led church leaders to acknowledge and apologise for past safeguarding wrongs.

The General Synod of the Church of England today (July 7) voted in favour of the apology.

It also voted to endorse work on legislative and non-legislative changes to tighten procedures which were identified following the Chichester Commissaries interim and final safeguarding reports.

Opening the debate, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, chairman of the churches national safeguarding committee, said: “We cannot do anything other than own up to our failures. 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 into whatever measure of healing might be possible.”

In a follow up to the commissaries’ reports the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote: “It is right, therefore, that the General Synod should receive an account of the actions that the house and the council have put in hand, have an opportunity to comment on the next steps, and be able to identify with the apology that we wish to offer unreservedly for the failure of the Church of England’s systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused.”