Thinking Anglicans

Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation – Final Report Published

Updated Friday night

Lambeth Palace announced this evening that the final report for the enquiry into the operation of the diocesan child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester had been published.

The full text of the report (a 4.8 MB pdf file) is available for download.

Here is the accompanying press release.

Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation – Final Report Published
Friday 3rd May 2013

The final report for the enquiry into the operation of the diocesan child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester has today been published.

The report was written by Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC who were appointed in 2011 as the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s commissaries to carry out the enquiry.

In responding to the final report, Archbishop Justin has made the following statement:

“I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to not only the Commissaries for their care and concern in the course of carrying out this Visitation, but also to the survivors of abuse who have been able to share their experiences. The hurt and damage that has been done to them is something the Church can never ignore and I can only repeat what I have said before – that they should never have been let down by the people who ought to have been a source of trust and comfort and I want to apologise on behalf of the Church for pain and hurt they have suffered. I remain deeply grateful for their cooperation in the work of the Visitation.

I would also like to thank Bishop Martin and diocesan staff for their assistance and cooperation with the Visitation, and their continuing work with the police and statutory authorities in helping to turn around safeguarding in the diocese.”

In December 2011 the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, appointed Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC to carry out the enquiry. They were tasked with advising the Archbishop on any steps that need to be taken to ensure the highest possible standards of safeguarding in the dioceses. This involved examining current child protection arrangements as well as making recommendations for the future.

The Commissaries recommendations were published in an interim report in August 2012 and the full text of that report can be read here.

We would encourage anyone who has suffered abuse to come forward – their privacy and wishes will be respected. A special helpline has been set up in conjunction with the NSPCC on 0800 389 5344. Victims can also make a report to police.

We would urge anyone with any concerns about a child protection issue to contact the police.

The Church of England press office has issued this statement.

Response to Final Report of the Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation
03 May 2013

The Bishop of Southwell and Notts, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said: ” The publication of the Commissaries Final report encourages both the Diocese of Chichester and the National Church to move forward in responding to the mistakes made and the lessons learned. Nationally we have been working hard behind the scenes on turning the recommendations made into action; this work continues. In Chichester itself whilst there have been terrible failures in the past and there is much work to be done I am confident that Bishop Martin and the Safeguarding Team are well placed to ensure that the diocese is safe in its practices now and in the future. I would also like to repeat the statement I made at the publication of the interim report last summer.”

And there is a statement from the current Bishop of Chichester.

Bishop Martin responds to the Archbishop’s Visitation report

“We welcome the Final Report that brings the Archbishop’s Visitation to a formal conclusion. This is the moment for us to record our profound thanks to Dr Rowan Williams, who instituted the visitation while he was Archbishop, to the present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev’d and Rt Hon Justin Welby, and to the Commissaries themselves, the Rt Rev’d John Gladwin and His Honour Judge Rupert Bursell QC.

“The Visitation has enabled us to comprehend the damage done to so many people’s lives. I hope that all victims and those affected recognise in the words of the Interim and Final Reports that their concerns have begun to be heard, their determination recognised, and their extraordinary courage honoured.

“We believe that there may be many more victims of abuse who have never come forward to report their experiences. We wish to reassure them that we will listen to and respond in any ways that are appropriate to a report of abuse by priests or Church workers.

“Finally, we welcome the attention drawn in the Interim and Final Reports to the scope of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003. It is vital that our procedures engender trust and confidence among our partner agencies, among survivors and their families.”

Update – early press reports

Madeleine Davies in the Church Times: Chichester Visitation concludes with warning against complacency
BBC Diocese of Chichester child abusers ‘may have gone unrecognised’
Victoria Ward in The Telegraph Church of England urged to take ‘urgent’ action on child abuse
Ben James in The Argus (a local paper published in Brighton, in the diocese of Chichester) More church child abuse cases may yet to be uncovered

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
J Drever
J Drever
11 years ago

There is much good stuff in this report, but I was expecting something rather fuller. The issue of certain clergy officiating under PTOs (as Roy Cotton did at Sedlescombe, Whatlington, Ninfield and Hooe) was not addressed, although this formed a material element of the Butler-Sloss Report. One thing that has occurred to me is that, although Cotton started his career in Chichester at South Harting on the Surrey/Hampshire border and there is the Denford/Mytton case at Burgess Hill (Mytton having had a prior criminal career at Uckfield), much of the abuse occurred at the relatively neglected easternmost end of the… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
11 years ago

Interesting note on page 10 (footnote 7) which appears to be weak in its view that there should be reconsideration of the issue of the seal of the confessional. It doesn’t quite say that, but a number of these cases must have been hidden through a penitent priest seeking absolution. It would be interesting to hear the views of the clergy on this. Some countries are seeking to impose a strict duty to report regardless of a confession. Withholding absolution may be the device necessary, but surely the priest should go to the police, not his or her bishop.

Edward Prebble
Edward Prebble
11 years ago

I have heard a (now retired) Bishop, and one who as a priest had had a considerable ministry as a confessor, offer this view: When a confession of this kind is made, then the penance set should include a requirement on the penitent to go, with the confessor, to the police. Not only is the completion of that penance a condition on the absolution, but an unwillingness to complete the penance demonstrates that this was not a true confession, and the seal of the confessional no longer applies. I am not sure how comfortable I am myself with this interpretation,… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
11 years ago

As the report states, it does not pursue the issue of ongoing complaints under the clergy disciplinary measures. I imagine that this is why there is nothing further here about the role played by Bishop Wallace Benn.

11 years ago

Anthony: ‘Interesting note on page 10 (footnote 7) which appears to be weak in its view that there should be reconsideration of the issue of the seal of the confessional.’ At the very least, the phrase ‘his own life may be called into question’, in the unrepealed Proviso to Canon 113 of the Code of 1603, needs to be updated to ‘he may himself be held guilty of an arrestable offence’. It seems to me that it was only by an oversight that this wasn’t done in the schedules to the Criminal Law Act 1967 – but what a dangerous… Read more »

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x