We linked previously to the resources published by the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England, Towards a Safer Church.
Today the Church Times has a news report: Survivors of clerical abuse object to C of E safeguarding liturgy guide.
SURVIVORS of clerical sex abuse have criticised the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England, saying that the safeguarding liturgy guide that it published last week had not been informed or approved by survivors, as had been claimed (News, 1 June).
The liturgy guide, Towards a Safer Church: Some liturgical resources, states that, while most of the Bible readings, prayers, hymns, and set liturgy were already in general use, the texts had been supplemented by new material, including prayers suggested by survivors.
An accompanying blog written by the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, said that the content had been “chosen in consultation with survivors”…
The article then refers to a letter, which can – and should – be read in full here, from eight survivors (scroll down to fourth item).
Sir, — We are survivors of physical and sexual abuse by office-holders in the Church. Our abusers include bishops, a dean, an archdeacon, several parish clergy, and at least one Reader. We are just a few of the scores of victim survivors who are forced to struggle for justice against the deaf and intransigent hierarchy of the Church.
Last week, one more example was added. The Liturgical Commission published a set of resources (“Safeguarding liturgy for survivors is published”, News, 31 May), which, it said, had been “chosen in consultation with survivors”. This was not true, as the compilers presumably knew.
One of our number, Graham Wilmer, who reviewed the collection, is very unhappy that his comments about it have been taken out of context and used without his permission in the launch material. No other survivors appear to have been consulted. MACSAS, the organisation for Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, was not approached; nor was the collection seen or approved by those survivors who sit on the National Safeguarding Panel — the only national Church of England body with representative victims of abuse…
In the news report, the Bishop of Hereford, vice-chair of the Liturgical Commission, responds:
…“We apologise if survivors on the National Safeguarding Panel feel that they were not adequately consulted,” he said.
“The resources were referenced at the April meeting, and one survivor representative on the group — along with survivors from other parts of Church life — had been consulted in depth, and he commended them at that meeting.
“Our prayer is that they will be used by all those involved in safeguarding as part of our commitment to make our churches a safer place for all. As a commission, we are committed to reviewing and supplementing these resources as their use becomes more widespread.”
One of the survivors, Janet Fife has written two articles at Surviving Church which analyse the perceived failings of these resources in much more detail.