A letter has been sent to Baroness Stowell, chair of the Charity Commision,
“to ask that the Charity Commission exercise its powers of intervention to address the failures of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England (charity number 1074857) to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress to all parties engaged in safeguarding complaints…”
The letter is signed by a wide range of people including Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE, QC, Lord Lexden, His Honour Alan Pardoe QC, Sir Jonathan Phillips KCB, Prof Sir Iain Torrance KCVO, Kt and Prof Nigel Biggar. It has also been signed by many survivors of sexual abuse.
The full text of the letter and the list of signatories can be found here.
There is a petition at change.org the Micah 6:8 Initiative, to enable others to add their names to this list. The notes at the end explain:
If you wish to support this initiative publicly please sign the petition.
Some may wish to signify support privately by sending an email to email@example.com with your name/chosen signifier, any brief self description you choose, and if appropriate, your CofE Diocese so that the range of support can be seen. We shall send this list to the Charity Commission with the request that it remain private.
We link to the booklet We asked for Bread but you gave us Stones which compiled a number of survivor responses to the experiences received at the hands of the Established Church. Plus a link to the book Letters to a Broken Church which includes some of our signatories as contributing authors.
The full text of the letter also appears at Surviving Church: Letter to Charity Commissioners over concerns about Church of England Safeguarding.
And it is also available at Archbishop Cranmer: Calls for Charity Commission to intervene in CofE safeguarding saga.
The Times has this news report: Bishops take aim at ‘unjust’ handling of abuse claims. It includes this:
..Four of the past five archbishops of Canterbury and York had been the subjects of formal complaints about their alleged failures to act against clergy accused of sexual abuse.
Lord Carey of Clifton, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, has been prevented from performing his religious duties while the church’s national safeguarding team investigates his past conduct.
The Bishop of Lincoln, the Right Rev Christopher Lowson, has been suspended for more than a year. He has been accused of failing to respond “appropriately” to safeguarding allegations. He has said that he is bewildered by the accusations. The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, had apologised for failing to respond correctly when he was told about domestic violence by one of his priests when he was Bishop of Reading…
The Church Times has a news article: Charity Commission asked to tackle C of E safeguarding ‘failings’. In addition to reporting on the letter above, it also has this:
…Separately, seven survivors have written to Bishop Gibb; the director of safeguarding, Melissa Caslake; and the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, Meg Munn, calling for the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, to resign pending further safeguarding training.
The letter refers to internal email correspondence from Bishop Thornton, who sits on the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), about one of the survivors. The letter states: “The attitude displayed here confirms what many survivors have long thought: that the adversarialism towards victims of abuse has not just extended to their litigation and insurance agents, but has its roots in the most senior members of the Church’s structure.”
Before publication of the letter, the Church of England had issued a press release, which was also sent to all members of General Synod: Charity Commission complaint – message from Lead Safeguarding Bishop, Jonathan Gibbs. It includes the following:
…I am very aware of the current criticism of our core group process and some of this seems to be based on misunderstandings about what is involved. There has been confusion as a result of them being likened to core groups in the statutory sector which have a different purpose and follow different processes. Revised guidance will make it very clear they are more equivalent to a statutory strategy meeting (there will also be a change of name to help make this clear), where decisions are made collaboratively about what the next steps should be. This may include an independent investigation of allegations that have been made, including that senior members of clergy have not followed due safeguarding processes. As part of such investigations, those concerned are given details of any allegations and the opportunity to respond. These processes are confidential while they are taking place and therefore we cannot give public explanations of everything that is happening, which of course brings its own challenges.
It is evident that about three quarters of current national cases are about senior clergy failing to act rather than a direct allegation of abuse, but that can still have serious consequences. We always try to make that difference clear, and although the current guidance does not distinguish between those accused of abuse and those accused of failing to act properly on information received, the revised guidance will address this difference. Statistics about the number of cases involving senior clergy (currently around 30) can also be misleading as a significant number relate to concerns raised about the past conduct of now retired clergy…