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Archibishop Visitation Report Chichester

Archibishop Visitation Report Chichester

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Published by Natasha Phillips
Interim Report on the Allegations of Sexual Child Abuse within the Diocese of Chichester
Interim Report on the Allegations of Sexual Child Abuse within the Diocese of Chichester

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Published by: Natasha Phillips on May 07, 2013
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10/07/2013

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INTERIM REPORT OF THE COMMISSARIES APPOINTED BY THE ARCHBISHOP OFCANTERBURY IN RELATION TO A VISITATION UPON THE DIOCESE OFCHICHESTER Your Grace,FOREWORD:St Luke tells us that the people brought infants to Jesus that he might touch them. (
St  Luke
18:15ff). When his disciples tried to stop this practice Jesus called for the childrensaying,
„Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as thes
e the
Kingdom of God belongs.‟
 Not only did Jesus encourage children to come to him, not only did he offer love throughtouching them, but they were manifestly safe in his company.All contemporary safeguarding policies and procedures in the Church should be aresponse to what we learn and see in Jesus himself. Children are meant to be safe in the careand company of the Christian Church. In witness to this faith and to our sense of obligationto children who are brought to Jesus through the life of the Christian community, the Churchshould set for itself the highest standards of care available to our society today. If that is trueespecially in relation to children, it ought also to be true for the care we offer to some of themost vulnerable adults in the modern world (see
St James
1:27).It has been particularly distressing to us to have met people whose lives have beendeeply wounded by the abuse they have suffered at the hands of clergy and of lay peopleholding positions of responsibility in the Church. Sadly, these wounds often refuse to heal.Even when they do heal scars remains as evidence of the awfulness of what happened tothem. However deep and sincere the apologies are for such abuse by the ministers of theChurch they cannot take away from the wickedness and shamefulness of what has happenedto those who were abused.
 
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Our Report is dedicated to them. In fulfilling our duty to the Archbishop of Canterbury to try and help the diocese of Chichester move away from an appalling history inthese matters to a future in which it can with good conscience bear witness to its obedience toJesus
example and teaching we are seeking to ensure that children and all vulnerable adultsare both safe and secure when in the company of the Church.It is clear to us that many lives have been blighted. Some have sought justice throughthe courts of law. Clergy have gone to prison for their abuse of children. We are clear thatthose who have sought justice through the courts are but the tip of the iceberg. We have alsoencountered, and heard, of the many whose stories are entirely believable but who (for whatever reason) have not been able to find justice through such public means.All of this is made worse by the reality that the authorities in the diocese were veryslow to recognise what was happening and did not act with the rigour and expedition vital toall safeguarding work. A whole series of investigations and reports across nearly two decades bears witness to a profoundly unhelpful and negative culture in parts of the diocese that led toits failure to take the action needed. Altho
ugh some of this is „historic‟ _ 
a term which isunacceptable to some victims
(or “survivors”)
for whom the reality of the wounds of abuseare always present _ clergy engaged in behaviours that ought to have raised concerns, andtheir files contained histories, that should have raised alarm bells in the minds of the senior leadership of the diocese.Since our appointment and engagement with this story fresh and disturbing aspects of the diocese
‟s safeguarding failures keep rising to the surface. Insufficient action has taken
 place following the Historic Cases Review. Fresh allegations have been made and are being pursued by the relevant authorities and new people are coming forward to tell the sad story of their own abuse at the hands of clergy and other people in positions of authority in theChurch. It is clear that the Church in this diocese has lost the respect of many of those in the public services who carry duties in law to ensure proper safeguarding of children andvulnerable adults.Our appointment by the Archbishop of Canterbury _ the first such appointment of Commissaries for over 100 years _ is evidence of the deep concern held in the Church of England for this diocese and its failure properly to protect children in its care.
 
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In calling for a radical change of culture in the diocese _ one in which the sanctity,dignity and well being of children and vulnerable adults is openly and transparently at itsheart _ a fresh commitment of obedience to the call of Christ is necessary to enable childrento come to him. If the culture is Christian the policy of the diocese needs to be highly professional in setting standards of excellence to which the whole diocese is 100%committed. That commitment will lead to practice within the leadership of the diocese, aswell as its parishes and networks, which will encourage people to believe that children brought to the Church will find the care and safety evidenced in Jes
us‟ own ministry to
children and their families.VISITATION:We were appointed on the 21
st
December 2011 as commissaries for a visitation of theDiocese of Chichester. Our mandate, however, is limited in scope to:(i)
 
examining progress made in implementation of and actions taken upon theDiocesan Safeguarding Guidelines (
The Care and Protection of Children,2009
), the current House of Bishops‟ Guidelines (
 Protecting All God’s
Children, 2010
) and the recommendations made by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss in her report dated 19
th
May 2011; and(ii)
 
making such further recommendations as may appear necessary andexpedient
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.It follows from this mandate that it has not been part of our duty to form any judgment uponany matter (including the previous history of safeguarding within the diocese) save in so far as:a)
 
that matter or history gives a context to, or sheds light upon, the matters thatare within our mandate; and b)
 
new matters of a historical nature which have arisen since our appointmentand which may impinge upon the present state of safeguarding within thediocese.In particular, it is not part of our remit to enquire into, or pass judgment upon, any mattersthat are the subject of a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.
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For a summary of our recommendations see Appendix IV.

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