Safer churches

The Church of England - - ENGLAND -

TWO bish­ops last week at­tracted their share of op­pro­brium and sup­port. In one case, re­tired Bishop Wal­lace Benn’s per­ceived short­com­ings were to do with the al­leged sin of omis­sion.

He stood ac­cused of fail­ing to report se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse to the po­lice. His de­fence was that he fol­lowed both the let­ter and spirit of the law in re­port­ing se­ri­ous mat­ters to the dioce­san child pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer. By im­pli­ca­tion the fault lay with dioce­san staff rather than dioce­san lead­er­ship.

Dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings cleared him of any wrong­do­ing. But it has to be said that ques­tions re­main about the fact that fol­low­ing cor­rect pro­ce­dures does not nec­es­sar­ily guar­an­tee ei­ther the safety of chil­dren or the open­ness and trans­parency that we should ex­pect in such se­ri­ous mat­ters.

As in the case of Jimmy Sav­ile and the BBC, it seems that se­nior staff are so keen to fol­low the cor­rect lines of accountability that they end up de­hu­man­is­ing the very process which is sup­posed to pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble of hu­mans - chil­dren. Where was the nat­u­ral cu­rios­ity that should have led se­nior BBC staff and se­nior Dioce­san lead­er­ship to ask ques­tions about the very ‘process’ they were serv­ing?

I have ab­so­lutely no doubt that as a

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