Church’s safe­guard­ing pro­ce­dures un­der re­view

THE CHURCH’S in­surer, Ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal (EIG), was this week fac­ing al­le­ga­tions that it had ad­vised bish­ops to sever ties with a vic­tim of cler­i­cal sex­ual abuse in or­der ‘to pro­tect the Angli­can Church’.

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Con­clu­sions to the in­de­pen­dent El­liott re­view, com­mis­sioned in Septem­ber 2015, said that the vic­tim had made sev­eral at­tempts to se­cure help from the Church, but con­cluded that the prac­tice in this case ‘falls short’. In this case in ques­tion a dis­clo­sure of al­leged abuse had been made sev­eral times by the vic­tim.

“The re­viewer holds the main pol­icy doc­u­ment for the Church in high re­gard. Un­for­tu­nately, prac­tice in this case does not com­ply with what is con­tained in this pol­icy. It falls short of it in that it did not place the pas­toral needs of the sur­vivor in a po­si­tion of pri­or­ity. Fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests were al­lowed to im­pact prac­tice,” the re­port states.

The in­de­pen­dent re­view found that the vic­tim made a le­gal claim for com­pen­sa­tion but that the let­ter was not passed on to Lam­beth Palace. The re­view noted that the Church hi­er­ar­chy felt ‘shack­led by its ad­vis­ers with re­gard to fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tion’.

The con­clu­sion also notes that the cur­rent safe­guard­ing struc­ture of the Church does not al­low for a body that is out­side of the dio­cese but within the Church to in­ter­vene and seek change where this is con­sid­ered nec­es­sary.

The con­clu­sions also note that the re­view was com­mis­sioned by the Church it­self.

An EIG spokesman said that the ad­vice given to the vic­tim ‘that com­mu­ni­ca­tions about the claim had to be made through his lawyer’, “was not in­tended to de­flect the Church from any wish or in­ten­tion to pro­vide di­rect pas­toral or coun­selling care.”

The re­port puts for­ward a se­ries of 11 rec­om­men­da­tions. Among these are that the Church should seek to cre­ate writ­ten-down guid­ance with re­gard to how it will re­spond to claims for com­pen­sa­tion from sur­vivors and that em­pha­sis should be placed on en­sur­ing that fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions are not given a pri­or­ity that con­flicts with the pas­toral aims of the Church when en­gag­ing with sur­vivors of abuse.

The re­port also rec­om­mends that the Na­tional Safe­guard­ing Team should be given the power and re­spon­si­bil­ity to mon­i­tor prac­tice and to in­ter­vene where it is thought nec­es­sary to do so. It can­not do this if it is lim­ited to an ad­vi­sory role alone.

“The re­viewer would be­lieve that this can be achieved with­out di­min­ish­ing the au­thor­ity of the bishop in their dio­cese if care­fully con­structed and ap­proached as part of the struc­ture of the Church as a whole body”.

The Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mul­lally, who re­ceived the re­port, is­sued a state­ment say­ing: “This re­port has pub­lished a se­ries of im­por­tant rec­om­men­da­tions. The Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury has seen these rec­om­men­da­tions and will en­sure they are im­ple­mented as quickly as pos­si­ble”.

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