His Honour the Reverend Rupert Bursell, one of the authors of the interim report on Safeguarding issues in the Diocese of Chichester, spoke to this week’s meeting in London of Bishops Council about concerns that affect the whole church.
He explained that background to investigations into historic cases of abuse in Chichester and said a further report will ultimately follow. He then outlined some of the unique factors which make Safeguarding a greater challenge in the Diocese in Europe although all practical policies are based on the agreed House of Bishops document “All God’s Children” he said.
Training of clergy and key church members is vital in Europe as in any diocese and for the first time there is a possibility of online training resources becoming available across the whole Church of England in coming months. The Diocesan Safeguarding Committee is also looking into other ways of taking training sessions around the diverse area we serve.
Rupert Bursell spoke about the difficulties of dealing with abusers in the church. He said “Paedophilia is an addiction like alcoholism and it is unlikely that anyone can be broken of it. Abusers may be female as well as male but are mostly male.”
“Although the church believes that an individual may be forgiven, because we have concerns for all our members it cannot be a case of forgive and forget.”
He also stressed the experience in the Chichester Diocese report which means that clergy can only be allowed to minister after stringent checks and it is not the prerogative of individual incumbents to allow unauthorized clergy to take an official part in public worship.
His wide ranging explanations and experience resulted in a series of questions and comments from members of Bishops Council and ensured that Safeguarding will continue to have a high role on future agendas as the Diocese in Europe, like its 43 sister dioceses makes sure that we operate to the highest standards.