Menu

Safeguarding: IICSA

 

We address this letter first and foremost to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, and share it, as an open letter with everyone in the Diocese.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) yesterday published its Investigation Report on the Church of England and the Church in Wales.

Our words today cannot express deeply enough our sorrow and sadness that you have suffered abuse. We are truly sorry that the publication of this Report may itself cause renewed pain for you. We do not claim to understand the depth of your hurt, pain and suffering. We do not doubt the sense of injustice you are wholly entitled to feel at the failure of the Church to listen, respond or act. Child sexual abuse is a disfiguring violation of human dignity. Wherever abuse concerns Church Officers, you have been betrayed by their actions as perpetrators of this abuse. The IICSA Report states emphatically that, as an organisation, the Church has failed to care for you.

We offer you today our unqualified apologies.

Some victims and survivors have disclosed the abuse they have suffered. Others continue to suffer in silence and find their life situations a burden that must be unimaginably hard to bear. It has been possible for some to be able to rebuild shattered lives. But we recognise that for all who have suffered abuse, the memory of lived experience is lifelong, and that survivors may feel a need to access support at any point.

We assure you of this, as we lead and pastor in the Diocese in Europe:

We will listen. We will respond. We will act.

We cannot truly be Church in the Spirit of Christ if we are not Safe Church.

We will listen. If you wish to report abuse in the past by Church Officers in the Diocese in Europe, or if you wish to report any concern regarding abuse in our Diocese that may be happening now, we urge you to be in touch with us. The length of time since reported abuse is no barrier – we want to hear from you. Please be assured also that we are ready to receive any reports of child abuse, wherever they may have been committed.

We will respond. We will offer you the support you need in the Diocese. Our Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor and her team are ready to help you, providing advice in the strictest confidence. Safe Spaces is a free, national support service independently run by Victim Support and was launched last week. It provides a confidential, personal and safe space for anyone who has been abused through their relationship with the Church of England. The national Church has also approved a proposed plan for an interim pilot support scheme for survivors and is preparing to put in place a reparations fund for victims and survivors of abuse perpetrated by Church Officers.

In the Diocese, we are engaged currently in recruiting more senior independent members on our Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Committee. We are working to ensure everyone will know how and where to access appropriate local support and services available, as well as from our Safeguarding team. We will be working with chaplaincies on gathering this information. We will also assess future safeguarding training needs in the diocese, specifically to support better the needs of victims and survivors. We will work as swiftly as we possibly can in the Diocese to provide consolidated guidance on these areas.

We will act. The Diocese has taken decisive action in previous cases of abuse against children by Church Officers, following Diocesan Safeguarding Policy, and including fullest co-operation with police and law enforcement authorities in and beyond this Diocese. There have been cases of criminal conviction. We will continue to pursue all investigations regarding cases in the Diocese, ensuring due process in the Diocese is followed to its conclusion.

In the Gospel according to Luke, Chapter 12:2 Jesus says, “there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”

We pray and hope fervently that all who are suffering from the impact of abuse will feel able and guided to walk into Christ’s light, by disclosing what has happened to you.

IICSA’s Investigation Report on the Church of England reveals a situation that requires not just that we respond well, but that we respond in the best possible way to you, in an effort to bring some measure of support and comfort to you who have endured the worst early life experiences.

Bishop Robert Innes      Bishop David Hamid

Diocesan Bishop              Suffragan Bishop