Skip to main content

0800 917 1000 Open weekdays 8am-10pm, Saturday 10am-12pm

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Anglican Church Investigation Report

Contents

B.6.4: Further steps to be taken

25. The Church has said that it is committed to “leading the way forward and pioneering best practice in safeguarding, not just nationally but globally”.[1] Bishop Hancock told us that the Church is now “making significant strides towards this goal” with a number of recent initiatives.[2]

25.1. In July 2018, the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) published a report that identified that culture change was essential for the Church to be a place of safety, which was presented to General Synod.[3]

25.2. In November 2018, members of the National Safeguarding Panel (NSP) and the NSSG attended a joint workshop about barriers to cultural change, including clericalism, tribalism and a lack of transparency in the response to disclosures of abuse. It also examined potential solutions to these issues in order to achieve “openness, dialogue and shared responsibility at all levels”.[4]

25.3. The Church established an Education and Safeguarding Task Group involving dioceses and the Church of England Education Office. Its aim is to engage children in co-producing safeguarding material and to raise their awareness of protective behaviours in order to prevent abuse.

25.4. The Faith and Order Commission produced several resources designed to provide a theological as well as a practical response to safeguarding issues. In 2016, it published The Gospel, Sexual Abuse and the Church,[5] which aims to change the culture of the Church “so that safeguarding becomes fully embedded within it as an outworking of the gospel”.[6]

However, as Bishop Hancock recognised, it would be a “fallacy” to suggest that a wholesale culture shift has been achieved.

26. The Inquiry concluded that significant further work is required to achieve this.

26.1. Senior clergy must lead by example to drive a change to the Church’s culture. It is their responsibility to exhibit appropriate attitudes and behaviours, and encourage that in others. To date, SCIE audits suggest that “most” senior clergy have made efforts to change the culture of their dioceses, in order to embed safeguarding in all aspects of Church life.

26.2. The Church must adopt a culture of transparency, in which it is willing to recognise its past failures. Bishop Hancock described it as the Church having to “lament” for its past.[7]

26.3. The Church must recognise and address the ways and means utilised by perpetrators to groom and abuse children, as well as to justify their actions and to silence their victims. This should include theological arguments.

26.4. The Church and statutory agencies must work more closely with each other in responding to safeguarding concerns and allegations, while ensuring that information and resources are shared consistently across dioceses.

27. There remain significant challenges that the Church must address.

27.1. Bishops remain in a potentially “conflicted position”, having responsibility for both the oversight of safeguarding and the handling of complaints made against clergy in their dioceses, given their responsibility for ensuring pastoral support is available to alleged perpetrators.[8]

27.2. Despite considerable improvements to practices and procedures, they must be implemented “in every small part of the Church, from the province down to the most tiny rural parish”.[9] They must also be “reflected in the attitudes and daily actions of those working and worshipping at every level” in order to “produce real results”.[10]

Back to top