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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child protection in religious organisations and settings Investigation Report

Contents

C.10: Forgiveness

61. The need to forgive is central to the teachings and practices of many religious organisations. Pressure may be placed on victims and survivors to forgive their abusers, which may operate as a significant barrier to the disclosure of abuse. Dr Oakley described that:

“forgiveness is a tenet of many faiths, but where that becomes something where you cannot speak out because you need to forgive, that can be hugely difficult in people telling their stories.”[1]

62. Placing pressure on individuals to forgive may also prevent any disclosures from being properly dealt with. Ms Hirst told us that, when people within the Jesus Fellowship Church did disclose, there was a “cycle of forgiveness” in which victims were “told to forgive, told to pray or told it was God’s will or God alone would judge”.[2] If there was a proven allegation, the perpetrator was forgiven and “they would say, well, it’s repentance, reconciliation” and convicted perpetrators would be welcomed back into the Church and into another leadership role.[3]

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