CofE apologizes for clergy sex abuse. Victims call for inquiry.

The Independent and other media outlets have reports today on the Church of England’s apology to people who were sexually abused by their clergy.

At the meeting on Sunday, the Rt Rev [Paul] Butler [Bishop of Southwell and chair of the Church National Safeguarding Committee] said for “far too long” the Church of England, notably those in senior positions, had either disbelieved the stories of victims, believed them but tried to hide the truth away or hoped that by removing an offender the problem would go away.

“We can make all the excuses that we like about society being different in previous decades – or our understanding of abuse being so much better,” he said.

“We can note that our policies were different then and we followed those policies. But these take nothing away from the fact that we failed to listen properly, we did not acknowledge the wrong done, and we protected the institution at the expense of the person abused.”

He added: “We failed big time, we can do nothing other than confess our sin, repent and commit ourselves to being different in the years ahead.”

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that the victims have rejected the apology “and called for an independent public inquiry to ensure abusers are held to account and better safeguards put in place.” In a statement, the Stop Church Child Abuse organization said:

“Once such an inquiry has reported, once individual cases have been acknowledged, and once the church has begun how to learn to respond appropriately, maybe then the apologies, general as well as to individuals and their families, will carry some meaning.”

The Church of England’s own coverage of the debate is here. It includes the text of Butler’s speech.

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