The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, has today published its overarching investigation report into the Anglican Church in England and Wales, based on the main public hearing in July 2019.
It focuses on common themes and issues identified in all three hearings, which included the case studies into Bishop Peter Ball and the Diocese of Chichester, both held in 2018.
The 154-page report makes eight principal recommendations about a range of issues including the Church’s response to victims and survivors.
The Bishop of Chester, Mark Tanner, issued this statement following the publication:
"I welcome this report today. I am grateful to the Inquiry for their diligent work and to the victims who bravely gave evidence to assist the IICSA Panel. Though it may be painful for us to read, it is vital that we do. We must never lose sight of the harm that has been caused and recognise that for many their pain is lifelong. We must respond well and we must care for survivors of such abuse. I wholeheartedly support Bishop Jonathan in the work he has been leading in this regard. I am grateful, too, for the many examples of good practice we already have in the Church. It is not just a requirement but this report presents an opportunity for us to learn together and continue to improve our understanding and practice so that we can become the Christ-shaped church we are called to be: beacons of light, life, and hope for all, genuinely safe space for all in our society.
"My thoughts and prayers today, though, are with those who have survived abuse in any context, but especially those whose abuse has taken place within the Church. I anticipate today will be difficult for you but in your pain and isolation I assure you I am with you in prayer."
The Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, and Melissa Caslake, the Church’s national director of safeguarding issued the following statement:
The report makes shocking reading and while apologies will never take away the effects of abuse on victims and survivors, we today want to express our shame about the events that have made those apologies necessary. The whole Church must learn lessons from this Inquiry.
Our main focus in response must be recognising the distress caused to victims and survivors by the Church’s failures in safeguarding. We wholeheartedly endorse the importance of the report’s recommendations for improving our support for victims and survivors, to which we are completely committed.
We note the recommendation regarding the structure of safeguarding and the Church is committed to looking at how best to implement greater independent oversight. There are also important recommendations regarding revision of the Clergy Discipline Measure, information sharing between
Churches and statutory partners, and external auditing of the Church’s safeguarding work.
As we said in our final submission to IICSA, despite the important steps that it has taken, the Church still has much more work to do to get safeguarding right.
While there has been some improvement in recent years, we wholeheartedly regret that in some areas, most importantly support for victims and survivors, progress has been too slow.
The motion unanimously passed at the February sessions of the General Synod shows our commitment to a more fully victim and survivor centred approach including arrangements for redress, which are already underway.
We thank the Inquiry for its in-depth work over the past five years and we note that there will be further proposals on the important areas of mandatory reporting and the Seal of the Confessional.
We will now study the recommendations published today, with a full response to be released in the coming weeks.
We acknowledge how difficult reading this report may be, particularly for victims, survivors and those close to them.
Are you affected by this news?
If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the publication of this report and want to talk to someone independently please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also other support services available.
Alternatively, you may contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser in the Diocese of Chester, via email or phone: 07703 800031