Monday, 26 June 2017

Oh no - Not another church sex scandal!

The release of the report 'An abuse of faith' makes for eighty-one pages of (largely) uncomfortable reading and will undoubtedly lead us into the public spotlight and open us up to vilification from many. Although relating to what many are referring to as 'historic', the conversations will be happening in the 'now ' and needs an understanding of the facts and the way forward - accentuating positives and learning from the errors - that this sad situation presents.

To this end, may I suggest that take some time to read the report (you can find it by clicking here )?

Following Ball's conviction in 2015 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned an independent inquiry which was chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, who in the foreword of the report writes:

"This report considers the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball, a bishop of the Church of England who abused many boys and men over a period of twenty years or more. That is shocking in itself but is compounded by the failure of the Church to respond appropriately to his misconduct, again over a period of many years. Ball's priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused. The Church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others.

We were asked to consider changes necessary to ensure that safeguarding in the Church is of the highest possible standard. The Church has made significant progress in recent years in its understanding of abuse. We have no doubt that the Church has a genuine commitment to meeting its responsibilities towards the victims of abuse. However we can see how difficult it is to make change across the complex structures of the Church. Progress has been slow and continuing, faster improvement is still required. It is the leadership of the Archbishops and Bishops which will determine whether change is effective."

The report has eleven recommendations for the Church focusing on a range of issues including:
i.   focusing on getting the right support in place for survivors, 
ii.  the leadership of bishops, 
iii.  strengthening guidance, 
iv.  reviewing the Archbishops' Lists, and
v.   the effectiveness of our disciplinary measures with regards to safeguarding related cases."

Then David, staff in hand, chose five smooth stones* from the stream, 
put them in his shepherd's bag and, sling in his hand, 
approached the enemy.

This statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby is, I think, rather helpful:

"Abuse of Faith makes harrowing reading: the Church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward. This is inexcusable and shocking behaviour and although Dame Moira notes that most of the events took place many years ago,  and does not think that the Church now would conduct itself in the ways described we can never be complacent, we must learn lessons. I fully endorse the recommendations in the report and will ensure that the House of Bishops addresses how we can implement these as soon as possible, working with the National Safeguarding Team. For the survivors who were brave enough to share their story and bring Peter Ball to justice, I once again offer an unreserved apology. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systemic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades."  


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