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Abuse spotlight turns to Church of England

Abuse spotlight turns to Church of England

At the same time that a memo exposing the process of selection of bishops has turned the Church of England on its ear, two formal reports of the church’s bishop’s failings in dealing with child abuse by priests has been issued.


Letters in 1966 between the Archbishop of Canterbury and a bishop show Lambeth Palace agreed that convicted paedophile Roy Cotton should be ordained.

In one letter, Lambeth Palace suggested that Cotton should be placed in a “carefully selected parish”. Lambeth Palace said robust safeguarding policies had been in place since 1995.

On Wednesday, the Church-commissioned report by Baroness Butler-Sloss criticised both senior clergy and Sussex Police over how they dealt with historical claims of abuse by Cotton and Pritchard.

In the report, she said across the diocese “and probably in many other dioceses” there had been “a lack of understanding of the seriousness of historic child abuse”.

She said the victims’ claims were not taken seriously.

The Bishop of Chichester later apologised, while Sussex Police issued a statement saying the force had always taken claims of sexual abuse very seriously.

The retired senior judge also said she believed Roy Cotton had at least 10 victims.

More from yesterday,

In a statement, the Rt Rev John Hind, said: “I feel deep and profound sorrow for the pain caused to all victims and for the institutional failings of the Church in this Diocese.” He added: “The report has now been completed, and her conclusions and recommendations are in line with what we are now doing and will continue to build on.”

In the report, she said across the diocese “and probably in many other dioceses” there had been “a lack of understanding of the seriousness of historic child abuse”.

Senior clergy, including bishops, were slow to act on information available to them and to assess the potential risk to children in the diocese, she added. She said there was inadequate communication between senior clergy and child protection advisors in the diocese, and there was “seriously inadequate record keeping”.

The Bishop of Chichester said he was “ashamed on behalf of the church community.”

The Butler-Sloss report commissioned by the diocese is here.

The Meeks report was online brief, but taken down temporarily due to privacy concerns.


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