Updated The former archbishop of York, the Most Rev. David Hope, was accused Friday of covering up child abuse by a Church of England clergyman who has since died.
The accusations against the late Very Rev. Robert Waddington are the result of a joint investigation by the Times of London and The Australian newspaper, based in Sydney.
The Times alleges that Waddington, who died in 2007 from cancer, abused choirboys and school children, and that the former archbishop of York, David Hope, failed to report the abuse claims to police or child protection authorities after he was made aware of them in 1999 and 2003.
The former archbishop, who was made Lord Hope after he stood down in 2005, said he had followed the legal requirements of the time.
Archbishop Hope has responded, according to the BBC:
Lord Hope – who was Archbishop of York from 1995 to 2005 – said the Church’s 1999 child protection policy stated there was “no automatic legal obligation on the Church to refer allegations by adults to the police or social services”.
He said the policy also stated: “However, it is essential to consider whether children may still be at risk from the abuser or alleged abuser and, if so, to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to safeguard them, and these will involve reporting the matter to the social services or the police.”
Lord Hope’s statement added that, “in considering whether children would be at risk from Robert Waddington, I decided under these guidelines that this would not be the case given his serious ill health following cancer surgery”.
“The following year I revoked Robert Waddington’s permission to officiate. He died two years later,” he added.
Hope’s statement indicates that the policy has changed since he was made aware of this in 1999.
He said the 1999 child protection policy had since been revised “in line with current understanding, as is the case in many other public organisations with a duty of care”.
He added: “I am deeply aware of the pain caused to any victim of child abuse, especially at the hands of a trustworthy person within the church.
“I do encourage any person who believes they have been a victim of abuse to come forward and to inform the police.”
Waddington, once dean of Manchester Cathedral, is accused in the Times of grooming and abusing Eli Ward, who was an 11-year-old choir boy when he first met the clergyman in 1984.
Ward, now 40, told the newspaper the abuse lasted through his teenage years and he was only now starting to come to terms with it.
Claims of abuse at the hands of Waddington have also been made by pupils at a residential school in Queensland, Australia, where he was headmaster from 1961 to 1970, according to the Times.
The current Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, is aware of the charges but is withholding comment at this time. And the Bishop in charge of safeguarding policies in the Church of England spoke of the impact of more news of this kind.
A spokesman for the office of the Archbishop of York, currently Dr John Sentamu, said he understood that a personal injury claim had been sent to the the dean and chapter of Manchester cathedral, which had refered the matter to its own insurers and solicitors. “The archbishop has not seen that letter of claim. In light of the above, it would not be appropriate at this time for the archbishop to respond to these questions,” the spokedDiocese of Manchester said it was aware of the abuse allegations and was “working co-operatively with the parties concerned”.
The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said the church now had robust child protection policies in place.
He also acknowledged that in the past procedures had fallen short of protecting abuse victims.
“As a church we will always apologise for past systems that let down the vulnerable and offer support to anyone whose life has been affected. We would encourage anyone who has any safeguarding concerns within a church context to come forward with the assurance they will be listened to.”