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Justin Welby: Child sex abuse by priests will 'destroy the Church' if it continues

Justin Welby: Child sex abuse by priests will 'destroy the Church' if it continues
Justin Welby is thought to be the first sitting Archbishop of Canterbury to be summoned to give evidence to a public inquiry.

By Harry Farley
CHRISTIAN TODAY
https://www.christiantoday.com/
March 21, 2018

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned child sex abuse by priests would 'destroy the Church' if it continued.

Justin Welby said the Church of England's current safeguarding powers to protect children 'probably do need re-looking at' as he gave evidence to the independent inquiry into child sex abuse.

Speaking in trenchant terms on the fifth anniversary of his enthronement as archbishop, Welby warned those who failed to protect children would 'answer on the day of judgement for that'.

'That probably doesn't mean much to some people here,' he told the inquiry. 'But for me I think about that every day.'

He added: 'Those who do them [children] harm would do better to have a millstone put around their neck and thrown in to the sea rather than face the judgement that God will give them.

'The reputation of the church, the reputation of a person, the reputation of an institution, is as nothing compared to the call to obey God in Jesus Christ in the way we love and care for people.

'Everything that goes against that will, in the end, destroy the Church.'

Welby is thought to be the first sitting archbishop of Canterbury summoned before a public inquiry. He is one of 50 witnesses to give evidence, either written or in person. The inquiry is coming to the end of three weeks of hearings into how the diocese of Chichester responded to allegations of child sex abuse as a case study for the wider Church of England.

Fiona Scolding QC, lead counsel to the inquiry, asked Welby what he could do to stop the 'abuse of power that we have seen parading through these doors' over the last three weeks of hearings.

Welby said all clergy and bishops were now given training in safeguarding to try and 'remove the deference and the "I'm God's gift to the Church" approach to life.'

He told the inquiry: 'Nobody can say it is not my fault.

'It is so absurd if you have heard about a problem but say "Oh well it is someone else's job to report it".

'That is not an acceptable human response let along a leadership response. If you know a child is being abused not to report it is simply wrong for every human being.'

Welby said that abusers should 'never be trusted again' as he repeated calls for an overall culture change in the Church.

'The Bible is utterly, brutally blunt about the difference between forgiveness and the consequences of sin,' he said, adding: 'If you have abused and repent genuinely, you should still go to prison.'

'Where there is something done wrong, there will be consequences,' he said.

'We know abusive behaviour tends to repeat. If someone has been an abuser, they can never be trusted again. You will never take a chance on them again.'

On the culture change needed in the Church, Welby said: 'We have to get to the point where if anything is seen that is untoward, people say this isn't right and I'm going to do something about it.'

Welby was also asked whether the Church's attitude to women's ordination and homosexuality had affected it's approach to safeguarding.

'I have learnt to be ashamed again of the Church,' he said after a lengthy pause.

'You can't read the transcripts, you can't read the evidence statements, without being moved. Or at least you shouldn't be able to.

'The Church does wonderful, wonderful things you know across the country. The most stressful job in the church is to be a parish priest and to be good parish priest. And that a minority, a small minority, have betrayed that is horrifying.

He added: 'I have seen the insanity of clericalism and of a deferential culture and how we have to struggle against that.

'All institutions do it. But we are not all institutions. We are the Church.'

He went on: 'You can apologise and apologise to survivors. I would want to put on record again how, I don't know how to express it adequately, how appalled I am and how ashamed I am of the Church for what it did to those survivors who are coping with this.

'Apologies are fine but we have got to find ways of making it different and we have go to do it as quickly as we can. And that is top of my priority list.'

*****

Justin Welby: sexual abusers can never be trusted again
Archbishop of Canterbury tells inquiry even those who repent should not get second chance
Welby defended his decision to make public an allegation of abuse against Bishop George Bell

By Harriet Sherwood
https://www.theguardian.com/
March 21, 2018

People who sexually abuse children or vulnerable adults can never be trusted again even if they genuinely repent, the archbishop of Canterbury has told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

"We know abusive behaviour tends to repeat. If someone has been an abuser, they can never be trusted again. You will never take a chance on them again," Justin Welby said.

The Bible was "utterly, brutally blunt about the difference between forgiveness and the consequences of sin. Where there is something done wrong, there will be consequences," he said.

"If you have abused and repent genuinely, you should still go to prison," he added.

Welby was giving evidence on the last day of witness testimony in three weeks of hearings into sexual abuse in the Church of England, focusing on the diocese of Chichester in West Sussex.

Speaking on the fifth anniversary of his installation as archbishop, and amid bouts of sustained coughing due to a heavy cold, Welby said cultural change was the biggest challenge facing the church with regard to abuse.

"We have to get to the point where if anything is seen that is untoward, people say this isn't right and I'm going to do something about it." The church was in the process of training about 30,000 parish safeguarding officers, he said. "It's at parish level that we will change everything."

But he also stressed it was compulsory for bishops to undergo training, and that he had said he would not consecrate anyone as a bishop who had not been trained in safeguarding issues.

Welby said he was challenging a culture of "clericalism", in which excessive deference was shown to senior church figures, which he described as "insanity".

Bishops and archbishops were now subject to performance reviews, he said. Welby disclosed that he was in the midst of such a review, in which 43 colleagues had been invited to comment on his performance.

He also said psychosocial or psychometric assessments should be deployed when selecting people for ordination: "If it can be demonstrated that [such tests] will be helpful in identifying pathologies that are likely to lead to behaviours, then it is worth doing."

Abuse of power lay at the heart of sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse, "and that's what you want to pick up on", he said.

The C of E was spending about £7m a year on safeguarding but needed to ensure it was spent wisely, Welby said. He acknowledged that the church's data on abuse was not good enough.

The archbishop defended the decision to make public an allegation of abuse against George Bell, the former bishop of Chichester who died in 1958, and who had been considered a hero within the church.

"The greatest tragedy of all these cases is that people have trusted those who were titanic figures and then found they were not worthy of that trust," he said. "Survivors must be treated as if of equal value as the person being accused of abuse."

Asked by Fiona Scolding QC, the lead counsel to the inquiry, if gender imbalance in church leadership had been a factor in abuse and cover-up, Welby said: "The facts on the ground are changing quite rapidly, but the culture is lagging."

He said that since the C of E had permitted female bishops in 2014, just over half of appointments made had been women, but it was clear from social media "there is still a level of misogyny. There is a very large scale imbalance still."

Asked what he had learned from the past three weeks of hearings, Welby said: "I have learned to be ashamed again of the church. You can't read the transcripts and evidence statements without being moved."

The church did "wonderful, extraordinary things" in the country, he said. "The most stressful job is to be a good parish priest and that a small minority have betrayed that is horrifying."

Earlier in the hearings, which are taking place at the Pocock Street tribunal hearing centre in London, the former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey denied any recollection of abuse allegations relating to the diocese of Chichester during his tenure.

Carey, who was archbishop from 1991 to 2002, was asked to resign as an honorary assistant bishop by Welby last year after an independent report said senior figures in the C of E colluded over a 20-year period with the disgraced former bishop of Lewes Peter Ball, who was jailed for sexual abuse in 2015.

In a two-paragraph witness statement submitted to the inquiry, read out last Friday, Carey said: "I have no present recollection of being made aware of difficulties in the diocese of Chichester relating to safeguarding and responding to child sexual abuse while I was archbishop of Canterbury."

He added it was "quite possible" that correspondence sent to Lambeth Palace had not reached him.

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