English: Logo of the Church of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
MrC’s comments of ‘SAFEGUARDING: FOLLOW-UP TO THE CHICHESTER COMMISSARIES’ REPORTS FOREWORD BY THE ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY AND YORK’
Tomorrow there will be a discussion concerning the safeguarding procedures in relation to the abuse of children and vulnerable adults as it applies to the Church of England. It seems however to be concerned, not only with prevention but also with punishment.
Whilst I fully accept the rightness of ensuring that people who are considered to be a risk to children and vulnerable adults are not allowed to have unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults in church, I cannot see anywhere acknowledgement that such people may wish to repent and may wish to continue to have a sacramental relationship with God via the church.
The document fails to provide any guidance on how such people might be integrated into the Church.
The preoccupation about wearing vestments or clerical dress in this document is perhaps warranted, but the lack of pastoral guidance for the wicked is lamentable. The demonising of such people is a sad reflection on the church and the dehumanisation of perpetrators is unhelpful. They are reduced to the scathing reference; ‘these people’.
“The sexual and physical abuse that has been inflicted by these people on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame for years to come.” (my emphasis)
Be assured, I am not condoning any form of abuse, simply asking for a less vehement response in dealing with those who are responsible for ‘individual wickedness’. We have a responsibility to ‘deal’ with them in their entirety, as sinners and as penitents.
It is good to hear the Archbishops citing Christ in their letter…
“All contemporary safeguarding policies and procedures in the Church should be a response to what we learn and see in Jesus himself… In witness to this faith and to our sense of obligation to children who are brought to Jesus through the care of the Christian community, the Church should set for itself the highest standards of care available to our society today”
Yet we also know that ‘what we learn and see in Jesus himself’ includes the grace of forgiveness and a responsibility to care for all who are outcast.
I also feel that the Archbishops should acknowledge that some abusers are themselves victims of abuse and may need special care by the church and church authorities for that very reason. To cast them out may be to compound the very real harm they also live with. I say this without any intention whatsoever of diminishing the guilt of the sinner nor seeking any action that would jeopardise a child or vulnerable adult.. or anyone else for that matter. The daily rape by my Uncle and the chilling threats over many weeks when I was aged 7 haunt me every day. I feel utterly desolate without the fellowship of my church and some acknowledgement of my repentance and desire to make some reperation. My voice is the voice of a sinner, yes and i will always have that before me, but there is also the voice of the child within me, a voice that today I recognise more clearly thanks to my friends, both in Synod and online. I could not cry out then, but i can today.
I would like the Archbishops to listen to me also when they say…
“It is right, therefore, that the General Synod should receive an account of the actions that the House and the Council have put in hand, have an opportunity to comment on the next steps, and be able to identify with the apology that we wish to offer unreservedly for the failure of the Church of England’s systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused.” (my emphasis)
I shall not be at Synod this year but I hope that the brave may find something here to speak about.
In His service MrC