The Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner has stated that he is “profoundly ashamed” that the Sussex church has failed to protect children from abuse. Dr Warner’s comments come after a recent report by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office discovered what was described as a “profoundly negative culture” within the Diocese of Chichester, and a series of “fresh and disturbing” aspects of the way abuse cases were handled; leading to two decades of child protection failures.
Dr Warner, who has led the Diocese since May this year, commented that there was “dysfunctionality” in the structure of the Diocese of Chichester and that the organisation has a duty to take responsibility for failing to protect those in its care.
New measures, including the overseeing of clergy appointments and child protection matters by Lambeth Palace, have been introduced; leading Dr Warner went on to comment that children are “safer now than they ever have been’ in the Diocese.
The report by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams’s office is certainly long overdue. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the Church of England for more than a century. Baroness Butler-Sloss concluded last May that there had been “a lack of understanding of the seriousness of historic child abuse”. The Church of England had appointed her to examine how the senior clergy dealt with historical claims of abuse. Butler-Sloss looked at the cases of Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard, who abused children in the 1970s and 1980s. This year three former Church of England priests in the diocese have also been charged with sexual offences against children.
The family home or the church is often seen as protective environment but the reality is that abuse can take place anywhere. Here at Farleys we have a department specialising in helping victims of abuse claim compensation. We are currently representing a number of clients who have been abused by members of the clergy.