THOSE of us who once bore the responsibilities that now rest on the shoulders of our successors will be praying for them as they struggle with the issues raised by the independent review of the Peter Ball case, chaired by Dame Moira Gibb….
They have not only to respond to the individuals who rightly expect that there will be an outpouring of compassion, repentance, and care. Their responsibilities are made the graver because this report illuminates a culture: one in which we, their predecessors, were in our time complicit, and for which, therefore, we remain accountable. Our prayers for all who bear these responsibilities now need to be characterised by self-examination, and, in particular, examination of the part that we played in forming the communal life of the Church.
Survivors do not really trust that the Church of England is capable of the depth of change that is needed, and they ask that we entrust safeguarding issues to some external body — a request as understandable as it is shocking. Has the Church really come to a point where it has to rely on the wisdom of others to make it a safe place for its vulnerable and its children? It seems so.
It seems that we — not just the individuals who are named, but all who have ever played a part in the formation of this Church’s culture — have to ask ourselves how this culture of abuse and cover-up ever came to be. Those who are the victims and survivors of it imagine, plausibly enough, that we must have sensed the culture within which we were operating, and which we challenged too little, if at all. What they are rightly asking is how we failed to name that culture and give to the remedying of it our fullest energy of heart and mind.