For decades, the Church of England repeatedly and seriously failed to respond to allegations of child sex abuse made against clerics and churchpeople, the official abuse inquiry has concluded.
It also failed to implement safeguarding structures to protect children and vulnerable adults who “should have been safe” under its care.
These conclusions are included in the report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), Anglican Church Case Studies: the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against Peter Ball, published on Thursday.
The 252-page report summarises the thousands of documents, witness statements, and oral evidence given during two public hearings in London in March and July 2018. The hearings used the diocese, and the case of the disgraced former Bishop of Lewes, Peter Ball, as case studies to examine the extent to which the Church of England as a whole failed to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse over several decades.
In both the diocese and the wider Church, the report states: “The responses to child sexual abuse were marked by secrecy, prevarication, avoidance of reporting alleged crimes to the authorities and a failure to take professional advice.”
This includes the Church’s “unwavering support of Peter Ball” during the Gloucestershire Police investigation (allegations about Ball came to light when he was translated to from Lewes to Gloucester), and its failure afterwards to “recognise or acknowledge the seriousness” of Ball’s misconduct.
The report comments specifically on the evidence given by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, on the case, whose response is described as “weak”. His “compassion” towards Ball did not extend to the victims, it says.
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