he letter, sent to all clergy, readers and safeguarding officers in the Diocese of Blackburn, came following the release of the recent publication of the reports by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on the Diocese of Chichester and the Peter Ball case.
That report found that The Church of England’s response to child sex abuse allegations was marked by secrecy and criticised former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey for supporting the disgraced former Bishop Peter Ball. Ball was jailed in 2015 for 32 months for offences against 18 teenagers and men between the 1970s and the 1990s.
Calling on all church leaders within the diocese to read the report and learn the lessons from it, the letter reads: “The church is one body, so whilst we may not ourselves have been directly involved in the abuse of children and vulnerable adults, we are fellow members of the body with those who have and so we are all called to repentance.
“The church should be the conscience of the nation and yet as the report shows, again and again we have placed the reputation of the institution above the needs of the vulnerable. In addition, when the contemporary church fails to respond properly to allegations from the past, this becomes a form of re-abuse, adding a fresh layer of hurt and harm to those whose lives are already damaged. Trite, formulaic apologies will not do. There has been grave sin within the church, and unless corporately we name, confess and deal with that sin, our mission to the nation is fatally undermined….”