When you end up apologising to both the Accused and the Complainant for your institutional incompetence, it is time for a fundamental debate about what is wrong at the highest levels of the Church of England.
Yet now we see our Bishops picking a fight with Lord Carlile on the applicability of transparency in special cases. One is bound to suggest that he is not the one who needs lectures on the subject, and that our church leadership is not perhaps best placed to deliver them. I am all for the zeal of the convert, but there are many within Church House and Lambeth Palace who need such instruction more urgently than does one of the country’s leading lawyers, who is simply but patiently explaining why and where they are wrong. Victims of abuse will see these expressions of concern for transparency to be expedient rather than heartfelt. Turning that culture around is a significant burden of work, but one which each and every member of the General Synod of the Church of England must now shoulder in order to ensure greater truth and a better justice.
To adapt the words of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer: ‘Rend your hearts, not your policy documents.’