Abuse: C of E is dodging the issue
Victims of abuse of religious power and clergy sexual abuse have sent a New Year’s Message to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, above, calling for an end to the bullying and silencing of those who speak out about the misconduct of clergymen in his church and in other faiths.
In a statement just issued by the Church Reform Group, it is alleged that the Church of England is using the services of a private “scandal management” company, Luther Pendragon, to shield it from victims of clerical abuse.
Luther Pendragon has a controversial history of lobbying and PR scandal management on behalf of the tobacco, arms and nuclear industries – and campaigners have criticised its role in allegedly hushing up clergy abuse in Winchester last year.
The call follows a recent panel debate on abuse in the House of Commons, with speaker and audience contributors from parliamentarians, clergy abuse victims groups, legal experts and advisors to the government panel inquiry on child sexual abuse.
While the panel included speakers from the Catholic Church, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu clergy, the Church of England declined to send any representatives to face questions about its record on clergy abuse.
Certain Anglican clergy, bishops and archdeacons whose alleged behaviour in relation to matters of abuse were to be questioned and debated at the event had repeatedly been invited to come along to the meeting in the interests of fair and free speech and of ‘the right to reply’, but instead they all avoided attending to face inquiry.
Instead, the Church of England employed Luther Pendragon to apply pressure against the meeting taking place, and put pressure on the room booking.
Thereafter it attempted to prevent the publication of this film footage of the open discussion in Parliament.
Activists have called on Archbishop Justin Welby not to be blinded by the Church of England’s high profile campaigns against bankers and the City of London Corporation, and concentrate instead on “the evil within the Church itself – abuse perpetrated by some of Welby’s own clergy”.
Kit Klarenberg, a spokesperson for one of the survivors campaigning groups at the event in Parliament said:
Church of England leaders have attempted to disrupt the free and open discussion in the public interest about clergy abuse by, on the one hand, their avoidance and refusal to attend and face questioning from abuse survivors and the public, and on the other hand the Diocese of London employing a private lobbying agency for the tobacco and nuclear industries to disrupt and censor free debate.
This is a shocking betrayal of Archbishop Justin Welby’s stated commitment to a full and frank conversation about these extremely serious issues in an Anglican context.
The conduct of Anglican authorities was also criticised by Hindu leaders, as well as by clergy of other religions.
Satish Sharma, leader of the National Council for Hindu Temples and one of the speakers at the event, rebuked the Church of England for what he called “the big abuse” of protecting perpetrators in order:
To preserve an institutional brand.
The absence of members of the Church of England and the decision-making members of other bodies is the crime of mocking troubled souls.
A former police officer in the Rotherham abuse investigation also spoke of his experience of the bullying of whistleblowers.
The statement claimed that Luther Pendragon is:
Unwilling to comment about the very sizeable funds which had been spent by the Church of England for procuring their scandal management services.
Hat tip: Robert Stovold