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Focused inquiry urged

20 December 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

THE Church of England would support a call for an independent public inquiry into institutional child abuse, including that which has taken place in the Church, it was confirmed this week. But a spokeswoman for survivors said that an inquiry focusing on the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches was needed, to address the "very specific dynamics" of abuse in churches, including collusion and cover-up.

On Wednesday, a C of E spokeswoman said: "The Church of England has said that it would support a call for an independent wide-ranging public inquiry into institutional child abuse, both in the Church, and other key national institutions. This position has not changed.

"The Church of England recognises that serious past abuse, and inadequate ways of responding to survivors, have left many deeply damaged, and that this has to be confronted alongside ensuring current and future practices are as robust as they can be."

In response, Anne Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Stop Church Child Abuse (SCCA), said: "We can't say you don't need an inquiry into institutional abuse, but the issue we still have is that there is something very specific about the abuse that happened in churches. . . We found the level of collusion and cover-up seemed to be symptomatic in both the Catholic and Anglican Church. We saw some very specific dynamics that seemed to engage in enabling the abuse of power to continue."

She pointed out that the Church of England had never been subject to an independent inquiry into abuse. She also raised concerns that a call for an inquiry investigating multiple institutions, a costly exercise, would be "much less likely to be accepted by the Government".

On Saturday, David Greenwood, who chairs SCCA, said: "We have heard hundreds of stories of abuse of power within the churches, and the public need to understand the extent of the cover-ups. This information can only come out in a meaningful way through an independent public inquiry."

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