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Survivors to get apology

21 June 2013

A DEBATE on safeguarding on the Sunday afternoon will give members of the General Synod the opportunity to consider whether the House of Bishops has heeded warnings that Church of England legislation is out of step with the rest of civil employment law.

The Synod will vote on a motion that endorses an "unreserved apology" from the Church of England "for the failure of its systems to protect children, young people, and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others; and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused".

The motion also invites the House of Bishops and the Archbishops' Council to pursue "as a matter of urgency" legislative and non-legislative changes.

The Business Committee is invited to bring draft legislation before the Synod in time for it to be approved within the lifetime of the Synod.

Before the drafting of the legislation, the Synod is to be consulted on the changes. The Archbishops' Council is proposing to remove the 12-month limitation period within which it is possible to make a complaint of child sexual abuse.

In another change to the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM), the bishop would be given power to suspend a priest whenever an application is received, to make a complaint outside the 12-month period. Canon law would also be amended to enable the bishop to direct that a priest must submit to a risk assessment.

The final report of the Commissaries tasked with investigating safeguarding in Chichester ( News, 10 May) warned that the law of the Church of England was "presently not in line with the rest of the civil law of employment", and called for "urgent consideration" to be given to amending the CDM to permit "the compulsory suspension of any cleric immediately a complaint of abuse which is not obviously malicious is received."

The consultation will end on 30 September.


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