Lord Hope ends formal ministry after Cahill Inquiry findings

31 October 2014

PA

"Great regret": Lord Hope at his farewell service in York Minster, in January, 2005 

"Great regret": Lord Hope at his farewell service in York Minster, in January, 2005 

LORD HOPE OF THORNES, a former Archbishop of York, announced on Thursday that he had resigned as an honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales, in the light of a report that critcised his response to allegations of sexual abuse.  

The Cahill Inquiry report, published last week ( News, 24 October), was critical of Lord Hope's response to allegations against a former Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Robert Waddington. 

Last week, Lord Hope argued that the allegations reported to him had been "unspecific" from "unnamed sources who had indicated their unwillingness at that stage to go to the police". He "genuinely believed that any complaints were being adequately dealt with by the respective dioceses in which they were alleged to have happened".

He expressed regret, however, that he and others had not been "more proactive" in helping one of the survivors.

On Thursday, he announced that, "after much prayerful and considered thought", he had submitted his resignation. "This ends my nearly 50 years of formal ministry in the Church of England, which I  have always sought to serve with dedication. I will certainly continue to pray for the important ongoing work with survivors."

The present Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu,  who received Lord Hope's resignation at the beginning of the week, said that he was "deeply saddened" by it. Lord Hope had "served the Church of England with joyfulness, commitment, honesty, and holiness. I personally thank him for his leadership as a priest, principal of a theological college, bishop, and Archbishop of the Province of York; and, above all, as a dear brother in Christ."

He concluded: "As the old saying goes, 'To err is human; to forgive is divine.'"

After his retirement as Archbishop of York, Lord Hope was appointed as Priest-in-Charge of St Margaret's, Ilkley, but the following year resigned the post, owing to ill-health. From 2005, he was an Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Bradford, latterly West Yorkshire & The Dales.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury said this week that, after hearing personal stories from survivors of abuse perpetrated in the Church, he "broke down completely".

He told journalists at a Parliamentary Press Gallery lunch in the House of Commons on Monday of "the shredding effect of hearing what we did - what we did - to those people, and the sense of total failure and betrayal." He went on: "When you abuse a child or a vulnerable adult, you mark them for the rest of their lives." The Church should "hold itself to a far, far, far higher standard" than other institutions, but had "failed terribly"

More had yet to be revealed, he said; there was a "very significant legacy of unacknowledged cases". The Church was taking the issue "as seriously as we can. Survivors come first, not our own interests."

Archbishop Welby referred to the audit of all clergy files, which is currently under way in every diocese. This process was being overseen by an external body, so as to avoid any claims of a cover-up, he said; and the inquiry team was being led by the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler.

It is not the first review of diocesan files to take place. In 2007, a "comprehensive review" of "the Church's handling of past concerns about child protection" was ordered ( News, 26 February 2010). Independent reviewers were appointed to conduct "comprehensive surveys of personnel files held on diocesan staff, clergy, and lay ministers".

More than 40,000 diocesan files dating back more than 30 years were analysed; and more than 900 letters went to bishops, senior clergy, and diocesan staff. On completion of the review in 2010, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, then Bishop of Hereford and chair of the Church's Central Safeguarding Liaison Group, said that "nobody representing the Church in a formal capacity has allegations on file that have not been thoroughly re-examined in the light of current best practice, and any appropriate action taken." But "We can make no firm guarantees that allegations which were not recorded in the past will not resurface in the future."

The current audit will scrutinise files dating back 65 years "for anything that needs following up", Archbishop Welby said on Monday.

STATEMENT FROM LORD HOPE

"After much prayerful and considered thought I wrote at the beginning of the week to the Bishop of Leeds and in the light of the Cahill Inquiry Report I have submitted my resignation as Honorary Assistant Bishop of Bradford, now West Yorkshire and the Dales, with immediate effect. This ends my nearly 50 years of formal ministry in the Church of England, which I  have always sought to serve with dedication. I will certainly continue to pray for the important ongoing work with survivors."

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STATEMENT FROM THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK, DR SENTAMU

"I respect the prayerful decision made by my predecessor Lord David Hope. I am deeply saddened by his decision. He has served the Church of England with joyfulness, commitment, honesty and holiness. I personally thank him for his leadership as a Priest, Principal of a Theological College, Bishop and Archbishop of the Province of York; and above all as a Dear Brother in Christ. It did not come as a surprise to me when othe day the Inquiry Report was published Lord Hope said that "It is matter of great regret to me that 12 years ago when the non-specific anonymous allegations were first made in Manchester, the church and I myself were not more proactive in seeking out and/or assisting a reluctant complainant. Nor is it any comfort that other organisations were no more diligent at that time when dealing with similar situations." As the old saying goes "to err is human, to forgive is divine".

The Inquiry into the alleged abuses by Robert Waddington led by HH Judge Sally Cahill QC has made its recommendations and these now need to be considered and action taken in a thoughtful and measured manner to ensure the Church can be a safer place for all. I continue to hold all the survivors in my thoughts and prayers and I am grateful too that some have offered to help the leadership of the Church of England to create a new culture of protecting and safeguarding all God's children. May I repeat my request to all those who wish to comment on this report that they read it fully before doing so."

Redress scheme proposed in Australia

by Muriel Porter, Australia Correspondent 

THE diocese of Melbourne has proposed a complaints-and-redress scheme for institutions and survivors in Victoria, to deal with complaints of child sexual abuse by clergy and church workers, and to provide redress to those affected.

The proposed scheme, if it is adopted by the Victorian government, will be backed by legislation of the Parliament of Victoria, which would operate the scheme under a legal framework.

The summary posted on the diocesan website states that the scheme "is intended to offer an alternative pathway to survivors of child sexual abuse seeking to have their complaints heard and dealt with. It would complement, but not replace, any existing disciplinary regime of an institution. It would offer a therapeutic and pastoral approach to the handling of complaints."

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It would not be about the "government imposing regulation on institutions, but about empowering institutions to respond constructively through membership of the scheme to give survivors choice, to redress harm, and to earn the trust and confidence of the community", the summary says.

The proposal, which has been made available for comment and discussion, would be a voluntary scheme open to other Churches and organisations.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, has said that the report by an English judge concerning the actions taken in the Waddington case (News, 24 October) by the former Archbishop of York Lord Hope was "profoundly disappointing for the Anglican Church of Australia".

The report had provided vindication, he said, for the victims of Robert Waddington, who was principal of an Anglican school in north Queensland until 1970.

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