*** DEBUG END ***

Guidance offers a theological approach to safeguarding

01 July 2016


PEOPLE who have power and authority in the Church have “too often accepted an appearance of repentance without probing the reality” when dealing with allegations of abuse, a theological guide on safeguarding, produced by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, warns.

The guidance has been written to help parishes grapple with the theological approach to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. In its Foreword, the C of E’s lead bishop on safeguarding, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, says that “it is vital that every member of the Church of England is enabled to affirm the relationship between compliance with policy and faithfulness to the gospel. . . Safeguarding is integral to the mission of the Church of England. . .

“Safeguarding from abuse and responding well to it need to be grounded in the fundamental themes of Christian theology and thereby woven into the church’s regular ministry of preaching and teaching. At the same time, safeguarding raises significant theological questions for Christians: questions about humanity, sin, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation and the church.”

The guidance says that “we should strive to be a church where those who commit abuse are called to face human justice, hear God’s word of judgement and repent and believe the good news.” It warns, however, that “Christians, and in particular those with power and authority in the church, have too often accepted an appearance of repentance without probing the reality. They have wanted to hide from the glare of public condemnation and have therefore on occasions played a part in shielding people who have engaged in criminal behaviour from the light of justice.”

There is a need for “repentance on the part of the churches for the harm they have done [and a] need to seek forgiveness from those whom they have harmed by their wrong action and their destructive neglect.”

It says that churches should be places “where all people are welcomed into open and secure communities that make known Christ’s reconciling peace”, but that survivors of abuse often find them to be “closed and unwelcoming”.

Churches “have made space for abusers to continue abusive behaviours. . . Inertia and disinterest have inhibited the consistently effective implementation of policies to reduce the risk of abuse even after the need for them became a matter of general agreement.”

The guidance, The Gospel, Sexual Abuse and the Church: A theological resource for the local church, will be published on Thursday.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)