TWO survivors of clerical abuse have praised the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, for facilitating their protest at the inauguration of Dr Steven Croft's ministry as Bishop of Oxford last Friday.
One of the protesters, “Michael”, has accused Dr Croft and others in the hierarchy of ignoring him when he told them he was raped by a priest in the diocese of Bradford during the 1980s while a 16-year-old (News, 29 July).
He was joined by “Joe”, who last year won an apology and damages for an assault by the former Chancellor of three dioceses, the Revd Garth Moore, and for the Church’s subsequent response (News, 4 December).
On Friday, the two handed out leaflets to those attending the installation. At one point, they were brought a plate of sandwiches.
“Some of the people who went past were embarrassed and dismissive; but others made a beeline for us, and wanted to engage. Several thanked us for being there. Of the bishops, three or four came and engaged with us for as long as they could,” Joe said.
He also reported that Dr Croft had come to speak to him immediately before the inauguration, and had taken his hand.
The Dean, the Very Revd Martyn Percy, had invited the pair back to Oxford to discuss issues surrounding safeguarding and the reporting of abuse, Joe said.
“So it was not only a very effective protest — it got the issues across to the public and in the media — but was graciously received, and managed to create potential for good dialogue,” he concluded.
In a statement to the media on Friday, Dr Croft said that it was vital that Michael received proper pastoral care, and that he regretted that Michael felt as if he had been treated poorly when he disclosed his abuse in 2013.
“I regret this, and I am committed to exploring what happened further,” Dr Croft said. “Some aspects of the cases are still subject to police investigation and church disciplinary procedure.”
Michael said after his protest that he was still angry that the C of E had the “nerve” to enthrone bishops such as Dr Croft after safeguarding complaints had been made against them. “This is immoral,” he said. “This is absolute proof that the Church of England does not truly ‘recognise the profound and long-lasting impact such abuse has on survivors’ at all.”