Synod ‘lazy and incurious’ about safeguarding scandals

05 July 2019

IICSA

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual abuse (IICSA) is conducting hearings investigating the Anglican Church from 1 to 12 July

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual abuse (IICSA) is conducting hearings investigating the Anglican Church from 1 to 12 July

THE General Synod has been “lazy and incurious” despite a wave of safeguarding scandals, a lay member said this week.

Martin Sewell, a representative from the diocese of Rochester, expressed disappointment that the Archbishops had declined a proposal to add to the agenda a motion welcoming a letter from the bishops of the diocese of Blackburn, which warned that Church’s mission was “fatally undermined” by the abuse crisis (News, 21 and 28 June).

He joined David Lamming, a lay member from St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, in making the proposal.

“At a time when the Church is nosediving into controversies over IICSA and Jonathan Fletcher, this motion was carefully designed to bring us together around a pastoral letter that prioritised repentance, humility, and genuine concern for victims,” Mr Sewell said on Monday. It deliberately sought support from General Synod, an institution that has historically been lazy and incurious as scandal after scandal broke. We never debate these matters properly.

“Instead we are left with a question for the Archbishops — ‘Don’t you want to hear what the elected representatives of the people of the Church have to say about all this?’”

Communicating the Archbishops’ decision, the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, said that the motion was “not appropriate at this time”, pointing to ongoing IICSA hearings and the fact that the Interim Report had “only recently been published”.

“The Presidents do think it is right to allow some more time for people to read those reports and consider their views and reactions to the important and difficult material contained in the report,” he wrote. “It is also important to allow the present hearing to take its course before we have a debate on these matters on the floor of Synod.”

In reply, Mr Lamming said that the decision was “extremely disappointing”, pointing out that the motion was not focused on IICSA but on the Blackburn Ad Clerum.

“We wonder, too, whether the Archbishops have considered how their refusal of a debate on the motion as drafted will look to the wider Church and world at a time when attention is being focused once again on our historic safeguarding record,” he wrote.

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