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General Synod to debate IICSA report

09 October 2020

GEOFF CRAWFORD/CHURCH TIMES

The Archbishop of Canterbury contributes to a debate on safeguarding during the February Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury contributes to a debate on safeguarding during the February Synod

THE General Synod will be given the opportunity to discuss the latest report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) during a remote meeting planned for the end of next month.

A skeleton Synod met last month to approve legislation that would allow such a meeting to take place on the annual contingency dates (23 to 25 November), subject to Royal Assent (News, 25 September). A provisional timetable released last week includes a two-hour presentation and debate on safeguarding, on the final day.

First consideration of a Measure to amend the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016 (CDM) has been listed for the second day. This is a draft Measure to implement the recommendation outlined in the interim IICSA report, published in May last year, to replace the current duty to have “due regard” to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding guidance (News, 9 May 2019). The Church Times understands that the revision stage may be considered by the full Synod as early as February rather than passed to a sub-committee.

A Measure to reform the CDM, which is recommended in the most recent IICSA report, published on Tuesday, is dependent on the outcome of the working group chaired by the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton.

David Lamming, with Martin Sewell and other Synod members has pressed for safeguarding reforms in the Church, hoped that a key part of the recommendation — “to disapply the 12-month time-limit for all complaints with a safeguarding element brought under the Clergy Discipline Measure” — could be implemented immediately.

He said on Wednesday: “Initiatives announced recently by the Church are welcome, but, as Martin [Sewell] says, more remains to be done. General Synod, which will have the opportunity to comment on the report next month, must seek to ensure that a truly independent system for investigating complaints is established. The Martyn Percy case has revealed serious flaws in the core-group process and these must be addressed urgently. Also, delay is endemic at present, with the Bishop of Lincoln still suspended after 17 months.”

The Synod timetable also includes a presidential address from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, which will refer to progress on the project Living in Love and Faith (News, 1 May), with “breakout rooms” to allow members to discuss points raised in the address. There will be questions.

Two hours has also been set aside for the Vision and Strategy group, which is chaired by the Archbishop of York, followed by group discussion. In May, Archbishop Cottrell denied reports that he was leading a review involving “massive shrinkage” in the number of cathedrals, dioceses, and parish churches (News, 29 May). Its purpose, he said, was to see how the five marks of mission might shape the C of E over the next ten years.

Both the Cathedrals Measure and the Diocesan Boards of Education Measure are to be subject to final drafting and approval. The Archbishops’ Council 2021 budget and apportionment recommendations will also be presented.

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