Church of England blasted for hasty church abuse compensation plan

By | June 1, 2023
Church building in autumn

The BBC reports that a paper issued by the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) warns that the church’s plan to assist survivors of church abuse, put together in haste, may result in further trauma to victims. The report follows complaints from survivors about the the church’s Interim Support Scheme, which was developed as a result of a landmark study of abuse in the church.

The ISB report focuses on a “Mr. X.,” whose case was handled so poorly that he became suicidal.

Mr. X was sexually abused as a child, but the report criticizes the church’s response, saying it “failed to grasp that a longer term, co-ordinated, intervention was required to help Mr X get back on his feet.”

Others have criticized the process, saying it forces them to re-engage with a church that they wish to entirely avoid.

In examining concerns, the ISB report concludes that the scheme appears to have been “set up in haste, underthought and under-resourced.”

Other survivors report negative experiences with the initiative, saying they have been treated with contempt. Those complaints echo those in the original 2020 report, which found that abuse victims were often traumatized by the church’s inconsistent response and tendency to avoid dealing with these issues.

Anglican Watch observes a similar response in the Episcopal church, where the church continues to retaliate against clergy who complain of sexual abuse. Among those engaging in this abuse are Dallas Bishop George Sumner, who fired Episcopal priest Rich Daly in retaliation for forwarding a complaint of sexual abuse to him.

Other bishops similarly treat victims of abuse with contempt, including Massachusetts bishop Alan Gates, Shannon Johnston, Susan Goff, Todd Ousley, Chilton Knudsen, Glenda Curry, and many more. Indeed, a favorite tactic of Ousley is to ignore complaints, then claim he “has no record” of the complaint. How convenient.

It’s also worth noting that the clergy disciplinary process in the Episcopal church often is interminably slow, does little to help survivors, and far too often takes fabrications by respondent clergypersons as statements of fact. (Yes, we are thinking of the thoroughly bollixed case of Douglas Anderson, in which a prior Title IV case was brushed off after Anderson lied about his actions.) Additionally, intake officers often make up rules and policies on the fly, while continuing to allow clergy access to children and vulnerable adults.

So, while our sisters and brothers in the Church of England continue to make a hash of things, they’re several steps ahead of the church in the U.S., which likes to blither about pretending it doesn’t have issues with abuse.

This propensity for kicking the can down the road is killing the Episcopal Church, and unless it cleans up its act, the church will implode within our lifetimes.

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