The Bishop of Lichfield says survivors of sexual abuse need to be “absolutely at the centre of our attention and action” following a national independent inquiry investigation report.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, yesterday published its overarching investigation report into the Anglican Church in England and Wales. The 154 page report makes eight principal recommendations about a range of issues including the Church’s response to victims and survivors.
Speaking to Radio Stoke today (from 2hrs 15 mins), the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, said: “The report is very difficult reading indeed. It highlights where we have fallen short and there is a deep sense of shame in that. It also underlines the need for us to change. We take that challenge very seriously and have started working on that over the last few years.
“It underlines the need for a complete change in our culture and a change our focus. Our priority needs to be not our reputation but to attend seriously to every complaint that is brought to us and, in particular, to listen to the voices and experiences of victims and survivors. They need to be absolutely at the centre of our attention, our prayers, our concern and our practical action.”
Bishop Michael added: “It takes time to rebuild trust. We are absolutely committed to changing our way of doing things…by listening to victims and survivors, by increasing our safeguarding capacity and professionalising it. This report is a pretty stark picture of who we have been but it is not who we are called to be and we are determined to focus on that.
“We are determined to make our churches, and all the spaces associated with them, as safe places as we can for children and for vulnerable adults as well.
“We have massively expanded our safeguarding training, both for those being recruited as new priests or as lay ministers or lay volunteers and also our ongoing updating of training. We take that really seriously and monitor people’s participation in training. That is now an absolute prerequisite for being in ministry or continuing in ministry.
“It is painful but very helpful to have the mirror held up to us from outside. The report does have very clear recommendations for increased independence for our safeguarding capacity, about the way in which we listen to survivors, about redress and about safe spaces. We need to act on those recommendations now and are committed to doing that.”
If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the publication of the report and want to talk to someone independently please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or email email@example.com.
Lichfield Diocese is currently taking part in a thorough Past Cases Review regarding the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. Survivors or anyone else who wants to speak to someone in relation to the review can contact our Diocesan Safeguarding Team on 01543 306030, the dedicated independent NSPCC helpline on 0800 80 20 20, or the Safe Spaces helpline.