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Bishop accuses C of E of 'seeing off' abuse survivors

by Donna Birrell
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The former Bishop of Willesden has strongly criticised the Church of England's attitude towards survivors of abuse.

In a lecture for the Ecclesiastical Law Society which has been printed in the January edition of its Journal, Rt Rev Pete Broadbent said there had been an attempt to keep questions about the church's safeguarding practice “off the floor of General Synod”.

The Bishop, who retired in 2021 said :

‘’Attempts to inquisite (sic) the shortcomings of the National Safeguarding Team, the past failures of Bishops and the various ‘lessons learned reviews’ from which we never seem to learn very much, have been seen off and resisted, leaving victims, survivors and those campaigning on their behalf with the sense that justice will never be done or seen to be done. I suspect that this is one area of our national church life where we need to set up better ways of processing these concerns. They won’t go away.”

It comes as survivors say the issue of safeguarding has been pushed down the agenda of February's Synod meeting to make way for discussion about the church’s response to same sex marriage.

Martin Sewell who is a member of General Synod and a former child protection lawyer has been giving his reaction to Premier :

“The ‘Living in Love and Faith’ matter has completely overwhelmed the February Synod. Whilst it's entirely proper that we should be discussing these things, to be perfectly honest, the safeguarding has been put on Thursday afternoon. There’s a couple of hours to discuss it, but heavens, a couple of hours to discuss the problems for the Church of England? Safeguarding doesn't get anywhere near close does it?”

Asked about Bishop Broadbent’s comments in the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, Martin Sewell said :

“I have huge respect for Bishop Pete on this. Some of us have recently written to the Charity Commission, saying we have no confidence in the leadership of the Church of England on the safeguarding issue, because these matters are not being properly discussed, analysed and debated.”

Premier has contacted the Church of England and Bishop Broadbent for comment.

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