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Lord Carey accuses Church of England of 'creating climate of fear' among clergy

by Tola Mbakwe

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has accused the Church of England of treating its clergy unfairly, leaving them in a "climate of fear". 

He wrote in The Telegraph: "This is not the Church of England that I have known - generous, open and kind. Tragically, I know that victims of clerical abuse found the Church of England in the past to be defensive and uncaring, and I greatly regret my part in that culture and those terrible attitudes. But it does not do to replace one failure with another. The current culture of fear in which survivors and clerics alike receive no kind of justice must be confronted".

Lord Carey's comment in the newspaper comes after his permission to officiate (PTO) as a priest was reinstated this week.

It was originally withdrawn last June when new information emerged linking him to the late John Smyth QC, who allegedly abused boys at Christian camps.

Police had been planning to question barrister Mr Smyth when he died in South Africa in 2018 at the age of 77.

Lord Carey was not accused of carrying out any abuse himself, and said last year that he was "bewildered and dismayed" at having the ban imposed.

The former archbishop was principal of Trinity College Bristol in 1983-84, and Smyth attended the college for a short time during that period.

According to the safeguarding team, Lord Carey received a report about Smyth's "evil conduct"  but didn't reveal those concerns to authorities. Lord Carey dienes that he saw the report.

The former archbishop wrote in his letter to The Telegraph that he had no recollection of Smyth and if he "had seen the 'memo' listing Smyth's terrible deeds it would have been seared on my memory. But the investigator and the core group took no note of my protestations, nor of the testimony of a senior member of staff at the college who gave clear evidence as to why I could not have known. And to this day the core group will not shift from the conclusion that they have 'credible and supporting evidence' that I knew about Smyth some 30 years before his crimes were finally brought to light.

"This matters because I am not the only one experiencing these unjust measures. Last year, it was reported that many clergy were left feeling suicidal by the way they were treated during the Church of England's disciplinary processes. "

Lord Carey gave the example of Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford who he fears may be removed from the priesthood.

He explained that Dean Percy "has been in conflict for the last few years with a governing body which, having exhausted all other avenues, has resorted to core groups and the church's disciplinary system.”

Lord Carey urged the Church of England to "be a strong, compassionate and generous body, with clerics who are free of fear to speak of hope and love to our needy world."

According to The Telegraph, The Church of England said: "When a safeguarding concern is raised the Church has a duty to respond and follows the House of Bishops guidance. All safeguarding concerns involving church officers are treated in the same way, irrespective of their position in the Church ... We continue to learn and are committed to putting survivors at heart of our work."

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