The Methodist Church in Ireland has apologised after a safeguarding review found 30 cases of abuse within the denomination over the last 25 years.
In a statement on its website the Church said that no specific issue had prompted the Past Cases Review in November 2020, ‘other than the wish of the Methodist people to acknowledge and honestly reflect on the past so that victims could be heard, acknowledged and supported to ensure that the Church can be a safe place for all today.’
The 30 cases included inappropriate physical violence that did not result in any police action, peer to peer physical, sexual or emotional abuse that did not result in any police action, inappropriate relationships between young adult leaders and teenage participants and the inappropriate use of social media.
Six of the cases had resulted in police action being taken. The cases normally involved an accusation against a lay volunteer leader. There were 6 cases that involved ordained ministers and 3 that involved lay employees.
The statement said that while 30 cases was ‘a relatively small number and not on the scale recorded in a number of other denominations or institutions even allowing for the size of Methodism, there is no comfort taken in this small number of cases.’
The Methodist Conference issued the following apology :
‘The Methodist Church in Ireland apologises without reserve to all those who have been victims of abuse in the life of our Church. We have failed you, failed society and failed our Saviour. Our processes that were designed to protect all have not done that. We have caused pain that goes beyond measure. We apologise that we have not been the beacon of light that we are called to be. It has taken us too long to recognise our failings and face up to the truth. We have failed to listen carefully to what we were being told in the past. We apologise.’
The incoming Methodist President, Rev David Turtle, described the report as:
‘a time to say sorry, an opportunity to ensure that our policies continue to be robust and to renew our resolve to protect all and to be a place of safety for all. Our resolve is that what we have learnt will further enable us to be a place of healing and hope for everyone’.