Church sex abuse scandal: Reverend brands negligence of senior figures 'evil'

7 October 2020, 09:36

By Fiona Jones

This reverend brands senior figures' dereliction of duty "evil" as it is found the Church prioritised its own reputation over vulnerable sexually abused children.

The Church of England spent decades failing to protect children and young people from sexual predators, instead protecting its own reputation, a damning report has found.

The Church was accused of being "in direct conflict" with its moral purpose of providing "care and love for the innocent and the vulnerable" by failing to take abuse allegations seriously, neglecting the "physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing" of the young, and creating a culture where abusers were able to "hide".

Nick Ferrari asked Church of England Reverend Sally Hitchiner, “Why would it appear that paedophiles are attracted to being in the Church?"

She said: “I think it’s historically been one of the areas where you can have a position in society which is above reproach and I’m thankful to say that that is coming to an end.

“People see vicars and priests as fallible human beings, they rightly treat us with the same questions and needing to earn respect as everyone else does but historically… vicars have had a wrong position in society."

Church sex abuse scandal: Reverend brands negligence of senior figures 'evil'
Church sex abuse scandal: Reverend brands negligence of senior figures 'evil'. Picture: LBC/PA

Reverend Sally continued that there is not much scrutiny "about what we do day to day" as meetings with her "line manager" the bishop are rarely more than once a year.

She said that historically people have treated priests as if they are god rather than being like everyone else.

"I think we need an external safeguarding body which may be part of some sort of church body, but shouldn't be answerable to individual bishops," Reverend Sally said, "I think there has been actual wrongdoing done...some of the negligence of senior figures has been evil."

Reverend Sally said that for the sake of all church leaders on the ground who are trying to do their best, an external body would create less bias and more reliability.

Nick pointed to the report which showed paedophiles within the church were often given more support than victims and reputation was put above pleas from those abused: "Is that the church you recognise?"

"It's not the church I recognise on the ground making a difference in their community, trying to help each other...sadly it is a church I recognise from time to time," the Reverend said, revealing that she has seen instances where people are very anxious about the reputation of the church so "we haven't been given the opportunities to engage with the issues as we would have liked."

She said she has always found it strange that the church is so anxious to protect itself over vulnerable people when Christians are supposed to be following someone who gave their lives for others.