I AM outraged on reading the report in the Chichester Observer that the Bishop of Chichester has said lessons must be learnt from the report on child abuse; we hear this time and time again but lessons are never learned.
A few short years ago I wrote to the Observer on this very same subject concerning child abuse in all denominations of the Christian church. It would appear that in that time nothing has changed, we are still hearing the very same words delivered in the very same sanctimonious manner. All churches must be more open and honest. The bishop says the future of the diocese cannot be determined by the past, review and vigilance are the key words he uses; in other words once again sweep this distasteful problem back under the carpet, we’ll review it from time to time and keep an eye on things. Not good enough – how about naming and shaming and taking real action so that the weak and the vulnerable might be able to find some closure and perhaps get their lives back in time and above all feel safe?
Any person in a position of trust who abuses that trust must swiftly be brought to justice along with those who have given them shelter and protection who by so doing have become part of that abuse and therefore must be deemed equally responsible.
The church can no longer hide behind the veil of hypocrisy that has existed for so many years. Sadly the dreadful self-gratifying behaviour of these priests reflects so badly on the large number of the clergy who are truly devout, very hard working and committed to their duty of care to their parishoners.
Let us hear no longer the words that lessons must be learnt but rather that lessons have been learnt, it is time for genuine openness and transparency. And then maybe the church will be able to move on and regain once again people’s trust. I fear it will be a long time coming.