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A Pastoral letter from Bishop Christopher on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

1 year ago

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you may know the IICSA began its investigation into the Anglican Church in England and Wales on Monday 5 March.   The Anglican Church in England and Wales is one of IICSA’s 13 investigations and there will be three weeks of public hearings about the Church, focusing on the Diocese of Chichester as a case study.  Archbishop Justin was one of those who originally called for this Inquiry.  This investigation is a necessary examination that the Church fully supports.  The venue for the inquiry hearings is within the Diocese of Southwark. 

Over many years the Diocese of Southwark has taken the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults very seriously but we know that we do not always get things right.  So it seems appropriate that during Lent we and all of the Church of England and Wales reflect upon the many ways in which we as Christians fall short of all that God wants for us.  The Inquiry will cause us to reflect upon our failures as a Church over many decades to protect children from sexual abuse and our failure as a Church to listen to and respond well to the voices of those children, whether contemporaneously or as adults in seeking justice and redress for the abuse they have suffered.   It will be an especially difficult time for those survivors who have been brave in coming forward, to share their stories.  We must listen to the voice of survivors and acknowledge and repent for when we have got it wrong in the past and seek to learn lessons for the future, as we continue to focus on the important safeguarding work going on in our churches every day of the year.

If you have any questions or comments about the work of IICSA or the issues that it will be considering, please do not hesitate to contact our Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser or  Diocesan Director of Communications on 020 7939 9400. They will be receiving daily updates during the three-week hearing from the National Safeguarding Team.  For more information, there is this Q&A for parishes, provided by the National Safeguarding Team.

Furthermore, if any of this raises issues which you would value talking about, please be assured that there is someone to listen to you.  Again please contact our Diocesan Safeguarding Team on 020 7939 9423. 

Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults is not an ‘add on’ issue.  It is about the Kingdom of God and about us, as followers of Jesus Christ, joining in with God's mission of transformation and reconciliation.

Please join with me during this season of Lent and beyond in praying for any who are vulnerable and those within our care.

I pray that you will have a blessed Lent,

The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun