The culture at the Church of England made it a place where perpetrators of child sexual abuse could hide and receive more support than victims, according to an independent report.
The report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) released on Tuesday says that “the Church has failed to respond consistently to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse with sympathy and compassion” which often “added to the trauma already suffered by those who were abused by individuals associated with the Church”.
It found the culture of the Church of England “facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide” and that deference to the hierarchy and individual priests, as well as taboos over sexuality, created an environment “where alleged perpetrators were treated more supportively than victims”. This in turn, created “barriers to disclosure that many victims could not overcome”.
“Another aspect of the Church’s culture was clericalism, which meant that the moral authority of clergy was widely perceived as beyond reproach,” it added.
“In the context of child sexual abuse, the Church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and the vulnerable.”
Strip offenders of clerical titles
According to the report, 390 people associated with the Church were convicted for child sexual abuse between the 1940s and 2018.