March 16, 2016

Report finds Church of England failed to deal with sex abuse by clergy

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Members of the clergy enter York Minster before a service to consecrate Reverend Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England, in York, northern England on January 26, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Phil Noble
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GREER-COMMENTARY, originally transmitted on March 25, 2015.

Members of the clergy enter York Minster before a service to consecrate Reverend Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England, in York, northern England on January 26, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Phil Noble *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GREER-COMMENTARY, originally transmitted on March 25, 2015.

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The Church of England has promised to make far-reaching changes in dealing with future sex abuse cases after the publication of the first independent review commissioned by the country’s established church into its handling of such cases in the past.

The report’s conclusions highlight the “deeply disturbing” failure of those in senior clerical positions to pass on information about the cries for help from a survivor known only as “Joe” over a period of almost four decades.

A report Tuesday (March 15) in The Guardian identifies the clergy as Tim Thornton, bishop of Truro; Richard Holloway, former bishop of Edinburgh; John Eastaugh, deceased bishop of Hereford; and Stephen Platten, former bishop of Wakefield.

Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh and head of the Episcopal Church (Scotland). Religion News Service photo by Trevor Grundy

Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh and head of the Episcopal Church (Scotland). Religion News Service photo by Trevor Grundy


READ: French cardinal accused of cover-up in widening abuse scandal


According to The Guardian, the victim — who was 15 and an altar boy at the time — was subjected in 1976 to a “sadistic” assault by Garth Moore, then a leading figure in the church. Moore died in 1990.

The report said that for the next four decades, Joe pleaded for help and contacted members of the Anglican hierarchy.

None of the men he contacted was able to fully recall the conversation with the survivor.

Holloway became a figure of controversy in Scotland as one of the first big-name campaigners for full Christian rights for gay men and women.

The report is deeply embarrassing to the church, which acknowledged it made for “uncomfortable” reading. In a statement Wednesday, the Church of England said it would offer “full cooperation.”

Last October, the church paid Joe 35,000 pounds (or $49,300) in compensation.

(Trevor Grundy is an RNS correspondent based in Canterbury)