Just before I went on holiday I penned a piece for Exaro on moves under discussion by the Anglican and Methodists to start tackling the huge legacy of child sexual abuse by priests and teachers employed by the church..
For once it was more optimistic piece suggesting that at long last church leaders were realising that they had to say more than sorry and had to start taking responsibility for what had happened and is still happening.
I was a bit taken aback to find some strong Twitter responses suggesting that overnight I had turned from an investigative journalist to an apologist for the Anglican church and a budding correspondent for Church Times. Ironically it came just as the Church appear to think that I might have gone too far in highlighting what they were contemplating before they had reached a final decision.
The piece on the Exaro website highlights the work of the joint safeguarding liaison group for Anglicans and Methodists which is now looking at earmarking money to three groups – including the Lantern project in Wirral – to provide counselling for church sex abuse victims. This move is by itself welcome – given counselling has not been properly provided for thousands of victims whatever the government may like to claim.
The campaign group, Stop Church Child Abuse, says that hundreds of clergy with claims against them of child abuse have not been prosecuted, pointing out that safeguarding procedures allow bishops to keep such allegations away from the authorities. These procedures may not be changed.
Also Exaro has established that the CoE was pressing the government more than a year ago to set up a full-scale inquiry into child sex abuse in a range of institutions in the UK – long before Theresa May, the home secretary, decided to set up an independent panel and when David Cameron was being at best equivocal and at worst ignoring the scale of the problem.
I make no apologies for reporting some of the more positive moves by the Church. But make no mistake I will continue to pursue the issue and investigate the large number of cases where the authorities have failed and people’s lives ruined as a result.