Will the Church of England keep faith with supporting and compensating child sex abuse survivors?

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, moved to help survivors with emergency fund

It will take time to implement and insiders think it will cost the Church tens of millions of pounds to put right

Just three weeks before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse produced its shocking report on child sexual abuse inside the Anglican Church, the Archbishops Council decided to provide both help and financial support for survivors of this heinous crime.

The support was two fold – an emergency fund drawn from the reserves for just over a handful of desperate child abuse survivors and a long term project for a major compensation and support scheme for possibly hundreds if not more survivors.

As well as direct financial support this would fund counselling for survivors which is by nature long term and very expensive.

bigger demand from survivors

Inquiries revealed that the emergency package of help has already produced a bigger demand from survivors than anticipated. As the Church Times reported one survivor known as ” VB” received emergency funds both before ( at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s insistence) and after the emergency fund was set up after suffering bouts of severe depression following historic child sex abuse by multiple church officers as his business, already hit by Covid-19 was about to go bust.

Last week the Church confirmed that three survivors had received emergency help – one of them receiving a large sum – and that 12 people had either been referred or applied for help from the fund.

The good news is that the Church says none of 12 has been ruled ineligible for help and that more money will be forthcoming from the reserves to help them if that is what is required. The figure for the fund is being kept confidential but I understand it is not far short of £1m.

The big question us the long term solution. Phil Johnson, chair of the Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, and has been critical of the support given to survivors in the past, is delighted at the support being given now.

Could cost tens of millions

He estimates that if the Church is to help all the people who have been victims of child sex abuse the cost could run ” to tens of millions of pounds”- if not shy of £100m.

This will be a tall order and must raise the issue of whether the Church will have to sell any of its assets and investments.

The Church itself says: “No way to tell [the final cost] and there is an important point to make that redress is not all about money but also apology, restorative justice and other factors. The Church is now responding to and engaging with survivors to provide the help and support needed to overcome the impacts of abuse, whatever form that takes. This is initially with the most urgent cases for help but eventually to address the needs of all Church-based abuse survivors.”

The delay in setting up a permanent fund is because it will take time to set up formal structures and procedures and the Church hopes to learn from running the emergency fund the best way to proceed.

Meg Munn

Meg Munn, chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, is also keeping an eye on progress.

She said :We were updated that work is ongoing on the final scheme with recruitment of a manager for it. Work is also underway to establish the interim hardship fund that was agreed by the Archbishop’s council in September.

“We don’t have a date for when the interim scheme will be in place, but we were assured that there is a desire to have this in place as soon as possible.”

Meg Munn’s warning

In a recent blog she wrote: “Profound change will not be established until there is complete acceptance across the whole of the church that striving for a safe church is at the heart of its mission. Consequently, the current structure which sustains unaccountable and powerful clergy must change. Without this, the Church will continue to have dangerous places for children and adults as I described in my interview nearly two years ago.

“There may never be a better opportunity for those with responsibility and influence to step up to this challenge. It will mean tackling long and dearly held principles, something some might not want to do. But not doing so will lead to more lives devastated, and more damage to the reputation of the church. Is this generation of church leaders prepared to accept that? “

If the Church do proceed and keep up their good intentions perhaps at last the stain of hidden child sex abuse will be finally removed. That is why I am pleased IICSA will look again at the progress made by the Anglican Church before the inquiry is over.

5 thoughts on “Will the Church of England keep faith with supporting and compensating child sex abuse survivors?

  1. A couple of years after Rowan Williams retired from the post of Archbishop of Canterbury I bumped into him in Wimbledon. I urged him to support all victims of child abuse. The friendly look on his face immediately turned into a look of fear. At the time I thought had I had asked for the impossible? With the benefit of hindsight I now believe his reaction was not because my request but was his realisation that the church bankers would probably advise otherwise.

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  2. As long as the Church, if it has to sell things off, sells its own stuff, not the things that have been donated to the Church in memory of loved ones. Just think of the pain that will cause to the families who purchased, or gave the money for the items.
    All the goods & chattel should be recorded in the Churches individual Terriors & checked each year by the individual PCC’s.
    I suppose they could argue that it was given to the Church but it doesn’t make it right!

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  3. ANOTHER thoughtful article David…..
    Answers are needed.

    Am I alone in thinking that during this crises we have been and continuing to suffer that out Church – the Church of England has been conspicuous in its absence of thought, comfort, tv prayer gatherings – anything to heal and uplift going forward?

    I am amazed at the lack – of inspiration, meditation, participation and congregation – albeit virtual format.

    Don’t hunker down and ignore us – bot when we need it the most.

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  4. Its not only sex abuse they are guilty of.
    There are other ways the institution can abuse and re-abuse people.
    Even the National Safeguarding Team still tells victims to shut up and go away .
    They wont change unless they are forced to change , IICSA made tiny changes and was really a failed opportunity.

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  5. They will! And they are all doing down! Sit back and watch the Shit show Roman circus collapse. And not just the church either.

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