Diocese of ChichesterDiocese of Chichester

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From the Acting Bishop of Chichester

Pastoral Letter and media statement from the Acting Bishop of Chichester

6th March 2012

I am very glad that we have now published the full text of the Baroness Butler Sloss Report along with its addendum together with the Roger Meekings Report and the baroness's comments upon it. This is in line with our desire to be open and honest about the cases that have come to light in the Chichester Diocese. I am grateful also to Bishop Paul Butler for the apology he has issued on behalf of the wider Church of England. I should like to underline, once again, the regret we feel in this diocese about past failings and which was expressed in Bishop John and Bishop Wallace's apology to all the victims. The Chichester Diocese wishes to be transparent about the past and to be rigorous and cooperative in its safeguarding today and into the future.

+ Mark Horsham
Acting Bishop of Chichester

Bishop responds to safeguarding report

The Bishop of Chichester has apologised for the institutional failings that have caused deep and profound pain to victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Chichester.

When it emerged that some cases of abuse could have been avoided, Bishop John Hind invited The Rt Hon Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss to conduct an independent review into the Past Cases Review conducted in the Diocese of Chichester in 2008-9.

Welcoming Baroness Butler-Sloss’s  report, he said “I feel deep and profound sorrow for the pain caused to all victims and for the institutional failings of the Church in this Diocese.  I am grateful to Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss for her thorough review.

“The report has now been completed, and her conclusions and recommendations are in line with what we are now doing and will continue to build on, and it will provide a strong foundation for good safeguarding practice in the Diocese. It also enables me to repeat the apology offered for mistakes made in the past.

“I am grateful to those who have helped and are helping us to learn, and wish to thank everyone who has given evidence.”

Joint statement from Bishop of Chichester John Hind and Bishop of Lewes Wallace Benn issued on Thursday 9th June –

The Diocese of Chichester invited The Rt Hon Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss to conduct an independent re-examination into the Past Cases Review conducted in the Diocese of Chichester in 2008-9. The review was published by the Diocese on Wednesday 25th May.

Following the release of the report of Baroness Butler-Sloss into some high-profile cases of child-abuse in the 1970s and 1980s and how these were handled when known, we wish to put on record our profound sadness and regret for the pain caused to all who have been abused in the Diocese of Chichester. 

The abuse of children under any circumstances is a tragedy and an affront to their human dignity. This is a particular betrayal when it is committed in the Church where people should be safe and respected.  

The abuse committed during the 1970s and 1980s by the priests (one of whom was serving in Chichester diocese) who were the subject of the report by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss is particularly harrowing and we are determined to learn from this experience and do all that we can to create and maintain the safest possible environment for all involved in the life of the Church.

We apologize unreservedly for any past mistakes which may have left children vulnerable and which may have more recently made victims feel that they have not been taken seriously.

We are also both very sorry for any weaknesses in implementation of our procedures that may have compounded the problem for victims.  

Recent changes in policy and practice have already been introduced.  Although we are confident in our current policies and procedures, we shall subject them to continuous independent scrutiny.

We do however know that policies and procedures are only as good as the attitudes and actions of those implementing them and we are grateful for the training programmes designed to ensure that at every level of church life there is appropriate awareness of the issues involved and commitment to best practice. 

Although the Bishop of Horsham, Mark Sowerby, has only recently joined the diocese, he wishes to be associated with the commitments made in this statement.

+ John Cicestr        + Wallace Lewes

NSPCC Helpline

A special helpline has been set up for those who have been affected either directly or indirectly by recent publicity. The helpline will be staffed by the NSPCC and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls will be handled sensitively and confidentially. Where appropriate, callers will be referred to specially trained police officers and, if required, a range of local counselling services, who are ready to offer expert support to those who come forward.

The helpline number is
0800 389 5344

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