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Sexual Abuse CoE was too forgiving of predators among clergy

SEXUAL abuse in the Anglican church was able to thrive due to “clerical naivety” about exploitation risks and an “excessive emphasis” on forgiving predators, a lawyer for the church claimed yesterday.

Fiona Scolding, lead lawyer for the Anglican strand of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, told a hearing that young victims were often made to feel responsible for their experiences when they reported concerns to church staff.

In her opening statement, Ms Scolding said the Church of England can be “institutionally incapable of effective responses to concerns about the sexual abuse of children.”

She said the inquiry had also uncovered a “culture of excessive deference to those at the top of the hierarchy and an unwillingness to challenge them.”

Clergy figures accused of sexual offences against children were repeatedly allowed to keep close ties to the church and the inquiry found several of those arrested continued to play an active part in religious life.

Public hearings will take place this week to examine how the CofE handled allegations of sexual misconduct in the 1950s, ’60s and ’90s.

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