Showing posts with label Justin Welby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Justin Welby. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2019

Church Times Article on Abuse and the Church Sounds Painfully Familiar

The sad saga of the late John Smyth, who allegedly brutally beat more than 100 boys while operating church summer camps connected with the Church of England, has been front and center in the UK, as media examine both the allegations and accusations that church officials ignored and covered up the allegations for decades. The controversy, which reaches all the way to the Archbishop of Canterbury, sounds painfully similar to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and its role in covering up and ignoring Bob Malm’s misconduct. As such, it serves as a cautionary tale of the myriad ways church officials abuse power as they seek to protect to the reputation of the church.

Before we go further, I want to be clear: Bob Malm is not accused of sexual misconduct, and Smith’s alleged conduct does not imply or suggest similar activity on Bob Malm’s part.

What is telling, however, is that the allegations about Smyth swirled from the 1980’s until his death approximately 30 years later. Not only does it appear that senior church officials were repeatedly informed, but at one point a senior official urged Smyth to leave the country. He then moved to Zimbabwe, where allegations of misconduct were almost constant. 

It was not, however, until a youth under his care was found dead that any effort was made to hold Smyth accountable. The resulting criminal charges were later dropped when an official in the case was found to have a conflict of interest.

Survivors further allege that the Justin Welby, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, has known for many years of the allegations, and to this day has not requested to see documentation of the abuse compiled by survivors. Here is what the Church Times says about Welby:

Andrew Graystone, an advocate for the survivors, said that he was aware of 26 victims in the UK, of whom two are deceased, bringing the estimated number of alleged victims to 116.

He said: “I have spent the last three years researching Smyth’s life and his abuse. One of the most alarming and difficult facts of the case is that so many people in the Church have deliberately chosen to look away. . .

“Archbishop Welby is aware that I have this information, too, but for the last two and a half years he has chosen not to ask for it.”

A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said: “We would urge anyone who has information pertaining to victims of abuse to give it to the police or relevant statutory authorities immediately.”

The Archbishop has always maintained that at no time was he aware of the abuse taking place. It is understood that he has offered to meet survivors, and that he is committed to a review taking place with or without other parties involved.

Last month, a group of survivors wrote to Lambeth Palace to correct the Archbishop of Canterbury’s assertion that Smyth was “not actually an Anglican” — a comment made during an interview on Channel 4 News (News, 18 April). The letter lists 14 points of dispute about the Archbishop’s comments, including that Smyth had been a licensed Reader in the diocese of Winchester.

These comments appear very similar to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s comments about Bob Malm’s conduct. Pretty words, but no substance, and an absolute unwillingness to actually do anything to address Malm’s perjury and other abuse/abuse of power.

Read the full Church Times article here.