Friday, July 12, 2019
In sworn testimony yesterday before the Church of England’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby allegedly lied under oath. The allegations were made by Matthew Ineson, a survivor of child sexual abuse, whose abuser, a priest in the Church of England, committed suicide when the allegations became public.
During his testimony, Welby claimed that he apologized to Ineson during a meeting at Lambeth Palace in November 2016, and by letter in July 2017. Yet neither Ineson nor his attorney recall any such apology during the meeting, nor have they received Welby’s purported letter.
Ineson’s contentions appear consistent with an email from Moira Murray, the senior casework manager for the Church of England’s national safeguarding team, which references the November meeting, and says that no formal apology would be issued until after the legal case against Ineson’s abuser was complete. The abuser was not criminally charged, however, until seven months after the meeting.
Of course, the fact that Welby claims he sent a written apology in July 2017 — one which the victim has not seen — illustrates a larger problem. Had the Church of England been following up with an appropriate pastoral response, it would have known right away that the letter was not received. Indeed, it would have been appropriate to hand-deliver the letter, and ensure that someone was there to answer questions or address concerns, if any. But, as is often the case when it comes to church abuse, the approach is to do as little as possible, as late as possible.
Or, as ++ Welby said, “And we have to learn to put actions behind the words, because ‘sorry’ is pretty cheap.”
Yup, sorry is cheap. But Welby doesn’t even do that well, or with integrity.
Friday, May 31, 2019
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: