Shame is the overriding emotion I feel reading that nearly 400 figures within the church establishment have been convicted of abusing children over the last 70 years. Shame, anger, but not all that much surprise.
“Many of these cases demonstrate the Church of England’s failure to take abuse seriously, creating a culture where abusers were able to hide,” the independent inquiry concludes. Too many bishops were more concerned with supporting those who had been accused of abuse than looking after the victims. Abuser priests were quietly moved on to a new parish when news of their activity reached the attention of their bishops. The language of a “fresh start” and “forgiveness” became a kind of cover for deeper concern for reputational management. Those who had been abused were treated like a problem that needed to be hushed up, made to go away quietly.
It was at St Paul’s that I first heard the weasel phrase “reputational risk”. It wasn’t used with respect to child abuse, but was a catch-all warning for anything that might potentially tarnish the good name of the church.
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