Archbishop of Canterbury ashamed of the Anglican Church

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says he has “learned to be ashamed again of the Church”.

He made the statement while giving evidence on the second-last day of a clergy sex abuse inquiry.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is looking into the Diocese of Chichester, where dozens of clergy have been accused of abuse.

Welby said he could not read the transcripts from the hearing without being moved and ashamed.

“The apologies are fine, but you have got to find ways of making it different and we have got to do it as soon as possible.”

In his opinion, the Church’s discipline process for accused priests was “not fit for purpose” and needed reform.

“The damage it does to victims and survivors, the damage it does to people against whom a complaint is made, is extraordinary,” he said.

When he was asked about the lack of responsibility taken by individuals for failings in the church, he said “tribalism in the Church of England” had allowed paedophile clerics to thrive.

Welby told the inquiry he has “seen afresh the insanity of clericalism and of a deferential culture” within the church.

Reforms he is instigating include performance reviews for bishops and archbishops. He is in the midst of a review of his own performance at present.

In his view, psychosocial or psychometric assessments should be used when selecting people for ordination.

“If it can be demonstrated that [such tests] will be helpful in identifying pathologies that are likely to lead to behaviours, then it is worth doing.

“You want to [use these tests to] pick up people who are not going to use power well or who are going to abuse it,” he said.

He said bishops and other members of the clergy were now given training, which made it “quite clear” that if a safeguarding issue was not reported it was a disciplinary matter.

He said clergy who abuse children can never be trusted again, even if they confess or repent.

Welby also said the culture of parish churches needed to change, so safeguarding failures were as unacceptable as drink-driving.

In this way “if anything is seen as untoward … everyone who knows, who is around, says ‘this isn’t right and I’m going to do something about it’.”

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