Church’s shame over historic child abusers

Dr John Sentamu

Dr John Sentamu

First published in News
Last updated

THE Archbishop of York has said he is "deeply ashamed" of the Church of England's failure to protect vulnerable children.

A national newspaper has reported that Dr John Sentamu has written to a number of men who were abused as children by the Very Rev Robert Waddington, the former dean of Manchester Cathedral, who preyed on schoolboys in Britain and Australia over a 60-year period.

Dr Sentamu is preparing to publish an independent report by Judge Sally Cahill, QC, in to Waddington, who died in 2007, and the mishandling of abuse allegations in 1999, 2003 and 2005 against him from former choirboys and students in England and Australia.

It also investigated the former archbishop of York, now Lord Hope of Thornes who last year expressed regret at not reporting the allegations to police or other child protection agencies.

Archbishop Sentamu wrote in his letter to Waddington’s victims that “we in the Church of England should face up to the wrong which has been allowed to be done to those children who were abused by the late Robert Waddington’’.

“Above all it is for the Church of England to face up to where it has failed to protect children from sexually predatory clergy,” he wrote.

“Apologies given years later are unlikely to be satisfactory, but I want you to know that for my part I am deeply ashamed for those times when the church has failed either to listen or to act where children were at serious risk.’’

Judge Cahill’s unreleased report, which victims are demanding should be made public, is likely to be critical of Lord Hope, a life peer in the House of Lords awarded a knighthood for services to the sovereign.

In his letter, Archbishop Sentamu also opens the door to compensation and says the findings of Judge Cahill’s report will be made public when the church receives responses from victims and others named in the report.

Waddington retired to York in 1990 and Dr Sentamu commissioned the report, the findings of which he has promised to make public.

In a statement, Dr Sentamu said that he wanted to ensure that "systematic failure in the past" could never be repeated.

He added: "Whilst it is never possible to put right the wrongs that have been done, the seriousness of the crimes which have been committed makes us determined both to acknowledge our responsibility and our shame for our failure to protect children in the past and to respond far more positively to those victims who bravely come forward to share their experience today."

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