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Archbishop launches major probe into deceased clergy
12:30am Saturday 17th August 2013 in News
THE Archbishop of York has launched an independent inquiry into hundreds of deceased clergymen to run alongside another investigation into a former dean who died after being accused of child sex abuse.
Dr John Sentamu has appealed for people from across North Yorkshire and the North-East to come forward with information about deceased clergy who served in the Diocese of York dating back more than 65 years.
The diocese, which includes 608 churches and 127 schools in 468 parishes stretching from the Humber to the Tees and the A1 to the coast, said it believes there may be numerous historic issues relating to safeguarding vulnerable adults and children that have not been reported.
The Archbishop of York said: “The damage done by the sexual abuse of children is immense, and the passage of time does not in itself bring healing.
“Where young people are shown to have been betrayed by individuals in a position of trust and by the institution’s failure to protect them, it is for the Church to acknowledge the hurt which has been done, to offer a full apology, and to prove, so far as is possible, that policies and practices are improved such that the same systemic failure could never be repeated.”
Dr Sentamu had previously launched an independent inquiry, which is set to publish its initial findings in October, into issues surrounding claims the late Dean of Manchester, Robert Waddington, groomed and abused a chorister in the 1980s.
Last month, the General Synod voted to apologise for past safeguarding wrongs in the Church of England and to ensure that steps are taken to make sure that victims of abuse were actively listened to and offered support.
In the light of this, the archbishop has appointed an independent reviewer to examine all available files of deceased clergy who served in the Diocese of York from before 1950 to the present.
A diocese spokesman said the Church of England’s National Review of Past Cases of Child Abuse in 2008 did not include the files of deceased clergy, but it had been recognised that it was important to review these files.
He said any “relevant material” found, would help to inform the response of the Church and of relevant statutory agencies to any reports which may surface about clergy who have since died.
He declined to reveal who was leading or the number of people involved in the investigation, but acknowledged due to the absence of safeguarding procedures in the past numerous cases of abuse could emerge.
The archbishop’s chief of staff, the Reverend Malcolm Macnaughton, said: “Because of policies now in place we believe today’s young people are in a much safer position, but there is no room for complacency.”
If anyone wishes to report or provide information about known or suspected abuse in the Diocese of York they can speak to one of the archbishop’s chaplains by calling 01904-707021.
Anyone wanting to inform the statutory authorities, can speak to Local Safeguarding Children Boards in North Yorkshire on 0845-034-9410; Redcar and Cleveland on 01642-771500; York on 01904-551900 and Middlesbrough on 01642-726004.
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