Abusers may be forgiven but can never be trusted again, Archbishop tells inquiry

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the child sex abuse inquiry that abusers can “never be trusted again”.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said that while people may be forgiven, this would not stop them from facing the consequences of their actions.

Giving evidence at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, he explained that forgiveness is a very complex issue.

But he added: “The Bible is utterly, brutally blunt about the difference between forgiveness and the consequences of sin.”

“Where there is something done wrong, there will be consequences,” he said.

“If someone has been an abuser, they can never be trusted again – that is the consequence.”

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
(left to right) The Archbishop of Canterbury’s director of communications, Ailsa Anderson, the Most Rev Justin Welby, and his adviser on Anglican Communion affairs, Bishop Anthony Poggo, arrive at the inquiry (David Mirzoeff/PA)

He replied that he had implemented training, but that there was also a great need for a culture change.

Mr Welby said: “The training of clergy is essential, also the training of PCCs and church wardens. People also need to follow their instincts. It is at parish level that we will change everything.”

On the blame culture in the Church, he added: “‘I’ve heard about a problem, but it was someone else’s job to report it’.

“That is not an acceptable human response, let alone a leadership response. If you know a child is being abused, not to report it is simply wrong.”

The Archbishop also told the inquiry, being held at the Pocock Street Tribunal Hearing Centre in London, that it was taking too long for abuse victims to get justice.

He said: “We end up hurting people more because it doesn’t seem to follow.

“People are not informed, they are not told what is going on.

“It can take three or four years and you end up damaging the survivors and victims more. You abuse them in the way you keep them waiting, and for that matter you don’t do justice to the perpetrator.

“And at the heart of this has to be justice, and justice is very, very difficult to find.

“But you have to have a system that delivers justice. That is so important and, if it doesn’t, it is not good enough and, therefore, if you can’t do it through the present system, then you have to find another that will be more reliable.”

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