Diocese vows to change in the wake of damning report

THE ORGANISATION which runs churches across Eastbourne and was heavily criticised in a new report, has said it will do all it can to change.

The Diocese of Chichester was described as dysfunctional, arrogantly in denial, its history of safeguarding young children had fallen woefully short and a place where priests were able to officiate without up-to-date CRB checks.

The report was penned after intervention by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

It also followed the arrests of retired Canon Gordon Rideout from Polegate who now faces more than 30 charges of sex abuse and priest Robert Coles from Upperton Road who is also facing allegations of sexually abusing young children.

This week the incoming Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner said the diocese would take on board recommendations from the report and he would meet with those abused by priests.

He said, “This interim report reinforces for all who read it how the damage caused to each survivor is unique and intensely personal. Let us never forget that.

“Nor can we ever imagine that words of apology, deep and sincere though they might be, take away the damage and wicked shamefulness that survivors of abuse carry as a destructive burden.

“We shall ensure that our diocesan-wide policy of Safeguarding is implemented rigorously and evenly across the diocese in all aspects of our life. The Commissaries’ observation clearly indicates that ‘a radical change of culture in the Diocese’ will only come about through radical changes in our structures.

“We must address that challenge urgently.

“Since my appointment as bishop earlier this year I have heard, time and again, that the diocese has been buffeted by a seemingly never-ending saga of episodes that have, in the minds of some, called into question our ability to act decisively in response to instances of abuse.

“Together with all who exercise the responsibility for leadership, we shall work across the diocese of Chichester to ensure that we are able to act, and seen to do so, whenever the issue of a child’s protection is at stake.

“This will be fundamental to building trust in our working relationships with statutory and voluntary partners.

“We are determined that this is a diocese in which the vulnerable will feel safe and will be safe.”