Bishop of Huddersfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs has called for the church to be “a beacon of excellence” when it comes to safeguarding issues.
Bishop Jonathan was speaking after being welcomed by General Synod as the Church of England’s new lead bishop on safeguarding.
Synod also voted unanimously yesterday to endorse the Church’s response to five recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and urged its national safeguarding steering group to work towards a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors.
Bishop Jonathan takes on his new role on April 1, and in tabling an amendment to the vote, he said:
“We should be looking right now to go beyond whatever IICSA says, and to commit ourselves to making the Church of England into what it should be, namely a beacon of excellence and recognised as a community that excels in promoting the safety and well-being of every single human being - a voice for the voiceless and a refuge for the vulnerable.
“That means hearing what survivors are saying and trying to see things through their eyes.
“It means recognising that the world looks and feels different to those of us who have suffered trauma and abuse, and it means working together with survivors to re-shape how we go about the shared life of the church.
“And that is vital, because frankly too many of us too often still just don’t get it!”
The Archbishop of Canterbury reaffirmed his personal apology to the survivors and victims saying they are voices we need to hear and heed. He also reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to listening to and implementing the recommendations from IICSA.
He led a tribute to the work and commitment of Bishop Peter Hancock and quoted a message from a survivor who thanked Bishop Peter for creating a safe place of care and bringing light into darkness.