|Bishop Pledges to Flush out Paedos from Church in Wales
March 3, 2009
TWO of Wales’s top clergymen have vowed to root out any remaining paedophiles in the Church in Wales.
The Archbishop of Wales and the Bishop of Bangor say action needs to be taken to ensure the public can have trust in the Church.
Clerics suspected of child abuse in the past will face scrutiny by an independent social worker called in by the Church in Wales to look through its files.
The social worker will be seconded from the office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales to examine the files of serving and retired priests as well as lay office holders.
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said: "We want to make sure the Church in Wales is a safe place for our children to grow up in and to be nourished in the Christian faith.
"Caring for them and protecting them is of paramount importance to us – whether they come to us through worship, Sunday schools, choirs or clubs.
"Much has already been done over recent years through our child protection policy to prevent abuse. This review, however, will cover any historic cases which were not looked into at the time to the standards of that policy.
"It’s a difficult area to address - and we sincerely hope little will emerge - but our approach will be professional and thorough, underlining our commitment and ensuring we have done everything we possibly can to keep our children safe."
His words were echoed by the new Bishop of Bangor, Bishop Andrew, who told the Daily Post: "I think we have to demonstrate that we as a church are beyond reproach.
"If there is a need to review historic cases we shouldn’t sweep this under the carpet. We have to make sure there is a full investigation."
Bishop Andrew said that cases of child abuse had damaged the good name of the Christian church worldwide.
"We need to demonstrate that we are worthy of trust."
He added that any fresh case of child abuse involving clergymen would now immediately result in a referral to social services and, if need be, the police.
The review announced by the Church in Wales will examine any previously reported allegations or suspicions of child abuse and is expected to take a year to complete.
Those which come to light will be reported to the authorities, a Church in Wales spokeswoman said yesterday.
The probe had been commissioned by the bishops to ensure the church was doing all it could to protect children, she said.
It will cover cases where information exists, either in paper files or in living memory, of any occasion where a child may have been at risk or where someone may continue to pose a risk to children.
Each of the six dioceses of Wales will be reviewed individually.
The Church has also set up a confidential phone helpline with the NSPCC for anyone who feels they may be affected or who wants to share information.
The spokeswoman added: "Any cases found will be considered by an internal safeguarding panel and action taken in conjunction with the statutory agencies in Wales, in line with the Church in Wales child protection policy and the All Wales Child Protection Procedures."
Keith Towler, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, backed the decision.
ONE of the triggers for the decision to undertake a review of possibly unresolved cases of child abuse in the Church in Wales was last year’s scandal involving the Rev Richard Hart.
Hart, of Beguildy in Powys, was vicar of four parishes in the south of the county.
He was jailed for three-and-a-half years at Cardiff Crown Court last September after admitting 21 charges against him of making, taking and possessing more than 56,000 indecent images of children.
A tribunal ruled in January that the 59-year-old should be expelled as a cleric of the Church in Wales.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Church in Wales said it had been a particularly horrific case and was one of the reasons why the review had been launched to ensure other cases were dealt with.
Hart’s trial was told he had amassed a vast collection of images from websites in Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK, the US, Denmark, Russia and other eastern European countries.
Hart was ordained in 1986 and was priest-in-charge of four parishes in Powys.
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