The Archbishop of York has said he is “deeply ashamed” that the Church of England failed to stop abuse by a former Dean of Manchester Cathedral, Robert Waddington.
An independent inquiry by Judge Sally Cahill found that the allegations made against Waddington, who died in 2007, had not been adequately responded to by the Church and puts forward a series of recommendations for improvement.
Complaints were made against Waddington between 1999 and 2004 relating to incidents that took place in Australia in the 1960s and when he was Dean of Manchester in the 1980s.
Archbishop John Sentamu, who commissioned Judge Cahill’s report, said the inquiry had shown “systemic failures” by the Church.
Archbishop Sentamu’s predecessor Lord Hope was among those singled out for criticism for how he responded when he heard of allegations against Waddington.
These included not taking advice from his child protection officer, failing to take action that might have led to a prosecution, not establishing the risk to children and the fact that he interviewed Waddington about the allegations himself.
The report said: “We consider the failings of Lord Hope were cumulative over the period, and arose as a result of Lord Hope not following the Church’s policies and instead dealing with a child protection issue in what appears to have been the way he would deal with a disciplinary matter or complaint.”
Lord Hope issued a robust response to the inquiry saying he was “disappointed” by its findings and that throughout his ministry believed that safeguarding concerns should be dealt with “professionally and swiftly.” He said the allegations regarding Waddington, whom the inquiry found no evidence of abuse against after 1999, were “unspecific” and the sources were unwilling to go to the police.
The report sets out eight recommendations for the Church of England to adopt including a national child protection service – a full-time national safeguarding adviser is currently being recruited – and a national approach to child protection.
Archbishop Sentamu also said that one of those who reported abuse to the inquiry believes that disclosures made in the confessional should not be confidential. The archbishop said he had sympathy with this view and announced that the Church has commissioned theological and legal work on the question.
Above: Manchester Cathedral. Photo: Richard Rogerson