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Hallo again to all.

As was plastered across many major media outlets earlier this week, Lord George Carey, who served as the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury (1991-2002) resigned from all church positions at the request of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The call came after allegations that he colluded with retired Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball to hide evidence of sexual abuse and paedophilia—charges that later landed Ball in prison for 18 months (the victim later committed suicide)—were found to be true in a report put out late last week. This resignation from his position of honourary Assistant Bishop of Oxford, the last remaining post the 81 year old clergyman had held, demonstrates an accountability rarely seen put on those held in positions of esteem, especially within the church. That Welby would call for the resignation of someone who is certainly a senior British cleric for the manhandling of the case, making a symbol of the now retired bishop, is shockingly refreshing.

This move comes at a time of pronouncements of an added commitment to safeguarding — which we are seeing across the western church. There is scarcely a province of the Anglican Communion that has not had a paedophilia scandal surrounding a cleric, though these reports on current acts have been diminishing. Our own local parish positions have required us to attend safeguarding training and policies have been enacted to ensure that those at greatest risk are not alone in a room with others.

Yet, all the trainings and awareness schemes in the world will not have the needed impact if those in authority to make choices to safeguard the most vulnerable around us do not make those choices. These often naive or unintentional missteps can occur with the employment of a cleric or a lay staff member with a predatory past — those doing the hiring simply believing they can create a safe environment through limiting contact or employee interactions — or through supporting organisations known to ignore or bury claims of abuse, or finding a 'solution' in dismissing the victim.

This is all to say that we applaud the unprecedented move by the Archbishop of Canterbury to ask Carey to 'carefully consider his position' and likewise Carey for doing just that. We can only pray that this symbol by those at the titular top of the Anglican Communion makes a difference in the handling of these situations at the local, diocesan, and provincial levels, creating a sanctuary in the church, as in the arms of God, who is 'our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.'*

See you again next week.

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2 July 2017

*From Psalm 42

A thin blue line
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