Child abuse is a seriously distressing matter. The violation, confusion, fear, self-loathing, guilt, depression… suicidal thoughts. It can take years and decades to come to terms with the misery and emotional agony, and the scars never really heal. They may fade in time, but are easily inflamed when scratched or picked at by tormented forefingers. And then you try to hide them all over again, ashamed of the sores and blemishes of a sin which wasn’t even yours. Or was it?
Child abuse in the Church is not only seriously distressing, it is eternally consequential: “If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble,” said Jesus, “it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
The Church of England has already thrown Bishop George Bell into a very deep pond. It has also just hurled former Archbishop George (Lord) Carey into a reservoir of excrement. In the case of Bell, the solitary, uncorroborated testimony of ‘Carol’ was deemed sufficient to trash his reputation – some 70 years after the alleged abuse took place. In the case of Carey, the report of Dame Moira Gibb was sufficient for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to demand Lord Carey’s resignation as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Oxford, for apparently ‘colluding’ in child abuse some 20 years ago. There is more than a whiff of scape-goating.
Contrast the swiftness and severity of these judgments with the harrowing account below. This story has been circulating in the media for a number of years, not least because the alleged abuser – a priest by the name of Trevor Devamanikkam – committed suicide before the case against him could be heard. His victim has hitherto remained anonymous – often named ‘Michael’ in the media. He has lodged complaints of misconduct against the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and four other serving bishops, claiming they had failed to act on his disclosures of rape. Nothing happened: apparently, a CDM (Clergy Discipline Measure) has to be issued within 12 months of the alleged misconduct. This might be appropriate if your vicar is filching hymn books, but it is woefully inadequate for dealing with the cover-up of chronic child abuse, the effects of which may take the victim many, many years to process.
Funny, isn’t it, how long-dead and retired bishops can be summarily and expediently thrown to the wolves some 20-70 years after their alleged moral shortcomings or professional failings, but those who are still in active ministry and in senior positions are shielded by a non-statutory 12-month limitation, within which narrow window proceedings for ‘cover-up’ or ‘collusion’ must be initiated, or they fall.
Michael’s real name is Matt Ineson – or Fr Matthew Ineson, to give him his formal style, for (amazingly) this molested, raped and tortured boy went on to be ordained into the ministry of the Church of England. The abuse he endured around the age of 16 has naturally affected his whole life, but that suffering has been compounded by the sheer delinquency of the Church of England in its competence and ability to let justice be done and be seen to be done. Matt Ineson remembers everything, but all the church seems to want to do is forget that he even exists. They have put the phone down on him numerous times. A few have written with assurances of ‘prayer’ and ‘concern’. He asserts his case with abundant evidence, but they sit in judgment upon themselves. Read his own words, and weep:
Matt Ineson’s testimony is damning: he doesn’t want money; he simply cries out for justice. And it is a cry of manifest desperation compounded by years of episcopal frustration and ecclesial obfuscation. You may reasonably demur from his insistence that these bishops must resign (they all, of course, have a right to reply and the presumption of innocence). But then you must address the legal hypocrisy which permits George Bell to be smeared as a paedophile 70 years after his death; and the regulatory inconsistency which demands the resignation of Lord Carey after more than 20 years, while these bishops remain in office, shielded by an arbitrary, non-statutory, 12-month CDM limitation.