Report Released on Abuse within the Anglican Church, SNAP Reacts
A report on abuse and cover-up within the Anglican Church has revealed something that our organization has known for a long time – that institutions will put the desire to avoid scandal above the protection of the people in the community. We hope that this report will cause parishioners and the public to think differently about how they view churches and other organizations. We also hope that the report will lead to increased awareness and vigilance in every community so that children and the vulnerable can be protected from the scourge of sexual abuse.
The report released by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) on the Anglican Church mirrors many of the revelations that have been made about the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and other institutions like the Boy Scouts and universities. Too often, those in charge put the avoidance of scandals and lawsuits ahead of the proper care of survivors and the vigorous investigation of allegations. Too often, powerful men are able to silence victims and their families by playing on their fears of being ostracized by the community or disbelieved in the eyes of the public, as well as in religious settings using the victims’ faith against them as a type of moral blackmail. All of this, and more, is detailed in the report on the Anglican Church.
Like other institutions, the Anglican Church has made recent strides towards improvements and prevention. But those strides are undercut by the stories of survivors who have been turned away and whose abusers have been protected. In order for the recent strides to have a real, lasting impact, the culture that allowed the abuse in the first place must be rooted out.
We believe this starts with a full accounting of what went wrong, who knew what, and when they knew it. It ends when those in positions of power are held accountable for their refusal to do the right thing. This requires a secular investigation by trained professionals in law enforcement, the ability to compel testimony from leaders, and a massive outreach campaign to still-hidden victims, urging them to come forward, share their story, and get help.
In our view, the IICSA is a good example of the kind of action that is required to make a real difference. When government officials use their power to get to the bottom of these scandals, it leads to safer environments for children and the vulnerable. We hope that countries like the United States will follow in their footsteps and use the powers of government to look into this disturbing reality and start demanding answers, information, and change, not simply waiting for institutional officials to do this themselves.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)