Lord Sentamu ‘forced to step back’ from ministry after child sex abuse review #Lord #Sentamu #forced #step #ministry #child #sex #abuse #review #englishheadline


Archbishop of York - Charlotte Graham

Archbishop of York – Charlotte Graham

The former Archbishop of York has been forced to step back from ministry after he failed to act on a disclosure of child sexual abuse and claimed that “safeguarding is very important, but it does not trump Church Law”.

An independent review published this week concluded that Lord Sentamu, who was the Archbishop of York from 2005 to 2020, failed to act on a disclosure of child sexual abuse carried out by a Church of England priest who took his own life while awaiting trial.

In response, Lord Sentamu rejected the reviewer’s findings, insisting there had been a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the responsibilities of bishops and archbishops. He also issued a furious rebuttal of the findings and claimed the reviewer’s stated opinion that individuals must act on safeguarding issues regardless of church law was “odd and troubling”, adding: “Safeguarding is very important but it does not trump church law.”

His comments prompted uproar from survivors of church-related abuse as well as clergy. The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Julie Conalty, who is the deputy lead bishop for safeguarding within the Church of England, responded saying: “I am so ashamed and angered by this response. Church law and our complex structures are no excuse for failing to do the right thing.”

However, it emerged on Saturday that Lord Sentamu is stepping back from ministry as a result of both the findings of the review, and his response. The victim who reported the abuse, Rev Matthew Ineson, welcomed the news and described Lord Sentamu as an “arrogant bully” and called for him to be “barred from ever entering ministry again”.

The current Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, is also “fully supportive” of his predecessor stepping back from ministry.

Rev Ineson, who was 16 at the time and went on to become a vicar, was sexually abused by the late Rev Trevor Devamanikkam in the 1980s in Bradford, the independent review found.

Devamanikkam was charged with six serious sexual offences in May 2017, all relating to the Rev Ineson, but he was found dead in his flat, having killed himself before he was due to appear in court.

A decade ago, Rev Ineson told some senior clergy members about his abuse.

The review, commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST), said clergy, including Lord Sentamu, as well as another bishop, “failed to act on his disclosures”.

Rev Ineson said he reported the abuse in conversation with two bishops in 2012, and again to an archdeacon and a third bishop in 2013.

He then wrote letters to the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft – who is now the Bishop of Oxford, but was the Bishop of Sheffield at the time – copying in Lord Sentamu, and claimed he had “suffered sexual abuse as a youth by a priest”.

Rev Ineson: ‘It should have happened a long time ago’

Following the news that Lord Sentamu has been forced to step back from ministry in the wake of his comments, Rev Ineson said: “I welcome this news. It should have happened a long time ago.

“He ignored disclosure of rape and abuse, failed to consult his safeguarding advisor, failed to take action against Steven Croft, blamed everyone else for his failures, has consistently attempted to bully me into silence, refused to apologise for his actions and now criticises the ‘reviewer’ for not getting it right.

“The man is an arrogant bully. His Permission to Officiate should be withdrawn and he should be barred from ever entering ministry again.”

Since waiving his right to anonymity, Rev Ineson has become one of the most outspoken critics of the Church of England over its shortcomings in dealing with cases of sexual abuse. He previously gave evidence to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Newcastle said: “Following the publication of the independent lessons learnt review into the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, and the response of those criticised, the Bishop of Newcastle, Helen-Ann Hartley, having taken appropriate advice, yesterday required Lord Sentamu, Honorary Assistant Bishop in Newcastle Diocese, to step back from active ministry until both the findings and his response can be explored further.

“The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, is fully supportive of this decision. The Diocese of Newcastle remains committed to the highest standards of safeguarding which seeks to always to place victims and survivors at the heart of this vital work.”

A spokesperson for Lord Sentamu was contacted for comment.

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