The total number of sex abuse complaints that the Church of England had received by 2016 had reached 3,300. Although the new complaints were not set apart from the old ones, the Church could still end up paying millions in compensation to the victims, The Daily Mail reported.
In a case against deceased Bishop of Chichester George Bell, the Church had to pay 15,000 British pounds in compensation even though the abuse allegations were unproven. If each complaint would cost that amount, the Church could then end up shelling out almost 50 million pounds.
The specifics of the abuse complaints were handed to the Church of England’s General Synod. This included the one filed against former bishop Peter Ball, who was imprisoned in 2015 for 32 months for abusing boys for more than 30 years.
On Feb. 5, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the woman who had accused Bishop George Bell of sexual abuse could not be overlooked. He said the accuser ought to be “treated equally importantly” as the person being accused, The Church Times reported.
Lord Carlile’s independent review criticized the Church of England’s decision to reveal Bell’s name in the case, and Welby also drew flak for saying that he could not clear the embattled bishop’s name. The Archbishop defended the Church’s decision to reveal the amount of compensation it had given to the woman, which was 16,800 pounds, and told the Church Times that he accepted Lord Carlile’s recommendations except the one about naming the accused.
“We have to treat both Bishop Bell, his reputation — we have to hold that as something really precious and valuable,” said Welby. “But the person who has brought the complaint is not an inconvenience to be overlooked: they are a human being of immense value and dignity, to be treated equally importantly. And it is very difficult to square that circle.”
In addition, Archbishop Welby said safeguarding was the most difficult thing he had to do because it dealt with the sin of the Church and the damage that it had inflicted on the victims. He said the problem has to be addressed both in spiritual and “mechanistic” ways.