Thursday, 23 October 2014

Church of England apologise over Waddington abuse scandal

Eli Ward
Last year in the Phonebox magazine we featured a letter from an anonymous source, soon after named as Eli Ward, who walked into our office to tell us his horrific and heart-breaking story, 'Paradox of Abuse.' A member of the Manchester Cathedral choir, 11 year-old Eli was groomed and further abused by Robert Waddington, who was Dean at at the time. Eli's article was a brave step, and after first being published here at the Phonebox magazine, the Times also picked up on the story, and soon light was shed on a link with abuse in Australia. Eli decided to waive his right to anonymity in the hope that it would encourage others to come forward, and help those who had been in similar situations of abuse.

The First time Eli's story was told

The recent inquiry into the Church of England's response to child abuse allegations made against Robert Waddington, has come to a conclusion, and yesterday saw a formal apology from the Archbishop of York. It found that there had been severe failures within the Church of England which had not dealt with the situation when it arose and had consequently put other children at risk. The Archbishop of York offered his personal and profound apologies to the victims of Robert Waddington, and is now pushing for Priests to be able to report matters of abuse which are made during formal confessions, as current rules mean they are bound to secrecy.

Over 30 years after this abuse was sustained and 7 years after Waddington's death, this apology is arguably too little too late. Lord Hope has been accused of compromising police investigations after it arose that abuse had also been suffered by more victims of Robert Waddington, both in the UK and in Australia, and despite some allegations being made against him, nothing was done.

Interviewed on the news last night, Eli Ward declared: 'I want no other child, person, to go through what I have gone through. I have been through the full range of emotions- that's terrible, disgraceful. I should have been enjoying life... my abuse has stopped me doing that.'

Having passed away in 2007, Robert Waddington has not been brought to justice as such, but the case has reached a conclusion and now the Church has apologised. While this in no way can undo the damage done to these victims, the hope is that it will force better systems to be put into place, with the judge recommending a number of steps be taken, including the need for a 'more consistent approach to safeguarding policy and practice' across the Church of England.

Read more:
Bishop of Manchester's official statement.
Manchester Evening News
BBC News

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