A new child abuse scandal is dominating the news in England today. It is extremely likely that there was a paedophile ring in London back in the late seventies and early eighties made up of MPs and other VIPs. There are allegations that children were murdered. Furthermore, every time a Met officer got close to uncovering this vile and ongoing crime, he was told to drop the case by his superiors because of the "importance" of the abusers involved.
You can read the full details on the BBC WEBSITE.
Every time another child abuse scandal, in which the authorities that could have done something about it, did nothing about it, hits the headlines I feel myself slipping back into depression. At the moment my wife isn't talking to me because I am in such an angry mess this evening. It's not that I suffered sexual abuse as a child and it's not even the abuse itself that makes my sanity wobble (I expect I react to that in the same way as any "normal" person). No, it's the systematic, institutional covering up of the abuse that screws me up. This is because my personal experience of it at work ruined my life.
Back in 1995 I was ordained deacon in the Newcastle Diocese of the Church of England. My curacy was with a man who turned out to be the vicar from hell. He was completely unpredictable from one moment to another. He would shout at me in church in front of the congregation. He even physically pushed me around in church. Worst of all, the way he behaved with and talked with the young people of the congregation and other young people was perverse and extremely unsettling. He would say things to young teenagers that were full of sexual innuendo involving himself. Although he was in his forties his social life revolved around the pubs and clubs frequented by the local youth. He liked to cuddle them. He would try to get them to sit on his lap, that sort of thing and worse, but he was clever enough not to get caught doing something for which he could be officially disciplined. At least he was until the day when a mother from the church told me that the vicar had taken her teenage son to a sauna and photographed him in the nude.
I had to report it and so I did, to the archdeacon. He completely covered it up. Nothing was done about the matter other than the vicar in question was given a quiet talking to by the archdeacon and told to be more careful in future, no doubt.
This, and all the other nasty stuff concerning this opportunist predator, literally sent me insane. Over the following two or three years I was in and out of hospital. When I eventually recovered enough to return to full time employment, the then Bishop of Newcastle told me that depressives could never be parish priests. I was reduced to the ranks of permanent assistant priest and eventually got rid of completely. I have not presided at the Eucharist since May 2010 and I have been unemployed since August of that year. My life is shit.
We moved to Durham Diocese and I tried to get some help from Justin Welby when he was bishop of Durham. But he is a man of little compassion and he wasn't prepared to accept that other bishops could make mistakes, accidentally or deliberately. He couldn't even find it in his heart to give me permission to officiate in his twelve months of office. I would point out at this stage that I have never actually done anything wrong. My sins, as far as the bishops of the Church of England are concerned, are that of mental illness and whistleblowing.
I spent last year working on my anger towards the Church and its bishops with a very good therapist and didn't contact Welby's replacement at Durham, to ask for permission to officiate, until I was happy that I was in the right emotional place to do so as I assumed I would get the same lack of help and understanding from him as from all previous bishops, archdeacons and rural deans that I have known (including a few who pretended I was their friend). I first contacted the bishop at the beginning of December last year and because of the extreme slowness of the diocesan office when it comes to dealing with the important things of other people's lives, I have only just received my CRB check results which give me a clean bill of health as far as inappropriate behaviour is concerned. However, this still does not mean that the bishop will give me permission to officiate. For a start I have to go on a three hour course about the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. This will not be until the twelfth of May - over six months since I first initiated the process. I just cannot imagine any other business or institution taking so long to clear a person for employment. Unfortunately, it is easy to imagine the Church of England being this unconcerned and uncaring.
There is one other thing that gives the lie to any claim that the Church is a pastorally sensitive organisation. I will have to sit through three hours of people going on about how wonderful the Church of England is when it comes to safeguarding children when I know such claims to be spurious. On top of that I have no idea how I will cope with the course in respect of its content's relationship to my own past. I doubt that anyone has even thought about this being a problem. Certainly nobody has spoken to me about it even though I told the bishop all about my history in the Church when I first wrote to him. Of course, if, like all the others, he prefers to believe I am lying (despite all the evidence to the contrary) rather than accept that another bishop could be a compassionless bigot, I expect my cries for help were brushed away like an annoying midge on a horse's bum after a rainstorm.
Of course, I keep going. I keep knocking at the door despite the antipathy of the doormen towards me. That is the sort of stubborn, foolish person that I am. But I also keep hurting. My pigheadedness does nothing to ease the pain.