Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks at Westminster earlier this year

Archbishop of Canterbury to inquiry: Sex abusers can never be trusted again

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has told the Child Sex Abuse inquiry that the Church of England needs new safeguarding powers.

He gave evidence today (Wednesday) at the three-week investigation into dozens of allegations of abuse by priests, especially in the Diocese of Chichester in West Sussex.

Speaking on the fifth anniversary of his installation as Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr Welby said: “We know abusive behaviour tends to repeat.

“If someone has been an abuser, they can never be trusted again. You will never take a chance on them again.”

Mr Welby told the inquiry that the Church of England is in the process of training 30,000 parish safeguarding officers to monitor activity at the lowest level.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey

He added that it would be compulsory for bishops to undergo the training and that he would not consecrate any who had not.

“It’s at parish level that we will change everything,” Mr Welby said.

“We have to get to the point where if anything is seen that is untoward, people say this isn’t right and I’m going to do something about it.”

At the start of the month, it emerged that police and prosecutors were considering an investigation into allegations that former Archbishop George Carey was involved in covering up sexual abuse within the church.

Mr Welby stressed he also wanted to challenge the culture of “clericalism” where undue deference is paid to senior figures.

Abuse of power is at the heart of sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse, “and that’s what you want to pick up on”, he said.

Lord Carey, Archbishop from 1991 to 2002, submitted a statement to the inquiry being held in London.

It said: “I have no present recollection of being made aware of difficulties in the diocese of Chichester relating to safeguarding and responding to child sexual abuse while I was Archbishop of Canterbury.”

In 2015 Mr Welby commissioned the inquiry into abuse within the church and asked Lord Carey to stand down as an honorary bishop.

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