Methodist Church to render public apology for years of covering sexual abuse

General secretary, Revd Dr. Martyn Atkins, said abuse would "remain a deep source of grief and shame to the Church"

Rape of a minor is a grave offence.

The UK's Methodist Church is to make a public apology after an investigation uncovered nearly 2,000 reported cases of abuse - including 914 allegations involving sexual abuse.

According to BBC, the independent inquiry looked at the Church's response to complaints and allegations dating back to 1950.

General secretary,  Revd Dr. Martyn Atkins, said abuse would "remain a deep source of grief and shame to the Church".

Reports say the NSPCC urged it to protect children.

And report chairman Jane Stacey, former deputy chief executive of the children's charity Barnardo's, called for a culture change in the Church.

The Church commissioned the review - which took three years to complete - because it said it wanted to be open about the past and to have stronger safeguarding procedures in the future.

In total, it identified 1,885 cases - including alleged sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse, as well as cases of neglect.

Allegations of sexual abuse formed the largest number of cases.

Ministers or lay employees were involved in 26% of the alleged cases of abuse, the investigation found.

That figure increased to 33% when Church members, such as worship leaders and local preachers, were also included.

One of the cases concerned the grooming of teenage girls on Facebook, while another involved a minister allegedly making sexual advances to children. Another involved a Methodist youth officer who had indecent images of children on his computer.

One of the abuse survivors who responded to the survey said: "I have learnt that it is impossible to recover from sexual abuse when no-one recognises the seriousness of it. My Church did not want a scandal, my parents did not want a scandal.

"I was left to feel worthless and devalued, while the man was left to get on with his life and for all I know repeat the crime with someone else. I was emotionally and physically devastated."

Another welcomed the review, saying she was incredibly relieved the Methodist Church was seriously working to make the Church safer.

"I want to prevent the Church and other people from handling things wrong in the future. I don't want other girls to suffer like I have," she said.

Rev Atkins, who is also secretary of the Methodist Conference, said: "On behalf of the Methodist Church in Britain I want to express an unreserved apology for the failure of its current and earlier processes fully to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by some ministers.

"The abuse that has been inflicted by some Methodists on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame to the Church."

The Church is expected to make a public apology at its annual conference in June.

Ms Stacey said there were "many lessons to be learnt".

"The most challenging are those that require a significant culture change throughout the Church, and particularly for ministers and Church leaders," she added.

"The Church will need further courage to implement the review's recommendations, which are far-reaching and call for major changes in both practice and culture."

An NSPCC spokesman said: "This is a horrifying catalogue of abuse that the Methodist Church has revealed by confronting the dark side of its history."

He said "a vast number of victims must have endured appalling experiences while the Church refused to listen to their pleas for help", and that it was clear abuse was "still being inflicted in recent years".

"Having had the courage to come clean about the extent of abuse, they [the Church] must now have measures in place to ensure there are no more such incidents and all children they have dealings with are given the protection and support they deserve."

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