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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Archbishop of York apologises to abuse victims of ex-Carlisle canon

Letters of apology have been sent to some of the child abuse victims of a former Carlisle Cathedral canon.

John Sentamu photo
Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu

The Archbishop of York has revealed he has written to a number of the men who fell prey to the Very Rev Robert Waddington.

Waddington served as Residentiary Canon of Carlisle Cathedral and Bishop’s Adviser for Education from 1972 to 1977. He died in 2007, aged 79.

Police now believe he preyed on schoolboys in both Britain and Australia over the course of six decades.

The Diocese of Carlisle and Cumbria police have previously confirmed the allegations do not relate to Waddington’s time in Carlisle, however.

The Times newspaper is reporting that Dr John Sentamu, who is also the University of Cumbria’s chancellor, has said he is “deeply ashamed” of the Church of England’s failure to protect vulnerable children.

In the letter, he wrote that “we in the Church of England should face up to the wrong which has been allowed to be done to those children who were abused by the late Robert Waddington.

“Above all it is for the Church of England to face up to where it has failed to protect children from sexually predatory clergy.”

Dr Sentamu’s letter continues: “Apologies given years later are unlikely to be satisfactory, but I want you to know that for my part I am deeply ashamed for those times when the church has failed either to listen or to act where children were at serious risk.”

An independent report has been produced by Judge Sally Cahill, QC, looking into Waddington and the mishandling of abuse allegations in 1999, 2003 and 2005 against him from former choirboys and students in England and Australia.

It also investigates the former archbishop of York, now Lord Hope of Thornes who last year expressed regret at not reporting the allegations to police or other child protection agencies.

Victims are demanding that the unreleased report is made public, and Dr Sentamu has pledged to publish the findings when the church receives responses from victims and others named in the report.

In a statement to The Times, Dr Sentamu said he wanted to ensure that “systematic failure in the past” could never be repeated.

He added: “Whilst it is never possible to put right the wrongs that have been done, the seriousness of the crimes which have been committed makes us determined both to acknowledge our responsibility and our shame for our failure to protect children in the past and to respond far more positively to those victims who bravely come forward to share their experience today.”

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