THE Church of England has formally apologised for past child abuse by Anglican priests.
The ruling General Synod, meeting in York, endorsed a report apologising for abuse in the Chichester diocese.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said there needed to be “a complete change of culture and behaviour” in the Church.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby told the Synod: “We are not doing all this, we are not seeking to say how devastatingly, appallingly, atrociously sorry we are for the great failure there has been, for our own sakes, for our own flourishings, for the protection of the Church. We are doing it because we are called to live in the justice of God and we will each answer to him for our failings in these areas.”
The ensuing report described a “profoundly unhelpful and negative culture” in the Church.
The cases of two priests - Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard - who abused several children during the 1970s and 1980s, prompted an inquiry by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office into safeguarding procedures in the diocese.
Cotton was a vicar at St George’s Church Brede and St Mary’s at Udimore in the 1990s.
Cotton was ordained in 1966, despite having a conviction for sexually abusing a choirboy in the 1950s, and went on to abuse at least 10 boys from Eastbourne. He died in 2006 as investigations were under way.
Colin Pritchard was jailed for five years in July 2008 for offences he committed up to three decades ago while he was parish priest at St Andrew’s church in Wellingborough.
Pritchard served as the vicar of St Barnabas Church in Bexhill and St John the Baptist in Sedlescombe.