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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Archbishop's Chichester Visitation - update

Thursday 18th October 2012

Following the announcement of the retirement of the Bishop of Lewes, The Archbishop has made the following statement:

When the interim report of the Archbishop’s Commissaries for the Visitation to the Diocese of Chichester was published on 24 August I made a series of comments about national and diocesan standards in relation to safeguarding and these are important enough to bear repeating.

The issues around safeguarding in the Diocese of Chichester have been the result of longstanding problems with working arrangements and communications, and a costly failure to reflect best current practice in the policies and procedures established by the Diocese.

Those in senior leadership in the Diocese, including Bishop Wallace Benn, whose retirement is announced today, have already acknowledged a shared responsibility and made unreserved apologies to those who have suffered because of past errors, and no one member of the senior team carries sole responsibility. They have been clear about mistakes made in the past and the need to change attitudes and practices in the Diocese so as to guarantee that churches offer as safe an environment for children as humanly possible.

In the light of the interim report there is now an opportunity for the Diocese to examine some of its structures afresh. Bishop Wallace has rightly welcomed the recommendations made by the Commissaries and the improvement which the implementation of those recommendations will bring. The commitment of the bishops, the senior team and the diocesan staff to continue with the urgent work of improvement is already crystal clear and the final stage of the Archbishop’s Visitation will aim at securing still more firmly the advances that have been made in the recent past.

I would wish to echo Bishop Martin’s thoughtful words about Bishop Wallace’s ministry in Chichester. With the support of his wife Lindsay, he has worked hard over many years to serve the Church in the Diocese and beyond. Much appreciation has been expressed about his fifteen years in Episcopal ministry and we shall be praying for him and Lindsay as they enter a new phase in their service and seek God’s will for them.

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