Abuse inquiry reveals Church's 'stupidity, incompetence and lying', says bishop

A child abuse inquiry into the Church of England dealt has exposed 'stupidity, incompetence [and] lying', a bishop has said.

The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse is holding three weeks of hearings into how the diocese of Chichester dealt with allegations of abuse as a case study for the wider church.

Alan Wilson, 62, is Bishop of Buckingham and has been an outspoken critic of the Church's approach to safeguarding.Diocese of Oxford

The archbishop of Canterbury is due to give evidence on Wednesday this week as the inquiry draws its conclusions.

The bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, joined calls from abuse victims, their lawyers, and some church officials for the CofE's safeguarding team, currently run in-house, to be made independent.

He posted on social media: 'A terrible week with evidence of religious exceptionalism, stupidity, incompetence, lying, dumping responsibility at every level including the highest, and folie de grandeur. Bishops must be accountable. This means not just to themselves.'

It comes after the inquiry heard how one paedophile priest was believed when he professed his innocence because the idea ministers would lie to their seniors was considered inconceivable.

'I take priests at their word,' said Nicholas Reade, the former archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings, when asked why he did not investigate when a priest admitted he had been accused of child abuse.

'I know I've had to change my view, but, I mean, you know, priests are part of the College of Presbyters. They are yoked to their bishop,' he said.

'The idea of a priest telling lies to the bishop, I mean, just horrifies me -- horrifies me. However, I mean, I'm afraid I did learn that this had happened.'

Nicholas Reade, the former archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings, worked with Wallace Benn, the then bishop of Lewes.IICSA

Professor Alexis Jay, who chairs the inquiry, was told there was a 'historic bias in the diocese in favour of adults in positions of power and authority'.

The current bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, said: 'This has led to an unwillingness to take allegations of sexual abuse made by children or by adults sufficiently seriously.

'It reflects a wider social attitude of deference, a culture of deferring unduly to those in power and a culture of deference and defensiveness.'

He told the inquiry: 'The diocese compounds the lifelong damage of child sexual abuse by our own thoughtless pride and arrogance as an institution.'

The former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, insisted he knew nothing of the child abuse that was going on in Chichester during his time as archbishop.

In a short written statement he told the inquiry: '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.

'It is, of course, quite possible that the occasional piece of correspondence may have gone to Lambeth Palace on this subject. I had staff at Lambeth Palace to assist me with correspondence, so if there were such matters, they may or may not have reached me personally. If they did, I cannot recall them.'