Church looks to psychometric testing to stop paedophiles becoming priests

The Church of England is looking to implement psychometric testing to stop would-be paedophiles from becoming priests.

The proposal is among a raft of new measures aimed at addressing the Church's response to child sexual abuse.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was 'ashamed' of the Church over its handling of child sex abuse.IICSA

One concern is how to stop paedophiles slipping through the ordination process to become clergy.

It comes after Rev Roy Cotton was convicted of child sexual abuse in 1954 but was later considered suitable for ordination in 1967. The then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, described him as a 'man of considerable of any trouble for 12 years'. 

Cotton went on abuse several teenage boys as a priest but he died in 2006 before he could be brought justice.

The Church of England said rigorous background checks mean it is confident no one with a history of paedophilia could be ordained today.

However it said it cannot offer a 100 per cent guarantees and psychometric testing for ordinands is one possibility being explored to crack down on those with a tendency towards paedophilia becoming priests.

The Church's ruling general synod will be asked to back a report that outlines new measures to tackle the ongoing scandal, including 'new requirements to strengthen suitability and selection of candidates for ministry'.

'The Church of England's Selection Criteria for ordained ministry needs to be sufficiently robust in order to give assurance that candidates for the ordained ministry pose no safeguarding risk,' the report published today said.

A spokesman confirmed that psychometric testing was one of tools being considered.

New selection procedures will include guidance for what should happen if a candidate 'discloses evidence of having been abused or discloses a vulnerability that has not been hitherto explored or recognised'.

One victim of abuse, quoted in the report, said: 'Screening of those wishing to enter the priesthood and become vicars is very important – a person with good interpersonal skills can get in anywhere. A dog collar is like a key to everyone's front room in the parish.'

Church officials will also suggest a joint project with the Roman Catholic Church for a new hotline survivors can call to report abuse.

Next month bishops will go before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to give evidence about Peter Ball. The former bishop of Gloucester, 85, was jailed for 32 months in October 2015 for offences against 18 teenagers and men.

The Prince of Wales is among those asked to give witness statements with the inquiry examining whether 'improper pressure' was exerted on police by 'individuals who were prominent in public life'.