THE ex-Archbishop of York, Lord Hope of Thornes, has resigned his formal ministry role in the Church of England days after a report accused him of failing to act on information he received about alleged child sex abuse by a former cathedral dean.
Lord Hope said in a statement today that he had resigned as Honorary Assistant Bishop of Bradford, now West Yorkshire and the Dales, “after much prayerful and considered thought”.
He said: “This ends my nearly 50 years of formal ministry in the Church of England, which I have always sought to serve with dedication. I will certainly continue to pray for the important ongoing work with survivors.”
It comes after a report published last week into the handling of allegations of sex abuse against the late Robert Waddington, formerly Dean of Manchester, which found there were “systemic failures” by the Church.
The report, by Judge Sally Cahill QC, found that: “Our conclusion, having heard his (Lord Hope’s) evidence is that his concern for the welfare of Robert Waddington seems to have been paramount in his response to these allegations.”
Lord Hope said at the time that he was “disappointed” that the report has raised concerns about how the cases were handled and denied that there was a cover-up.
But he wrote today: “After much prayerful and considered thought I wrote at the beginning of the week to the Bishop of Leeds and in the light of the Cahill Inquiry Report I have submitted my resignation as Honorary Assistant Bishop of Bradford, now West Yorkshire and the Dales, with immediate effect.”
He will remain in the Church of England despite leaving his formal ministry role.
In response, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: “I respect the prayerful decision made by my predecessor Lord David Hope.
“I am deeply saddened by his decision. He has served the Church of England with joyfulness, commitment, honesty and holiness.
“I personally thank him for his leadership as a Priest, Principal of a Theological College, Bishop and Archbishop of the Province of York, and above all as a Dear Brother in Christ.
“It did not come as a surprise to me when on the day the Inquiry Report was published Lord Hope said that ‘It is matter of great regret to me that 12 years ago when the non-specific anonymous allegations were first made in Manchester, the church and I myself were not more proactive in seeking out and/or assisting a reluctant complainant.
“’Nor is it any comfort that other organisations were no more diligent at that time when dealing with similar situations.’ As the old saying goes ‘to err is human, to forgive is divine’.
“The inquiry into the alleged abuses by Robert Waddington led by HH Judge Sally Cahill QC has made its recommendations and these now need to be considered and action taken in a thoughtful and measured manner to ensure the Church can be a safer place for all.
“I continue to hold all the survivors in my thoughts and prayers and I am grateful too that some have offered to help the leadership of the Church of England to create a new culture of protecting and safeguarding all God’s children.
“May I repeat my request to all those who wish to comment on this report that they read it fully before doing so.”
Those who made allegations described abuse in Manchester, York, London, Carlisle and in Queensland, Australia dating back as far as the 1950s.
One man alleges he was abused when Waddington was assistant curate at St John’s, Bethnal Green, London, some time between 1953 and 1955.
He told the investigators the abuse started during confirmation classes and how he called him “mon petit”.
In 1961 Waddington was made headmaster at St Barnabas School, Ravenshoe, Queensland, where more alleged abuse took place.
He returned to the UK in 1971 and eventually became Dean of Manchester between 1984 and 1993.
When the report was published, Lord Hope said that when allegations were reported to him 15 and 12 years ago they were “unspecific” and he has never been told the full details.
He said there was no recommendation at that time that allegations should be reported to the police and he was told the complainant would not talk to officers.
The former Archbishop withdrew Waddington’s permission to act as a priest in 2004.