Bishop of Lincoln suspended over safeguarding issuesRita Dune
Bishop of Lincoln suspended over safeguarding issues.
Christopher Lowson faces allegations of failing to protect children and vulnerable adults
A Church of England bishop has been suspended from office after allegations that he failed to protect children and vulnerable adults.
Christopher Lowson, the bishop of Lincoln, was suspended on Thursday by Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, following information provided by the police, a statement said.
Lowson is the first bishop to be suspended from office over safeguarding issues.
In a statement, Welby said that if matters being investigated by police were found to be proven, “I consider that the bishop would present a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people.”
Welby added: “I would like to make it absolutely clear that there has been no allegation that Bishop Christopher has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult … It should be noted that suspension is a neutral act and nothing further can be said at this stage while matters are investigated.”
Lowson said: “I am bewildered by the suspension and will fully cooperate in this matter. For the sake of the diocese and the wider church, I would like this to be investigated as quickly as possible to bring the matter to a swift conclusion.”
C of E officials declined to provide any details about the allegations leading to the suspension.
Last month, the church confirmed it was investigating a non-recent safeguarding matter reported in the diocese of Lincoln. It described the matter as very serious and said it had passed information to the police.
Lincolnshire police are conducting an ongoing investigation codenamed Operation Redstone. Three men have been convicted on abuse charges.
Lowson’s suspension comes soon after the dean of Lincoln Cathedral, Christine Wilson, and the chancellor, Paul Overend, took leave of absence while a historic safeguarding matter thought to involve vulnerable adults was investigated.
A list of 53 clergy and staff was referred to the police in 2015 after the diocese realised it had not handled past claims properly, Panorama said. Some of the names could have been referred to the C of E’s past cases review in 2007-9.
The C of E has struggled to get on top of its past failures on the abuse of children and vulnerable adults. Survivors have said cover-up and collusion by the church has compounded damage caused by abuse.
Last year, Welby told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse that he was appalled and ashamed of the church’s failures. There had been an “extraordinary and atrocious willingness to turn a blind eye to things going very seriously wrong”, he said.
“Apologies are fine, but you have got to find ways of making it different and we have got to do it as soon as possible.”
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