Ask the Archbishop



In our on-going series, agony uncle Justin Welby answers your questions.

Questions should be addressed to:
The Most Reverend, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Lambeth Palace, 
London SE1 7JU



Dear Archbishop,

My grandfather was a clergyman of the Church of England. After a distinguished career as rural Dean and subsequently Archdeacon, he died 47 years ago.

Two years ago accusations of child sexual abuse were lodged against him by a single complainant who is now in an old peoples’ home. Despite the fact that no criminal proceedings ensued, a committee of bishops and others determined that the allegations were credible. Large compensatory payments were made to the alleged ‘victim,’ and details of the supposed offence were released to the press. I feel that my grandfather’s name has been unwarrantably besmirched. What should I do?



Dear George,

The Church of England takes very seriously all accusations of child abuse. We are a caring community, determined to right wrongs and to protect the innocent. Our aim is to make the CofE in every sense a safe space.

You ask me what you should do.

My advice is to do nothing. As part of my duty of care in this matter, I have consulted our solicitors, Winckworth, Pemberton and Sloth, who advise me that the last thing you should do is to sue the Church of England for defamation of character. Believe me, YOU WOULD GET NOWHERE.

We only got ourselves into this mess in the hope of avoiding litigation. The last thing you should do is to revive that possibility now.

We all have to accept, you must understand, that good people do bad things.  I do myself. It’s only human. Grow up and accept the way things are.

Yours pastorally,


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