The seal of the confessional and the Church of England

The House of Bishops of the Church of England announced on 11 October that it has commissioned further work on the Seal of the Confessional, building on the report and interim statement from the previous working party published in 2018/2019 and originally set up in 2014. The new working group will take account of relevant findings, if any, that there may be in the final report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), due to be published on 20 October.

The group will bring together theologians, Church leaders and safeguarding professionals along with other advisers as part of the wider reference group, and the press release stated that “The voices and experiences of survivors will be critical to this work and will be included, but not named, in the group.”

The Terms of Reference are as follows:

  • To assist the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council in responding to the recommendations of IICSA concerning the Seal of the Confessional, including considering legal options if these are recommended by IICSA.
  • To review the work on the Seal of the Confessional that led to the Interim Statement currently posted on the Church of England website, as well as the implementation of its recommendations.
  • To assist the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council in moving from an ‘interim statement’ to a settled position which can be appropriately set out through different communication channels.

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