The sad saga of the late John Smyth, who allegedly brutally beat more than 100 boys while operating church summer camps connected with the Church of England, has been front and center in the UK, as media examine both the allegations and accusations that church officials ignored and covered up the allegations for decades. The controversy, which reaches all the way to the Archbishop of Canterbury, sounds painfully similar to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and its role in covering up and ignoring Bob Malm’s misconduct. As such, it serves as a cautionary tale of the myriad ways church officials abuse power as they seek to protect to the reputation of the church.
Andrew Graystone, an advocate for the survivors, said that he was aware of 26 victims in the UK, of whom two are deceased, bringing the estimated number of alleged victims to 116.He said: “I have spent the last three years researching Smyth’s life and his abuse. One of the most alarming and difficult facts of the case is that so many people in the Church have deliberately chosen to look away. . .“Archbishop Welby is aware that I have this information, too, but for the last two and a half years he has chosen not to ask for it.”A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said: “We would urge anyone who has information pertaining to victims of abuse to give it to the police or relevant statutory authorities immediately.”The Archbishop has always maintained that at no time was he aware of the abuse taking place. It is understood that he has offered to meet survivors, and that he is committed to a review taking place with or without other parties involved.Last month, a group of survivors wrote to Lambeth Palace to correct the Archbishop of Canterbury’s assertion that Smyth was “not actually an Anglican” — a comment made during an interview on Channel 4 News (News, 18 April). The letter lists 14 points of dispute about the Archbishop’s comments, including that Smyth had been a licensed Reader in the diocese of Winchester.