The Church of England’s governance body called General Synod has three houses.

House of Bishops
House of Clergy
House of Laity

Total membership of these is 450.

A fourth House exists, long unrecognised, which has done more to drive necessary change in the Church’s structures and cultures.

Its membership is greater far than the other three houses put together.

House of Survivors

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"No, we don’t want to open a can of worms"

A bishop on whether a safeguarding
concern should be reported

"I know thousands of happy survivors"

A senior bishop

“With careful drafting it should be possible to express them [apologies] in terms which effectively apologise for what has happened whilst at the same time avoiding any concession of legal liability for it.”

Senior Church lawyer in 2007 to the House of Bishops

"The Church cannot be held liable for the actions of individuals"

A Diocesan Bishop in a letter to a survivor

"I’ve told the Safeguarding Adviser, I’ve told my vicar, I’ve told the Bishop. They have taken all my information but offered nothing in return"

An abuse survivor

"My abuser remains in post whilst I remain in pain. I feel judged and isolated by the very institution that could offer me peace"

An abuse survivor

"It feels like the Church has learned nothing from all the mistakes. The vicar was sympathetic and said he believed me but then did nothing. Maybe he didn’t believe me after all?"

An abuse survivor

"I haven’t had any response [from the Diocese], please offer any help you can."

Clergy abuse survivor’s plea to MACSAS

"they so often forget about the spiritual abuse, the loss of faith, the loss of the very thing that should help you through the abuses in your life"

An abuse survivor

"I’m sorry if Fr [ ] went a bit too far in his parental relationship with you."

A bishop to an abuse survivor

"Since your solicitor has now issued a letter of claim, any further contact with the diocese can only be via our solicitors"

An Archdeacon in a letter to a survivor

"We are going to have to stop sweeping things under the carpet... The furniture is in danger of toppling over."

Lambeth Palace official to Archbishop
about a survivors persistent complaints

"We will see if the claim can be ‘bought-off ’ for a modest sum representing the litigation risk. ... we will be pleased to conclude this troublesome matter."

Correspondence between Church’s
insurer and Church’s lawyer about
a Church abuse claim

"I understand that you have difficulty forgiving Rev [ ], perhaps you should consider asking God to forgive him"

Letter from a bishop to
a clergy abuse survivor

"He didn’t only groom me, he groomed my family, he groomed the congregation, He groomed everyone."

A clergy abuse survivor

"...my intention is to see if [Church contact] can help concerning restricting further the recent interventions [of the bishop]"

Correspondence between Church’s
insurer and Church’s lawyer about
restricting pastoral support

“The church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward. This is inexcusable and shocking behaviour”

Archbishop of Canterbury

‘If you can’t deal with the stuff you see, you’re never going to be able to deal with the stuff you don’t see’.

A Survivor

“I didn’t know I had to ask for help; I presumed that if I disclosed abuse, help would be offered.”

Respondent to 2018 Survivor survey

“As an adult male, it is difficult telling another male about abuse perpetrated by a [male Church Officer] – somehow more embarrassing”.

Respondent to 2018 Survivor survey

I told a member of clergy [ ] what had happened. He interpreted that I had run away and told me to go home. He never checked to see if it was a safe place.

Respondent to 2018 Survivor survey

I welcome this new website [houseofsurvivors.org] and thank all those who have been involved in its creation. It is a helpful resource, which will be added to, but also a challenge to us all @churchofengland to continue to do better. (Twitter)

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Stephen Cottrell

ARCHBISHOP OF YORK