Leading article: Churches have still to purge the stain of child abuse

The Government should accede to the call by the Stop Church Child Abuse campaign for a full independent inquiry to force religious institutions to disclose files on priests accused of sexual exploitation. Both the Catholic and Anglican churches insist that most cases are historical and that effective safeguards are in place.

But new cases continue to trickle into the public domain. Only this week, detectives arrested a retired priest on sex allegations from the 1960s. It is true that the safeguards put in place by both churches since the implementation of the 2001 Nolan report are some of the strongest in the world. But they are still policed only by churches rather than an independent body.

In many other countries, government-sponsored independent reviews have uncovered further abuse and routine cover-ups. If the churches truly have nothing left to hide, they have nothing to lose by supporting this call for an inquiry.

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