Ex-archbishop quits as charity chair over his handling of historic sex abuse claims


The former Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has resigned as chair and trustee of Christian Aid after criticism of his handling of historic abuse claims.

The charity announced Sentamu’s resignation on Friday, after less than two years as chair, a position he took up after retiring as archbishop in 2020.

According to Christian Aid, Sentamu’s letter of resignation said he was concerned that recent events could “become a distraction from the vital work of Christian Aid”. 

A review into abuse by the late Trevor Devamanikkam, published last month, concluded that Sentamu and other senior Church of England clergy “failed to act” on disclosures made by the former priest’s victim.

Sentamu rejected the review’s conclusions and said they demonstrated a lack of necessary understanding regarding the operation of dispersed authority in the Church of England

Christian Aid said that vice-chair Maggie Swinson would take over from Sentamu as interim chair until a permanent replacement is recruited. 

Patrick Watt, chief executive of Christian Aid, said: “We are very grateful for the 18 months of faithful and energetic leadership that Sentamu has given to Christian Aid. Given recent events, we understand the reasons for his resignation. 

“During his tenure Sentamu gave generously of his time, as he steered the organisation through a change of chief executive and a review of its strategy.

“He has played a critical role in our campaigning on climate justice and on a just peace for Ukraine, and has brought Christian Aid’s work to the attention of new audiences.  

“Sentamu recently visited Sierra Leone, where he saw first-hand the work of Christian Aid’s partners and met with government and religious leaders to discuss our programmes to strengthen women’s political participation, support livelihoods, and promote community peacebuilding.

“His visit reinforced our relationships in the country, and inspired staff and partners.”

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