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Rise in violence and verbal abuse against clergy prompts survey
Sex abuse scandals and a growing number of female clergy could be contributing to a growth in threats and violence against priests.
Academics at Royal Holloway, University of London, are set to test the theory later this month when the survey around 7,000 Church of England clergy after receiving £5,000 in funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The experts were prompted to conduct the survey after a previous survey that looked at violence against clergy, published by Royal Holloway in 2000, found that 12 per cent of clergy had been assaulted in the previous two years.
Rev David MacGeogh, the vicar of Glastonbury, told The Sunday Telegraph that a month seldom passes without his receiving verbal abuse.
"People come in before and during the service and rant and rave, saying we are the works of Satan," he said, adding that there was "no support system" for clergy facing abuse.
The survey, which will be available online this month, will ask clergy whether they have experienced verbal abuse, threats or physical violence in the last two years, and how often their church property is damaged.
They will also be asked whether they have received abuse online and whether they have noticed more violence being carried out against clergy now that almost a third of them are women.
A Church of England spokesman said: "We take the welfare and safety of our clergy very seriously indeed.
"Verbal abuse, threats or assaults are completely unacceptable and we would urge clergy subjected to these kinds of incidents to report this to the police and their diocese."
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