LONDON (AFP) - The Church of England has formally apologised for past child abuse by Anglican priests and for its own failure to prevent it.
The church's governing body, the General Synod, voted unanimously to make the apology at a meeting in the northern English city of York and said it would now tighten its procedures.
"We failed big time," Paul Butler, the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said as he opened the meeting on Sunday.
"We cannot do anything other than own up to our failures. We were wrong. Our failures were sin just as much as the perpetrators sinned," Butler added.
The synod also observed a 30-second silence following a statement from support groups for survivors of abuse, an issue which has already rocked the Catholic Church in a number of countries.
The Church of England is the mother church of the world's 80 million Anglicans.
The vote came after a final report was published earlier this year into child abuse scandals in the troubled diocese of Chichester, southern England.
Three former Church of England priests from the diocese have been charged with sexual offences against children.
The powers and authority of the diocese have been taken over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Church.