THE Bishop of Blackburn has condemned 'appalling' failures by the Church of England to protect children and young people from paedophile priests and then cover up their actions.

He branded this 'reprehensible and unacceptable, and said he was 'utterly horrified' by past cases of abuse.

The Rt Rev Julian Henderson, leader of Lancashire's Anglicans, was introducing a new disciplinary measure for the Christian denomination in Parliament.

It follows last month's conviction of former Baxenden vicar Tom Donaghey who admitted to possessing thousands of child abuse images and was given a community order.

The Rt Rev Henderson told the House of Lords: "The measure before us is significant and is about safeguarding.

"The Church of England has been on a long journey of putting in place appropriate staff, policies and practices to make the Church a safe place for all people, especially children and vulnerable adults.

"That has been essential as a response to church often being unsafe and to stories — historic and current — of appalling cases of abuse by those in positions of power who should have known better and whom many were willing to trust.

"This measure updates the legislation concerned with the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults by the Church of England.

"In particular, it responds to recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

"The Archbishops’ Council accepted the recommendations contained in the report of the independent inquiry and has been taking steps to implement them.

"I must conclude by acknowledging the serious past failings of the Church of England in protecting children and vulnerable adults from abuse.

“I remain utterly horrified by what we have done in the past, our failures, and no doubt there will be failures going on.

"One of the big issues has been the whole matter of cover-up and trying to silence voices. It is reprehensible and unacceptable.

"We are in the business not of covering up but of being transparent and open, so that these things can be brought to light and people can learn from them.

"We have made some small progress. We have a long way to go."