The Roman Catholic Church Investigation Report November 2020
Statement on the Publication of the IICSA Report
The Catholic Church in England and Wales welcomes the Report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse relating to the institutional response of the Church in its duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
We thank the IICSA Panel for their work. The Report will now inform the ongoing reform and improvement of safeguarding in all aspects of the Church’s life.
An important aspect of the Inquiry’s work was the voice given to victims and survivors of abuse, including the accounts which they gave of their subsequent engagement with the Church. Listening attentively to their witness testimony has brought into sharp relief the extent of the damage this sexual abuse has had on their lives.
We apologise to all victims and survivors who have not been properly listened to, or properly supported by us. By listening with humility to those who have suffered, we can contribute to the healing of the wounds of abuse, as well as learn from those most directly affected how we must improve the Church’s safeguarding standards, policies and procedures.
This is an ongoing task and one to which we are wholly committed. Child sexual abuse is a crime. It is a crime that requires committed vigilance and strict procedures to ensure reporting to the statutory authorities. This is the Church’s policy. It is also why our safeguarding work needs to be continually reviewed and improved. Where there have been failings and inconsistency in the application of our safeguarding procedures, we acknowledge these and commit to actions which will bring about improvement.
Abuse is an evil act against the most vulnerable; it must never be excused or covered up. Abuse committed against children and the consequent damage to people’s lives cannot be undone. For this, we apologise without reservation, and we are committed to listen attentively to the voices of those who have been abused.
This report is an important moment in our safeguarding journey in the Catholic Church in our countries. It will now be considered in detail by us, the Bishops, at our Plenary Assembly beginning next week so we can explore how to integrate the findings of this important Inquiry into the life and work of the Church in order to consistently safeguard children and the vulnerable.
Vincent Cardinal Nichols
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
Every human being has a value and dignity which we as Catholics acknowledge as coming directly from God’s creation of male and female in his own image and likeness. This implies a duty to value all people and therefore to support them and protect them from harm.
In the Salisbury Catholic churches this is demonstrated by the provision of carefully planned activities for children, young people and adults; supporting families under stress; caring for those hurt or alienated by abuse in the past as well as ministering to and managing those who have caused harm.
It is because of these varied ministries that we need to provide a safe environment for all which promotes and supports their wellbeing. This will include carefully selecting and appointing those who work with children, young people or vulnerable adults and responding robustly where concerns arise.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, do not delay in contacting the police, using 999 if a child or adult is believed to be in immediate danger.
It is the policy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to report all allegations of abuse to statutory authorities, regardless of whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, or whether the accused person is living or deceased.
If you are in any role within the Catholic Church in England and Wales, you must refer allegations directly to the safeguarding office for your diocese or religious congregation, or directly to the Police.
If you are a member of the public, please refer allegations directly to the police and also to our safeguarding Co-ordinator Becky Cawsey 0117 954 0993
Statement on Safeguarding
The account given in the IICSA Report of abuse known to be inflicted on children in the Catholic Church in England and Wales in the past 50 years is shocking and overwhelming. At our meeting this week, we Bishops have stood together in profound shame. We express our sorrow and contrition before God.
We have reflected on our need to reach out afresh to those who bear the wounds of permanent damage caused by this abuse. We commit ourselves to listen more intently to those who have been abused so as to learn from them and benefit from their wisdom. It is through learning from their testimony that hearts are changed.
We are grateful to those survivors who have come forward, not only to lay before us their experience of abuse, but to help us understand the depth of their pain. We invite anyone who has experienced abuse to come forward, no matter how long ago the abuse took place. We undertake to listen carefully to them with open heart and mind and support them on a journey of healing.
We have carefully considered the recommendations of the IICSA Report and formally accepted them. We have already begun work towards their implementation.
The IICSA’s generic hearings into the Church began last October. Around that time we commissioned an Independent Review of our Safeguarding Structures and Arrangements in the Catholic Church in England and Wales. This was carried out by Mr Ian Elliott, an experienced safeguarding professional who has worked across the world in this area.
This week, alongside the IICSA Report, we have also examined in depth the Final Report of the Elliott Review and fully accepted its recommendations. It is a searching analysis of our safeguarding work, in its weaknesses and strengths. It proposes a number of remedial and forward-looking recommendations, which accord with the IICSA Report’s own recommendations. The work of implementation will begin immediately. It will be carried out in close cooperation with the Religious Orders who play such an important part in the life of the Church.
In all our activities, our desire and resolve is to be a Church in which every child and vulnerable person is not only safe but nurtured into human flourishing. These recommendations present us with steps towards this goal. Key to them is a standards-based approach to safeguarding together with a specially commissioned national body with powers of effective audit and oversight of safeguarding in both Dioceses and Religious Orders.
Everyone in the Church will be required to work to clear, published standards of behaviour and action. Most significantly, the Elliott Report has been fashioned with the participation of survivors of abuse. Their insight and wisdom has been crucial. We thank them for their great courage and generosity in working with us and we look forward to continuing this growing collaboration.
The Elliott Report builds on all that has been achieved in our safeguarding ministry in the past 20 years, achievements also recognised in the IICSA Report. Therefore we thank profoundly all who contribute to the work of safeguarding in the Church today: the thousands of Parish Safeguarding Representatives, the professionals who work in our Safeguarding Offices in every Diocese, the Safeguarding Commissions who oversee this work and give objective and professional advice to guide our decisions, the staff of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service and those who serve on the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission. These, and many others, have contributed greatly to the current work of safeguarding in the Church.
Today, however, we acknowledge without hesitation, our failings, our mistakes, our lack of adequate cooperation. We express our deep sorrow and ask forgiveness, especially from victims and survivors. We affirm our resolve to effect the next step in our work of safeguarding and care for survivors.
In prayer we turn to Christ the Good Shepherd, the fount of healing and compassion, asking that this moment of painful truth becomes a time of grace as we strive to fulfil the ministry entrusted to us as bishops in an unshakeable unity of purpose.
Cardinal Nichols' Personal Statement on Safeguarding
Independent Review – Safeguarding Structures and Arrangements
In October 2019, the Bishops commissioned an independent review of the Catholic Church’s Safeguarding Structures and Arrangements in England and Wales.
Ian Elliott is Independent Chair of the Review. Published on 20 November 2020, the final report and recommendations, therefore, are sometimes referred to as the ‘Elliott Report’. Mr Elliott is an experienced safeguarding professional who has worked across the world in this area.
The bishops, having formerly accepted the recommendations laid out in the IICSA Report, that was published shortly before on 10 November 2020, have also accepted the final proposals and recommendations of the Elliott Report in order to shape the safeguarding provision in the Catholic Church.
You can listen to the Independent Chair of the review, Ian Elliott, discussing the panel’s work and subsequent recommendations.