In November 2020, IICSA, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, published a report following a focussed investigation into the activities of the Roman Catholic Church. The report carried seven recommendations under the titles; leadership, training, compliance, external auditing, canon law (specifically canon 1395), catholic safeguarding advisory service website and policies and procedures manual and complaints policy.
The Catholic Bishops Of England and Wales have published a response via the catholic council for IICSA, chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan. Through her cover letter, Baroness O’Loan said
The Catholic Council for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was created in 2015 to assist the Inquiry in its work. Formed by a joint mandate from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Conference of Religious (England and Wales) it has collaborated with the Inquiry to ensure that answers to the questions raised in the various investigations have been addressed. The Council signposted the Inquiry to those individuals or organisations that could assist the Inquiry with witness statements and evidence, and it also collated evidence across the Church in response to specific questions raised by IICSA.
Members of the Council have been present in all the public hearings of the Inquiry across all of the workstreams involving the Catholic Church: Child Migration, English Benedictine Congregation hearings, Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Generic Hearings addressing issues of safeguarding in the church. They have listened attentively to the evidence given, with particular regard to that of victims and survivors of abuse in the Church.
This Recommendations Report shows how the Catholic Church is addressing the seven recommendations of the final IICSA report into the Roman Catholic Church. The work that is still in progress to address these will, it is believed, embed safeguarding into the pastoral life of the Church. It is recognised that the failures of the past must not be repeated and that there must be a heartfelt change in the way safeguarding occurs. Key to this, and something that flowed from the evidence of those who spoke at the public hearings, is greater listening to the voice of victims and survivors of abuse.
The Catholic Church is committed to this work and will continue to develop its structures and processes so that the Church is a safe place for all who worship in, or engage in any way with, it. This report marks a significant step on the continuous journey of improvement.
Baroness Nuala O’Loan DBE MRIA
Chair, Catholic Council for the IICSA
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