The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has today announced details of three safeguarding initiatives, which will be launched over the next 12 months. In a letter read out at all of Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes yesterday (24 November, the Feast of Christ the King) the President of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said:
“We recognise the trauma and pain that survivors of abuse have suffered and we are committed to providing for them both justice and healing.” The Archbishop added that 2013 had been “a test of faith” for Catholics, but the Church was committed to “consolidation of our safeguarding practices, the renewal of trust in our unshakeable commitment to atoning for abuse in the past, guarding against abuse in the present and eliminating abuse in the future, and supporting those who have been harmed.”
Archbishop Tartaglia also promised that all the initiatives were being “launched in a spirit of openness and transparency” and in recognition of the fact that “safeguarding is a priority within the Church, and all who work in the Church must realise this.”
The initiatives concerned are:
1. Immediate publication of all Diocesan Safeguarding Audits from 2006-2012, giving a statistical breakdown of reported safeguarding incidents during those years.
2. An external “Review of Safeguarding Protocols and Procedures” which will review the suitability and robustness of safeguarding procedures and the quality and rigour of their implementation nationally. The Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan, CBE, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and former Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons will direct this.
3. A Statistical Review of all Historic Cases of Abuse from 1947-2005
A full description of each of these processes is given below.
Commenting on his participation in the review process, Dr McLellan said:
“I have agreed to chair the review panel which will instigate and complete a review of ‘Awareness and Safety’ in the Catholic Church in Scotland. My appointment is a generous sign of respect not simply for me but for the Church of Scotland; and I am pleased to be able to help the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland in what has been for them a difficult year. But my first concern is not to support the Catholic church: rather it is to seek the best protection of many vulnerable children and adults. In pursuing that aim I will be determined to discover the truth and to make clear recommendations. I am very much encouraged by the independence I will have in selecting the membership of the panel, detailing its remit and deciding on its timescale; and by the assurance I have been given that the Catholic Bishops will accept our recommendations.”
Dr McLellan added: “Over the remaining weeks of 2013, I hope to turn my attention to these matters so that I can announce the particulars of the review process and structure early in 2014.”
Mgr. Hugh Bradley, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference said:
“The Bishops are delighted that Dr Andrew McLellan has agreed to chair a review of Safeguarding procedures and practice. Dr McLellan is highly respected Church leader, a dedicated public servant and a man of the highest integrity, we look forward to receiving his report and commit ourselves to acting on it.”
Responding to the announcement, the Catholic Church’s new National Coordinator for Safeguarding, Tina Campbell said:
“These are incredibly positive and exciting developments, I look forward to working with the Bishops of Scotland, our clergy and the many dedicated people across the country who both implement and support our National Safeguarding policies and procedures in their parish communities. The work of Safeguarding is an important ministry in the Church and it is a privilege to be involved in it.” ENDS
Click on picture to read source of above press release, and then tell us your thoughts on this fraught issue. I’ve been receiving some very unpleasant emails from an alleged victim who thinks I’m “thick” because I told him that the number of abusing clergy is very small (not an excuse, just a fact) and that the majority of these priests appear to be homosexual – men abusing boys.
Well, whether or not I’m “thick” is not the issue. The issue here is, are the bishop dealing sufficiently thoroughly with this scandal of child abuse? Would they not be better to apply the penalties available to them in Canon Law, to dismiss abusing priests, rather than focus on “safeguarding” initiatives? That is, deal head on with the problem priests rather than tinkering at the edges? Surely, children should not have to be protected from abusing priests – surely the priests should not be there in the first place?
But then, I’m a simple gal – what do the more sophisticated minds out there think?