Catholic Church prioritised own reputation over children: UK inquiry

10 November 2020

The most senior Catholic leader in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, failed to acknowledge any personal responsibility or show compassion for victims. (Photo: Victoria Jones / PA)

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has failed to protect children from sexual abuse while consistently prioritising its own reputation and protecting alleged perpetrators, a new investigation has found. The most senior Catholic leader in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has also been criticised.

The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) criticised “ongoing failings” within the church and said its “moral purpose has been betrayed by those who sexually abused children”. It also said the Vatican’s failure to cooperate with the investigation “passes understanding”. The Guardian reports:

The 162-page report said “the church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and vulnerable.”

Of Nichols, it stated: “There was no acknowledgement of any personal responsibility to lead or influence change. Nor did he demonstrate compassion towards victims in the recent cases which we examined.”

Calls for Nichols’s resignation grew in the wake of the publication of the report on Tuesday. An anonymous survivor who gave evidence told the Guardian: “Cardinal Nichols is the moral leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, he has lost all moral authority and must go … This report once again demonstrates that the Catholic Church is not a safe place for children.”

The BBC reports that the inquiry found that between 1970 and 2015, the church received more than 3,000 complaints of child sexual abuse against more than 900 individuals, including priests, monks and volunteers. However, the report added that the true scale of abuse was much higher and would likely never be known.

One abuse survivor said it was bad enough to have been abused but “to have it dismissed and covered up just takes even more of a toll on you”.

Another survivor, who gave evidence to the inquiry, said “thousands of pounds have been spent by the Diocese of Westminster in employing lawyers to keep me at arm’s length” as they continued to make their case.

They added: “The church needs a seismic shift in culture, especially at the top. If there is any hope at all of real change it will require a relinquishing of power, and a will to treat survivors as human beings.”

Prof Alexis Jay, the chair of the inquiry, said: “For decades, the Catholic church’s failure to tackle child sexual abuse consigned many more children to the same fate. It is clear that the church’s reputation was valued above the welfare of victims, with allegations ignored and perpetrators protected. Even today, the responses of the Holy See appear at odds with the pope’s promise to take action on this hugely important problem.”

Richard Scorer, a solicitor who represented 32 survivors, said: “Cardinal Nichols needs to resign right away – in any other walk of life he would be gone immediately. This is a church that cannot be trusted to protect children. The only way forward now is a mandatory reporting law, so that abuse cannot be covered up, and independent external oversight of church safeguarding.”

Catholic Church prioritised reputation over vulnerable children, inquiry finds

Irish politician recounts clergy abuse in resurfaced RTE speech

In Bad Faith: Child Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church | Fault Lines

Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here