As we gather in Rome for our visit ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’, we have spent time together reflecting again on the impact of the recent reports containing stark revelations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, including in England and Wales, and of evident failures of local leadership. We have also reflected on the practical steps we must take. We do so in the light of all that has been achieved since the Report of Lord Nolan in 2001. We have endeavoured to build a culture of safeguarding within the Church’s parishes and religious communities in England and Wales, thereby providing a safe environment for all. In every parish there is a Parish Safeguarding Representative. In every Diocese, there is a Safeguarding Coordinator and Diocesan Safeguarding Commission, composed of experts in the main disciplines needed for effective safeguarding. We have established a National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (the NCSC), with a strong majority membership of experts, independent of the authority structures of the Catholic Church. Much has been achieved. Much is to be learned.
Today, 24 September, 2018, we have decided to ask the NCSC to commission an entirely independent and comprehensive review of the safeguarding structures that currently operate within the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Importantly, we will seek to ensure that the voices of the victims and survivors of abuse, through the Survivors Advisory Panel established by the NCSC, fully inform the review and its recommendation.
Each bishop has decided that he will take steps to set aside time for the purpose of meeting with victims and survivors of clerical abuse who live in his diocese.
May God guide us during this week and in this work, that the voice of Christ, crying out in those who have suffered, may be heard with compassion and discernment.
Copies of the full statement are at the back of the Church.