The Catholic Church has renewed its apology to child victims of sexual abuse following the publication of a report claiming that child sex offenses in the UK have reached epidemic proportions.
An October 20 statement released by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued an “unqualified apology” to victims of abuse by clergy and church staff and volunteers.
The statement, posted on the bishops’ conference website, also says the church wishes to reaffirm its commitment “to the continuous refinement and improvement of our safeguarding work to protect all children and vulnerable people.”
The apology follows the publication on October 20 of a report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse panel after seven years of investigations into child abuse in UK institutions, including several Catholic and Anglican dioceses and communities. Catholic nuns.
Presenting the report to reporters, Alexis Jay, president of IICSA, said the investigation had uncovered “shocking and deeply disturbing” evidence of child abuse, which she said was not a historical aberration. but “an ever-growing problem and national epidemic”. “
“Deference was often shown to important people, including councillors, MPs (Members of Parliament) and leaders of the clergy by those whose job it was to investigate the allegations,” she told the media. British. “Even when they tried to investigate thoroughly, they were often told by their superiors to back off.”
The inquest collected testimonies from 725 witnesses in 325 hearings, while testimonies from 6,000 survivors of abuse were taken separately.
Jay said the evidence suggested the scale of abuse was so severe that out of 200 children, around 10 boys and 30 girls would suffer sexual abuse before the age of 16.
The report made 20 recommendations, including a new law making it mandatory to report all allegations of abuse. The government promised to respond to the proposals within six months.
In its statement, the bishops’ conference said it welcomed the report and promised to “study carefully its content and recommendations.”
“At no time will the church stop in its journey of dedicated effort to make the life and work of the church safe for all,” the statement read.
“Prior to the publication of the Roman Catholic Church case study report in November 2020, the Church commissioned an independent review of its work and safeguarding structures which is being implemented,” said- he declared.
“The new national safeguarding body, the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency, which began operational work in April 2021, provides a regulatory function for organizations within the Church of England and Wales, ensuring that standards are adhered to and that all safeguard processes are adhered to. These changes have been fully aligned with the recommendations of the survey in the case study report.”
The statement added: “Key to this progress is the voice of victims and survivors of abuse, which has been integral to the development of this new agency. The church remains committed to humbly listen to those who have been hurt by the actions of church members so that their experiences inform our work.”
Earlier, the inquiry criticized the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
In a 2020 report dealing specifically with abuse in Catholic institutions, the IICSA revealed that between 1970 and 2015, the church had received more than 900 complaints regarding more than 3,000 cases of child sexual abuse against over of 900 people, including priests, monks and volunteers.
In the same period, according to the report, 177 prosecutions resulted in 133 convictions, with millions of pounds paid out in compensation.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the bishops’ conference, came under fire from the inquest, which found he had shown neither compassion nor leadership in tackling the problem in at least two cases.