One in Four Welcomes Publication of Catholic Church Audits
SEPTEMBER 5TH 2012
ONE IN FOUR WELCOMES PUBLICATION OF CATHOLIC CHURCH AUDITS
One in Four welcomes the publication today of the National Board for Safeguarding Children’s child protection audits of four dioceses and three religious orders. It is heartening to see how some dioceses and orders have embraced a policy of transparent child protection and are working hard to implement good practice. However, we are also shocked and alarmed by revelations of appalling practice where the pain and suffering of victims could have been prevented. In some areas of the Church it is as if the Ferns, Ryan, Dublin and Cloyne Reports had never happened. Standing out for particular criticism are the Diocese of Clonfert, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Spiritans. The audits show that there is a lack of structure and policy, very low awareness of the safeguarding issues and little documentation to show how allegations have been dealt with. Priests against whom substantial allegations had been made were not managed properly, leaving open the possibility that they would abuse other children.
Executive Director Maeve Lewis says: "These audits examined child protection practices right up to the present day. It is beyond belief that children are still at risk of sexual abuse in certain areas of the Catholic Church and that the lessons of the statutory reports have not been learned. This undermines the very positive efforts that have been made in other dioceses and congregations to keep children safe. It is particularly worrying that in the case of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart it was only when a Senator used Senate privilege to name an alleged offender that action was taken by the order and the civil authorities despite a long series of credible allegations being made against priests in the order".
“It is as if certain senior Churchmen continue to believe that child protection procedures are optional and they are above the law of the land. We know from that past that children were abused because church leaders protected sex offenders. I believe that where possible, the Gardai should now investigate if these senior men are in breach of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and if there is evidence to show that they may be guilty of the crime of reckless endangerment of children.”
Maeve Lewis ends: “The Church’s response to people making allegations is also reviewed. Again, while some dioceses and congregations have excellent pastoral programmes in place, in others that is sadly not the case. This supports our experience in One in Four where far too often complainants of sexual abuse are met with a robust legal defence rather that the support they so desperately need.”
Ian Elliot and the national Board for safeguarding Children are to be commended for producing such rigorous and independent audits.