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On Thursday Pope Francis will have completed a year as Bishop of Rome, a year in which he has begun to transform the Church. But be in no doubt, argues our Rome correspondent, of just how wide and how deep go his aims for change
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More than half of allegations reported to the Catholic Church in Scotland over a six-year period were of a sexual nature, according to a report prepared for the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service.
The audit report revealed that 46 allegations of abuse were reported between 2006 and 2012.
Some 55 per cent of the allegations were of a sexual nature, 19 per cent reported physical abuse, 11 per cent alleged verbal abuse and 15 per cent related to alleged emotional abuse.
More than half of the allegations – 56 per cent – were made against priests, while 22 per cent were claims against volunteers.
The audit report is one of three initiatives announced by the Catholic Church in Scotland "in a spirit of openness and transparency", following a series of scandals, including a spate of allegations of sexual abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey School. Earlier this year the most senior Catholic in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien announced he was stepping down after allegations of sexual misconduct appeared in the press.
The Church has also announced a statistical review of historic abuse cases between 1947 and 2005. It also announced it is bringing in the former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Andrew McLellan, to review its safeguarding procedures. Mr McLellan was also chief inspector of prisons in Scotland.
A letter read at all Masses yesterday on behalf of the bishops of Scotland said: "The bishops’ conference is confident these initiatives will show that the Catholic Church in Scotland is unreservedly committed to the ongoing implementation of safeguarding procedures and protocols. Moreover, these initiatives will in large part meet the need for accurate information about our present and historic safeguarding situation, openness and transparency, and a guarantee of independent analysis of our policies and processes."
The audit report also revealed that 15 per cent of the allegations made resulted in a prosecution, while 10 per cent are still under investigation. There have been no prosecutions in relation to 61 per cent of the cases reported, and the remaining 14 per cent are described as "unknown historical cases".
Of the 46 allegations of abuse, 25 related to abuse that was said to have happened before the year 2000.
More than a quarter of all of those accused are now dead, while the ministry of 24 per cent of those accused – be they ordained or lay – has been restricted.
A further 12 per cent were removed from their post, while 11 per cent left voluntarily, 8 per cent were dismissed, 3 per cent were in prison and another 3 per cent had been acquitted. The report said that the outcome of the remaining 11 per cent of cases was unknown.