11 November 2020, The Tablet

The Church stands shamed again

Clerical sexual abuse report


Leaders of the Catholic Church in England and Wales repeatedly failed to recognise and address the serious harm done to victims and survivors of sexual abuse by priests, according to the report of the statutory inquiry into institutional abuse published this week. The essence of the charge is that while senior figures acknowledged the existence of abuse and indeed of the harm it did, what was lacking was empathy and compassion – and a sense of urgency. For a Church which preaches the Gospel, where empathy and compassion are of the essence, that is a lamentable conclusion.

The latest report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) completes a set of inquiries into specific areas of the Catholic Church’s life. It finds systematic lack of leadership, and names Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and president of the conference of English and Welsh bishops, in particular. He does not deny it. It quotes him saying last year: “We humbly ask forgiveness … for our slowness and defensiveness and for our neglect of both preventative and restorative actions.”

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