12 November 2020, The Tablet

Topic of the week: Abuse victims demand real change


 

We thank the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) for its report on the Catholic Church. We welcome its findings, highlighting the Church’s gross failures to protect children and others from abuse. We are grateful that the inquiry has exposed the Church’s treatment of victims and survivors when it comes to reparation and care, showing how the Church perpetuates an adversarial culture in its dealings with us.

The report clearly shows the Church’s lack of willingness and ability to change of its own accord. There should be no crocodile tears from the Church hierarchy, calling this report a “wake-up call”. The Catholic Church has been here before, with the Nolan report in 2001 and the Cumberlege report in 2007, both followed by broken promises and shocking inertia. The Church has had victims and survivors hammering on its door for decades, pleading with it to listen to our cries for help, to stop the abuse and to put proper safeguarding measures in place, a theme repeated in evidence given to IICSA.

Colossal amounts of charitable-status church wealth have been used to employ lawyers and insurance companies, to fight civil claims and to overpower victims and survivors, exploiting any legal loopholes they can to put us off pursuing cases or speaking out. Every effort has gone into protecting the reputation and resources of the Church, and providing care and support for our abusers, while neglecting us, the victims and survivors.

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