Ten days after the IICSA report’s publication, the Church announced sweeping changes to its child protection system. The bishops took the step in response to an independent review of safeguarding measures, commissioned by them in 2019.
The bishops said that they accepted all 15 of the review’s recommendations, which included creating a new body, known as the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency, as a professional standards agency for dioceses and religious orders.
Church leaders came under further scrutiny last month when a judge gave a priest who had advised the bishops on Catholic education a jail sentence of 11 years and six months for child sex offenses.
Amid criticism, the Archdiocese of Birmingham asked the children’s charity Barnado’s to review its of its handling of the case of Fr. Joseph Quigley.
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese told CNA: “The archdiocese will consider with Barnardo’s how much of the final report it will be appropriate to share and with whom.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said that Quigley would face “Church disciplinary processes that acknowledge the seriousness of his offenses.”
The archdiocese’s spokeswoman said: “We do not know when the disciplinary processes will conclude -- this lies finally with the Vatican.”
The NCSC’s annual report found that at the end of 2019, 96% of parishes in England and Wales had a parish safeguarding representative and a further 2% had made cover arrangements. It also recorded a 36% increase in the number of criminal record checks in 2019 compared to the year before.
The report noted in its conclusion that there could be significant delays in the reporting of child abuse.
“This suggests that the reporting of abuse that occurred in the past remains a significant matter of concern for the Catholic Church in England and Wales,” it said.
“Although many adults appear to report abuse within the year of occurrence, or within a few years of that, there is the need for more efforts to be made to encourage and facilitate reporting of any abuse at the time of occurrence, so that victims can receive timely support and those responsible for abuse can be robustly managed.”
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It urged those responsible for safeguarding, including Church leaders, “to consider whether there are further steps that can be taken by the Church to both publicize its reporting policy and develop other initiatives to encourage reporting of abuse.”
The report contained a foreword by Chris Pearson, the NCSC’s director, who died on Jan. 31, days before the report’s publication.
In the foreword, he reflected on the impact of the IICSA inquiry.
He wrote: “Abuse of children causes significant harm and has long-term traumatic effects into adulthood; we all hold our heads collectively in shame at the profound impact of the horrific accounts given at the Inquiry by victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by those in positions of trust and power in the Catholic Church.”