London, England, Sep 26, 2018 / 13:30 pm
The bishops of England and Wales have released a statement addressing the recent sexual abuse scandals in the Church, both in the UK and abroad. They also announced an independent review of current policies and procedures for child protection and for handling complaints of sexual abuse.
The statement was released Sept. 24 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales ahead of the bishops’ five-yearly ad lima visit to the Holy Father and the departments of the Roman Curia.
“Both bishops and religious leaders, in various places, failed to protect the children in their care from those who have done them great harm,” the statement said.
“In particular, the failures of bishops to listen or give credence to those who have courageously spoken out about the profound damage they have suffered through childhood abuse, together with the steps some have taken in order to cover up or minimise the abuse that became known, are a great betrayal of the trust placed in them by the faithful and of the responsibilities that come with episcopal office.”
The bishops are in Rome for the visit, which runs Sept. 24-29, and are expected to meet Pope Francis on Friday.
The bishops’ statement said that they had asked the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, which oversees safeguarding policy across the conference’s 22 dioceses, “to commission an entirely independent and comprehensive review of the safeguarding structures that currently operate within the Catholic Church in England and Wales.”
“Importantly, we will seek to ensure that the voices of the victims and survivors of abuse, through the Survivors Advisory Panel established by the NCSC, fully inform the review and its recommendations,” the statement said.
In addition to international scandals involving clerical sexual abuse in Chile, Honduras, and the United States, Catholics in England have also faced revelations in their own country.