Catholic Church ‘fully committed’ to safeguarding following release of abuse report
The Catholic Church in England and Wales has said it is ‘fully committed’ to the safeguarding of all children and adults and will continue to assist with inquiries into two top Catholic schools.
The Church made its comments in a statement following the release of a report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that found sexual abuse at Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire and Downside Abbey in Somerset over four decades was likely to be ‘considerably’ more widespread than conviction figures reflect.
The Church statement reads: ‘The Catholic Council for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse notes the conclusions of the report of the IICSA into the English Benedictine Congregation focusing on Ampleforth and Downside Abbeys. The Catholic Council looks forward to continuing to work with and assist the Inquiry in its deliberations.
‘As stated at the opening of this part of the Inquiry, the Catholic Council, and the organisations it represents, stand wholeheartedly by the expressions of regret and the apologies that have already been made on behalf of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to the victims and survivors of sexual abuse.
‘All sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults is both criminal and harmful. The Church condemns without reservation any such crimes and the perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice.
‘The Church is fully committed to the safeguarding of all children and adults at risk. Following the Nolan and Cumberlege Reports, all Dioceses and Religious Orders are committed to following nationally agreed guidelines and robust policies to promote safeguarding. These policies, which commit Dioceses and Religious Orders to reporting to and working with the police on all abuse allegations, are recognised as good practice by the statutory authorities.
‘The Catholic Church looks forward to continuing to assist the Inquiry.’
Monks at the abbeys hid allegations of ‘appalling sexual abuse’ against pupils as young as seven to protect the Church’s reputation, the IICSA claims in a withering report on the English Benedictine Congregation, which has 10 monasteries in England and Wales.
Ampleforth and Downside are two schools linked to the monasteries, run at times by ‘secretive, evasive and suspicious’ Church officials who avoided reporting misconduct to police and social services.
Allegations stretching back to the 1960s encompassed ‘a wide spectrum of physical abuse, much of which had sadistic and sexual overtones’, according to the report.
Ten individuals linked to the schools, mainly monks, have been cautioned or convicted over sexual activity or pornography offences involving a ‘large number of children’.
Picture: File photo dated 26/10/1994 of Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire. A report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has concluded that sexual abuse at leading Catholic schools Downside and Ampleforth over the course of four decades was likely to be ‘considerably’ worse than conviction figures reflect. (PA).Tags: abuse, Ampleforth, Benedictine, catholic, Church, downside, schools, sex abuse