Inquiry finds Catholic Church prioritised reputation over the welfare of children

Communion wafers in bowls

A report published by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA)has found that the Catholic Church prioritised its own reputation over the welfare of vulnerable children for decades.

IICSA’s report says that the Catholic Church repeatedly failed to support victims and survivors and turned a blind eye towards the actions of perpetrators in order to protect their reputation.

Between 1970 and 2015, the Catholic Church received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse in England and Wales. Since 2016, there have been more than 100 reported allegations each year. As a result of likely under-reporting and delays in reporting, the precise number of victims of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in England and Wales cannot be ascertained. The true scale of abuse over the last 50 years is likely to have been far higher.

The Catholic Church was found to be taking positive action to protect alleged perpetrators, including moving them to different parishes. Over the course of the case studies, the Inquiry heard accounts of lives blighted by child sexual abuse, compounded by cover-ups and failures by the Catholic Church to take action against perpetrators. Victims described the profound and lifelong effects of abuse, including depression, anxiety, self-harming and trust issues.

The Inquiry makes several recommendations to better protect children in future, focusing on key issues including leadership, training and external auditing.

This report makes concerning reading and supports the anecdotal evidence that I have heard from many survivors about how they felt they were treated when concerns and complaints about abuse were made, and their belief that many incidences of abuse were covered up. I do hope that the Catholic Church accept that the findings of the report and make the recommended changes as soon as possible.

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