50% Rise in Child Abuse Alarms Catholic Church in England
Published 29 June 2005 | Eunice K. Y. Or
A report released by the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults has revealed that allegations of child abuse that have taken place in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales have increased by 50 percent last year.
The third annual report recorded 62 allegations of abuse in 2003, but this jumped to 100 last year. The 100 incidents involved 153 victims. There were 111 cases of sexual abuse, 14 of physical abuse and 11 of child pornography.
Over half the incidents of alleged abuse took place last year involved priests, while the rest were charged against employees, volunteers and parishioners. Out of the 17 incidents that involved priests, 10 were regards to sexual abuse.
The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, who chairs the child protection management board, responded to the figures. Speaking to Times, he admitted that he was disappointed with the religious people who are involved in these scandals.
"As a bishop I am always upset when a priest or religious or someone who has been trusted with a role within the Church misbehaves in a particular way. What upsets me far more is the abuse of youngsters."
He said, "This report gives an unambiguous message that any move towards the abuse of children that takes place within the Catholic community will be noted, reported and acted upon. That is absolutely clear. There is no hiding place within the Catholic community for people who would seek to abuse vulnerable people."
"I can only be satisfied that there is a growing confidence within the Catholic community that if someone wants to come forward and say they have been abused, either 30 years ago or last week, that is what they should do," Nichols expressed a hope for improvement in the Catholic Church in dealing with the sexual abuse, "What we are more determined than anything to ensure is that these things will not take place within the Catholic community."
The report said that all allegations last year were reported to the police and there have already been two convictions. The 62 reported incidents in 2003 led to two cautions and five convictions with two prosecutions still ongoing.
The attitude of the Catholic Church in dealing with these scandals has changed to become more open since the 2001 investigation headed by Lord Nolan, the Times newspaper reported. The Child Protection Office was set up as a result of this report, A Programme for Action.
Eileen Shearer, Director of the Child Protection Office, said to the Times newspaper, "The Church’s vital ongoing commitment to transparency on child protection matters is courageously demonstrated here. The changes in practice are clear to see."
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