More than Catholic 50 priests defrocked since 2001 because of sexual abuse

Published 25 July 2014  |  

A report released today shows that 52 priests have been laicised (defrocked) in England and Wales since 2001 as a result of sexual abuse.

It will take "about a generation" for trust to be restored in the Catholic Church, the chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC), which released the report, said.

Between 2003 and 2012, 598 allegations of abuse were reported, of which 465 were allegations of sexual abuse.

"The media did the Church a service by casting light on this abuse, and now that the spotlight is on other intuitions, that doesn't mean the Church is going to turn a blind eye," said Adrian Child, director of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS).

In 2013 there were 81 reports of abuse, up from 59 in 2012, though still short of the 92 reports made in 2010.

There are currently 384 "covenants of care" in place on individuals believed to pose a risk within the church community, including priests and lay church members. Someone under a covenant of care may be restricted from attending services where children may be present.

The CSAS plans to set up a new Survivors Advisory Board incorporating victims of abuse, as well as those who represent and support them.

In 2011 the National Association for People Abused in Childhood and the Survivors Trusts refused to work with both Catholic safeguarding bodies.

They were protesting against Portsmouth Diocese's decision to appeal a High Court judgement which required the diocese pay compensation for alleged abuse by a priest.

Danny Sullivan, chair of the NCSC, said that there should be greater emphasis on the individual needs of victims.

Earlier this year Pope Francis said that one in 50 priests is a paedophile, although Child said the number is considerably lower for the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

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