Church defends its ‘child protection’
— Mistakes of the past have shaped highest standards in place today, says Church in Scotland
The Catholic Church in Scotland has said its ‘child protection’ procedures are now of the highest standards as details emerged of two previous Church commission reports that found ‘unacceptable levels of risk to children’ in some parishes.
An official statement from the Church in Scotland this week said that its approach to such matters was now informed by the past.
“Errors in the handling of historic cases have informed current safeguarding standards,” the statement said. “There is always room for improvement but many lessons have been learned and the Church can only renew its apologies to those whose complaints were not taken seriously or handled properly in the past.”
The Church in Scotland commissioned the two reports, which became public last week, in 1995 and 2004.
The first saw the Church ask academic Alan Draper to compile a report on instances of sexual abuses in the Church.
Mr Draper said he uncovered information that should have been given ‘to an independent group, preferably chaired by a judge’ but the Church declined.
The Church’s statement confirms that Mr Draper was involved ‘at an early stage in the development of policies and procedures but was replaced when others with greater competence were engaged.’
The second, 27-page report was written by May Dunsmuir, then director of child protection for the Catholic Church in Scotland.
The report, entitled A Review of Child Protection Practices, criticised Scottish bishops for failing to provide proper training, adequate supervision of priests with problems and for organising ‘no national or diocesan collation and dissemination of child protection statistical information and analysis.’
Ms Dunsmuir resigned after four months, shortly after delivering her report.
The Church’s full response to questions raised about these reports said their child protection policies were now in good shape because the Church had learned from the errors of the past.
—This story was reported in full in the March 15 print edition of the SCO.