BY Ian Dunn | August 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

6B-MGR-CUSHLEY

New archbishop to open abuse files

Mgr Leo Cushley is expected to facilitate an independent inquiry into Church records

The new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh is expected to open all the archdiocese’s files on allegations of clerical abuse to a national independent enquiry.

Mgr Leo Cushley, who will be installed as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh next month, is expected to fully endorse plans by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland dating back to 2011 to examine all Church records for instances of clerical abuse.

 

Helpline

Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti of Glasgow said last week that the Scottish Bishops’ plan for an independent inquiry into these records was postponed when one member—reported to be Cardinal Keith O’Brien, before he retired—indicated that his diocese needed more time to be sufficiently prepared to participate.

“It was the intention of the conference to publish these audits but was delayed in doing so by the objection of a member of the conference; without full participation of all the dioceses the exercise would have been faulty,” Archbishop Conti said. “I understand that in the light of the criticisms, which the Church has been, in my opinion unjustly, facing, these audits will now be published. I think they will go some distance not only in confirming what Bishop [Emeritus] Devine [of Motherwell] said by way of the number of cases which we have had to address, but in demonstrating the seriousness and competence with which the Church in Scotland has been dealing with safeguarding in all its implications.”

 

Stringent safeguarding

The Archbishop Emeritus also said he believes the safeguarding procedures of the Catholic Church in Scotland now compare favourably with other institutions around the world.

“As regards actual safeguarding, the Catholic Church has had nationally agreed guidelines on the protection of children and vulnerable adults since 1999,” he said. “In this regard the Church was two years ahead of the Nolan Commission in England and Wales, which reported in 2001. Every person, clerical and lay who has any degree of responsibility of care of children is required to be vetted as regards suitability, be police checked for any possible previous complaint or conviction, and be trained in how to deal with children to their protection and appropriate care.”

 

Church reports

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said the Church intended to make public all possible information of allegations of clerical abuse of children as soon as possible.

“It is hoped to publish these audits late in the autumn of 2013,” he said.

“They will contain all the aspects of the work of the eight dioceses of the Church in Scotland with regard to safeguarding and will detail any complaints made about clergy, Church workers, volunteers or anyone else and how these complaints were dealt with.”

He also said that the Church was looking at the best way to publish details of the more historic allegations of clerical abuse.

“Prior to 2006 there was no National Audit and so at present, renewed consideration is being given as to how the statistics which exist for the earlier years can be drawn together and published,” he said. “The Church remains willing to engage in any process which allows lessons to be learned and survivors to be supported.”

 

n ian@sconews.co.uk

 

—ian@sconews.co.uk

 

—This story ran in full in the August 30 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes

 

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