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Scotland’s bishops renew apology to victims following Vatican summit on abuse

Scotland’s bishops have renewed their apology to victims of abuse as they welcomed Pope Francis’ vow to tackle the issue in the Church.

The comments follow a summit in Rome last week called by Pope Francis to tackle abuse.

A spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said that at the summit the Pope ‘reminded us’ that ‘we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth.’

They added: “The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, attended the summit in Rome, together with Bishops from across the world. They repeated and endorsed their condemnation of abuse wherever and whenever it has happened within the Church. They also shared best practice and learned from one another, while renewing their commitment to protect and safeguard everyone in our parish communities.

“Reassuringly, the procedures being followed by the Church in Scotland are in line with the final ­recommendations made by the summit. While renewing its apology to anyone who has suffered, the Catholic Church stresses its commitment to the essential work of safeguarding across our parish communities.”

Following the summit, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, said that using secrecy to hide problems rather than protect victims ‘must go out the window.’

“Let’s put secrecy aside,” Archbishop Martin told journalists on February 23. “Secrecy has been one of the root causes of the problems that we are in today. And therefore, we need to be cautious.”

The imposition of ‘pontifical secrecy’ in cases of clerical sex abuse was raised several times during the Vatican’s February 21-24 summit.

The pontifical secrecy ensures cases are dealt with in strict confidentiality. When asked if he spoke to Pope Francis regarding a possible revision of how ‘pontifical secrecy’ is applied, Archbishop Martin said.

“I get a very strong sense from Pope Francis that he wants to do whatever has to be done.”

 

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