Catholic Church urged to apologise to abuse victims

Catholic Church urged to apologise to abuse victims

  • Cardinal Keith O'Brien stepped down from the archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in February 2013 after allegations of inappropriate behaviour

    Cardinal Keith O’Brien stepped down from the archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in February 2013 after allegations of inappropriate behaviour

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A commission investigating abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has called on it to make an “unmistakeable and unequivocal” public apology.

It said the church must “heal the hurt and address the anger” of victims.

The church asked Dr Andrew McLellan to lead a review of how it handles allegations of abuse, following a series of scandals.

It took evidence from victims in a bid to improve support services and protect vulnerable children and adults.

Dr McLellan, a former moderator of the Church of Scotland, was tasked with coming up with proposals aimed at making the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland “a safe place for all”.

The 11 review commissioners, who include a senior police officer, a journalist and an MP, were tasked with assessing the quality of support available to survivors.

‘Absolute priority’

It was not within the scope of the commission to investigate or adjudicate on current or historical allegations.

The commission made eight recommendations, including calling for support for survivors of abuse to be an “absolute priority”.

It also said justice must be done for those who have been abused.

 

The report also recommended that the church’s safeguarding policies and practices be completely rewritten and subject to external scrutiny.

It called for a consistent approach to dealing with allegations across Scotland and improved training for those in the church.

Mr McLellan said: “The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland should make a public apology to all survivors of abuse within the church.

“An apology must be made in a way that is unmistakeable and unequivocal.”

‘Heal the hurt’

He added: “The Bishops have said from the outset that they will accept our recommendations.

“That means that three things will happen.

“First and most important a beginning will be made to heal the hurt and address the anger which so many survivors feel.

“Second, the Catholic Church in Scotland will begin to confront a dark part of its past and find some healing for itself.

“Third, a significant step will be taken in restoring public credibility for the Catholic Church.”

His review was announced following a series of scandals.

The Church faced allegations of abuse at the former Catholic boarding school at Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands.

The former leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, stepped down in February 2013 after admitting sexual misconduct.

The church said it would make public annual audits of all allegations received by the church.

It has published details of allegations dating from 2006 to 2012 and then for 2013.

The church also said it would instigate a retrospective investigation of historic allegations, dating back to 1947 – with work continuing on that.

It said any allegations uncovered as part of this, which had not been acted upon, would be passed to police for them to investigate.

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