Following media coverage of the Apostolic Visitation to Ealing Abbey, a letter from Bishop John Arnold has been published in The Times (1 November 2011). The full text follows.
Abuse of children or vulnerable adults is a terrible crime and our concern is always for those who have suffered the severe and lasting wounds it inflicts. The Catholic Church in this country is committed to the work of safeguarding, maintaining transparency, and fully cooperating with the statutory authorities to whom all allegations are, and must be, reported.
The two specific situations reported last week are a challenge (Editorial 28 Oct), but are being addressed.
In Plymouth, the actions of the diocesan safeguarding co-ordinator in using internet images of child abuse are a painful betrayal of trust, particularly for those who confided in him. Following the discovery of these crimes and the safeguarding co-ordinator’s suspension, Bishop Budd acted in an exemplary fashion by calling in the NSPCC to conduct an independent review. They found that the handling of cases by the safeguarding co-ordinator over the past three years had been appropriate. This Review continues to look at wider diocesan practice.
It is true that cooperation between some Religious Orders and diocesan authorities needs to be strengthened. This is being addressed. Religious Communities do not fall under the authority of the bishop, so where there are concerns it is not uncommon for an Apostolic Visitation to be initiated, as has happened at the Benedictine Abbey in Ealing where the life of the Abbey and its safeguarding procedures are being reviewed. The associated school falls under the supervision of the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Lord Carlile QC is leading an independent review of the school.
Apostolic Visitor to Ealing Abbey