Concerns about the protection and safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults have now been very prominent in the news and the public consciousness for many years. The church takes these concerns very seriously as can be seen from the strong and uncompromising statement made by the Catholic Bishops in England and Wales in April 2010.
Since 2001, the Catholic church in England and Wales has had in place a system for checking people who have regular contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults through some form of ministry in the church or Catholic schools. The aim of these procedures is to ensure that no-one can have such contact until they have been the subject of satisfactory checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service. The procedures to be followed are set out at national and diocesan level with organisations in place to ensure they are followed.
At Parish level, we have a Safeguarding Representative who is responsibile for obtaining the necessary checks. Our Safeguarding Policy is set out below.
However, there is no room for complacency in these matters. Recent cases have shown that carrying out the necessary checks may not protect vulnerable people. We carry out those checks and put our trust in those whom we allow to work with vulnerable people, yet we must remain alert.
Parish Safeguarding representative
Our parish safeguarding representative is Teresa Quinn who can be contacted via the Parish Office.
Free safeguarding training
The National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) has worked with Educare to provide an online, interactive E-Learning safeguarding course which is now available to all in the Catholic Church. If you have a role (voluntary or paid) working with children/adults at risk or have an interest in safeguarding, the online training is a great opportunity to learn how better to protect children/ adults at risk in your care and community. Some of the modules available include: Child Exploitation & Online Safety and Adult Safeguarding. To register please email: firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details: full name, parish/order/congregation, and your role e.g. parent, catechist leader. For more information please ask for a brochure from your safeguarding rep Theresa Quinn
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This commitment flows from our common belief in the dignity and uniqueness of every human life. It is our policy to respect that dignity and uniqueness.
We start from the principle that each child has a right to expect the highest level of care and protection, love, encouragement and respect that we can give.
It is our aim to provide an environment that supports and nurtures children so that they may develop and mature as safe from harm as possible.
While we aim to protect our children and young people from all kinds of harm, we accept that some element of risk is unavoidable. Child Protection Procedures are intended to minimise those risks.
Child Protection Procedures are also intended to assist parish workers and volunteers in identifying ways in which they can safeguard the best interests of the children and young people in their care, and their own best interests as well.
Bishops’ statement on abuse
Child abuse in the Catholic Church has been such a focus of public attention recently, that we, the Bishops of England and Wales, wish to address this issue directly and unambiguously.
Catholics are members of a single universal body. These terrible crimes, and the inadequate response by some church leaders, grieve us all.
Our first thoughts are for all who have suffered from the horror of these crimes, which inflict such severe and lasting wounds. They are uppermost in our prayer. The distress we feel at what has happened is nothing in comparison with the suffering of those who have been abused.
The criminal offences committed by some priests and religious are a profound scandal. They bring deep shame to the whole church. But shame is not enough. The abuse of children is a grievous sin against God. Therefore we focus not on shame but on our sorrow for these sins. They are the personal sins of only a very few. But we are bound together in the Body of Christ and, therefore, their sins touch us all.
We express our heartfelt apology and deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed. We ask their pardon, and the pardon of God for these terrible deeds done in our midst. There can be no excuses.
Furthermore, we recognise the failings of some Bishops and Religious leaders in handling these matters. These, too, are aspects of this tragedy which we deeply regret and for which we apologise. The procedures now in place in our countries highlight what should have been done straightaway in the past. Full co-operation with statutory bodies is essential.
Now, we believe, is a time for deep prayer of reparation and atonement. We invite Catholics in England and Wales to make the four Fridays in May 2010 special days of prayer. Even when we are lost for words, we can place ourselves in silent prayer. We invite Catholics on these days to come before the Blessed Sacrament in our parishes to pray to God for healing, forgiveness and a renewed dedication. We pray for all who have suffered abuse; for those who mishandled these matters and added to the suffering of those affected. From this prayer we do not exclude those who have committed these sins of abuse. They have a journey of repentance and atonement to make.
We pray also for Pope Benedict, whose wise and courageous leadership is so important for the Church at this time.
In our dioceses we will continue to make every effort, working with our safeguarding commissions, to identify any further steps we can take, especially concerning the care of those who have suffered abuse, including anyone yet to come forward with their account of their painful and wounded past. We are committed to continuing the work of safeguarding, and are determined to maintain openness and transparency, in close co-operation with the statutory authorities in our countries. We thank the thousands who give generously of their time and effort to the Church’s safeguarding work in our parishes and dioceses.
We commit ourselves afresh to the service of children, young people and the vulnerable in our communities. We have faith and hope in the future. The Catholic Church abounds in people, both laity, religious and clergy, of great dedication, energy and generosity who serve in parishes, schools, youth ventures and the care of elderly people. We also thank them. The Holy Spirit guides us to sorrow and repentance, to a firm determination to better ways, and to a renewal of love and generosity towards all in need.
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