BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 17 September, 2001, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
'Root out child abuse' church told
Lord Nolan
Lord Nolan: Child abuse is a great evil
The Catholic Church has been told it should become an "example of excellence" in rooting out child abuse in its parishes.

The final report for the church in England and Wales has recommended a raft of measures to tackle paedophile priests.

The Nolan report, headed by the former Law Lord Lord Nolan, makes 83 recommendations in its report A Programme For Action.

Child abuse is a great evil and we believe that the Church should be an example of excellence in rooting it out

Lord Nolan
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, launched the review last September after admitting "inadequate procedures" had led to errors in the past.

The recommendations, drawn up by a committee of four Catholics and six non-Catholics, build on 50 measures outlined in an interim report published in April.

These include setting up a national child protection unit to promote good practice, creating a national database to vet candidates for the priesthood and checks with the new Criminal Record Bureau.

Every Catholic parish would also be obliged to appoint a child protection representative with a child protection co-ordinator for all dioceses, religious orders and seminaries.

Confession rules

The final report makes new recommendations, including measures to ensure that both children and priests are visible during confession.

Records should also be kept for 100 years and should not be destroyed when people die.

Introducing the report, Lord Nolan said: "Our overriding aim has been to create a secure environment for children.

The creation of a culture of vigilance ... is the overall aim

Archbishop Vincent Nichols
"Our approach has been to identify best child protection practice, and, wherever possible, to apply it to the policies and procedures of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

"Child abuse is a great evil and we believe that the Church should be an example of excellence in rooting it out."

The review was set up in response to a series of damaging revelations involving paedophile priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor welcomed the final report as "clearly a thorough and comprehensive document".

The cardinal was attacked for his role in placing a known paedophile priest in a job at Gatwick Airport despite warnings he would re-offend.

Central task

Michael Hill served more than three years of a five-year prison sentence imposed in 1997 for nine sex attacks, including one on a boy with learning difficulties he met at the airport chapel.

"It is the aim of all of us that the Catholic Church in England and Wales will come to be seen as an example of best practice in the prevention of child abuse, and in responding to it."

Between 1995 and 1999, 21 out of the 5,600 Catholic priests in England and Wales were convicted of child abuse.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham
Archbishop Vincent Nichols: Setting up a national child protection unit
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, in charge of carrying out earlier recommendations, said setting up the national child protection unit - the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA) - was a "central" task.

"This will take time to achieve, but it can and will be done," he said.

The recruitment of a director for COPCA would take place soon, the archbishop added.

Margaret Kennedy, founder and co-ordinator of ecumenical group Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, said the Church had failed to act upon its guidelines drawn up in 1994 on child protection.

"What I am afraid of is that there will be a repeat of the 1994 document - that was very good and was actually very, very, extensive. But it was not implemented," she said.

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories