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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 15:58 GMT
Pressure for cardinal to resign
Cormac Murphy O'Connor
Allegations were taken to the Cardinal in April
The director of a children's charity has called for the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to resign over allegations of abuse involving a priest.

According to documents passed to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor allowed a priest who admitted interfering with a teenage boy to continue working.

This went against guidelines recommended in a review by Lord Nolan into how the Church handled paedophile allegations, which was commissioned by the cardinal himself.


He is going to have to go over this because he has not followed his own guidelines.

Michelle Elliot
Kidscape

Michelle Elliot, of Kidscape, said she was "absolutely shocked" by the case and suggested the cardinal should resign.

She told Today: "It was quite clear that the Nolan report required that priests who were abusing children should not continue in their ministry and the cardinal has said fine, go ahead.

"The guidelines are adequate. It doesn't sound like the Church is fully co-operating because this man should not - the priest should not - be in a ministry were he can get in contact with other young people.

"I would like for the cardinal to consider his position because it seems to me it is untenable. It seems to me he should resign."

'Blind eye'

Allegations were taken to the cardinal in April after an alleged victim of sexual abuse confronted a priest by e-mail.

He claimed the man had improperly interfered with him at a seminary in 1986. At the time he was 17 and his alleged abuser was 30.

The priest responded - admitting to his short-comings and begging forgiveness.

The priest went to the Church authorities himself and Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was informed.

In a letter to The Times newspaper last week the cardinal responded to criticism he had turned a blind eye to allegations of child abuse.

The Church adopted strict guidelines in 2001 which were recommended by Lord Nolan, who was commissioned by the cardinal to look at the way the Church handled paedophile allegations.

Risk assessment

Under the guidelines priests would be removed from active ministry if allegations were regarded as well founded.

But that has not happened in this case. The priest is still working and remains a school governor.

In a statement to Today the Church said: "Earlier this year an incident which occurred 16 years ago between a 17-year-old and a trainee priest was brought to the attention of the diocese.


The priest was withdrawn from his parish pending a full risk assessment as required under the Nolan guidelines.

Catholic Church statement
"Both parties were interviewed within 48 hours by a diocese child protection team.

"The diocese then reported the matter to the police for investigation against the wishes of the complainant who preferred not to pursue any complaint.

"He declined to co-operate with the police.

"The priest was withdrawn from his parish pending a full risk assessment as required under the Nolan guidelines.

"This risk assessment was comprehensive and carried out by independent experts with the full co-operation of the priest concerned.

"The recommendations of that assessment were implemented in full.

"As required by Nolan this case will be kept under regular review."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andy Tighe
"The church maintains it did the right thing"
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"In today's case there's no doubt that the church followed guidelines to the book"
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