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The BBC's Emily Buchanan
"There has been growing pressure on the church"
 real 56k

Archbishop of Westminster, Murphy O'Connor
"I'm very sorry about the mistakes that we made in the past"
 real 28k

Abuse victim
"This sort of abuse continued until I was fifteen"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 12 September, 2000, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
Church acts on paedophile priests
Abused boy hiding face
High profile abuse cases have embarrassed the church
The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales is to introduce new measures to deal with priests who abuse children.

In future, an independent panel will investigate the way the Church handles such cases.

The move follows accusations that in the past, the Church has tried to cover up child abuse.

The creation of the panel will be announced on Tuesday by the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Most Reverend Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster.

Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor: Resisted calls to resign

He is also expected to outline new guidelines and codes of practice on child abuse.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme on Tuesday the archbishop said: "I'm very sorry about mistakes that were made in the past.

"I apologise very sincerely from my heart for any suffering that has been caused by child abuse by a priest or religious or Church worker.

"That's why I've launched the review and I want to make sure that mistakes that were made in the past will never be repeated in the future."

Severely criticised

Archbishop Murphy O'Connor was severely criticised in July, just four months after his installation at Westminster, over the case of paedophile priest Father Michael Hill.

He faced calls to resign when it emerged that he had been responsible for allowing Hill to continue working as a chaplain despite warnings he would re-offend.

The archbishop said in July he "regretted exceedingly" that Hill re-offended. Hill was released last week.

I'm very sorry about mistakes that were made in the past

Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

The archbishop told the BBC that the Church's protection of children had been "inadequate".

New church guidelines in 1994 recommended that all allegations of abuse should be referred to the police. The new inquiry will assess whether this is happening.

He said the inquiry panel will have one bishop, as well as independent experts, including two senior judges, senior members of the police and the probation service, psychiatrists and an official from a children's charity.

It will not deal with compensation claims for past cases.

But the archbishop said the review will examine what the church has done in the past.

"We have nothing to cover up regarding allegations of child abuse," he concluded.

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23 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Clampdown on clergy abusers planned
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