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Cardiff lay Catholic Sheila Dwyer
There has to be greater severity in examining propsective candidates
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The BBC's Emily Buchanan
"There is likely to be much better vetting"
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A victim of abuse, 'Donald'
Says what he wants from the Nolan report
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Most Reverend Vincet Nichols, Roman Catholic Bishop
"The report will help us learn from the past"
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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Catholics tackle paedophile priests

High profile abuse cases have embarrassed the church
A committee set up to advise the Catholic Church on how to stop sexual abuse has called for police checks to be carried out on all clergy, staff and volunteers.

The report follows the convictions of two paedophile priests in Wales.

The recommendation is among 50 put forward by an independent committee chaired by retired judge Lord Nolan.

Others include the establishment of a national database on candidates for the priesthood and a national child protection unit within the church to provide support and advice and information at a national level.

We are committed to ensuring that the Catholic Church becomes the safest of places for children

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor
The report says that cautioned or convicted child abusers should not hold any position that could put children at risk and that clergy should be dismissed in the most serious cases.

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.

Between 1995 and 1999 a total of 21 Catholic priests in England and Wales were convicted of offences against children.

Father John Lloyd was jailed in 1998 for indecently assaulting a 13-year-old girl in his confession box in Pontypridd.

Barry priest Father Joe Jordan was also jailed at Cardiff Crown Court last October for six indecent assaults committed in the eighties. There were calls for the Archbishop of Cardiff, Most Rev John Aloysius, to step down amid claims the Church was more concerned about its image than protecting children.

The nine-strong review committee included two senior judges, senior officials from the probation service and the psychiatric profession, a children's charity and Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner David Veness.

The report, published on Tuesday, recommends:

  • The Church should set up a national database of information on all candidates for the priesthood.

  • Every Catholic parish should have a designated child protection representative, with the Church adopting a single set of policies based on Home Office procedures for preventing child abuse.

  • Bishops and religious superiors do not overrule selection boards where reservations are expressed about a candidates suitability for ordination on the grounds of a possible risk to children and young people.

  • Allegations of abuse must be responded to swiftly, with police involvement.

    Lord Nolan said the overall aim of the report is to create a secure environment for children.

    "The care of children is at the forefront of the teachings of Christ," he said.

    "We believe the Catholic Church in England and Wales should become an example of best practice in the prevention of child abuse and in responding to it.

    "Our proposals are meant to improve existing diocesan and national structures and procedures so that parishes are supported in their efforts to protect the children in their care," he said.


    "We also want to ensure a consistent and effective approach across the Church to allegations of child abuse."

    Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said the report was "extremely constructive and helpful" and would form a major item for discussion by all the bishops of England and Wales at their meeting next week.

    "We are committed to ensuring that the Catholic Church becomes the safest of places for children and I am sure that this first report and the ongoing work of the review will help us to achieve this," he said.

    Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
    Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has faced strong criticism
    "I am very intent that the Catholic Church in this country, in England and Wales, will be an example to everyone on proper procedures for child protection and dealing with an allegations."

    Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was severely criticised last 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 he had been responsible for allowing Hill to continue working as a chaplain despite warnings he would re-offend.

    The poor vetting of prospective priests was also exposed in the case of teacher Joe Jordan, who had been accused of abuse while at a school in Doncaster and barred from teaching.

    When he then trained to become a priest this information was never passed on to the appointments board in the Cardiff Diocese which subsequently employed him.

    Sexual offences

    He was later convicted of more cases of abuse.

    The Nolan committee's full report is due to be completed this summer.

    It will recommend the Church builds on the guidelines it issued in 1994, which proved inadequate in protecting children from abusing priests.

    The East Anglia Roman Catholic diocese paid Norfolk Police earlier this year to carry out police checks on its bishops, priests and volunteers.

    As a result, two volunteers were removed from their positions because of criminal records involving violent or sexual offences.

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