Message from Bishop Philip
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
Tuesday 17th November 2020
I have spent the last few days studying the report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) within the Catholic Church in England and Wales. A long document, it makes harrowing reading. The Report has sections on child protection structures and policies, safeguarding education, how the Church has engaged with victims and survivors, the reporting of cases and the role of bishops and leaders. (Click here to view the document).
In its conclusions, it speaks of the numbers of allegations that have been made over a long period of time, a history of major restructurings, failures in the ‘One Church’ approach, the complexity of procedures, the lengthy processes and slow responses, failings in leadership and above all, poor and inadequate responses to victim-survivors. IICSA will form a major part of the discussion this coming week at the Bishop’s Conference.
Personally, I am grateful to the Inquiry for its work. We have many lessons to learn and much work ahead to make the Church the safest of all places for all. I want to assure you that our Diocese of Portsmouth is utterly committed to providing robust, transparent and effective safeguarding processes, policies and procedures.
Earlier this year, we undertook a review of our safeguarding arrangements with an external body so that we would be clear about what we have to improve in the Diocese. We are well supported by a Safeguarding Commission that has a range of skills and relevant professional backgrounds, including some new members, for whose commitment I am grateful. The Safeguarding Commission works to ensure that oversight of safeguarding arrangements and safeguarding practice within the Diocese is as robust as possible.
We are fully committed to supporting and accompanying survivors and victims of abuse, and to listening to their voices. I also want to express my heartfelt sorrow as a Bishop of the Catholic Church, for all of the abuse that has taken place within the Church and for any failing in appropriate responses made. I apologise profoundly to victims and survivors. Please join me in prayer for all those affected by abuse, that the depth of God’s healing love and mercy surround them and that God’s justice be carried out on earth as it is in Heaven.
For anyone affected by abuse who is seeking advice or support, please contact a member of our Safeguarding team: email@example.com.
You can also seek independent advice and support through Safe Spaces. Safe Spaces provides a confidential and personal safe space for anyone who has been abused through their relationship with the Church of England, the Catholic Church of England and Wales or the Church in Wales. Safe Spaces is managed by Victim Support: telephone 0300 303 1056 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Corde Iesu
Bishop of Portsmouth