A Catholic safeguarding group has promised to ‘carefully study’ the ‘contents and recommendations’ of a seven-year inquiry into institutional failings over sexual abuse of children in England and Wales
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) described the sexual abuse of children as an “epidemic that leaves tens of thousands of victims in its poisonous wake”, as its final report was published on Thursday.
It also said that laws compelling people in positions of trust to report child sexual abuse and a national compensation scheme for victims should be introduced.
The Catholic Council for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse told the Universe that it ‘welcomes this report, thanks the Inquiry for its work and will carefully study its contents and recommendations.’
IICSA called for a “national redress scheme” to get compensation for victims “let down by the state and non-state institutions in the past” to be launched.
The £186.6 million inquiry, set up in 2015, looked at 15 areas scrutinising institutional responses to child sexual abuse – including investigations into abuse in Westminster and the church – and more than 7,000 victims took part.
Recommendations included creating a post for a minister for children at cabinet level and the introduction of a Child Protection Authority to support child protection ‘in the relevant institutions and statutory agencies’, the report said.
The Catholic Council for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was created in 2015, at the commencement of the Inquiry’s work. It has assisted IICSA under its Chair, Baroness Nuala O’Loan.
“At no point will the Church stop on its journey of dedicated effort in making the life and work of the Church safe for all,” the Catholic Council’s statement said, adding that the new national safeguarding body, the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA), was established to ‘ensure that standards are upheld,’ and ‘changes were fully aligned with the Inquiry’s recommendations.’
Professor Alexis Jay, chairwoman of the inquiry, called the sexual abuse of children ‘an epidemic’ from which some of its victims ‘will never recover.’
The Catholic Council underlined the importance of listening to ‘the voice of victims and survivors of abuse,’ adding ‘an unreserved apology’ to all those who have been hurt by abuse in the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols was singled out for criticism by the inquiry, which found that he showed neither compassion nor leadership in confronting the problem in at least two instances.
Picture: PA Media/IICSA