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Response to McLellan Commission

Following the publication earlier today a “Review of Safeguarding Protocols and Procedures” by a Commission chaired by the Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan, the Catholic Bishops of Scotland have welcomed the report and accepted its recommendations in full.

 

The report comprises a detailed assessment of all aspects of Safeguarding within the church and can be viewed here: www.mclellancommission.co.uk

 

In the report preface, Dr. McLellan notes:

“The invitation to chair this Commission came from the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in Scotland. When I accepted it I made it clear that I did not feel that my first responsibility was to them. My first responsibility was, and has been through all our work, to those who have been harmed.“

 

Dr. McLellan adds:

“The fact that the Bishops commissioned a Minister of the Church of Scotland to carry out this review demonstrated an ecumenical trust, which could not have been guessed at in Scotland thirty years ago. I appreciate that generosity of spirit.“

 

In the Report, the Commission set out 8 principal recommendations:

 

1. Support for the survivors of abuse must be an absolute priority for the Catholic Church in Scotland in the field of safeguarding. The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland should make a public apology to all survivors of abuse within the Church.

 

2. The “Awareness and Safety” manual should be completely revised or rewritten.

 

3. There must be some external scrutiny and independence in the safeguarding policies and practices of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

 

4. Effectiveness and improvement must be measured at every level of safeguarding in the Church.

 

5. A consistent approach to safeguarding is essential: consistent across    different parts of Scotland and consistent across different parts of the Church.

 

6. Justice must be done, and justice must be seen to be done, for those who have been abused and for those against whom allegations of abuse are made.

 

7. The priority of undertaking regular high-quality training and continuous professional development in safeguarding must be understood and accepted by all those involved in safeguarding at every level.

 

8. The Catholic Church in Scotland must set out a theology of safeguarding which is coherent and compelling.

 

Responding to the report and offering the Public Apology called for in its first recommendation, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said:

“As the President of the Bishops’ Conference, and on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, I want to offer a profound apology to all those who have been harmed and who have suffered in any way as a result of actions by anyone within the Catholic Church.

 

Child abuse is a horrific crime. That this abuse should have been carried out within the Church, and by priests and religious, takes that abuse to another level. Such actions are inexcusable and intolerable. The harm the perpetrators of abuse have caused is first and foremost to their victims, but it extends far beyond them, to their families and friends, as well as to the Church and wider society.  

 

I would like to assure the survivors of abuse that the Catholic Bishops of Scotland are shamed and pained by what you have suffered. We say sorry. We ask forgiveness.

 

We apologise to those who have found the Church’s response slow, unsympathetic or uncaring and reach out to them as we take up the recommendations of the McLellan Commission.”

 

Commenting on the report, Bishop Joseph Toal, the Bishop responsible for Safeguarding said:

“In accepting fully the recommendations in this report, the Catholic Church in Scotland renews its commitment to protect and safeguard everyone in our parish communities. Our clergy and lay faithful are committed to on-going training and professional development and accept this is a priority for all those involved in Safeguarding at every level. We ask God's blessing on the clergy and lay faithful who have special responsibilities in carrying out this essential service in our parishes and church organisations."

 

Reacting to the Report, the Church’s National Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Mrs. Tina Campbell, said:

“The detailed and informed analysis of the McLellan Commission will be incorporated fully into the work being carried out by the Catholic Church in Scotland to develop and maintain Safeguarding standards, which will protect and defend all members of our Catholic community.”

“I acknowledge and thank the many volunteers who give generously of their time as Parish Safeguarding Coordinators, as well as Trainers and others whose work represents a huge commitment to ensuring the safety and welfare of everyone in the Church. I offer particular thanks to the Diocesan Advisers who have contributed significantly to ensuring that Safeguarding policies are implemented at a local level, while providing dedicated support and assistance above and beyond what is expected of them.”

 

ENDS

Peter Kearney 

Director 

Catholic Media Office 

5 St. Vincent Place 

Glasgow 

G1 2DH 

0141 221 1168

07968 122291 

pk@scmo.org 

www.scmo.org

 

Notes to Editors:

1. At a Mass in St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow following the publication of the McLellan Commission report, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland made the following statement:

On 24th November 2013, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland announced that it had commissioned an independent review into the suitability and robustness of the Safeguarding procedures and protocols of the Catholic Church in Scotland.  The Very Reverend Dr. Andrew McLellan, a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, was invited by the Bishops to lead the review.

Earlier today, Dr. McLellan published his Commission’s Report.  I would like to express the gratitude of the Bishops to him and his fellow Commissioners for their work.  The Report is a detailed and substantial document, the product of almost two years’ endeavour by many able and committed people. It gives the Catholic Church in Scotland a vision and a programme to strengthen the work of Safeguarding and respond to the needs of survivors.

The Bishops of Scotland have agreed unanimously to accept the Report’s recommendations in full. We will act on every recommendation and redouble our efforts to ensure that Safeguarding standards are as high as possible.

In the course of this weekend, information will be distributed throughout all our parishes providing information on the findings of the Commission and stressing the Church’s willingness to respond. 

Before that, however, I want to act today on the first of the Report’s main recommendations. The first recommendation calls for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland to make a public apology to all victims and survivors of abuse perpetrated within the Catholic Church in Scotland.

As the President of the Bishops’ Conference, and on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, I want to offer a profound apology to all those who have been harmed and who have suffered in any way as a result of actions by anyone within the Catholic Church.

Child abuse is a horrific crime. That this abuse should have been carried out within the Church, and by priests and religious, takes that abuse to another level. Such actions are inexcusable and intolerable. The harm the perpetrators of abuse have caused is first and foremost to their victims, but it extends far beyond them, to their families and friends, as well as to the Church and wider society.  

I would like to assure the survivors of abuse that the Catholic Bishops of Scotland are shamed and pained by what you have suffered. We say sorry. We ask forgiveness. 

We apologise to those who have found the Church’s response slow, unsympathetic or uncaring and reach out to them as we take up the recommendations of the McLellan Commission.

Since 2007 we have had a comprehensive programme of Safeguarding in place.  In a spirit of openness and transparency, with our dedicated staff and volunteers across the country, whom we thank for the time and effort they give, we commit ourselves to renewing and improving our Safeguarding structures, processes and protocols.

In faith, hope and repentance, we renew our commitment to the welfare of children, young people and the vulnerable in all our communities and to the service of all God’s people.

Finally, I wish to repeat what I said when the McLellan Commission was announced: “We recognise the trauma and pain that victims and survivors of abuse have suffered and we are committed to providing for them both justice and healing.” 

 

 

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia

St Andrew. Cathedral, Glasgow

Tuesday 18th August 2015.

 

 

2. 100,000 copies of a leaflet describing the remit and recommendations of the McLellan Commission together with the text of Archbishop Tartaglia’s apology will be distributed to all of Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes this weekend (22/23 August 2015)

 

3. The Bishops announced, in November 2013, that a review of the suitability and robustness of Safeguarding procedures and the quality and rigour of their implementation nationally would be carried out by a commission headed by Dr. McLellan. A full list of Commission Members can be found here: www.mclellancommission.co.uk/commissioners

 

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