The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) has admitted that its safeguarding measures on child sexual abuse must change.
Their admission came after a damning independent report which lambasted the bishops’ council and its safeguarding measures.
Their poor treatment of survivors also came in for attack in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report, which singled out Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols for criticism.
Cardinal Nichols, president of the CBCEW, apologized for letting people down “in many ways, in different times, in different places, for different reasons,” describing abuse in the Church as “a terrible wickedness.”
The bishops of England and Wales held their plenary assembly from Nov. 16-20.
Cardinal Nichols told media that he had no intention of quitting. Despite the survivors’ call for his immediate departure, he said: “I have no wish to turn my back on this challenge and walk away.”
The bishops unveiled their new safeguarding set-up known as the Elliott Report after child protection specialist Ian Elliott, who played a leading role in piecing together the report.
The CBCEW confirmed it had accepted seven recommendations of the IICSA report to improve the Church's response to child abuse.
The bishops said the findings of the IICSA report were “shocking and overwhelming” and committed themselves to “listen more intently” to the survivors.
Under the review report, two current bodies for safeguarding, National Catholic Safeguarding Commission and the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service, will cease to exist and their places will be taken over by the Catholic Safeguarding Agency, a regulatory body for all dioceses in England and Wales.
A special body will be set up to deal with religious orders after the review report said that the current system for safeguarding in religious orders has failed.
“The report argues for structural change and the new body will sit at the center of the Church,” Elliott said.
He suggested setting up of an independent body to deal with the canonical issues related to abuse and a closer cooperation with the survivors.