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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Ampleforth and Downside (English Benedictine Congregation case study) Investigation Report

Functions of an English Benedictine monastery

42. EBC monasteries have a number of functions and there is a strong commitment to making a contribution to society. As part of this, English Benedictine abbeys extend hospitality by receiving day visitors[1] and staying guests, who may come to the monastery on a spiritual retreat, or just for rest and recuperation. The monasteries will also work in the wider community; for example, the Bishop of a Diocese may entrust an English Benedictine community to carry out the pastoral work of the diocese, instead of appointing a parish priest. This does not give the Bishop authority or oversight of the monastery, however, and the relationship is collaborative rather than hierarchical.[2]

43. EBC congregations were not intended historically to come within the diocesan structure and do not fit neatly within it, including in respect of the particular geographical area in which a congregation will work. This will vary and may not be the same as that designated by the local diocese.[3]

44. Education is an important part of the EBC philosophy, and some of the abbeys have schools associated with them. Historically the teachers for the schools would be drawn from the monastic community. This overlap between the schools and the communities at times has caused a conflict in loyalties between the requirement to safeguard children and the desire to protect monastic brethren, the reputation of the monastery and the reputation of the Church.

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