Skip to main content

0800 917 1000 Open weekdays 8am-10pm, Saturday 10am-12pm

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church Case Study: Archdiocese of Birmingham Investigation Report

A.1: The background to the investigation

1. The Archdiocese of Birmingham is one of the largest archdioceses within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Geographically, the Archdiocese covers Oxfordshire in the south of England to North Staffordshire, and from the east of Birmingham to the Welsh border. It serves a Catholic population of approximately 450,000 people.

2. In the mid 1990s, the Archdiocese of Birmingham was the subject of numerous allegations of child sexual abuse perpetrated by its clergy. There were a number of criminal cases, some of which resulted in lengthy prison sentences. Civil claims resulted in thousands of pounds in compensation being paid to victims and survivors.

3. The Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly apologised for its failures to protect children from sexual abuse and to respond properly to allegations. Most recently, in August 2018, Pope Francis acknowledged publicly the pain and suffering caused to children who had been sexually abused by priests and members of the clergy.[1]

4. The concerns and complaints about the Church’s response to allegations of child sexual abuse have not arisen in a vacuum. Over the past 30 years, the Roman Catholic Church has commissioned a number of reviews to consider the ways in which it has handled allegations of child sexual abuse, including:

4.1. the 2001 Nolan report, A programme for action[2] , the purpose of which was to “examine and review arrangements made for child protection and the prevention of abuse within the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and to make recommendations” and

4.2. the Cumberlege Commission, which published its report Safeguarding with Confidence: keeping children and vulnerable adults safe in the Catholic Church[3] in 2007 and had as one of the main aims to “review the implementation of the Nolan Report both nationally and locally in the dioceses and religious congregations”.

5. In addition to these national, Church-wide reviews, the Archdiocese of Birmingham was audited in 2010 by the Church’s national advisory body, the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service [4] (CSAS). The audit concluded that the Archdiocese fell below the standard required in every area that it inspected.

6. It is against this background that the Archdiocese of Birmingham was selected by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse as one of two case studies[5] within the investigation into the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

References

Back to top