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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church Investigation Report

Contents

A.1: Background to the investigation

1. This investigation is concerned with the nature and extent of, and the institutional response to, allegations of child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

2. Between 1970 and 2015, the Church received more than 3,000 complaints of child sexual abuse against more than 900 individuals connected to the Church. Those complaints involved over 1,750 victims and complainants. Civil claims against dioceses and religious institutes have resulted in millions of pounds being paid in compensation. Even so, the true scale of child sexual abuse is likely to be greater than these figures.

3. The Inquiry has held public hearings in the following case studies:

  • Ampleforth and Downside abbeys and their respective schools (part of the English Benedictine Congregation (EBC)): As set out in the Ampleforth and Downside Investigation Report (published in August 2018),[1] “monks in both institutions were secretive, evasive and suspicious” of anyone outside the EBC and the reputations of monks and institutions were prioritised over the protection of children.
  • The Archdiocese of Birmingham: The Archdiocese has received over 130 allegations of child sexual abuse since the 1930s. The Archdiocese of Birmingham Investigation Report (published in November 2018)[2] found that inaction by the Archdiocese meant that in some cases abusers were able to continue sexually abusing children. As recently as 2018, audits identified significant problems with the Archdiocese’s safeguarding arrangements.
  • Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School (also part of the EBC): As identified in the Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School Investigation Report (published in October 2019),[3] there was extensive child sexual abuse and a culture of ‘cover-up’ and denial at both institutions.

4. The Inquiry’s fourth public hearing, held in October and November 2019, examined the extent of institutional failings by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales to protect children from sexual abuse and its current safeguarding regime. This report considers the evidence heard in that hearing and also deals with cross-cutting themes and issues identified by the Inquiry throughout the investigation, including the case studies.

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