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Recommendations - Roman Catholic Church investigation report

These recommendations were made in the Roman Catholic Church investigation report.

Leadership and oversight of safeguarding matters

Recommendation

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Conference of Religious in England and Wales should each nominate a lead member of the clergy for safeguarding to provide leadership and oversight on safeguarding matters to their respective Conferences and the wider Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Responses

On 7 May 2021, the Catholic Council for the Inquiry stated that  the role description for the Lead Bishop for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales was approved in March 2021. Bishop Paul Mason (the Bishop of the Forces) was appointed to this role at the Spring Plenary Assembly in April 2021 for a term of three years. The Conference of Religious have also approved the role description for the Lead Safeguarding Religious and have appointed Fr David Smolira SJ as the first lead. 

Both roles include working collaboratively to model a “One Church” strategy for safeguarding in the Catholic Church in England and Wales

Mandatory safeguarding training

Recommendation

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales should ensure that safeguarding training is mandatory for all staff and volunteers in roles where they work with children or victims and survivors of abuse. It should also be a requirement that regular refresher training is completed. The training should consider the impact of child sexual abuse, including the impact of trauma and the perspective of victims and survivors, and should be developed in conjunction with the Survivor Advisory Panel.

Responses

On 7 May 2021, the Catholic Council for the Inquiry stated that it has already mandated that clergy and parish safeguarding representatives undergo baseline safeguarding training, supplemented by biennial refresher training. The reach of mandatory training is extended to volunteers under a new standards-based approach to safeguarding for all who are engaged in any pastoral work in the Church. The voice of victims and survivors of abuse is central to the development of this approach and the Survivors’ Reference Panel will be a key player in this work.

Compliance with safeguarding policies and procedures

Recommendation

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Conference of Religious should publish a clear framework for dealing with cases of non-compliance with safeguarding policies and procedures. That framework should identify who is responsible for dealing with issues of non-compliance at all levels of the Church, and include the measures or sanctions for non-compliance.

Responses

On 7 May 2021, the Catholic Council for the Inquiry noted that a new body, the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA), is being established as a professional standards agency for the Catholic Church. The agency will include a dedicated audit function with the necessary powers of sanction, which will provide a clear framework for dealing with cases of non-compliance with the national safeguarding standards and the related national safeguarding policies and procedures. The CSSA will have a new board of directors comprising an independent lay chair and the majority of directors will be lay persons who do not hold any specific or designated role, employed or otherwise in the Catholic Church in England and Wales. 

Each unique church body in the Catholic Church in England and Wales will be required to enter into a contractual arrangement with this new agency. The contract will set out arrangements for service provision from the agency to the particular church body, and the necessary levels of compliance that will be demanded through this contractual engagement. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference hopes that the use of contractual agreement between the Church body and the CSSA will be underpinned by the General Decree for Safeguarding that was submitted to the Holy See for Recognition in June 2019. Further information was submitted back to Rome on 19 March 2021 and awaits final response from the competent congregation.

External auditing of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service

Recommendation

The Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service should have the effectiveness of its audit programme regularly validated by an independent organisation which is external to the Church. These independent reports should be published.

Responses

On 7 May 2021, the Catholic Council for the Inquiry stated that the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) Board and an independent advisory panel will identify the mechanisms and scope for the external auditing of the CSSA. It was stated that they will need to determine an appropriate body to undertake this and determine the terms of reference and frequency of this work of external audit. It is intended that the internal audit function will be carried out by the CSSA audit section and any external audit of the CSSA will produce a published report, along with any action plan that may be required for remedial work or enhanced operation.

Redrafting the Code of Canon Law

Recommendation

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales should request that the Holy See redraft the canonical crimes relating to child sexual abuse as crimes against the child.

Responses

On 7 May 2021, the Catholic Council for the Inquiry stated that it accepts and supports this recommendation and has written to the Holy See making a request to this effect. The Vatican has responded that this will be included in the revision of Book VI of the 1983 CIC, which is currently in process. In the revised Book VI of the 1983 CIC, crimes against minors are considered under a different title than crimes against the obligations of celibacy on the part of clerics. The revised title will be “Crimes against the life, dignity and freedom of man” and will include a canon that is specific to crimes against minors.

Review Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service policies and procedures manual

Recommendation

The Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service should review its policies and procedures manual and the documents within it to ensure that they are consistent, easier to follow and more accessible.

Responses

On 7 May 2021, the Catholic Council for the Inquiry stated that a review of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service policy and procedures took place immediately after the Inquiry’s hearings in November 2019.The updates to policy and revisions to presentation of the different policy documents, were implemented and published on the CSAS website early in 2020. The Catholic Council also stated that work is underway to review the existing national policy and procedures to reduce the length and complexity of these documents. The presentation of the revised policies and procedures aims to achieve high level simplified information that will be easily accessible to different roles within the church. It is expected that these revisions will be ready by the end of June 2021.

Publication of complaints policy

Recommendation

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Conference of Religious should publish a national policy for complaints about the way in which a safeguarding case is handled.

The policy should deal with communication with complainants during the complaints process and set out an escalation process for all complainants to have their complaint assessed by an independent adjudicator, if they are unhappy with how their complaint has been handled.

Responses

On 7 May 2021, the Catholic Council for the Inquiry stated that a framework and template for complaints which includes the need for clear communication between the complainant and those handling the complaint, and an escalation of the process if the outcome it felt to be unsatisfactory, was ratified by the Bishops in their November Plenary Assembly in 2020. 

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Roman Catholic Church investigation report

View the Inquiry's Roman Catholic Church investigation report in its entirety.

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