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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

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

A.4: Terminology

16. The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales consists of a number of archdioceses and dioceses. An archdiocese is headed by an archbishop and a diocese by a bishop. The powers of an archbishop are the same as those of a bishop. References in this report to general matters relating to an archdiocese and an archbishop should therefore be read as also relating to a diocese and a bishop.

17. The language of the 2001 Nolan report was one of child protection; for example, in the creation of the post of child protection coordinator and the Child Protection Commission. The Cumberlege report introduced the concept of safeguarding and led to a change in the titles given to roles within the Archdiocese of Birmingham to that of safeguarding coordinator and the Safeguarding Commission. In this report, the Inquiry will use the title applicable at the relevant time. If general matters of child protection and safeguarding are referred to, the terms have been used interchangeably.

18. Many of the reports of child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Birmingham related to allegations of offences that were committed many years, if not decades, earlier. The Sexual Offences Act 1956 was then the predominant legislation and referred to offences of indecent assault[1] and buggery. [2] On 1 May 2004, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 came into force. This Act created a wide number of new offences. It included specific offences for sexual acts committed against children under 13, a new offence of ‘meeting a child following sexual grooming’[3] and an increase in maximum sentences for a number of offences. It also replaced the offence of indecent assault with sexual assault, and a non-consensual act of buggery is now charged as rape.

Modes of address

19. Following his tenure as Archbishop of Birmingham, Archbishop Vincent Nichols was installed as the Archbishop of Westminster in May 2009. In 2014 he became Cardinal. For the purposes of this report, he will be referred to as Archbishop Nichols. In relation to clergy, their full name will be used when first referred to and thereafter their title and surname only.

20. Following their respective convictions, Penney and Robinson were subject to the Church’s internal disciplinary procedure which resulted in them being laicised (ie removed from the status of being a member of the clergy). The effect of that process is that they are no longer considered to be priests and are not entitled to call themselves or be referred to as ‘Father’. For the purposes of this case study, they and any other laicised member of the clergy will be referred to by their full name without any religious prefix.


21. References in the footnotes of the report such as ‘CHC00053’ are to documents that have been adduced in evidence or posted on the Inquiry website. A reference such as ‘Archbishop Longley 16 November 2018 1/1’ is to the witness, the date he or she gave evidence, and the page and line reference within the relevant transcript (which are available on the Inquiry website).



  1. Sections 14 and 15, Sexual Offences Act 1956
  2. Section 12, Sexual Offences Act 1956
  3. Section 15, Sexual Offences Act 2003
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