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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church (EBC) Case Study: Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School Investigation Report

Annex 2: Glossary

Abbot/Abbess The superior of a religious community responsible for governing their institution’s life and work.[1] (See Religious Superior)
Abbot President The leader of a Benedictine Congregation.[2] In the context of this report, the English Benedictine Congregation.
Apostolic Nunciature The diplomatic office of the Holy See in Great Britain, established in 1982. The location of the Apostolic Nuncio’s offices and residence is Wimbledon, south west London.
Apostolic Nuncio The diplomatic representative of the Holy See in the UK. His role is equivalent to that of an ambassador. The post is presently held by Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, who was appointed on 8 April 2017.[3]
Apostolic Visitation A visitation (see also Visitation) ordered by the Holy See, which appoints one or more Visitors to investigate a situation and to report back to the Holy See on what they find.[4]
Benedictine Confederation A union of autonomous monastic congregations which all follow the teachings (the Rule) of St Benedict. Each of the congregations (of which the English Benedictine Congregation is one) has its own Abbot President. The Confederation has its headquarters at Sant’Anselmo in Rome, which is the seat of the Abbot Primate. (The current Abbot Primate, as at 2019, is Gregory Polan OSB.)[5]
Charity Commission A non-ministerial government department that regulates registered charities in England and Wales and maintains the Central Register of Charities.[6]
Code of Canon Law The system of laws which govern the Catholic Church.[7] Laws are articulated in a code, known as the ‘Code of Canon Law’. The current code is the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It superseded the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which was the first comprehensive codification of canon law in the Latin Church.
Constitutions of the EBC Every religious congregation has constitutions. Benedictine monastic congregations have constitutions as well as the Rule of St Benedict (the Rule). Constitutions of the English Benedictine Congregation (EBC) govern all its monasteries, and individual monasteries do not have individual constitutions. Nuns of the EBC have a different set of constitutions from the monks. The constitutions consist of two parts: (i) The Declarations on the Rule – this is complementary to the Rule of St Benedict. (ii) The Statutes – these set out the structure and government of the congregation as a whole.[8]
Covenant of care Following the Nolan report, the Catholic Church introduced a new policy which was to ask individuals about whom a concern had been raised to accept a covenant of care (now called a safeguarding plan). This is an agreement drawn up between the Church and the individual in question to minimise risks to others by making clear what conditions and restrictions apply, as well as what support is available.[9]
Decree A formal order. Canon Law 601 gives a religious superior power to compel a member of their community to act in a particular way. If the member does not do so then sanctions can result. This rule is the basis for covenants of care and disciplinary decrees.[10] An example is an Act of Visitation made after a visitation (see Visitation) where the Abbot President can issue a formal decree (made in writing) requiring steps to be taken by the Abbot and institution subject to the visitation.[11]
Delict A crime in canon law, an external violation of a law or precept gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.[12] This is not the same definition as a delict in civil law jurisdictions.
Dispensation On application from an abbot, the Abbot President can grant a dispensation from temporary vows for a member of the community. However, to be granted dispensation from perpetual vows the Abbot President’s Council must agree with the application (although the Abbot President can take the final decision) before it is forwarded to the Holy See for approval.[13]
Ex-gratia payment A payment for damages, made voluntarily but without any admission of liability or guilt.
Extraordinary visitations A visitation (see Visitation) held outside of the regular four-yearly intervals of the Ordinary visitations. Held when needed, usually for serious or grave reasons.[14]
First Assistant The senior member of the Council of the Abbot President, who takes on the role of the Abbot President for visitations of the monastery of which the Abbot President is a member.[15]
General Chapter of the EBC All Roman Catholic congregations, including the English Benedictine Congregation (EBC), have General Chapters. These exercise supreme authority and write the constitutions of the order (with the approval of the Holy See) and elect the General Superior/Abbot President. Due to the structure of the EBC, the monasteries are more autonomous than other congregations of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore the General Chapter of the EBC has less authority than in other orders where there is a centralised system and a more obvious hierarchy of accountability. The General Chapter of the EBC is made up of the Abbot President, an abbot or abbess from each monastery, a delegate elected by the monastery’s own chapter and four officials of the EBC. The Abbot President as the most senior figure prepares and runs the General Chapter with the help of his Council. It is the supreme legislative authority of the congregation, saving the right of the Holy See to approve the constitutions. It elects the Abbot President and his Council, and discusses matters of common interest to the monasteries. The General Chapter has ordinary and extraordinary meetings, known as chapters. Ordinary chapters are held every four years and extraordinary chapters are held in times of need. The last extraordinary chapter was held in 2015.[16]
Holy See The Holy See is the central administration of the Catholic Church, which includes the Pope and the offices of the Vatican.[17] It is located in Vatican City, Italy.[18]
Independent Safeguarding Authority A non-departmental national vetting and barring agency that was responsible for checking the backgrounds of people working with children and vulnerable adults and ensuring that they were suitable (eg checking they did not have any criminal convictions that would make them unsuitable to work with children). In December 2012, it merged with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to form the Disclosure and Barring Service.[19]
Laicisation The loss of the clerical state, either through dismissal for offences or through a request from the individual, for example to enable a monk to marry.[20]
Monastic congregation A union of several autonomous monasteries, under a superior.[21]
Notification requirements Sometimes referred to as the sex offenders’ register. Created by the Sex Offenders Act 1997 and subsequently amended by the Sexual Offences Act 2003. A tool for the management of convicted sex offenders in the community, which requires the offender to provide the police with a number of personal details, and to keep the police informed of any changes to those details. The length of time that an offender is on the sex offenders’ register and subject to notification requirements depends on the sentence or order received upon conviction or caution. A person who does not comply with the notification requirements commits a further offence and may receive a prison sentence on conviction.
Novice A monk who is undertaking a probationary period at the monastery, which includes training in monastic ways. Within the English Benedictine Congregation, this includes studying the Rule of St Benedict and the constitutions.[22]
Novice master An experienced monk who provides guidance and oversees the education and training of novice monks wishing to join the institution.[23]
Police caution In England and Wales, a police caution is an alternative to prosecution and can be given by the police to anyone aged 10 or over for minor crimes. Before a caution can be given, the individual must admit his or her guilt and agree to be cautioned; if the individual does not agree, they can be arrested and formally charged. A caution is not a criminal conviction but can be used as evidence of bad character and will show on standard and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.[24]
Prior A senior member of the monastery who supports the Abbot and is involved in the day-to-day administration of the monastery. The Prior deputises for the Abbot when the Abbot is absent from the monastery.[25]
Redress scheme A scheme designed to provide reparations and support to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, including in the form of financial compensation and counselling and psychological care.
Rehabilitation order A court order (formerly called a probation order) which places an offender under the supervision of a probation officer for a period of between six months and three years instead of a sentence of imprisonment. The order contains conditions for the supervision and behaviour of the offender during the period of rehabilitation.
Religious A person bound by religious vows. A Benedictine monk or a nun is a Religious, and so are men and women belonging to all the religious congregations in the Church.[26]
Religious superior The person who is the head of a religious congregation or a part of a religious congregation. The term encompasses a local superior, a provincial superior and a general superior. In a monastic congregation, the abbot of a monastery of monks, the abbess of a monastery of nuns and the Abbot President of the congregation are all religious superiors.[27]
Roman Curia The central government of the Church (including its administrative function) which exists to support and serve the Pope whilst exercising his authority.[28]
Rule of St Benedict The Rule was written by St Benedict of Nursia (c. ad 480–547) and is held in a book containing a prologue and 73 chapters. It sets out the rules by which Benedictine monks living together in a community under the authority of an abbot should live and specifies punishments for monks who show fault through disobedience, pride and other grave faults.[29]
Safeguarding plan See Covenant of care above.
Sex offenders’ register Established by the Sex Offenders Act 1997 (amended by the Sexual Offences Act 2003).[30] The Violent and Sex Offender Register (often known as the sex offenders’ register) holds the details of people who have been convicted, cautioned or released from prison for sexual offences against children or adults. The register is monitored by the police. (See also Notification requirements, above.)
Similar fact evidence A term used in law for evidence of past misconduct that is so similar to the facts of a present case that it may, in certain circumstances, be relied upon in a trial to establish that the accused is likely to have committed the offence.
Statutory agencies A government agency created by legislation.
Suspended sentence A sentence of imprisonment imposed by a judge and then ‘suspended’ (ie conditionally delayed), allowing the defendant to remain in the community. The judge may impose certain conditions during the suspension period (for example a curfew). If the defendant fails to comply with the conditions, or commits another offence during the suspension period, they risk having to serve the original sentence of imprisonment as well as an additional sentence for the new offence.
Visitations Inspections of English Benedictine Congregation monasteries conducted by the Abbot President (and his assistants) which take place approximately every four years. Their purpose is to pick up on failures to follow the Rule of St Benedict, the constitutions of the congregation or the law of the Church. Visitations are also an opportunity for the Abbot President to give the monasteries a general inspection to see how they are being governed and are working, including to give support and encouragement.[31]
Vows Temporary vows: After the period of the novitiate, if the individual wishes to commit to the monastic way of life he must apply to the institution he wishes to join. If accepted, the individual makes a temporary commitment (usually three years). During those years the individual undertakes further study to expand their understanding of the monastic life and the Catholic faith. Solemn vows: After three years of temporary vows, the individual in question can make his solemn vows to become a member of the community as a monk and then gains the right to discuss and vote on issues in the community.[32]


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