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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church Investigation Report


Annex 2: Glossary

The superior of a religious community responsible for governing their institutions’ 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.
Forgiveness of sins.
Administrative leave
Leave from public ministry imposed on a member of the clergy alleged to have committed abuse pending formal investigation.[3]
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 Visitation
A Visitation (see ‘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]
Archbishop of Birmingham

The current Archbishop of Birmingham is Archbishop Bernard Longley. He was appointed in October 2009.

Prior to Archbishop Bernard Longley, the position of Archbishop was held by:

  • June 1947–March 1965: Archbishop Francis Grimshaw (deceased 1965).
  • October 1965–September 1981: Archbishop George Dwyer (deceased 1987).
  • March 1982–June 1999: Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville (deceased 2007).
  • February 2000–May 2009: Archbishop Vincent Nichols (now the Archbishop of Westminster and Cardinal).[5]
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 Benedictine 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.)[6]

There are many affiliated Benedictine congregations around the world, as well as Benedictine orders in England and Wales, 10 of which are English Benedictine monasteries.[7]

Bishops and archbishops
Appointed by the Pope to have episcopal oversight over the faithful in the dioceses. Whoever is the ordaining bishop bestows the episcopal power upon them which comprises three elements: to teach, to sanctify and to govern (canon 375). No other members of the Catholic Church are endowed with the fullness of these tasks. Unless canon law states otherwise, each bishop is the supreme authority within his own diocese. Each bishop is however accountable to the Pope.[8]
Canon law
The system of laws which govern the Catholic Church. 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.[9]
Catholic Council for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (CCIICSA)
Body set up to support the numerous organisations that make up the Catholic Church in England and Wales in responding to the Inquiry and to speak on the Catholic Church’s behalf.[10]
Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS)
National agency that advises the Catholic Church on safeguarding practice.
Catholic Trust for England and Wales (CaTEW)
Legal entity for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Charity Commission
A non-ministerial government department that regulates registered charities in England and Wales and maintains the Central Register of Charities.[11]
The body of all people ordained for religious duties in the Church.
College of Cardinals
The body of all the Cardinals who elect and advise the Pope.
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.[12]
Covenants of care
Now known as a safeguarding plan[13] (see ‘Safeguarding plan’).
Cumberlege Commission review
Commissioned by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor in 2007 to meet Lord Nolan’s final recommendation, which was that his report should be reviewed in five years’ time. It was chaired by Baroness Julia Cumberlege.
DBS checks (formerly CRB checks)
Carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service on an individual’s criminal record. Employers can ask to see this certificate to ensure that they are recruiting suitable people into their organisation.[14] The Disclosure and Barring Service is an organisation that replaced the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority.[15]
A man ordained to serve and assist the Church, however not with the same status or authority as a priest.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18]

A crime in canon law, an external violation of a law or precept gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.[19] This is not the same definition as a delict in civil law jurisdictions.
A geographical district under the authority and leadership of a bishop. These are grouped into provinces; a province is presided over by a Metropolitan Archbishop.[20]
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.[21]
Relating to the Church or its clergy.
Excluding someone from the services of the Church.
Ex gratia payment
A payment for damages, made voluntarily but without any admission of liability or guilt.
Extraordinary Visitation
A Visitation (see ‘Visitation’) held outside of the regular four-yearly intervals of the Ordinary Visitation. Held when needed, usually for serious or grave reasons.[22]
The process by which the Church prepares individuals for priesthood or membership of a religious order. It includes both academic and spiritual training.
A building in which friars live.
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. [23]

Holy See
The ecclesiastical jurisdiction and administrative apparatus of the Pope.[24] It is located in Vatican City, Italy.[25]
Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)
An independent, government-approved body which provides objective inspections to safeguard the quality and effectiveness of education, care and welfare of children in independent schools in England which are in membership of the Associations of the Independent Schools Council.[26]
International legal personality
An entity endowed with rights and obligations under public international law.
The process of dismissal from the clerical state, or from a religious congregation, in accordance with the norms of canon law.[27]
For the purposes of this report, this means not a member of the clergy.
Monastic congregation
A union of several autonomous monasteries, under a superior.[28]
Member of a male religious community.
A title for various senior Catholic posts.
Mother house
Founding convent or house of a religious institute.
Nolan report
Commissioned in summer 2000 by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, then Archbishop of Westminster, ‘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’. The Nolan Committee, chaired by the Rt Hon the Lord Nolan, was made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, four of whom were Catholics, six of whom were not. They met for the first time on 25 September 2000. Their first report was presented in April 2001 and made 50 recommendations about the structures and actions the Church should put in place ‘to enable it to be an example of best practice in the prevention of child abuse, in responding to it, and to rebuild confidence’. The final report A Programme for Action – Final Report of the Independent Review on Child Protection in the Catholic Church in England and Wales was published on 17 September 2001.[29] This made no significant changes to the proposals outlined in the earlier version but refined and developed their conclusions, adding a further 33 recommendations.
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.[30] A tool, monitored by the police, for the management of those convicted, cautioned or released from prison for sexual offences against children or adults. It 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.
On completing the postulancy, an individual may apply to become a novice monk. If accepted, this position is still one of a prospective member of a monastery, although it is the first formal training period towards becoming a monk. It is a probationary period during which the individual receives training (within the EBC, this training includes studying the Rule of St Benedict and the constitutions). They also receive guidance from a novice master, who is usually an experienced monk from the institution they wish to join.[31]
Member of a female religious community.
‘One Church’ approach
The commitment by the Catholic Church in England and Wales to using the same policies, procedures, standards and systems in relation to safeguarding.
Paramountcy principle
Parents, local authorities and the courts have a duty to safeguard the welfare of children and in legal proceedings it is the best interests of the child that are the primary consideration when determining what action should be taken.[32]
Within each diocese there are a number of parishes. For example, there are over 200 parishes in the diocese of Westminster. Each parish is governed by a parish priest who is appointed by the archbishop/bishop of the diocese. A bishop may entrust a religious institute with a parish to carry out the apostolic work of the diocese (that is, sanctifying and teaching work), where, for example, there are an insufficient number of available priests.[33]
Parish priests
Responsible for ensuring the sacramental life of the parish. Parish priests are also responsible for managing the finances of their parish and for maintaining any church buildings.[34]
Plenary session
A session of a conference which all members of all parties are to attend.
The head of the Universal Church.[35]
Preliminary enquiry
A report commissioned by a part of the Church using an independent investigator to investigate an allegation that the statutory authorities did not feel could be proven to the criminal standard.[36]
The house where the parish priest and curate live, often adjacent to the parish church.[37]
Ordained minister of the Church.
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.[38]
The approval by the Holy See of a General Decree issued by the Bishops’ Conference giving it the force of law.
Head of a religious community of men.
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.
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.[39]
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.[40]
Roman Curia
The central government of the Church (including its administrative function) which exists to support and serve the Pope whilst exercising his authority.[41]
Rule of St Benedict
Written by St Benedict of Nursia (c. AD 480–547) for monks living in monasteries under the authority of a rule and an abbot. The Rule is 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.[42]
Safeguarding plan
An agreement between those (clergy/religious or parishioners who wish to remain in the parish) alleged to have committed abuse and the Safeguarding Commission and the bishop/congregation leader. The safeguarding plan details the restrictions on ministry intended to protect the public.[43]
Safeguarding representatives
Appointed to ensure that child protection policies and procedures are known and followed, that awareness is raised and that safeguarding principles are worked through into everyday practice. The safeguarding representative is also the DBS ID verifier for the parish.[44]
A student studying for the priesthood, attending a seminary.[45]
A training place for students to the priesthood.[46]
Serious incident
An adverse event, whether actual or alleged, which results in significant loss of the money or assets, damage to a property and harm to the charity’s work, beneficiaries or reputation.
Statutory agencies
Government agencies created by legislation.
‘Towards a Culture of Safeguarding’ (TACOS)
A 2012 document that considered a 2010 review of safeguarding organisational structures that highlighted areas of good practice and areas that required improvement or development and provided recommendations to progress.[47]
Vicar General
The Bishop’s deputy for all matters.[48] The present Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Birmingham is Monsignor Timothy Menezes. He was appointed in 2011 by Archbishop Bernard Longley.[49]
Inspection of English Benedictine Congregation monasteries conducted by the Abbot President (and his assistants) which takes 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.


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