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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


H.1: Introduction

1. The Cumberlege report made a specific recommendation that “those with pastoral responsibility should be ready to listen to those who have suffered abuse, and to learn from them because they have much to teach the Church”.[1]

2. Baroness Sheila Hollins said that whilst she was a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) she heard about “many situations from different countries where there had been delays or refusals to meet people making complaints” and that this was “devastating” for them.[2] She said that the value and impact of meeting with a victim or complainant was:

Because if you are able to sit and to hear something which is extraordinarily painful and which a person has not been able to tell before, and you are able to hear it, then that goes a huge way to feeling believed … I mean, it just changes everything.”[3]

3. Danny Sullivan said that whilst he was chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) between 2012 and 2015, members of the Roman Catholic Church told him that, as a result of legal advice, they would not meet with victims and survivors as a meeting “might imply accountability and they must protect the assets of the diocese or the religious order”.[4] He said that he heard this:

on quite a number of occasions and I heard bishops discuss it openly, about the tension they felt between being pastoral and then being given legal advice about how they should behave, and which one should be the more important”.[5]

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