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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


A.3: Scope of the investigation

15. This investigation examined the nature and extent of, and institutional responses to, child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales (the Catholic Church).[1] It considered the scale of child sexual abuse within the Church, the experiences of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, the adequacy of the Church’s policies and practices in relation to safeguarding, any impact of the culture of the Church, and the adequacy of previous reviews related to safeguarding.

16. The process adopted by the Inquiry is set out in Annex 1 to this report. Core participant status was granted under Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 to 68 victims and survivors and 14 institutions and other interested parties.

17. The Inquiry held nine preliminary hearings between July 2016 and September 2019. In addition to public hearings in respect of the two case studies, the Inquiry held a final public hearing over 10 days between 28 October and 8 November 2019.

18. In preparation for the final public hearing, the Inquiry obtained a significant volume of evidence. We heard accounts from complainants, victims and survivors who told us about the abuse they suffered and how their allegations were handled. The Inquiry also heard evidence from the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS), the past and current chairs of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC), the Charity Commission, the Catholic Insurance Service (CIS), the Survivor Advisory Panel (SAP), Father Paul Smyth (President of the CoR), and Cardinal Vincent Nichols (President of the Bishops’ Conference and Archbishop of the Diocese of Westminster). We also heard about the role of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

19. As part of the evidence gathered for the wider hearing, the Inquiry commissioned Mrs Edina Carmi, an independent safeguarding consultant, to undertake a review of a number of recent diocesan and religious safeguarding files. The Inquiry also commissioned a rapid evidence assessment (REA), entitled Child sexual abuse within the Catholic and Anglican Churches.[2] The REA considered research evidence available on the scale of child sexual abuse, institutional factors that might have enabled the abuse to have occurred and how the Catholic Church responded to child sexual abuse allegations.

20. A number of witnesses, including all complainant and victim core participants, were invited to provide their views about which if any practical recommendations they would like the Inquiry to consider. Those views were collated into a schedule which was published on the Inquiry website.[3]

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