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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.4: Terminology

21. The following terms are used in this report:

  • the Holy See: the Pope and the offices of the Catholic Church based in Rome that assist him in exercising his role as Leader of the Catholic Church worldwide;
  • clergy: those ordained for religious service, namely bishops, priests and deacons;
  • religious institutes: religious orders and religious congregations – members (often referred to as ‘the Religious’) include monks, nuns and friars; and
  • abbot: the head of a monastery.

22. As explained above, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales consists of a number of archdioceses and dioceses. References in this report to general matters relating to a diocese and a bishop should be read as also relating to an archdiocese and an archbishop. The Roman Catholic Church also consists of a number of separate institutions. Where appropriate, this report identifies the relevant institution but the report also uses the term ‘Catholic Church’ to encompass and include a specific institutional response.

23. Where this report refers to members of clergy, their full name will be used when first referred to and thereafter their title and surname only. Where this report refers to those members of the clergy who have been laicised (ie removed as a member of the clergy), they will be referred to by their full name without any religious prefix.

24. 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 review (2007) introduced the concept of safeguarding and led to a change in the titles to that of safeguarding coordinator and the Safeguarding Commission. In this report, the title applicable at the relevant time is used. Where reference is made to general matters of child protection and safeguarding, the terms are used interchangeably.

25. Many reports of child sexual abuse relate to offences or alleged offences committed years or decades earlier. The Sexual Offences Act 1956 was the predominant legislation and included offences of indecent assault and buggery. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 created a number of new offences including specific offences for sexual acts committed against children under 13 years old.[1] Indecent assault was replaced with sexual assault and non-consensual buggery included in the definition of rape.

26. Where allegations of child sexual abuse have not been proven by criminal conviction, civil findings or findings in the context of disciplinary proceedings, we refer to those making the allegations as complainants. Where findings have been made, individuals will be referred to as victims and survivors.


27. References in the footnotes of the report such as ‘CHC000253_011’ are to documents that have been adduced in evidence or posted on the Inquiry website. A reference such as ‘Christopher Pearson 31 October 2019 84/24-25’ 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).


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