The Catholic Church has welcomed the launch of an independent inquiry into child abuse in England and Wales and has set up a council to assist with inquiries.
The national inquiry will examine 12 different institutions and locations, including the Church of England, Rochdale council and political institutions in Westminster, and will be chaired by Judge Lowell Goddard.
Judge Goddard, who led a similar inquiry in New Zealand, said that it was the largest and most ambitious public inquiry ever established in England and Wales.
Baroness Nuala O’Loan will chair the Church Council, which will include other representatives of the bishops’ conference and the Conference of Religious.
Baroness O’Loan said: “The role of the council is to facilitate and ensure the proper response to the inquiry, which has the Church’s full support. We look forward to hearing their specific requests and will ensure full cooperation with their deliberations.”
The 12 establishments that will be investigated are Lambeth council, Nottinghamshire councils; Rochdale council; the Anglican Church; the Catholic Church; custodial institutions; residential schools; the internet; child exploitation by organised networks; children outside of the UK; reparations for victims and survivors; and Westminster.
The Church of England has also welcomed the inquiry and requested that it be one of the first institutions investigated. In July last year, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, said: “We’re absolutely clear that the Church of England and other churches need to be involved in this inquiry as we already know there are parts of our history that involve church people having committed abuse. So we have to be investigated just like anybody else and there will probably be some unpleasant and difficult stories to handle and I accept that’s part of the reality.”
Meanwhile, a former social worker has been appointed as chairman of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission.
Christopher Pearson will replace former chair Danny Sullivan, who stepped down from his role in July to spend more time with his family.
Mr Pearson has 20 years’ experience as a member of a diocesan safeguarding body. The national commission is independent and advises bishops on child protection.
Papal preacher: Reformation led to ‘spiritual enrichment’
The Pope’s personal preacher has hailed the “great theological and spiritual enrichment” of the Reformation in an address to the Queen and Anglican bishops in London.
Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, speaking at Westminster Abbey during the inauguration of the Church of England’s 10th General Synod, said Christians should never allow doctrinal divisions to separate them more than the “love of Jesus” unites them. “When Paul wants to summarise the essence of the Christian message in one sentence, he does not say, ‘I proclaim this or that doctrine to you.” He says, “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23), and “we preach … Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor 4:5). This is the real “articulus stantis et cadentis Ecclesiae”, the article by which the Church stands or falls.
“This does not mean ignoring the great theological and spiritual enrichment that came from the Reformation or desiring to go back to the time before it. It means instead allowing all of Christianity to benefit from its achievements, once they are freed from certain distortions due to the heated atmosphere of the time.”
He said it was vital that the 500th anniversary of the Reformation was “not wasted”.
Peacemaker priest dies aged 80
A Northern Irish priest who acted as a go-between for politicians and the IRA has died aged 80.
Fr Gerry Reynolds, a Redemptorist, was based at Clonard monastery, west Belfast, called the “cradle of the peace process” by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. Mr Adams described Fr Reynolds as a “champion” of that process. Fr Reynolds was one of the witnesses who confirmed the decommissioning of IRA weapons.
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