The Catholic Church has welcomed the launch of an independent inquiry into child sex abuse in England and Wales and will also set up a council to assist with inquiries.
The national inquiry will examine 12 different institutions and locations, including the Anglican Church, Rochdale Council and Lambeth Council and will be chaired by Judge Lowell Goddard.
Baroness Nuala O’Loan will chair the Church council assisting the national inquiry, with other representatives from the Catholics 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 Enquiry, which has the Church’s full support. We look forward to hearing their specific requests and will ensure full co-operation with their deliberations.”
The 12 establishments which 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 political institutions in 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, Bishop Paul Butler 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.”
Judge Goddard was previously based in New Zealand and led a similar inquiry there.
She said that it was important to recognise that this was the largest and most ambitious public inquiry ever established in England and Wales.
Justice Goddard said in a statement that there were suggestions that one child out of every 20 in the UK had been sexually abused
She said many who are sexually abused as a child do not tell adults – and that if they do “their reports may go unheeded”.
Peter Saunders, an abuse survivor who advises the Vatican on tackling clerical abuse said that Justice Goddard’s distance from the UK establishment would give the inquiry more credibility.
He said: “It was a shambles but I think with a lot of hard work, the Home Secretary and her team at the Home Office, have got this right and I’m looking forward to meeting Justice Goddard when she arrives at our shores quite soon.”
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