Archbishop Philip Tartaglia has offered a “profound” apology to victims of “criminal and sinful” abuse within the Catholic Church in Scotland.
The Archbishop of Glasgow, who is the president of the Bishops’ Conference for Scotland, also said the Church is “pained and shamed” by incidents of abuse that have taken place within it.
Archbishop Tartaglia was speaking at St Andrew’s Cathedral, in Glasgow, earlier today.
The archbishop concelebrated the Mass with Bishops Joseph Toal of Motherwell, Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen and William Nolan of Galloway and Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti of Glasgow and Bishop Emeritus Maurice Taylor of Galloway.
“As the president of the Bishops’ Conference, and on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, I want to offer a profound apology to all those who have been harmed and who have suffered in any way as a result of actions by anyone within the Catholic Church,” he said.
“Child abuse is a horrific crime. That this abuse should have been carried out within the Church, and by priests and religious, takes that abuse to another level. Such actions are inexcusable and intolerable. The harm the perpetrators of abuse have caused is first and foremost to their victims, but it extends far beyond them, to their families and friends, as well as to the Church and wider society.”
The apology comes after the McLellan Commission delivered its report on all aspects of safeguarding policy, procedure and practice within the Catholic Church in Scotland.
The commission, led by Dr Andrew McLellan, made eight key recommendations, including making “support for the survivors of abuse… an absolute priority for the Catholic Church in Scotland”.
The archbishop added: “I would like to assure the survivors of abuse that the Catholic Bishops of Scotland are shamed and pained by what you have suffered. We say sorry. We ask forgiveness.
“We apologise to those who have found the Church’s response slow, unsympathetic or uncaring and reach out to them as we take up the recommendations of the McLellan Commission.”
Bishop Toal, the Bishop responsible for safeguarding, said the Church “fully accepted” the report’s recommendations.
“In accepting (the recommendations), the Catholic Church in Scotland renews its commitment to protect and safeguard everyone in our parish communities,” he said.
“Our clergy and lay faithful are committed to on-going training and professional development and accept this is a priority for all those involved in safeguarding at every level.
“We ask God’s blessing on the clergy and lay faithful who have special responsibilities in carrying out this essential service in our parishes and church organisations.”
The Church’s National Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Tina Campbell, added that the “detailed and informed analysis of the McLellan Commission will be incorporated fully” into “the work being carried out by the Catholic Church in Scotland in order to “develop and maintain Safeguarding standards, which will protect and defend all members of our Catholic community.”
She said: “I acknowledge and thank the many volunteers who give generously of their time as Parish Safeguarding Coordinators, as well as Trainers and others whose work represents a huge commitment to ensuring the safety and welfare of everyone in the Church. I offer particular thanks to the Diocesan Advisers who have contributed significantly to ensuring that Safeguarding policies are implemented at a local level, while providing dedicated support and assistance above and beyond what is expected of them.”
Read the McLellan Commission report in full here.