The bishops of England and Wales have announced an independent review into the Church’s abuse-prevention measures in the two countries.
Ahead of their ‘ad limina’ meeting in Rome, the bishops said they will spend the trip reflecting on the abuse crisis that has hit the Church in recent months, and will raise their concerns with Pope Francis when they meet him on Friday.
“Our visit, then, has a penitential heart, as in communion with bishops throughout the world, we seek forgiveness from the Lord and grace for our future ministry,” the bishops said.
“Today we have decided to ask the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission to commission an entirely independent and comprehensive review of the safeguarding structures that currently operate within the Catholic Church in England and Wales,” they added.
“Importantly, we will seek to ensure that the voices of the victims and survivors of abuse, through the Survivors Advisory Panel established by the NCSC, fully inform the review and its recommendations.”
Their call comes just over a month after a report led by Professor Alexis Jay condemned the handling of abuse cases by two of Britain’s top independent Catholic schools.
The report said monks at Ampleforth and Downside prioritised “their own reputations over the protection of children” amid a “culture of acceptance of abusive behaviour”.
“Throughout our ‘ad Limina’ visit here in Rome, the impact and consequences of the shame and sorrow we feel will constantly be in our hearts and in our prayers, especially as we come to pray at the tomb of St Peter and at the tomb of St Paul,” the bishops said.
“May God guide us during this week and in this work, that the voice of Christ, crying out in those who have suffered, may be heard with compassion and discernment,” they added.