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Sexual abuse in Catholic Church 'swept under the carpet', damning report finds
10 November 2020, 16:42
Sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church was "swept under the carpet", a scathing report has found.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) condemned the "repeated failures" of the institution to support victims and their families and said a failure to act when complaints were raised had "consigned other children to the same fate".
The report, which looks at the response by Church officials in England and Wales between 1970 and 2015, blames "weaknesses in leadership" as a significant factor in the failure to address the issue, which has loomed over the institution for decades.
"The responses of Church leaders over time were marked by delay in implementing change as well as reluctance to acknowledge responsibility," it added.
It highlights the "immovable attitude to allegations of child sexual abuse" by Catholic leaders in the UK, who were more concerned about the reputation of the Church than repairing the damage inflicted on victims.
In the almost 50 years covered by the report, it discovered the Church received 900 complaints involving 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse against hundreds of officials including priests, monks and volunteers.
The inquiry looked at Father James Robinson, who was not reported to the police or investigated by the Church after complaints were first made in the 1980s.
Instead, he was moved to another parish in the Archdiocese of Birmingham where he continued to abuse children until he fled to the US.
He continued to work in California and received financial support from the Archdiocese for seven years before being arrested and convicted in 2010 for "unimaginably wicked" crimes.
Since the explosive Nolan report in 2001 recommended sweeping changes in the Catholic Church, today's findings suggest that only some improvements have been made but many of the most important are yet to be implemented.
In May 2019, Cardinal Vincent Nichols asked the Inquiry for forgiveness "for our slowness and defensiveness" in preventing further cases of abuse.
The IICSA concluded it would be "wrong" to regard child sexual abuse with the Church as a historical problem, with over 100 cases reported each year since 2016 and studies in the US and Australia suggest that still up to 7% of priests are perpetrators.
"We will never know the true scale of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church," the report concluded.