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20 June 2019, 12:05 | Updated: 20 June 2019, 12:27
A damning report's found failings into how allegations of child abuse were dealt with at the Archdiocese of Birmingham
It found children could have been saved from sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Birmingham if the Catholic church had not been so determined to protect its reputation.
More than 130 allegations of child sex abuse have been made against 78 individuals associated with the archdiocese since the mid-1930s, but the true scale of offending is likely to be far higher, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) concluded.
The panel found the church had "repeatedly failed" to alert police to allegations, and said the consequences of those failings "cannot be overstated".
While 13 people have been convicted of some of the most serious offences against children and a further three cautioned, many of the 78 individuals have died meaning the allegations cannot be fully investigated.
The report said: "In some cases, the lack of action by the church meant that the abuser was free to continue to commit acts of child sexual abuse."
Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the current leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, was archbishop of Birmingham between 2000 and 2009 and was said by the inquiry to have focused too much on the reputation of the church during his time there, instead of the welfare of children.
Inquiry chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay, said she was "truly shocked" by the abuse and hoped the findings would help to ensure no repeat of such failings.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has today published its report on the Archdiocese of Birmingham, as a case study of the Roman Catholic Church.
We accept that we have failed victims and survivors of abuse and again apologise for the grievous failings we have made in the past. Apologies are just words though, if not backed up by action.
We will the take the time needed to review the IICSA report thoroughly in order to make a considered and detailed response, which will inform our ongoing commitment to do more and do better.
In light of independent reviews commissioned by Trustees and made available to IICSA, the Archdiocese has already fundamentally changed its practices and processes to ensure an open and compassionate approach to victims and survivors. It now has more safeguarding personnel, better management and recording systems, stronger DBS/checking procedures and clear policies and practices on safeguarding referrals and agreements, to safeguard those who come in contact with the church.
If you would like to speak to Archbishop Bernard Longley about your own experiences, you are very welcome to get in touch by contacting the safeguarding team on 0121 230 6240 or via email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Meetings with victims and survivors have already been arranged and taken place. We are committed to listen to and learn from victims and survivors.
For a listening ear outside of the church, NAPAC is the National Association for People Abused in Childhood. If you want to talk about what you experienced in childhood and how it is affecting you now, you can call their support line on 0808 801 0331 or email their support team via the NAPAC website: https://napac.org.uk/contact/