Catholic Church Is investigated at Inquiry

This week IICSA (the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse) started its examination of how the English Benedictine Congregation dealt with allegations in its monasteries and schools.
The English Benedictine Congregation is an amalgam of monks following the teaching of St Benedict. It owns and runs monasteries and private schools, principally Ampleforth, Downside and Ealing Abbey school.
Evidence brought out during evidence of the first 5 days shows an organisation which considers itself above secular laws, preferring to deal in house with allegations of child sex abuse by its members. Abuse covering the mid 1960s to 2010 has been uncovered and two survivors gave compelling evidence of thoroughly wicked abuse from monks at Ampleforth.
Eileen Shearer, an official advising all UK catholic clerics on safeguarding gave a straightforward account of the barriers put up by the church and religious communities against adopting good standards of safeguarding responses. She found most Bishops to have been disinterested. One record of a conversation between the psychologist Elizabeth Mann and Abbott Timothy Wright of Ampleforth showed the Abbott was not willing to accept external advice and that effectively “Ampleforth’s policy on safeguarding was that there was no policy for monks”. The disagreement on how to deal with offenders led to Mrs Mann being sacked from her role by the Abbott.
An experienced social worker, David Molesworth gave evidence that he was met with “obfuscation, defensiveness and obstruction” when he tried to persuade the Abbott and Prior to share information. He found it incredibly that Ampleforth was unwilling to share information on allegations and had even failed to disclose to him the fact that they had known about offending by multiple abusers for many years.
All this evidence affirms what we already know – which is that Catholic doctrine and orders from Rome encourage Bishops and Religious to keep these allegations secret. It seems they hold on to this teaching rather than follow advice from their own advisers like Eileen Shearer.
The evidence continues next week. Former Abbott General Richard Yeo returns to the witness box. His evidence is likely to be just as interesting.

Comments are closed.