IICSA Roman Catholic investigation final hearing
Notes of David Greenwood
28th of October 2019
Brian Altman, counsel to the inquiry mentions the Bullivant report which analysed 726 complaints from survivors of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. There were more boys than girls and reports peaked in 2010. It is common for survivors to delay reporting and that the abuse by the Catholic Church represents the grossest breach of trust and has a very human impact. A 20 feels nauseous when she recalls her abuse. She has attempted suicide. A 62 feels the impact is lifelong. He has persistent anxiety has lost sleep and has nightmares. Graham Wilmer found the abuse was compounded by poor responses and has had alcohol problems. Mr Altman recollects the abuse and cover-ups of the Birmingham investigation and the Benedictine investigations where complaints were not referred to the police or local authority and cover-ups were facilitated.
Representatives include Brian Altman, Jackie Carey and Mr Saad, all counsel to the Inquiry. Slater and Gordon, David Greenwood of Switalskis, Mrs Gallagher, Alan Collins, Howe and co, the catholic council and secretary of state for education.
The first week of the enquiry will deal with contemporaneous safeguarding regimes whether responses have improved. The role of insurers will be examined, reviews of recent safeguarding files and whether they are compliant with CSAS policies. The issue of Mandatory reporting and the seal of the confessional together with relationships between Rome and dioceses will be examined.
The structure of the church has been criticised insofar as safeguarding is concerned as each diocese cannot be controlled by the Cardinal and only has to follow rules set by Rome. Each bishop is responsible for safeguarding in his diocese.
Religious orders are groups of consecrated men and women who abide by canon law but outsiders have no power over their leaders (named provincials). Some orders have only one member, some have over 100. Most orders deploy diocesan safeguarding coordinators to work with them on safeguarding and six do not.
In 2001 the Nolan review was intended to bring about significant changes including one single set of policies based on the paramountcy principle, and a new organisation of structures at parish and diocesan level (parish child protection representatives and Diocesan safeguarding coordinators), and including national child protection unit, COPCA, CSAS, CRB checks, and reports to police and social services immediately.
The Cumberlege review five years later in 2007 recommended that COPCA then renamed as CSAS reports to the bishops conference and coordinates training, advice and providing updates on safeguarding.
Has the Catholic Church adopted a ‘one church’ approach? How far has it pursued the Paramountcy principal?
Cumberlege recognised in 2007 that CSAS cannot give orders to bishops. For that a decree from the Pope is required. A general decree was passed in June 2019 but is still to come into force 12 years after it was recommended by Cumberlege.
We will hear that Danny Sullivan, the former chair of national Catholic safeguarding committee felt he was not respected and not funded. A lay member of NCSC, Stephen Spear will tell us safeguarding responses were poor and that the church did not monitor them. The current chair of CSAS, Collette Limbrick will say that CSAS tries to ensure the one church approach.
One problem is that by in house safeguarding coordinators are accountable and employed by the bishops. They are taxed with reporting to the police and the LADO.
We will hear from Edina Carmi who has looked at the two most recent files from each diocese and order.
We will hear that limitation has been used as a defence, that Scotland has removed limitation as a defence in child protection shown cases.
We will hear that the Charity commission is mainly interested in protecting the reputation and assets of charities.
Will hear that trainee priests have to be sifted and the unsuitable trainees prevented from advancing.
Will hear criticism that Rome and the papal Nuncio has refused to provide answers to questions regarding what it knew about Lawrence Soper’s disappearance in 2011, despite IICSA having followed all appropriate channels to the foreign office.
We’ll hear about how long it takes to lsicise individuals suspected and convicted of child sex abuse offences.
The congregation of the doctrine of the Faith deals with discipline and canonical crimes and IlCSA will have questions for various witnesses but the CDF itself has refused to answer questions.
We’ll hear from complainants about errors, mishandling of complaints and malevolent attitudes in the last two years.
Opening statements of core participants
Richard scorer suggest that the panel should have deep scepticism about the churches protestations that it is doing better. He says there is cultural resistance to positive approaches on safeguarding. He says there are systemic flaws in that church is run by small groups of individuals with bonds of mutual loyalty and those take precedence over safeguarding. He says that Jonathan West, an Ealing campaigne,r has analysed Catholic Church safeguarding policies and found them to be full of holes. He says that only external oversight can protects children in the future.
William Chapman (for Switalskis Core Participants)
His central recommendation is that there needs to be an independent statutory body to enforce national minimum standards of safeguarding for organisations which look after children. He says that the evidence has come from the enquiries into Ampleforth and Downside, Birmingham and Ealing Abbey. Those investigations demonstrate the scale and extent of abuse and comes from the panels earlier findings.
The Roman Catholic Church poses a high risk of harm to children in its care. It is too reliant on individual powerful men in the church making decisions. Some weak like Abbott Shipperley, some unwilling like Abbott Wright at Ampleforth and some are paedophiles such as Soper in Ealing.
In the Birmingham enquiry the panel found that rather than assisting the police, the Vicar General attempted to help Samuel Penny out of the jurisdiction and ensure that Robinson was financially supported for years whilst he was in the United States. Abuse could have been stopped much earlier in various settings of the Catholic Church but the plight of victims was ignored and abusers were allowed to continue their crimes.
If IICSA had not looked into Birmingham, it is doubtful that the diocese would have recognised there was a problem. The Downside the Abbotts and headmaster tried to pave the way for the return of abusive monks.
Victims have been vindicated but they doubt whether IICSA will be anything more than a gravy train for lawyers unless an independent statutory body is set up to enforce minimum standards safeguarding. The current patchwork has failed. Neither the police, CPS, Charity commission, ISI, Department for education have had safeguarding as their chief role. The structure of the Catholic Church means it is unable to change itself. There have been many failures of leadership. It would be a mistake for the state to try to amend the churches by tinkering with structures and only setting standards from outside will do.
Mrs Gallagher QC criticises failures of the Catholic Church. She says it has demonised and marginalise survivors and continues to do so.
David Enright says it is hard to see how the Roman Catholic church can change due to its structural inability. Some of his clients met with Archbishop Longley from Birmingham positively by contrast some clients have been treated appallingly by the Combini order.
Alan Collins criticises the structure of the Catholic Church.
Mr Brody’s client wants mandatory reporting, fines for organisations and convictions for individuals who fail to report allegations of abuse.
Miss Gallafent for the Catholic Council gives a roundup of what the different parts of the church are working on and details various minor improvements.
29th of October 2019.
Evidence of A711.
She describes how a priest, F500 at a primary school groomed and then sexually abused her in the 1980s then followed her to university and raped her. She went into a religious vocation had psychotherapy. She complained to her local diocese but was transferred to the Westminster archdiocese as her original safeguarding coordinator was off work ill. She thought Westminster Archdiocese would be hot on safeguarding but soon realised that nothing could be further from the truth.
She realised that the one church principle was not in play as there was so much variance between different dioceses that she had worked with. She felt it has been a battle throughout her complaints and disclosures. By June 2017 she was exhausted. She did get written apology from the abuser, F500 but felt it was a sham and written by a lawyer.
The abuser had a risk assessment done by Joe Sullivan. A 711 was denied access to the risk assessment. There was no feedback to her on the risk assessment because of advice from the lawyer, Kathy Perrin who advised Westminster not to share the details.
Eventually there was then independent assessment done by Karen Abrahams (INQ004720) which upheld all of her complaints and in particular criticised decision making was being done by the insurer rather than diocese.
She criticised letters of apology as being insincere and drafed by a lawyer. Another apology from a Friar at the original Priory was more acceptable.
She felt that the safeguarding officers at Westminster Archdiocese were unsympathetic, tied up in their own processes and weren’t even clear about what their own process was. There were repeated changes of staff at Westminster. She eventually made a subject access request and found that she had been referred to internally as being ‘needy, this woman is deeply manipulative, and we need to keep playing the good practice card if we are to keep a lid on her manipulative behaviour’. She concludes that Westminster are not fit to be engaged in safeguarding.
She was so frustrated with the process that she asked for a meeting with Vincent Nichols who refused to meet her. Eventually she reported his refusal to a newspaper and he eventually met her on 12 April 2019. She suspects his motivation was that he was responding to the derogatory remarks that have been made against and the press article. She had met with the head of the order to check that the abuser would not have future ministry. He could not give that assurance .she asked ‘so rapist could be saying Mass? She was told that this was the case. She eventually spoke to the police and they told her that the abuser had admitted everything she had described.
On reflection she believes the one church approach can work but safeguarding in the Catholic Church needs to be administered by the independent body. CSAS does not even understand its own guidelines.
Mr McGuinness (evidence read).
Mr McGuiness reported sexual abuse at St Peter claver college, Mirfield to 3 senior members of the Comboni fathers order but was ignored each time. He was eventually expelled the age of 15. Since then he has written 20 letters to the order they declined to respond and in 2012 he joined a group action was eventually offered £40,000 under threat of having limitation raised at court. No admissions were made on liability and there was no apology. He does not believed the Comboni/ Verona order should be allowed to have anything to do with children.
Mark Murray (sworn). Man in his 50s – born in 1955.
He was inspired by a priest who visited his school to become a priest and missionary and moved from Liverpool to Mirfield in 1969 at age 14 stayed there until 1974. He complained that he was sexually abused by father Romano who also abused others at the college. He did not report it at the time. At age 18 he became a missionary brother in the order.
The abuse re-visited him when he did it counselling course in 1995 and he decided he had to do something about it and instructed a solicitor in 1997. The solicitor was unsuccessful in a case against the order. The case was withdrawn. He wrote to the Superior general in the Verona to explain the father Romano was in poor mental health. This superior general offered only priors.
Mr Murray was so determined to see and confront father Romano that he went to Verona himself, carrying a secret camera and videoing and recording the meeting he had in a chapel at the role of fathers headquarters in Verona. Father Romano apologised to him but when other staff heard about the conversation the Verona fathers tried to sue Mr Murray for trespass.
Mr Murray does not trust the Verona fathers and feels that the impact of their response has been worse than the abuse itself. He wants safeguarding taken out of the hands of Catholics together. The reason for this is that he feels that their primary aim is to protect their institutions, image, money, missionary appeals. It is far removed from any Christian meaning. He also believes that Catholics have so many factions that there are many different ways that they respond to safeguarding concerns. He believes it needs some uniform external agency to police safeguarding in the Catholic Church.
30th of October 2019.
A49 was a pupil seminarian at Mirfield St Peter Claver college from September 1963. He was sexually abused by F339 who masturbated him two or three times a week in total for 200 times. He was touched in the showers by another priest F338. A49 complained to the spiritual director and was told to go to see the rector, father Fraser. F338 was then sent abroad to work for the Comboni fathers where he worked in a secondary school and had access to children. He died in his nineties in the 1980s and was given a glowing reference/send off.
One of A49’s classmates was David Glenday, the current provincial of the order, who refuses to acknowledge that abuse happened despite being part of it at the time. Glendale was at least a pupil contemporaneous with A49 and must know something about it. A49 thinks safeguarding should be taken out of the church’s control.
Thomas James Kirby (man in 60s. Smartly dressed).
Became a pupil at Mirfield in September 1960. His family paid for his education there. He was abused by F339. Masturbation about 100 times. He eventually sued them via the group but didn’t get satisfaction. He feels that dioeses and orders don’t have the power to change or willingness to change. The Catholics hope that IICSAt will go away that this will all die down.
Angela McGrory (woman in 40s wearing a smart address)
Former safeguarding coordinator of Portsmouth. She moved to Brighton Roman Catholic diocese recently. The female survivor, A710 complained about abuse by a senior cleric. The complaint was sent personally to the congregation of the doctrine of the Faith of February 2011. There followed a negative media report. A710 was not the leak. Miss McGrory’s Bishop asked her to draft a letter to be published and was not published. Eventually they decided to ask Cardinal Vincent Nichols take up the case. She feels the church did not look after the complainant as well as it should have done. Vincent Nichols was asked to make a statement in writing a letter but internal politics stopped the process.
Philip Egan (Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth). He was a distant, red-faced man in his 60s wearing a black suit, black shirt and dog collar.
He professed to have been frustrated with the process and on 9th of May 2019 contacted Vincent Nichols. Vincent Nichols eventually agreed to meet A710. Mr Egan was sensitive to criticism from Miss McGrory at his handling of the case. Mr Egan’s behaviour was more concerned with the church’s reputation and management moved at a glacial pace. He does not recall that the incident was reported to the charities commission. Overall he was a fairly reluctant witness and possibly out of his depth on safeguarding issues.
Alexis Jay asked whether anyone in the diocese asked about the reason for the leak and he confirmed that nobody had investigated that aspect. Alexis pushes him and he replies that he was more concerned with the care A710.
Druscilla Sharpling suggested that it appears the leak was aimed at discrediting A710. Mr Egan feels it was more likely to be an attempt to discredit the abuser. He admits he did not read all the press coverage. (His answer here shows how sensitive the Roman Catholic church is to criticism – thinking of itself first).
Mrs Sharpling asks why it took so long to issue a statement. Mr Egan repeated that he was more concerned to care for A710 by negotiating a letter from Vincent Nichols. Druscilla Sharpling ask whether the leak was investigated and his response that it was not. Alexis J asks how would a leak from the Vatican be investigated. It would have to be initiated by the chairman of the bishops conference (Vincent Nichols).
31st of October 2019.
Danny Sullivan (man in 60s wearing blazer and open necked shirt and glasses).
Something in the church the bishops and religious leaders. It comes from history and traditions of the Catholic Church. Children particularly feel unable to challenge priests.
He felt the Cumberlege report was too detailed that there was no need for 76 recommendations. I should have been a core of recommendations fewer in number.
The aim of the NCSC was to promote the one church approach. He wanted to have this CSAS audits independently assessed and wanted the NSPCC to do a thematic audit.
Bishops are responsible only to the Pope. Some bishops felt that imposing rules from the outside meant that they were losing autonomy. He experienced the tension between trustees of the diocese or religious order’S moral duty and advice from lawyers. There were some arguments about funding of CSAS. Mr Sullivan felt that the church’s biggest priority was its reputation. He has lots of grumbles about individual bishops closing down funding, closing down criticism and restricting apologies. He is critical of all responses in the Combini father’s case and confirms that the number of cases of false allegations is insignificant so all cases should be dealt with well.
Numerous press articles criticising the Combini and the head of their order. He recalled a time when Adrian Child made redundant for working too closely with Mr Sullivan. Danny then resigned. There was an inquiry which vindicated Adrian Child and Danny Sullivan.
Penicillin arrange for some way members to be on the NCSC they resigned because the Bishop of Portsmouth pursued the JGE case on vicarious liability.
Denisov commissioned the Bullivant report which confirmed the size of the problem in the last 10 years (50 priests were convicted of child sex abuse). O’Sullivan wrote articles in the Catholic Herald and daily Telegraph in 2013 agreeing with mandatory reporting.
He believes that there should be external monitoring of safeguarding. The church is to show humility and recognise that it is not really to be trusted with safeguarding.
Stephen Spear – man in 60s. Studious. White hair and red tie.
Mr Spear says the NCSC is not strategic and is reactive. The Safe spaces project only has two years funding confirmed.
After the IICSAr report on Ampleforth and Downside the NCSC recommended that CSAS guidance is given the status of canon law but this has not yet happened.
NCSC gets £64,000 per year. The pace of change is very slow. Safe spaces has taken five years so far. There is no overall (running total) data on numbers of abusive priests.
He feels that the church hides behind its organisational structures and all this has to be solved in Rome.
Chris Pearson (Man in 60s wearing a suit. An un-inspiring monosyllabic gentleman. Gives closded answers no detailed response or opinion).
He has been the independent chair of the NCSC has been from 2000. He wants to set up the safe so survivors advisory panel (SAP).
There is a debate on going on last review of safeguarding and he will put proposals to the bishops conference. It is felt that the NCSC is independent despite there being members of the house of Bishops, and conference of religious on the committee. He doesn’t detect deference and he likes members to use Christian names.
He admitted that the church will not put forward drafts of proposals for redress and wil act if it is imposed on them. He agrees that the church should drive policy forward as opposed to the insurers driving it forward.
There have been no CSAS audits between 2015 and 2018. His excuse is that this is the time of review of the guidance. He agrees there is a lack of clarity in CSAS procedures and guidelines. He is unable to interpret his own guidance for example deciding whether threshold has been met to report or should report.
David Marshall (Manin his 50s wearing a suit – friendly manner with spectacles)
Mr Marshall is the chair of the survivors advisory panel (SAP). He is a former police officer in the paedophile unit. The remit of is the provision of advice, offering knowledge, positive contributions and informing the NCSC’s work and advice on communication strategy. There are professionals and survivors on the panel. The SAP is a critical friend to the NCSC and is now doing some on the ground training. The SAP advised Vincent Nichols before he went to Rome for the child protection conference in January 2019 he feels that the church has apologise a lot but a lot of members of the panel are still very critical of the church. He is grateful to Vincent Nichols for visiting on two occasions.
1st of November 2019.
Sheila Hollins (woman in 60s dressed in black and wearing glasses)
Sheila Hollins is an independent peer and psychiatrist. She was on the pontifical Council for the protection of minors (PCPM) this was set up by Rome after a number of scandals had eight founding members and now has 17 members. Most members are European not all English-speaking. It meets twice a year. It has working groups on healing and care, training and education, guidelines, spiritual and legal it decided to submit guidance that all countries should adhere to on safeguarding to the congregation of the doctrine of faith. It has not heard back from them. Any guidelines are not mandatory. There is no sanction if bishops don’t follow them. The Pope is limited in what he can do to force bishops to follow the guidance as he can only laicise a Bishop if he is convicted of an offence. But he has only moral authority. Emotional empathy of leaders is important. She is reviewing the site and considering its relationship with PCPM. She was involved in training bishops in the Spain conference in May 2019 34 Bishops 4 members of SAP and 2 survivors attended. She is concerned for Bishops to have therapy too. In response to questions from Driscilla sharpling on the value of listening and empathy Mrs Hollins confirmed that both were valuable.
Collette Limbrick (woman in 50s with classes and brown hair).
Collett Limbrick is the director of CSAS. CSAS is at the forefront of driving improvement in safeguarding in the Catholic Church. It is an advisory service. It revises policy and procedures and offers advice to diocesan and safeguarding coordinators. She feels that CSAS is not independent from the Bishops conference as it is paid for by the bishops conference and controlled by it. Although she does make the point that the bishops conference does not influence its day-to-day work.
If she spots that if a diocesan safeguarding coordinator is not following procedures there’s nothing that she can do to enforce the procedures. She can only report that person to their Bishop.
She agrees that audits of dioceses could be more substantial as they are limited to 2 issues each audit.
Collett Limerick (woman in 50s, glasses and brown hair).
She is the director of CSS. Since house is at the forefront of driving improvement in safeguarding in the Catholic Church. It is an advisory service to anyone in the Catholic Church and devises policy and procedures. It explained updates and changes to guidelines. She believes that insurers inform policy would not do not drive it. She does not believe CSS is independent from the Bishops conference as it is funded by them. If there is an allegation made against Bishop, C Sass may complain to another dieses but otherwise has no power. If CSS is not happy with a diocesan safeguarding coordinator’s handling of the case it cannot compel them to relinquish the case.
Since us performs thousands of DPS checks each year. Schools do their own. She has helped the Archdiocese of Birmingham put its house in order. Since last looks at only some aspects when doing audits and is considering whether or not to widen these parameters out in future. She agrees that some biasing commissions are not fully compliant with her procedures.
4 November 2019.
She is a member of the NCSC. She is an independent member. She is not connected with the church. Whilst on the NCSC she saw deference at work. She felt that the NCSC does not communicate well internally. The diocesan commissions view the NCSC with suspicion. She recalls a recommendation from the NCSC chair being ignored by the Bishop. She sees decisions being made within dioceses due to fear of litigation.
When liaising with the diocese of Westminster in 2010 she discovered that individuals within that commission were not speaking to each other and she recalls saying at meetings that the Westminster Archdiocese is unsafe due to the lack of communication. Westminster appointed a chair of the commission without following the CSAS rules. An audit planned by Sue in 2011 was put on hold because Westminster diocese was not ready and subsequently failed the audit. She and Adrian Child delivered the findings of the audit to Westminster and suggested that a further independent audit be carried out by the NSPCC. This further audit never happened. She felt that Westminster was not making progress. There was dysfunction in the safeguarding office and needed re-ordering. A number of cases were not satisfactorily resolved. Vincent Nichols was fully aware of the position. She believes that the Archdiocese of Westminster is unsafe for children. She believes there is no point in the NCSC or commission protocols if they are not adhered to which they were not in some cases in Westminster.
She contrasts this with Southwark diocese which she liaised with for the NCSC. Some have good communication and most of the Cumberlege recommendations have been introduced in Southwark.
Sister Jane Burtelsen (sworn – woman in 60s. Glasses, short hair, pale blazer).
She is a sister in the divine motherhood order. She is on the conference of religious in the safeguarding group, was on COPCA, was vice-chair of the NCSC 2011 two 2014. She is now on the PCPM set up by the Pope in 2013. And has limited capacity to influence the church. It’s only authority comes from its moral authority. She believes its status needs to be enhanced in Rome. Recognises that the church had a long way to go. She fears the church has been reluctant to follow the Nolan recommendations because they felt they were an imposition from outside. She has found that many countries around the world have developed their own guidelines so it is very difficult to bring them into line. In 2014 the NCSC put together a book of conduct for priests. The conference of religious adopted it but the Bishops conference withdrew from the project. This had been a Cumberlege recommendation. She was opposed to the move of CSAS from Birmingham to a building owned by the church in London. She thought that it compromised its independence.
Kathy Perrin (woman in 40s, dark hair).
She works for the catholic insurance service. She worked for solicitors opposing claims against the Catholic Church prior to moving to CIS. CIS covers 20 of the 22 dioceses. At Birmingham and Hexham and Newcastle do not CIS. 20 religious orders are also covered.
She has produced a spreadsheet dealing with all claims she has dealt with. 435 entries most against dioceses. Only 48 against orders.
She finds that sometimes difficulties in working out whether there is a record of insurance. 19 dioceses have retrospective cover. Now CIS now works with the Zurich insurance. Zurich tells organisations not to pay out claims and to leave it to their insurers otherwise the indemnity will be withdrawn. She has never experienced a diocese walk away from the insurance indemnity and take its own decision on payment of compensation to claimant. Dioceses also have to protect their charitable funds so can’t just decide on ethical grounds to make payments. She deals with 6 to12 cases per year where apologies are requested. Insurers do not contribute to the cost of counselling but allow dioceses to pay for them so long as it is without prejudice. Insurers do delegate instructions to solicitors but dioceses are becoming more and more interested in taking control and taking decisions
She’s looking into new guidelines on claims handling such as the EIG guidance. On apology she thinks any apology should be done in consultation with the insurers.
On the limitation defence, dioceses wishes are taken into account but the insurer is in control. She believes there is an obligation to raise the limitation defence and analysis of evidence “can there be a fair trial?” If the Catholic Church decided that it would not plead limitation, insurers would then have to decide whether or not to indemnify dioceses.
Gordon Reid (catholic priest, black outfit, dog collar).
Ordained 43 years. Canon lawyer. Sits as a canon law judge. Never judged a child abuse case.
Divine law comes from the Bible, canon law binds Catholics everywhere and personal law binds only orders members.
He describes labyrinthine set of acronyms which exist to run the Catholic Church CISCYSISL, CSAS, NCSC, SAP, SST etc.
He describes the grave crimes against children and the motto proprio of 2001 from Pope John Paul II. The reorganisation of these laws is needed and is in the pending tray. A recent motto proprio from Francis confirms that minors are now anyone under 18. The recent motto pproprio requires reports to Bishop only and only for the Bishop to cooperate with local statutory authorities and follow local reporting requirements (this does not mean mandatory reporting).
There is a time limit of 20 years from the date of the offence to the church being able to deal with it. Provided that a case has a ‘semblance of truth’ it can be considered by the Bishop or the CDF. The Bishop will write to the CDF and await a decision on how to deal with the case. Secrecy is enforced there are approximately 12 people in the CDF dealing with these cases. The CDF can decide either a judicial process or an administrative process for the Bishop to decide. The standard of proof is is ‘ moral certitude’. The worst is disciplinary action is laicisation.
If a bishop did not abide by the rules papal Nuncio would speak to the Bishop.
The general decree to make CSAS procedures canon law has five stages. One is that it is suggested at the Bishop’s conference. Two it gets approval from the Holy See. Three the text is then made and voted on and if passed by a two thirds majority moves onto the next stage. For assent from the Holy See. Five the Holy See publishes and the Bishops conference will then send it out. Once this procedure is in place if a Bishop failed to follow it, the nuncio can report to Rome. Initially the Holy See will speak to the Bishop and can either leave him in office or remove from office. (This law will have little practical effect).
On the seal of the confessional, even the Pope can’t change this rule. This witness came up with a convoluted procedure to try to get round the sacramental seal which is actually impractical.
5 November 2019
Edina Carmi (woman in 50s, blonde curly hair).
Mrs Carmi prepared a report on dioceses and religious handling of cases and procedures. She is an experienced social worker and consultant. She had reviewed CSAS policies and 36 files from dioceses (two the most recent from each). This is a desktop audit only.
On the structure and accessibility of CSAS policy, she found it extremely difficult to identify the correct part of the policy she was searching for. There were no paragraph numbers or hyperlinking. It is hard to work out who does what and when. Policy and guidance are mixed up there is inconsistency on when the LADO has to be notified. It is not obvious who should make reports. It is not obvious what should be done when the abuser it is dead. The “quick guide” is good. It should explain that where the crime has taken place that police may ask for the diocesan safeguarding coordinator’s notes.
On file audits it was not generally clear where police have been notified or the rationale for decisions.
The form CM1 is a very good form to use but was not used often in either religious orders or the dioceses. Religious orders record-keeping was very poor. Jesuit records were very good however.
She found it was hard to work out risk assessment framework and was critical. In 6 of 14 cases where risk assessment should have been considered, there was no evidence of risk assessment taking place or even being considered. One example was abuse by female nun of female pupil. A risk assessment was done by an independent independent consultant. The safeguarding panel rejected the need for a psychological assessment on the nun. Eventually a decision was taken not to do a risk assessment but it was hard work out why the decision had been taken. The initial report was held back from the survivor, data protection being cited.
She is unable to reconcile the paramouncy principle with the seal of the confessional.
She contrasted the amount of support provided for perpetrators such as emotional welfare, accommodation for practical needs, legal representation, testimonials and an ongoing commitment, with the lack of support provided to survivors.
Overall she does not feel the there is any compassion or support provided to survivors generally. In 20 of the 34 cases from dioceses no support was offered when it should have been. The church should think more about what it can offer.
One example was the diocese of Liverpool and father Simpson and his abuse of altar boys. The diocesan safeguarding coordinator was a male member of clergy. He didn’t want Simpson suspended after arrest despite advice from the police. Police threatened to make it a bail condition that he not act as a priest. Records were of good quality but there was no risk assessment at all. The diocesan safeguarding adviser, being a member of clergy and basically a colleague of Simpson was supportive throughout. A safeguarding agreement was eventually put in place.
She is critical of diocesan safeguarding coordinators being members of clergy as they have potential and sometimes actual conflicts of interest.
On the CSAS policy, overall she believes that there is the embryo of a good policy that needs for review, extra parts adding and re-integrating.
Paul Andrew Smith (Man in his 50s, black suit.dog collar, glasses).
Parish priest a member of the carthusian missionaries based in Middlesex. He’s been there since 1980 and ordained in 1990. He has been the leader of the conference of religious between 2006 and 2009 is now the head of the conference of religious currently. He and his staff worked out of spreadsheet or congregations. There are 240 congregations members of the congregation and 90 other organisations which are not aligned to them.
The congregation of religious has no powers over the religious orders and no authority over them. It does not involve itself in safeguarding issues. It confirms that the apostolic Nuncio usually comes to the conference of religious its AGM. He has little contact with Cardinal Nichols. He is content that the conference of religious have done as much as they can on the one church approach. It has adopted a common set of policies (the CSAS policies). Only 40 orders are insured through the catholic insurance society. Others find their own insurance or are self insured. Orders want to make payments but insurers prevent this. There is no sanction for non-compliance.
He recalls a young girl aged 14 speaking to him in a confessional in Guatemala complaining of sexual abuse. He encouraged her to tell her parents. There was no support mechanism existing in the country there and then.
6th of November 2019.
Vincent Nichols (sworn – man in 70s, black suit and dog collar).
Archbishop of Birmingham and 1999 to 2014 and Cardinal from 2014 and also Archbishop of Westminster. He has made six statements.
He stresses that he is not the head of the conference bishops but only has oversight of its work. Each bishop is accountable to Rome and if there is a serious breach by Bishop he can be reported to Rome.
The Pope called a meeting in February 2019 in Rome to discuss the child sex abuse issue in the Catholic Church because there was a crisis in the church and worldwide. There were 200 representatives from countries and areas worldwide he thought different areas were looking at the problem from different perspectives – the US from a legal perspective, Europe from a social worker perspective and Africa from a family culture perspective. In the Far East it was rooted in poverty. He says there is a problem with exploitation generally in society. It was decided that the church should have high standards. It was decided that the church should motivate individuals in parishes to raise standards. Vincent Nichols was questioned about a document provided to him by the chair of the survivors advisory panel and he did not seem to have a full grasp of the document despite saying that he took its messages and the document itself to the meeting February 2019 in Rome.
Vincent Nichols thinks the UK does reasonably well in safeguarding. A video of Vincent Nichols was played as part of the proceedings with him commenting on his ‘awakening’ at the meeting in Rome. He listened between 2000 to 2009 to 17 survivors and learned of the corrosive impact of child sexual abuse but felt that the survivors he listened to in February 2019 caused him to have an awakening. Mr Altman’s line of questioning to suggest that he was the best insincere with his 2019 video speech and at worst not telling the truth.
Vincent Nichols agreed that his handling of the press situation in Birmingham in 2001 to 2003 was not good.
He confirmed that he is willing to consider more resources for safeguarding. He agrees that he has to split his time between his role as the Archbishop of Westminster and the presence of Bishops conference and that of Cardinal.
The review of the shape of safeguarding the Catholic Church to be undertaken by Ian Elliott was discussed he is asked to come up with alternative models or to reaffirm the current model. Vincent Nichols confirms that he is open to suggestions for improvement. He is adamant that he would have done this even if IICSAl was not taking place.
It was pointed out that the Pope’s motto proprio of seventh of May 2019 only requires bishops to report suspicions within the church and not to external civil authorities.
The general decree which could take some time to be confirmed by Rome makes this CSAS guidelines have the status of canon law. Cumberlege had made this a recommendation to put in place by 2008. Vincent Nichols responded by saying that we wanted our policies and procedures to have matured enough to be converted into hard legislation which is difficult to change. Vincent Nichols does not accept that children could have been harmed in the 12 years delay that it is taken from 2007 to introduce the general decree (which is still not place).
There was criticism of the apostolic Nuncio failing to pass documentation to IICSA also attend its to give evidence.
There was criticism that the laicisation of Robinson, convicted in Birmingham in 2010 did not take place until 2018.
There was criticism that the booklet for guidance for priests on expected moral behaviour was not agreed by the bishops conference despite it having been implemented by the conference of religious.
On apologies, Vincent Nichols says he understands it is good to make apologies to make them easier when claimants come forward. He says for some people it’s helpful for some it isn’t.
He believes dioceses should only use limitation where the perpetrator is deceased, not convicted and no further allegations made and a fair trial is no longer possible. He believe it’s it is fact specific in every case. Vincent Nichols says he would be prepared to lose an insurance indemnity if he wants to make an apology. There are still some question as to who drives policy – is it the insurers or as the church?.
Vincent Nichols was questioned about A711, the woman abused as a child by a priest in the servite order who was treated badly by the Archdiocese of Westminster. Vincent Nichols agreed that he regretted not having responded to her and offered the explanation that he felt that she had high needs. He eventually did apologise to her in person and the letter this was after six emails to him without a response and actively telling his secretary not to respond. Vincent Nichols says he was not aware that the chair of the Westminster safeguarding commission, Peter Houghton, had written that A711 was deeply manipulative and making passive aggressive threats and that “if it comes we need to keep playing the good practice card if we are to contain this person is manipulative behaviour”. This is all taking place in 2017. Matters were made worse when A711 was not shown a copy of the Karen Abraham’s report which was a review of her complaints and action to be taken against the priest. He tried to excuse his behaviour by saying that the dioceses treats people wo were complaining about the process differently to people who are complaining about the abuse itself. Vincent Nichols agrees that communication had broken down and he accepts his part and responsibility in that.
During the same month that A711 was being treated so badly, he told the public that the church was to review all its aspects of complaints and that it is it was making progress.
7th of November 2019.
Vincent Nichols (continued). Vincent Nichols accepts that A711 was not responded to well. He accepted that the Karen Abrahams reports had pointed out serious deficiencies in the Westminster safeguarding team’s communications with the survivor.
On A710 (survivor who was sexually abused by Cardinal Murphy O’Connor). Vincent Nichols opened by stating that no police action was taken against Cardinal Murphy O’Connor arising from his defence of Father Michael Hill (the police priest at Gatwick airport). Vincent Nichols immediately lept to the Cardinal’s defence.
This lady had made complaints which was passed from the diocese of Portsmouth where it had taken place to the diocese of Westminster. Soon after this there was a leak of the information to European newspapers, attacking her suggesting that the allegations were false. Vincent Nichols agreed that the leak was probably connected with the the Vigano affair. A news article suggested that the leak was high up in the church in England.
The case was discussed in May 2009 at Valadolid and it was agreed that Vincent Nichols would meet A710. It was eventually decided by Bishop Daley that he would make a statement himself. Vincent Nichols denied he wanted to avoid making a statement as he did not want to bring attention to the Pope’s decision to stop the allegations against Cardinal Murphy O’Connor being investigated. Vincent Nichols professes concern only with A710s welfare. He did not accept that he let A710 down.
On the confessional Vincent Nicholls believes the church will not accept any breach of the seal of the confessional even if it means dying for it. He denies having received any reports of abuse in the confessional. He thanks IICSA for its work and offers unreserved apology to those abused not treated well.
Statements are then read by Mr Saad. The statements of Paul Farrar and Brian Coyle are read dealing with candidates for the ordination and how they are assessed and character defects weeded out.
Eighth of November 2019.
Closing statements were made by Ian O’Connell, David Greenwood, Angela Patrick, Chris Jacobs, Alan Collins, Mr Brodie and Ms Gallafent. Alexis Jay concluded the hearing at 1245. The report will be published in late summer 2020.