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Thursday, March 30, 2017
Catholic child protection office releases first annual report
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¬†The Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA) launched its first annual report today. Covering the period from January 2002 to January 2003, the report marks the start of the approach called for by Lord Nolan, in his 2001 advisory paper to the Catholic Bishops' Conference ≠ A Programme for Action. In this paper Lord Nolan recommended 'openness, transparency and national policies and procedures'. These policies, drafted in line with best practice in child protection policy, were to be implemented by a network of strictly vetted regional professionals and volunteers. The Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols who chairs the COPCA Management Board said that the work of COPCA represented a 'sea-change' in many of the habits and procedures that underlie the life of the church in every parish youth group, voluntary association and care institutions. The job was enormous, he said, as the Church was a very complex institution with 22 dioceses, 300 religious congregations and many associations and groups. The St Vincent de Paul Society alone, he pointed out, made more than 1.3 million visits to poor and needy people each year. Already nine out of ten parishes - or 2,428 of the 2,663 parishes in England and Wales have trained child protection officers in place. The Archbishop said it was encouraging that in many parishes, more people had come forward to be trained than were needed. During the twelve months, all 22 dioceses reported case information to COPCA. 132 related to allegations of sexual abuse and the remain 16 to physical abuse. Criminal Record Bureau Disclosures processed through COPCA became available in January this year. A computerised national database is now under construction which will be held centrally at COPCA's office with PC terminals in every diocese. Archbishop Nichols said: "While we cannot be complacent on this most serious of issues we are pleased with the progress COPCA has made with the development of national policy.... In co-operation with the Conference of Religious and other groups such as the National Conference of Priests, we believe major strides have been taken in this area." He concluded: "the very real hurt inflicted by child abuse is a cause of genuine distress for the Church. But in facing this matter unflinchingly we believe that we can restore trust and faith in the Church as a home of truth, faith and love." Eileen Shearer, director of COPCA, said: "What this report marks is the beginning of a new approach to child protection in the Catholic Church. The Church has absorbed the lessons of Lord Nolan's independent review and has begun to put in place a number of practical and realistic measures to create an environment in which children, vulnerable adults and their parents and carers have every reason to feel safe and confident. "This report is an honest account of the progress that has been made in the first year, and the challenges we face. It is the beginning of a process whereby the Church will apply rigorous best practice, transparency and full accountability. The institutions of the Church, the priests, the religious, the laity ≠ and the general public - Catholic and non-Catholic alike - are entitled to regard the Church with trust and respect." To read the full report visit:
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