The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has fully endorsed the first report of the independent Review on Child Protection in England and Wales - the Nolan Review - published last week. At a press conference in Archbishops' House this morning, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said: "the bishops have welcomed and accepted wholeheartedly the findings of the report." Commending the speed in which the report had been drawn up, and the detail it contained, Cardinal Cormac said its findings would be immediately put into practice. The report, he said, was building on the 1994 document: Child Abuse: Pastoral and Procedural Guidelines which resulted in a child protection officer in every diocese. Under the Nolan recommendations every parish will have a person responsible for child protection. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham has been appointed to chair an implementation team, with Bishop Peter Smith of East Anglia and Bishop John Hine, Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark, as members. The Cardinal admitted that there had been mistakes in the past. He said that he and every other bishop had expressed their sorrow and apologised to all those affected by child abusers in the church. He said the consequences of such betrayals of trust had caused untold harm - not only to the children but also to the wider church and to fellow priests. "This must not happen again," he said. In future, he said, the church must be the "safest place for children", and a "model of best practice in the wider community". Archbishop Nichols said: "I welcome and wholeheartedly accept the First Report from Lord Nolan's Review. Along with all the bishops of England and Wales I found our meeting and frank discussion with Lord Nolan and members of the Review Committee most helpful. I will implement the framework of key provisions recommended in the First Report for the protection of children and the growth of a culture of vigilance, where every single adult member of the Church consciously and pro-actively takes responsibility for creating a safe environment for children and young people,. (First Report, page 7). "In 1995 my predecessor (Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville) appointed a Diocesan Child Protection Coordinator and Team. This body works closely with local authority Child Protection Teams and with the police. In 1998 he instigated the use of police checks for all the priests of the Diocese. The Nolan Report acknowledges the importance of these steps but asks us to review them carefully and to go much further. This we will do. "Plans are already well developed in the Diocese for the establishment of parish child protection representatives and the building up of this culture of vigilance,. We shall soon be seeking to fill the post of a Diocesan Child Protection Officer whose task it will be to ensure the development of our policy in every parish. "All specific allegations of abuse brought to my attention will be responded to promptly, in cooperation with the statutory agencies. With them I will do all I can, not only to ensure protection for children, but also the establishment of the truth of the situation and just treatment for all caught up in it. There are many difficulties to be faced here, including the careful and professional assessment of risk. Lord Nolan has undertaken to look at these, and other matters more closely, prior to the publication of his Final Report in the summer. "I will play my part in the implementation of Lord Nolan's recommendations for a National Child Protection Unit. Once it is established this Diocese will cooperate fully with it." The full resolution of the Bishops' Conference follows. (source: CMO) i. The Bishops' Conference warmly welcomes the first report of the independent Review on Child Protection in the Catholic Church in England and Wales and wishes to express the sincere gratitude of all the Bishops to Lord Nolan, to all the members of the independent review committee, and to all those who have submitted evidence to the review. ii. This first report, and the final report which is to follow by the summer, will enable the Church to build on the procedures and practices put in place in dioceses following the publication of the 1994 document. iii. The Bishops' Conference unanimously resolves to establish the framework of arrangements which this first report recommends. It accepts the need to take every possible step to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable people and to encourage a culture of vigilance in every aspect of the life of the Church. iv. While awaiting the final report of the Review, the Bishops' Conference resolves to establish an Implementation Team under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of Birmingham, to include also the Bishop of East Anglia and Bishop Hine, with power to co-opt other members. This team is requested to draw up as a matter of urgency a plan with a timetable for implementing those recommendations in the report which require action at national level, in particular the establishment of a national child protection unit, which the Conference intends to be operational by the end of 2001. v. The Implementation Team is requested to give careful consideration to the best way in which the services of the Criminal Records Bureau can be used by the Catholic community in England and Wales. vi. The bishops agree to begin without delay to review their own diocesan procedures and practices in the light of this first report, and then to begin implementing in their own dioceses those recommendations in the report which require action at diocesan or parish level. - by repeated "closures" will not provide the trust upon which such a relationship could develop.
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