Archbishop Nichols finds 'no surprises' in survey of priests

 The Archbishop of Birmingham, The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, issued a statement, following news of the results of a survey of priests, which will be broadcast in a documentary 'Kenyon Confronts' this Wednesday at 7.30pm on BBC 1. The ICM Research survey was drawn up from results of an anonymous questionnaire sent to a random selection of 2,704 Catholic priests in England and Wales. 486 priests, or 18% of the sample, filled out and returned the form. Of those surveyed, more than half (56%) said they trusted the Church to deal with any clergy involved, and 65% said they believed the Church would safeguard children in its care. But 58% of respondents said the Church had dealt with alleged sex abuse by priests inadequately. Out of this fraction, 19% said this was due to a culture of secrecy. The Archbishop, who chairs COPCA (Catholic Office for the Protection of Children) said: "The findings of the ICM survey are, on the whole, unexceptional. They are a testimony to the honesty of Catholic priests throughout England and Wales. "With regard to issues of child abuse, the views expressed in the survey are what I would have expected. There are no surprises. "The correct handling of suspicions, allegations or incidences of the abuse of children always involves difficult judgements. Children must be protected. The accused, too, has rights which must be respected. "I am not surprised, therefore, that there is some level of disquiet among priests. "Everyone knows that mistakes have been made by the Catholic Church in the past. Even now we still have a lot to learn. "The new Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA) is helping us to put into place clear and uniform procedures for child protection. Its first Annual Report, to be published in November, will illustrate this. "Real progress is being made. The priests who responded to the survey know and appreciate this. "According to the survey a small number of priests (33) think that the response given to victims of child abuse has not been adequate. This is such a difficult and sensitive area. "Many other priests know that real efforts have been made by way of support, counselling and properly conducted compensation settlements. Nevertheless the pain and suffering of abuse still remain. "Questions could be raised about the way the ICM survey was prepared and conducted. The forthcoming 'Kenyon Confronts' programme may well use it in a sensationalist manner."

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