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43 Reports undertaken by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church are published, clear Progress Made as Audit Process Nears Conclusion

The 43 audit reports published today include 8 orders of male religious all of which received a full audit and 35 orders of female religious with small congregations, with limited or no ongoing contact with children which were reviewed under a tighter framework more appropriate to actual current status.

“Overall there is considerable improvement in safeguarding practice evidenced in these reports,” said Teresa Devlin, CEO, NBSCCCI (National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland). “The history is undeniable, that once again a significant number of children were abused in the care of Religious. What is strikingly different from the past in relation to the reports is a determination to respond pastorally, to report to the civil authorities promptly and to seek guidance in order to minimize risk to children.”

For the 8 male orders a total of 325 allegations have been made since 1941 against 141 priests, or brothers resulting in 8 criminal convictions up to date of each review, one of these allegations relates to abuse having taken place in 2003. All other instances of abuse occurred prior to 1996.

The differences in practice as is evidenced in these reports and in the current case management files before and since 2009, when the Church’s standards were adopted are striking. There has been significant improvement in all aspects of child safeguarding: reporting, supporting, responding, prevention and in managing the respondent.

Historically there had been an absence of compassionate response to Survivors in some Orders.  In others there has been appropriate, consistent genuine attempts made to reach out to survivors, and in fact the reviewers considered that in such reviews there was evidence of best practice; these are highlighted in the individual reports. Overall there are noteworthy improvements in pastoral care and response to complainants.

In general good adherence to other aspects of the 7 Child Safeguarding Standards, particularly in relation to prevention is noted. In some instances Reviewers noted examples of best practice.

“Overall there is evidence of strong leadership and commitment to child safeguarding,” said Devlin.   “This was exemplified through good policies, structures, prompt reporting and in particular where the leader personally has engaged with the complainants.”

Results for the 35 female orders were as follows:

  • Good commitment to child safeguarding is evident.
  • Recognition that previous care of children was often harsh.
  • For those Congregations who have had allegations, these have been appropriately dealt with.
  • A large number of female Congregations who had considerable ministry with children in the past, now have no such ministry.
  • Congregations are declining in numbers and increasing in age profile
  • Members who minister outside these congregation follow the policy and procedures of the diocese/service in which they work;
  • There is a strong sense of commitment to working positively with the National Board in spite of the reduced relevance of their ministries from a child safeguarding perspective.


9th September 2015

Safeguarding Children

National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland
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