Archbishop's 'grief' over Catholic school sex abuse

 

The leader of Catholics in England and Wales is "grief stricken" over incidents of child sexual abuse in Catholic schools, Education Secretary Michael Gove has said.

Mr Gove said he had "absolute confidence" that decisions taken by Archbishop Vincent Nichols would be the "right ones" following calls from a group of lawyers for a public inquiry into abuse within church organisations in England and Wales.

"I know from the conversations that I have had with Vincent Nichols that he takes the pastoral care of children in Catholic schools extremely seriously and he is grief stricken by what has happened to children who were entrusted to Catholic schools," Mr Gove said.

"I think it is right in the first instance for Archbishop Nichols and his team to consider and reflect on how to respond.

"I think anyone who has read some of the stories will have been incredibly moved by the resilience of some of the people who have come through this but also shocked at the way in which the trust of innocent children was so spectacularly betrayed.

"But it is important that the Church is given the opportunity to take this forward in a way that can ensure that victims' feelings and concerns and pain are more than acknowledged - used as a spur to prevent this sort of thing happening again."

He added: "I don't think anyone has ever suggested for a moment that Archbishop Nichols is anything other than someone determined to ensure the highest standards in all Catholic schools.

"While there are individual examples of priests and others in positions of trust abusing that trust, I have absolute confidence that the decisions that Archbishop Nichols would take would be the right ones."

Mr Gove's comments were made after he was asked whether he backed a call for a public inquiry into abuse within church organisations, with powers of access to documents, including those in Catholic diocesan archives, made in a letter published yesterday in The Times newspaper.

Lawyers working for alleged victims of abuse in institutional care said in the letter that there was now "overwhelming evidence" that religious organisations were "too compromised" by their own failings to police themselves effectively.

They said they were aware of some 41 Catholic priests who have been convicted of serious sexual offences in the recent past.

In November, Lord Carlile called for tougher rules to protect all pupils in faith schools following a report into sex abuse at St Benedict's Roman Catholic School in Ealing, west London.

It was also revealed last week that seven Roman Catholic monks with links to Downside School in Somerset, a leading Roman Catholic public school, had faced police investigation over child sex and pornography offences.

In a letter to the parents of the 1,500 pupils at the £26,000-a-year school, Dom Aidan Bellenger, the Benedictine Abbot of Downside, apologised to parents and named some of the monks who were picked out by a criminal investigation looking at 50 years of confidential school records.

Of the seven monks from Downside, he said four had faced police action and two, against whom allegations "were founded", had restrictions imposed on their ministry. The seventh was cleared and allowed to return to his monastic life.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?