Bishops: Abuse scandals bring 'deep shame' to church

Catholic bishops in England and Wales today offered a full apology and said there were "no excuses" for the child abuse scandals that have rocked the church.

A joint statement presented by the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols was issued on behalf of the bishops at the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and will go out to all parishes at the end of a plenary meeting in Leeds.



The statement described the crimes carried out by some priests and religious figures as a "profound scandal" and said: "They bring deep shame to the whole church. But shame is not enough. The abuse of children is a grievous sin against God.



"Therefore we focus not on shame but on our sorrow for these sins.



"They are the personal sins of only a very few. But we are bound together in the Body of Christ and, therefore, their sins touch us all.



"We express our heartfelt apology and deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed.



"We ask their pardon, and the pardon of God for these terrible deeds done in our midst. There can be no excuses."



The statement said the church would work with safeguarding commissions within its dioceses to ensure relevant steps were taken to protect against any further abuse and atone for those who were already victims.



"In our dioceses we will continue to make every effort, working with our safeguarding commissions, to identify any further steps we can take," the statement said, "especially concerning the care of those who have suffered abuse, including anyone yet to come forward with their account of their painful and wounded past.



"We are committed to continuing the work of safeguarding, and are determined to maintain openness and transparency, in close co-operation with the statutory authorities in our countries."



The statement also invited catholics in England and Wales to hold special days of prayer on the four Fridays of next month for all those involved with the scandal, and added: "We commit ourselves afresh to the service of children, young people and the vulnerable in our communities. We have faith and hope in the future."



The pope yesterday made his first public remarks calling for change since the crisis erupted.



During his weekly audience in St Peter's Square, Pope Benedict spoke of a statement earlier issued by the Vatican pledging the church would take action to confront the clerical sex abuse scandal.



The statement said the church would do everything in its power to bring justice to abusive priests and would implement "effective measures" to protect children.



The pope has also accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty, who admitted in December that he had not challenged the Dublin archdioceses' past practice of concealing child abuse complaints from police.







After reading out the statement in Leeds, Archbishop Nichols was asked why this apology was being made today and not in a church.

He said: "The media coverage of these events around the world has been intense especially since before Easter, since the beginning of Lent, over the last six weeks or so.



"This is the first residential meeting we've had, so this is the first time we've met as a group of bishops for the last six months.



"So it was imperative that we spent a lot of time reflecting together and coming to a common mind and taking a public position.



"This is the time of our meeting. This is the time we do this."



Asked if he thought the scandal will affect the proposed visit by the Pope, the archbishop said: "I think the Pope's visit will be a very, very important moment for the life of this country.



"And I'm sure that his message, which is challenging, which is intelligent, which is perceptive, will in fact be listened to and received with great attention.



"So we are preparing well for the Pope's visit."



Archbishop Nichols added: "I believe history will prove him to have been a great Pope who understood the gravity of these matters."



He said he believed Pope Benedict took "profound and robust steps" as a cardinal, even before he became Pope.



The archbishop confirmed the statement would be sent to all churches, adding: "I wouldn't be surprised if in some churches it is read out too."



The archbishop was speaking at a press conference at Hinsley Hall, in Headingley, Leeds.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition