Archbishop plans to rid Catholic church of paedophiles

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The Independent Online

Plans to purge paedophiles from the Roman Catholic priesthood were disclosed yesterday by the Archbishop of Westminster.

Plans to purge paedophiles from the Roman Catholic priesthood were disclosed yesterday by the Archbishop of Westminster.

The Most Rev CormacMurphy-O'Connor is setting up an impartial panel, including senior police and probation officers and children's charity officials, to make a detailed examination of how children are protected from abuse within the Catholic church.

The panel, which is to produce a report for the archbishop that he will publish, will be chaired by Lord Nolan, the senior judge who headed the inquiry into standards in public life, after allegations of sleaze in the previous government.

Yesterday, the archbishop said: "From my heart I apologise for any suffering that has been caused by child abuse by a priest, religious or church worker. I am very sorry about the mistakes of the past.

"There were inadequate measures for the protection of children and ... the procedures were not there to deal with allegations."

The archbishop came under fire in July, four months after his installation at Westminster, over the case of Father Michael Hill, from the archbishop's former diocese of Arundel and Brighton in West Sussex.

Hill was freed last week after serving three and a half years of a five-year sentence for nine sex attacks, including one at Gatwick airport chapel on a boy with learning difficulties

The archbishop admitted he made a mistake in appointing Hill airport chaplain when concerns had been raised abouthis behaviour, but he refused to resign.

In the past two years, at least seven priests, one aged 88, have been convicted of sexually abusing children. One was sentenced to 10 years.

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