As recently as October, the Independent Government Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse in England and Wales ied an inquiry report into the Anglican Church. Now followed the to the Catholic church. And it has it in itself.
"For decades, the Catholic Church has failed to address the ie of sexual abuse, leaving many more children to this very fate."This is the conclusion of Alexis Jay, chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Abuse in England and Wales (IICSA). Last week, the commission presented its report on the Catholic Church.
931 clergy, religious and lay people were suspected of sexual abuse between 1970 and 2015; the number of reported cases is estimated at more than 3,000.000 stated. However, only 177 alleged perpetrators were charged; only 133 cases were convicted. Far too few, says the commission, especially since the number of unreported cases must be amed to be much higher.
And there's something else the experts note: "It would be wrong to view sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church solely as a historical problem."Thus, even after 2015, there had been about 100 corresponding accusations per year.
Numbers and individual fates
But the 162-page report does not stop at figures; on the contrary, individual fates are described in an oppressive manner, such as that of a 17-year-old girl in a wheelchair who had already been abused once as a child and was now again harassed by a priest. Elsewhere, there is talk of a clergyman who abused a child several hundred times in five years, only to take the victim's confession afterwards each time and thus traumatize him even further.
The report indicts. "Child abuse was swept under the red carpet," it states unequivocally there. And researcher Jay adds: "It is clear that the reputation of the church was valued more highly than the well-being of the victims. Clues were ignored, perpetrators protected."
Finally, the report mentions names, first and foremost that of the President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols. While the Archbishop of Westminster had apologized for the church's mistakes at a public hearing in 2018. However, he has not accepted personal responsibility.
Report: personal responsibility urgently needed
But according to the report, he would have urgently needed to do so. In two cases under closer investigation, he too was more concerned with the reputation of the church than with the victims. Instead of showing sympathy for the victims, he is said to have been primarily concerned with averting harm to the church. Thus he had tried in a case to prevent media reports. In another, he had long refused to meet the alleged victim.
The commission also raises accusations against the Vatican and Pope's ambassador Archbishop Edward Adams. On several occasions, he had been asked to help investigate abuse cases at two London schools run by the Benedictine order. But the archbishop did not come close to the commission's request to disclose information about the contact between the schools and the nunciature at the height of the abuse scandal. This behavior is all the more incomprehensible, he said, because Pope Francis has repeatedly called for complete clarification of abuse cases.
The conclusion of study leader Alexis Jay is correspondingly cautionary: Although some progress has been made recently. What is missing, however, is a radical cultural change in the church. And that alone can prevent the mistakes of the past from being repeated.