In a response to a letter sent by the former Chair of the Commission examining Safeguarding Protocols in the Catholic Church, the Assistant General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference has rejected claims that the recommendations produced by the McLellan Commission are not being implemented.
In a letter sent to the Bishops' Conference by Rev. Andrew McLellan, the former commission chair claims that action is not being taken, survivors are not being supported and independent scrutiny is not being introduced.
Responding to the letter, the Assistant General Secretary of the Conference, Fr. Tom Boyle said;
"Last August the Bishops’ Conference welcomed the McLellan Commission Report and accepted its recommendations in full, undertaking to implement them all. This commitment has not diminished in any way, every recommendation will be implemented.
Three months later, the Bishops published a detailed Implementation plan, describing how all of the recommendations would be acted upon. The plan was posted online and open to consultation and comment.
As Dr.McLellan had informed the Church that all the records of the Commission had been destroyed and he could not divulge which survivors had been consulted, approaching those individuals was not possible. That however does not mean that survivors need’s have not informed policy. One survivor who met Archbishop Tartaglia spoke of feeling "more at peace now, than for a long time" While the Raphael: Opening the Doors to Healing Counselling Service for anyone abused within the Church was launched in October 2015, two months after the publication of the McLellan Report.
An independent review group as recommended by the Commission is being established. A chair has accepted and the members are being confirmed. They will be announced after the December meeting of the Bishops' Conference. The group's first task will be to review the progress of the first 12 months of the implementation plan.
Transparency and openness are at the heart of the Church’s Safeguarding mission. We do not believe any other church, charity or public body in Scotland publishes detailed annual audits nor have any undertaken a public consultation, as the Bishops’ Conference did on its Implementation Plan.
In releasing his report last year, Dr. McLellan described the Bishops’ decision to ask a Minister of the Church of Scotland to carry out this review as demonstrating “ecumenical trust” and “generosity of spirit” since the Church allowed Dr. McLellan two years to write his recommendations without comment, it is to be hoped that the in the same spirit of trust and generosity of spirit, the Church will be given at least the same amount of time to implement them."
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Notes to Editors:
Since the publication of the McLellan Commission Report:
The new Level 1 Safeguarding training for all new volunteers was launched in November 2015 three months after the Commission reported.
Parish Safeguarding Coordinator Training has been completely redesigned and will be launched this month (November 2016)
Training for Advisers: The NSC (National Safeguarding Office) is in discussion with the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University Rome to provide online training modules for the Safeguarding Advisers in each Diocese.
Level 2 Training will focus on Prevention and will be for all those who have already attended Level 1. It is planned to be released before Easter 2017.
Training for Trainers: The annual CPD day is mandatory for all current trainers throughout Scotland. This happens in November each year and this year alongside the launch of the new PSC training.
Training for new Trainers: In April 2016 the first two day course to train new safeguarding trainers was held and led by the NSC whocreated the course. In October the second two day course took place. This has resulted in 17 new Trainers who will now present safeguarding training in parishes across Scotland. A third course is being planned for the Spring of 2017.
PVG Scheme: Currently more than 13,000 PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme) applications have been processed through SCSS (Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service)
Risk: All allegations whether of current or non-recent (the now preferred term for historical) abuse are reported to the police. All allegations reported come within the Annual Audit system and are anonymised and published in November each year.
Support for Survivors: The Raphael: Opening the Doors to Healing Counselling Service for anyone abused within the Church was launched in October 2015, two months after the publication of the McLellan Report.
In October the National Safeguarding Conference was held with 180 delegates including Parish Safeguarding Coordinators, Advisers, Clergy, religious, Deacons and Trainers from across Scotland.
The full text of the letter from Rev. McLellan is shown below. There were 13 members of the McLellan Commission.
WE write as members of the McLellan Commission which reported on Safeguarding in the Catholic Church in Scotland fifteen months ago. When will we see action from the Catholic Bishops of Scotland in response to the Report? Having been asked by the Bishops to produce the Report we made 49 recommendations and they announced that they accepted the Report and the recommendations in full.
One recommendation was that they would publish within three months a timetable for action on the recommendations, to be followed by a progress report within twelve months That has not happened.
The three most substantial recommendations were
To put survivors first – first in the priority of their needs and first in helping to shape policy. As far as we can tell from contacts with survivors that has not happened.
To introduce an independent element into safeguarding within the church. As far as we can tell from the Safeguarding website of the Church that has not happened.
To be transparent and open in safeguarding. Not only do the Scottish public know nothing of the action taken in response to the Report, as far as we can tell from Catholic friends the members of the church themselves know nothing.
A year ago the Bishops might have used the opportunity of the publication of the Report to introduce systemic reform; now they are in danger of confirming the worst fears of survivors and observers by appearing to ignore its recommendations. The one response the Bishops must not make now is to say that things are being done “behind the scenes”. That response would reveal that they have not understood the problem.
Very Rev. Andrew R C McLellan C.B.E
Prof Nancy Loucks O.B.E., CEO Families Outside
Ranald Mair, Social Care Consultant
Kathleen Marshall, former Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland.
Lindsay Roy C.B. E., MP for Glenrothes and Central Fife 2008 - 2015.
Danny Sullivan, former Chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission for England and Wales.