Cardinal: Abuse survivors must be central to any safeguarding policy and programme

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Cardinal Vincent Nichols has sent a message to the annual Anglophone Safeguarding Conference currently underway in Rome.

He stresses that although much has been done, there’s much more to do “in both the prevention and response to this crime.”

The Rt Revd Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds and Vice Chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, delivered the message to delegates at the event that runs from 20 – 23 June and is jointly hosted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and Kenya’s Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Describing the abuse of children and vulnerable people as a betrayal of trust and a “betrayal of the trust of faith”, Cardinal Nichols stresses that abuse “destroys a level of human trust but also destroys the trusting faith particularly of a child or of a vulnerable person, at any age. Their trust in God is shattered. And the essence of the mission of the Church is to offer and witness to the trustworthiness of the Word of God. Any form of abuse, and particularly of children, within the Church is therefore a betrayal of the very essence of the purpose and character of the Church. It is a most profound wound.”

The Cardinal goes on to make it clear that the primary focus and motivation of the Church’s work in the vital area of safeguarding must be set on those who have been deeply injured in their humanity, in their capacity to trust and relate to others, and in how they form trusting relationships:

“The wellbeing of the survivors of abuse, and our responsibility for what has been done, must drive us forward in this work of listening to them. It is that attentive listening which then enables us to respond more adequately to their needs and to create environments in which they are truly safe and supported.”
The Anglophone Safeguarding Conference, this year exploring the simple yet important theme of ‘Listening’, provides a forum for the ongoing development of strategy and good practice in the vital area of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church.

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