Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, speaks shortly after the publication of the IICSA Report on the Catholic Church in England and Wales. First and foremost, Cardinal Nichols addresses the victims and survivors of abuse.
Today, IICSA publishes its report into us – into the Roman Catholic Church.
It’s a difficult day, it’s a painful day. But most of all, I believe it’s a painful day for those who have suffered abuse in their childhood because those wounds are almost permanent – they run so deep and they will be re-awakened, I think, today.
So I thank IICSA for their work, for putting a light on things that have been hidden and helping us to see the next step of our journey in these terrible, difficult matters.
Most of all, I want to speak to anyone who has suffered childhood sexual abuse in the context of the Catholic community. I understand something… something… of what you live with and what you’ve gone through. I want to say again, how very sorry and distressed I am that this damage was done to you and done to you in our name. And I promise you that we will keep working.
I want people who have suffered sexual abuse to come forward and to come forward with some confidence that they will be listened to. It won’t be so difficult as it was in the past. But you will be listened to and you will be helped. Now we’re determined to carry on building the quality of our response to every single allegation of sexual abuse.
While IICSA has been doing its work, we have not been sitting on our hands. We have a fresh, independent review. And what’s very important about this, is that some of those who have survived this trauma in their lives have worked with it. They’ve had a noble spirit and they have become our wise counsellors. So that this review, which we will consider alongside all the recommendations of IICSA, is actually shaped by survivors. I thank those who work with us in this way because their contribution is vital.
So today we share a lot of pain. Today we express a lot of resolve that we will continue solidly to work hard to improve our response because, you know, there’s no conflict between the pain and the life of a survivor and the health of the body of the Catholic Church. We have to take in that pain, embrace it, feel it, and know better how to respond. Today I thank all who work hard in safeguarding in the Church. I want everyone to know that our resolve to work on this is strong and firm and ongoing.
With this report from IICSA and with the work of this new review that we’ve had, we bishops will be meeting next week and we will take the decisions that shape and point the way forward. Together we will continue to give our full attention and dedication to this.