Catholic leaders to make safeguarding central to life and ministry of the Church

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Bishops and Congregational leaders this week committed the Catholic Church in England and Wales to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults as an integral part of the life and ministry of the Church.

The Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and the executive of the Conference of Religious came together this week to discuss together their initial responses to the Cumberlege Commission’s report, Safeguarding with Confidence. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor thanked Baroness Julia Cumberlege and her commission for their work and comprehensive report.

“The Cumberlege Commission’s report recognises the extensive work done following the Nolan report and our grateful thanks go to all involved in this important work,” said the Cardinal.

To ensure the reception of the Cumberlege Commission’s report, Safeguarding with Confidence, an implementation group has been established. Bill Kilgallon, chief executive of St Gemma’s Hospice, has agreed to chair the group with Bishop Declan Lang and Sr Jane Bertelsen as vice-chairs. Other experts will be brought in to help the implementation group.

This group will consider the pace and scope of the changes recommended in the report and propose a process of implementation. It will also make arrangements for the oversight of the work of COPCA from the Spring meeting of the Bishops’ Conference.

The Bishops’ Conference and the executive of the Conference of Religious went on to reaffirm the One Church approach and committed themselves to its application in Dioceses, Parishes and Communities of Religious. Bishops and Congregational leaders will also undertake training in this area as a sign of their commitment to safeguarding.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said:

“As a result of the huge amount of work in this area, both by COPCA and volunteers across the dioceses, we are now in a totally different place from five years ago and the next stage of this process is to embrace safeguarding into the work of the Bishops’ Conference and the life of the Church as a whole. Safeguarding the vulnerable, both children and adults, is integral to Church life and ministry and it is the responsibility of all to make the Church a safer place.”

“It is vital that we speak with one voice as one church,” said Sr Kathleen McGhee, president of the Conference of Religious.

“Without the tireless work of COPCA we would not be where we are today. We would want to commit ourselves with enthusiasm to the recommendations. We particularly welcome the emphasis on training. Safeguarding is for all and we welcome the move to include vulnerable adults in this. The elderly are often described as a problem, but our language should be of the gift of the elderly.”

Full Resolution

Safeguarding with Confidence

The aim of the Cumberlege Commission was to review the way the Catholic Church in England and Wales responded to Lord Nolan’s report: ‘A programme for Action’ (2001). It looked specifically at how the Church, five years on, implemented the 83 recommendations made to improve the arrangements for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

For full details and to read the report:

Mr Bill Kilgallon

Bill Kilgallon was appointed Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence in January 2003. Previously he had been Chief Executive of St Anne’s Shelter & Housing Action since 1978, an organisation he founded in 1971. St Anne’s, an organisation employing 850 staff with services across Yorkshire and the North East, works with single homeless people, people with learning disabilities, people with mental health problems and people with problems related to alcohol and drug abuse. For his work with St Anne’s Bill was awarded an OBE in 1992.

He was also chair of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the largest NHS Trust in the country. He held that post since the Trust was established in 1998 and prior to that was chair of the Leeds Community and Mental Health Services NHS Trust from 1992. Bill was a member of Leeds City Council from 1979 to 1992. He chaired the Social Services, Housing and Environment Committees. He has served on the management boards of a wide range of organisations at local, regional and national level. He has also led independent inquiries including one into alleged abuse in a local authority children’s service and one into the management of an NHS hospital for people with learning disabilities.