The Catholic Church in Glasgow has issued an “extraordinary” appeal urging anyone affected by abuse at the hands of clergy or officials to come forward and tell them where they “went wrong”.
In November, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCEI) is conducting an external, independent review of the Archdiocese of Glasgow to hear from people with first-hand experience of how the institution has responded to reports of abuse.
This month, the Catholic Church in Scotland set up an independent safeguarding body to promote “consistency, transparency and accountability”.
The Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (SCSSA) was announced by Bishop Hugh Gilbert on October 2.
He said it would operate independently of the Church with its own staff and board of management.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who had been the religion’s most senior figure in the country, resigned in 2013 after allegations of inappropriate and predatory sexual behaviour towards four men, three of whom were serving priests.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry found “sadistic” monks repeatedly abused children at two schools linked to a Catholic religious order.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow said the call on victims to come forward was a “genuine attempt to listen and learn”.
He said: “The Social Care Institute is a totally independent body which will conduct this month-long audit. The Archdiocese will have no role except to help to publicise that the audit is taking place, and that the external team want to hear directly from abuse survivors.”
The audit by SCEI will focus on the last five years, but the Archdiocese asked anyone who had experience of how it had dealt with abuse claims to speak to review staff directly.
“Nobody at any level in the Church will be told that they are taking part,” the spokesperson said, “What they tell SCIE will be confidential and will not be shared with the Archdiocese except as part of an overall report which will absolutely not identify any individual.”
Dr Sheila Fish, SCIE head of audit and review, said: “We want to understand what is working well and where there are problems. We want to hear from people with first-hand experience of how people in diocesan roles have responded to disclosures of abuse or sharing of concerns.”
When the audit has been completed, the Archdiocese will publish the report and said copies will be made available to survivors.
Anyone who wants to report on their experience can contact SCIE directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 07921 251614. SCIE will then get in touch to arrange a time to report to the auditors in a way that suits each individual.
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