Statement from Executive of CoR:
The Conference of Religious of England and Wales (CoR) shares in the profound shock and sadness that continues to arise as we are confronted by information about the sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and people in positions of responsibility in Catholic institutions. Church authorities must take action to end a culture of silence, hold abusers accountable, and provide support to those abused.
In recent weeks we have been confronted by cases of the abuse of power against vulnerable adults and children in America, Catholic Sisters in different parts of the world, and closer to home with the reports generated by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that has been looking at educational institutions run by the Benedictines.
We agree with Pope Francis that “looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
Despite the work done in recent decades to create a safe environment within our church institutions, our members are horrified by the accounts that have been reported and we stand in agreement with all those demanding the end of a culture both within the church and in wider society that ignores or tolerates sexual abuse of any other adult or minor perpetrated by those in positions of trust. We are concerned that a desire to protect the Church has at times erroneously limited the ‘Church’ to mean the power and status enjoyed by the hierarchy. In reality, this leads to the perpetuation of the suffering of the Church - manifest in the victims of abuse, who in reality are themselves the Church - the body of Christ - in need of our protection.
We thank all those members of the Church throughout the world, who, at great risk, have spoken publicly about the abuse they have experienced within Church institutions. We stand with all those countless Priests, Sisters and Brothers who, while horrified by the actions of this significant minority of their companions, continue to faithfully strive to build God’s Kingdom, treating those they work with, with respect and justice.