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Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS)Procedures Manual

National Policy for the Support of those Affected by Allegations of Abuse within a Church Setting

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This policy embodies the pastoral response of the Church to those affected by allegations of abuse by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church. The policy demonstrates the Church's intention to offer a caring response to all individuals who have experienced or been affected by allegations of abuse, within a church setting, and who seek its help and healing. The Church is committed to providing pastoral support where it is needed.

Contents

  1. The Scope of the Church's Support Arrangements
  2. Principles and Procedures for the Provision of Support
  3. The Role of the Bishop / Congregation Leader and the Safeguarding Commission
  4. Support for the Local Parish / Apostolic Work of the Local Community of Religious
  5. Support for new Parish Priests / Religious / Other Community Leaders
  6. Disagreements

1. The Scope of the Church's Support Arrangements

The policy applies to any of the following Groups within a Church context:

  • All children and young people under 18 who allege they have experienced abuse (past or current) by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church;
  • All those who are now adults but are alleging that, as children, they experienced abuse by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church;
  • All adults who allege they have experienced abuse by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church;
  • The families of those who allege they have experienced abuse by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church;
  • The Parish, or apostolic work of the local community of Religious, including where abuse has or is alleged to have occurred in the past;
  • Priests or pastoral workers entering a parish or apostolic work of the local community of Religious, where abuse has or is alleged to have occurred.

To receive appropriate Pastoral Care according to their needs is the norm for all members of the church. Where allegations of abuse lead to additional support needs, the Church will so far as is reasonably practicable and appropriate, either address those needs or liaise with statutory agencies to assist the individual in accessing the appropriate support. 

It is recognised that the Church community is complex and that all reasonable efforts should be made to ensure that support is offered to those who seek it quickly and effectively.

2. Principles and Procedures for the Provision of Support

Anyone in the above categories, who requires support following allegations of abuse by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church, must refer the matter to the Safeguarding Coordinator.

Anyone who identifies that someone in the categories above may require support following allegations of abuse by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church, must refer the matter to the Safeguarding Coordinator.

Once a referral is made, the support needs of those affected by allegations of abuse should be considered by the Safeguarding Coordinator at the earliest reasonable opportunity.

Pastoral support will be offered and made available on a voluntary basis to all individuals in the above categories who have been affected by allegations of abuse by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church. Historical allegations will be treated in the same way as current allegations of abuse.

Some individuals may request support beyond routine pastoral support, such as the provision of formal counselling, or financial support. In most circumstances it will not be appropriate for the Church to provide support beyond its pastoral responsibilities. Any such requests must be directed to the Safeguarding Coordinator who must, liaise with the Insurance Officer (and who in turn must liaise with the Trustees and Insurers), in deciding the extent and nature of any support to be offered.

Where it is agreed that formal counselling or financial support may be appropriate, the Safeguarding Coordinator will arrange this. There will be a standard written agreement between the Church and the individual setting out the parameters of the support to be offered by the Church. This and any other written communication or documents relevant to the issue of support will be kept on the Safeguarding Case File.

This file and access to its contents will be managed in accordance with the Access to Records section of this Manual.         

All those affected by allegations of abuse by an adult acting in a church capacity within any parish, congregation or other setting within the Catholic Church, and receiving support under this policy are entitled to be treated with compassion and respect. 

All support offered by the Church will be focussed on the best interests and welfare of children and adults as the paramount concern. All appropriate actions relating to public protection and to risk management will be carried out according to the Church's National Safeguarding Policies.

Where support is provided, it will be done in a manner which respects the individual's dignity, privacy and safety, and which ensures so far as possible that particular needs relating to race, culture, age, language, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation or disability are addressed.

Where statutory agencies are involved, all arrangements for the provision of support will be undertaken in close liaison with these agencies.

When a canonical process has been initiated following an allegation of abuse, the person affected by the abuse has the right to intervene in the process as an injured party, including the right to bring a contentious action to repair damages incurred personally from the abuse (can. 1729 CIC).

NB. Children and young people under the age of 18 will normally be offered services and support by or through the Local Authority. However, there may be circumstances where it is appropriate for the Church to supplement or replace this support. Any such arrangements must be made in conjunction with the Statutory Authorities.

3. The Role of the Bishop / Congregation Leader and the Safeguarding Commission

The Bishop/Congregation Leader and his advisers are responsible for the implementation of this policy. Where appropriate, the requirements of the Church's insurers and the Charity Commission will be followed.

The Safeguarding Commission is accountable to the Bishop/Congregation Leader for its implementation, including:

  • Monitoring and evaluation;
  • Ensuring effective supervision of those providing pastoral support;
  • Implementing processes for dealing with disagreements;
  • Publicising the availability of pastoral support in every church.

4. Support for the Local Parish / Apostolic Work of the Local Community of Religious

As soon as practicable, and in liaison with the Statutory Authorities and where appropriate the Church's insurers, the Bishop/Congregation Leader and Safeguarding Coordinator will arrange with the priest in charge to visit the parish or local community. The Bishop/Congregation Leader's presence in the parish or Apostolic work of the local community of Religious signifies leadership and is a voice that can acknowledge the pain of the parish or local community and offer a strong lead to a wounded community. In those parishes supplied by Religious Congregations, both the Bishop and the Congregation Leader should visit.

The purpose of the visit by the Bishop/Congregation Leader is to:

  • Begin to identify the pastoral support needs of the community and agree how they can best be addressed;
  • Advise on how to access individual pastoral support, in conjunction with the Safeguarding Coordinator.

The aim of pastoral support for a parish or local community is community understanding/awareness and healing.

The Safeguarding Coordinator and other appropriate members of the community will arrange for agreed plans of pastoral support for the parish or Apostolic work of the local community of Religious to be carried out.

5. Support for new Parish Priests / Religious / Other Community Leaders

It is the Bishop/Congregation Leader's responsibility to offer support to Clergy or Religious before they take up a role in a parish or Apostolic work of the local community of Religious where abuse has or is alleged to have occurred in the past, while it remains relevant.

6. Disagreements

If there is any disagreement about the support provided or arranged for those affected by allegations of abuse, the individual may make his/her views known to the Safeguarding Coordinator in writing, and will receive a written response to their concerns within an agreed timescale. The letter may be forwarded to the Safeguarding Commission for their consideration and the Insurance Officer should liaise with the insurers before any reply is sent.

The Trustees will receive advice from the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Safeguarding Commission and the insurers before making the final decision in these matters.

The decision of the Safeguarding Commission, Insurance Officer / Church's insurers or the Charity Commission as appropriate in these matters will be final.

In cases where Clergy / religious disagree with support arrangements, this should be raised with the Bishop/Congregation Leader, who will deal with the matter in accordance with Canon Law and the National Safeguarding Policies, seeking advice from the Safeguarding Coordinator and Commission where the protection of children and adults arises.