My Dear People
As you have almost certainly heard already, this week saw the publication of a long awaited Report on the implementation and effectiveness of the Safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church in Scotland.
Almost two years ago now the Bishops of Scotland decided to commission an independent review into the quality of the safeguarding procedures and protocols of the Scottish Catholic Church, with Dr. Andrew McLellan, a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to lead the review. The Report is a detailed and substantial document, the product of almost two years’ work by able and committed people. It gives the Catholic Church in Scotland a vision and a programme to follow to strengthen the work of safeguarding and respond to the needs of survivors. The Bishops of Scotland have agreed unanimously to accept the Report’s recommendations in full.
Following on publication of the Report, Archbishop Tartaglia, as President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, issued a public Apology – as recommended in the McLellan Report – to any person who has been harmed by those in the Church who were in positions of trust and authority and who subsequently failed them. To encounter abuse of any kind is surely a shocking experience in a society, family or institution, but above all in the Body of Christ, the family of the Church, it is a heinous thing. The ‘Little Ones’ of the Gospel must always be able to come to Jesus and his followers with confidence and love – and we all know what the Gospel says about what will happen to those who despise or harm these ‘Little Ones’.
At the same time, by accepting the Recommendations of the McLellan Commission in full, as the Bishops are committed to do, the Church can now move on to remedy the shortcomings in our practice of safeguarding and the areas which need renewal and improvement.
Today at this Mass you will receive a leaflet, prepared on behalf of the Bishops, to help you understand where we fell short and to point out the direction in which we will need to proceed if we are to make our Church a safe, loving, compassionate and healing place for all. Please take it home and read it carefully.
Learning from our shortcomings, omissions and ineffectiveness will be a painful exercise for the Church in years to come. But learn we must. Above all we must be transparent in our dealings and accountable for our mistakes and, yes, incompetence in the past.
With every good wish and blessing to you all
+ Stephen Robson
Bishop of Dunkeld