Creating a culture of safeguarding within the Church
What the various local churches can learn from each other to help safeguard people from the risk of clerical sex abuse is one of the key aims of the Anglophone Conference on the Safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults currently underway in Rome. The conference brings together representatives of English-speaking Bishops' Conferences and religious from around 20 countries, together with lay safeguarding staff.
Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton is the Vice-Chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission in England and Wales. He told Susy Hodges that one of the key advantages of this safeguarding conference is that "there are people from all the continents of the world bringing their experience of safeguarding and both the opportunities and problems that arise from that."
As far as the Church in England Wales is concerned, Bishop Declan says: "We can learn from other people about the way in which survivors or victims of abuse are helped to come back into contact with the life of the Church...." He goes on to say that he is "always pleasantly surprised at the number of people (victims of abuse) who still want to keep contact with the Church...." even though other victims don't continue this contact..."there are some who are very much wounded and have left the Church."
In addition to supporting victims, another key issue being discussed at the conference is the risk management of offenders. But what is the prevailing belief about offenders and do people believe they can be cured? Bishop Declan says there is a difference of opinion about this issue: "there will be those who say there's some evidence to show that somebody who has offended can be cured but I think the majority of people would still say that paedophilia is not something that you can be cured from, it's something that has to be managed."