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 Final Report Press Release - 16 July 2007

Commission Report Urges ‘One Church’ Approach
To Tackling Abuse

The independent body charged with reviewing progress by the Catholic Church in tackling abuse of children and vulnerable adults publishes its report, Safeguarding With Confidence, today (Monday 16 July 2007). The Cumberlege Commission urges the Bishops and Leaders of the Religious Congregations to reaffirm their commitment to a One Church approach and to ensure that there is one set of policies adopted by the whole church. The Commission would also like to see them take a more central leadership role in safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults.

The Cumberlege Commission’s report makes a total of 72 recommendations, including:

  • Setting up a new National Safeguarding Commission within the Church. The NSC should have an independent chairman and transparent processes in order to provide a proper forum for debate. The new body should also take on responsibility for ensuring that national policies are followed.
  • Changing the focus of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults’ (COPCA) work and giving it greater emphasis on raising awareness and on identifying and sharing good practice. The report recommends changing the central unit’s name to the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service to reflect this. It also proposes changing the unit’s management and accountability so that it is genuinely a part of the Church’s mainstream work.
  • Much more focus on safeguarding vulnerable adults, but not at the expense of safeguarding children
  • Reforming and strengthening the Church’s procedures for investigating and managing allegations of abuse, including introducing the opportunity for review to ensure the process fits with the Church’s universal laws and natural justice. The goal is to achieve a quicker, efficient, more transparent process that serves the victims of abuse and those accused of abuse.
  • A special Canon Law for England and Wales so that the Church’s safeguarding rules for children and vulnerable adults have full juridical authority and so that there is a right of recourse to the Holy See against a diocese or religious congregation which fails to fulfill its obligations laid down by this law.

The Commission, chaired by Baroness Cumberlege, follows on from Lord Nolan’s independent review of child protection in the Catholic Church and his 2001 report, A Programme for Action, in which he called for a review after five years. The Cumberlege Commission’s terms of reference were to:

  • Review the implementation of the Nolan Report A Programme for Action both nationally and locally in the dioceses and religious congregations.
  • Make any recommendations for change taking account of statutory and good practice developments since the publication of the Nolan review.
  • Consider the role of the central office (COPCA) in delivering these and any outstanding Nolan recommendations.

The Cumberlege Commission was set up in July 2006 and a total of 290 organisations and individuals submitted evidence. There have been 23 oral evidence sessions and the Commission also heard from or visited each of the 22 diocesan and four regional religious congregation child protection commissions.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Baroness Cumberlege says:
“There is no doubt that much progress has been made since Lord Nolan reported in 2001. The Catholic Church is a safer place thanks to the endeavours and commitment of so many for whom safeguarding children and vulnerable adults matters. What we need now is a sustained effort down to parish and community level - where children and vulnerable adults live – to ensure excellent safeguarding practices are applied consistently everywhere.

“The prime motivation for this report is that in the future the Catholic Church is confident in carrying out Christ’s work and is not fearful that the organisation lacks the ability to cope with those who fail. There can be no going back to a pre-2001 mindset; no relinquishing of the values implicit in Lord Nolan’s “A Programme for Action”; no reversing of the thrust of the work in this area.

“We urge the Bishops and Leaders of the Religious Congregations to reaffirm their commitment to a One Church approach and to ensure that there is one set of policies adopted by the whole church. We would like to see them take a more central leadership role in safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults. We are recommending the setting up of a new National Safeguarding Commission at the very heart of the organisation, which will place them firmly in the driving seat.”

(727 words)

Notes to editors:

Press copies of Safeguarding with Confidence are available on request from the press officer, Alan Ali (contact details above).
Members of the public can download copies at They can also order copies of the report from the Catholic Truth Society at
The Cumberlege Commission was launched on 11 July 2006. Baroness Cumberlege was asked by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor to chair a commission of experts to review progress made by the Catholic Church in the protection of children and vulnerable adults since Lord Nolan’s review in 2000-2001. The Commission includes:
Baroness Cumberlege CBE DL (Chair)
Baroness Butler-Sloss, GBE (Vice Chair)
Abbot Richard Yeo OSB, Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation
Sister Bernie Porter RSJ, CBE, member of the Society of the Sacred Heart (until 30th November 2006)
Sister Raymunda Jordan OP, Vicaress on the General Council of the Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena (from 1st December 2006)
Bishop John Arnold, auxiliary bishop in Westminster
Ms Hannah Miller, Director of Adult Social Services, London Borough of Croydon
Fr Kieron O’ Brien, parish priest in Chichester with the Witterings and the child protection co-coordinator for the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton
Mr. Terence Grange QPM, Chief Constable of the Dyfed-Powys Police, ACPO lead on violent crime
Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton
Mr. Bill Kilgallon OBE, formerly Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence and now Chief Executive of St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds
Ms Caroline Abrahams, leads on children and young people for the Local Government Association and was a member of Lord Nolan’s original Review.
Professor David Middleton, former Head of Sex Offender Strategy and Programmes, Public Protection & Licensed Release Unit, National Offender Management Service & National Probation Directorate at the Home Office in London
The Commission also has a part-time 3-person secretariat:
Dr Valerie Brasse, Secretary/Adviser to the Commission
Ms Rose Anderson, Administrative Support to the Commission
Mr. Arman Alan Ali, Press Officer to the Commission
Individuals and representatives of bodies that gave oral evidence to the Cumberlege Commission:
The Conference of Religious
The Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales
The Bishops Conference of Scotland
Catholic Office for the Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults (COPCA)
Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS)
Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS)
The Association of Directors of Social Services
The Canon Law Society
Catholic Church Insurance Association
The National Conference of Priests of England & Wales
The Child Abuse Investigation Command of the Metropolitan Police
The Rectors of the 4 four seminaries in England & Wales
CaTEW Secretariat (Catholic Trust for England & Wales)
Child Protection Officers and Child Protection Coordinators
Local Child Protection Representatives
Chairs of Child Protection Commissions
Mgr. Charles Scicluna, Promoter of Justice,
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Holy See
National Office for Vocations
Methodist Church of Great Britain/Church of England
Sir Roger Singleton, Department for Education & Science
Tom Horwood, former acting Director of the Catholic Communications Network
Donald Findlater (Lucy Faithful Foundation)

Catholic Social Network/Online Community