From responding to safeguarding

Times of Malta

Sunday, November 30, 2014 by Fr Joe Borg

What’s in a name?

There is a lot. The significance of the announcement by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Charles Scicluna that the Church in Malta will be setting up a Safeguarding Commission instead of the Response Teams lies partly in the title of the commission.

To face the monstrosity called sex abuse of minors or vulnerable adults, the Church in Malta had set up a Response Team in the 1990s. When the structure was set up it was quite a radical set-up. Unfortunately things did not work out as well as one would have hoped.

The idea behind the setting up of a Response Team was for the Church to get a quick response indicating that something untoward could have happened and to take immediate steps to protect the vulnerable persons that could have been abused. Following that, a full blown investigation would be done. Instead the Response Team started doing the investigation itself. Thus things got complicated with the result that such investigations tended to be almost ever-lasting.

For the sake of doing justice to the people involved one should note that the procrastination was due to the working methods of the Chairman of one of the Response Teams and not due to its members. This was unjust to both the alleged victims and the alleged perpetrators. It was also unjust to these members of the Response Team that did their work diligently and who complained to the bishops about the situation. These persons should be thanked for their service. Had it been up to them things would have progressed well.

Unfortunately the chairman of this particular Response Team thwarted their efforts to move on efficiently and effectively. The responsibility of the egg on the face of the ecclesiastical community lies with whoever had power to remove the chairman and didn’t.

But now one hopes that this is all history.

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