Child sexual abuse in Catholic church ‘swept under the carpet’, inquiry finds

The Guardian

November 10, 2020

By Owen Bowcott and Harriet Sherwood

Damning report says church put its reputation above the welfare of abuse victims

The Catholic church “betrayed” its moral purpose by prioritising its reputation over the welfare of children who had been sexually abused by priests, a damning inquiry report has concluded.

In its final review of the church, the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) was scathing in its criticism of the leadership of Cardinal Vincent Nichols and says the Vatican’s failure to cooperate with the investigation “passes understanding”.

The 162-page report states: “The church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual well‐being of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and vulnerable.”

Between 1970 and 2015, the church received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse against more than 900 individuals, including priests, monks and volunteers. Over that period, there were 177 prosecutions resulting in 133 convictions. Civil claims against dioceses and religious institutes have resulted in millions of pounds being paid in compensation.

The sexual abuse of children involved instances of “masturbation, oral sex, vaginal rape and anal rape”. On occasions, the inquiry says, it was accompanied by “sadistic beatings driven by sexual gratification” as well as “deeply manipulative behaviour by those in positions of trust”.

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