Catholic Church in Scotland sets up abuse watchdog

BBC [London, England]

October 3, 2021

The Catholic Church in Scotland is setting up an independent watchdog to deal with abuse complaints against members of the clergy.

The move follows a number of sex scandals where the church was accused of failing to respond to concerns.

The church said the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (SCSSA) would produce ‘consistency, transparency and accountability”.

It will operate as an independent private company.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, Bishop of Aberdeen, said: “The SCSSA will operate entirely independently of the Church and will have its own staff and board of management who will work in close collaboration with dioceses and religious communities to ensure that they are able to meet national safeguarding standards.

“It will also develop a process that will provide an independent review of complaints about safeguarding practice and crucially, establish a forum in which those who have experienced abuse can contribute their own perspectives to the development of safeguarding.”

The church said it would soon begin a recruitment for the chairperson and members of the management board, followed by the recruitment of a director and a head of safeguarding training.ADVERTISEMENT

“It will take some time to establish the new agency and we ask for your patience and support while that process is under way,” the bishop added.

In the 2013 Cardinal Keith O’Brien, formerly the Catholic Church’s most senior cleric in Britain, resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh after apologising for sexual misconduct.

The BBC has also seen evidence that the church knew of 20 allegations of child sex abuse by priests in the 1980s and 90s.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry described a Catholic boarding school run by monks in the Highlands, Fort Augustus Abbey, as a “haven for paedophiles”.

A BBC documentary Sins of Our Fathers contained allegations that the school was used as a “dumping ground” for problem clergy who had confessed to abusing children.