More Than Half of Paedophile Priests Still Listed As Clergy

Press and Journal
September 16, 2010

MORE than half of Catholic priests convicted of sexually abusing children in the last decade are still listed as members of the clergy, it was reported last night.

A Channel 4 News investigation revealed that of 22 priests convicted and jailed for more than a year for child sex abuse since 2001, 14 were yet to be laicised or sacked from the Catholic Church of England and Wales. The programme said some were still even receiving financial support from the Church and living in Church property.

The revelations follow recommendations made in 2001 by senior Judge Lord Nolan, who suggested that any priest sentenced to a year or more in prison for sex offences against children should face "laicisation" the stripping of their title, priesthood and privileges.

A spokesman for the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) said any priest being investigated for an offence against a child was automatically removed from active ministry.

But he added that, under Canon Law, a Bishop has no power to laicise a priest and must apply to Rome for laicisation to be carried out.

Bill Kilgallon, chairman of the NCSC, told Channel 4 News that Rome accepted the authority of the English court system which had convicted the paedophile priests.

Asked if the Catholic Church did not "get" child abuse, he replied: "The general rule is people are put forward for laicisation and that we strongly support."

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