Yesterday Archbishop Phillip Tartaglia made a public apology "to all those who have been harmed and who have suffered in any way as a result of actions by anyone within the Catholic Church" and then asked for forgiveness.
His apology was prompted by a report into safeguarding policies and practices within the Catholic Church, The McLellan Commission Report. The Report, requested by the Bishop's Conference of Scotland in November 2013, made 8 final recommendations, the first of which is as follows:
1.i. The Bishop's Conference of Scotland should make a public apology to all survivors of abuse within the Church: recognising the depth of daily hurt and anger which exists, and taking responsibility for what has been done within the Church.
Bringing healing to survivors of abuse begins with an apology, continues with repentance and ends with action. Apologies are often difficult to hear, but they must be made. The example has been set by Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.
The demand for an apology is something we hear frequently from survivors of child sexual abuse. The recognition that there is something to apologise for, and the legitimacy that is offered to the survivors as a result, cannot and should not be underestimated.
As the report rightly points out, the apology is only the beginning. It is certainly a good place to start and we hope that it will act as a springboard for action. We encourage the Church in Scotland to continue the good work they have started by working closely with the police to ensure that all allegations against members of the Church are properly reported and investigated.
We also encourage the Church to adopt the same approach in England and Wales, and around the world. The news is still too often full of reports of cover-ups of abusing priests by church officials. In our work representing survivors of child sexual abuse, we find the Church takes advantage of every legal defence, like any big company trying to avoid liability. The spirit of apology is hard to detect. We applaud every bit of progress the Church has made towards full accountability; we only wish it were faster less grudging and required less dogged persistence by survivors.
You can read the full report here.
Note: AO Advocates is not currently licensed to bring claims in Scotland but if you have suffered abuse in England or Wales and would like to discuss your potential claim, please fill out a confidential 'contact us' form or call us on 0203 080 3911.