Sir, Abuse of children or vulnerable adults is a terrible crime and our concern is always for those who have suffered the severe and lasting wounds it inflicts (“Pope orders inquiry into child abuse at Ealing”, Oct 25). The Catholic Church in this country is committed to the work of safeguarding, maintaining transparency, and fully co-operating with the statutory authorities to whom all allegations are, and must be, reported. The two specific situations reported last week are a challenge (leading article, Oct 28), but are being addressed.The Times published my reply today.
In Plymouth, the actions of the diocesan safeguarding co-ordinator in using internet images of child abuse are a painful betrayal of trust, particularly for those who confided in him. Following the discovery of these crimes and the safeguarding co-ordinator’s suspension, Bishop Christopher Budd acted in an exemplary fashion by calling in the NSPCC to conduct an independent review. They found that the handling of cases by the safeguarding co-ordinator over the past three years had been appropriate. This review continues to look at wider diocesan practice.
It is true that cooperation between some religious Orders and diocesan authorities needs to be strengthened. This is being addressed. Religious communities do not fall under the authority of the bishop, so where there are concerns it is not uncommon for an Apostolic Visitation to be initiated, as has happened at the Benedictine Abbey in Ealing where the life of the abbey and its safeguarding procedures are being reviewed. The associated school falls under the supervision of the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC, is leading an independent review of the school.
The Right Rev John Arnold
Cumberlege Commission, Apostolic Visitor to Ealing Abbey
Sir, In response to Bishop John Arnold’s letter (Nov 1), I have to say that on the available evidence the problems of Ealing are not being addressed. Bishop Arnold hasn’t yet arranged to meet the person who originally requested the visitation. That person is me.The phone is still not ringing, so he still isn't calling me.
I have compiled several hundred pages of information about the safeguarding shortcomings of Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School, and when I met the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Menini, I made it clear to him that I was more than willing to meet the visitors and place all the information in their hands.
The bishop knows this but has not yet contacted me to arrange a meeting or to obtain my information. He has my contact details.
For Bishop Arnold to suggest that St Benedict’s School falls under the supervision of the Independent Schools Inspectorate rather than the Abbey is simply grotesque. The Abbey, the monastery, the parish and the school are all run by a single charitable trust, and the chairman of the trustees is the Abbot of Ealing, Abbot Martin Shipperlee. That makes Abbot Martin the proprietor of the school, not the ISI. Of course Ealing Abbey is responsible for St Benedict’s School.
Most of the abuses committed by Ealing monks have been perpetrated against pupils of St Benedict’s School. If the school is being excluded from the scope of the visitation, then I stand by my statement in The Times last week (report, Oct 25) that the visitation has been designed to achieve nothing at all. The design is even more careful than I was aware of at the time.