October 2004 Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference

06 Oct 2004





The Irish Bishops’ Conference (IBC) met this week in Maynooth for the first time since
the Working Group on Child Protection Policy ceased its work. The IBC wishes to:
– convey its sincere appreciation to the Working Group’s chairperson, Ms Maureen
Lynott, and to the entire membership of the Working Group, for their commitment
and hard work done to date in bringing their document to its present stage;
– reiterate that the documentation, so far elaborated, deals with a very complex
subject. The reality is that there is much more agreement than points of difference
between all of those concerned.
The IBC, CORI and IMU (the sponsoring bodies) are committed to resolving the
outstanding issues. The process for updating a child protection policy for the
Church is ongoing.
Some recent media coverage concerning the draft report of the Working Group on
Child Protection Policy has been unbalanced and sometimes inaccurate. The IBC
– with the support of CORI and the IMU – wish to state the following for the record:
– the sponsoring bodies have never rejected the principle of acting on expert
advice when dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse. Since the publication
of the framework document, known as ‘The Green Book’ (1996), it has been our
practice to follow, in good faith, the best professional advice;
– the sponsoring bodies accept that the advice of professionals is an essential
part of the process of responding to an allegation of child sexual abuse;
– the sponsoring bodies also acknowledge that the Bishop or Religious Superior
must conscientiously take those decisions for which he or she bears fundamental
responsibility. That does not mean that the bishop or superior should ignore
expert advice;
– the sponsoring bodies acknowledge that child care professionals have a duty
to report to the statutory authorities any case of child sexual abuse which,
in their judgment, qualifies under ‘reasonable grounds for concern’;
– we share the view expressed by Ms Maureen Lynott, “that the canonical
aspects can be accommodated and are not impediments moving forward.”
Finally, the sponsoring bodies are determined to move forward and we are
confident that our steering committee will bring this work to a successful


* The Steering Group of the Working Group on Child Protection Policy
represents its three sponsoring bodies: the Irish Bishops’ Conference;
the Conference of Religious in Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union.
* The Working Group to develop a comprehensive Child Protection policy for
the Irish Catholic Church held its first meeting on June 5th, 2003. Led
by management consultant Maureen Lynott, the Group was established by
the Irish Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland
(CORI) and the Irish Missionary Union (IMU). Members of the group included
experts in education, health, child protection, social work, law enforcement,
victims’ rights representatives and theologians. The group concluded itS
work on September 16th, 2004.

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)