Safeguarding Children Sunday March 11, 2012
On Sunday 11 March at all Masses in each of the 80 churches in the Diocese, trained Safeguarding Children representatives addressed the congregations on the progress of the Diocesan initiative since its inauguration in 2005.
The address began with an acknowledgement of the Past.
We as a Diocese and as a Parish are endeavouring to recognize and to heal the wounds of abuse inflicted on innocent children in our church by a small minority of clergy and religious.
Our work will not be complete:
Until the last victim has found peace;
Until solid structures are in place to safeguard all our children and those who work with them;
Until we all act upon the principle:
The welfare of the child always comes first.
We must begin by acknowledging the harm that has been done to those whose trust was betrayed when they were children.
We must accept that the protection they had a right to expect from Church and State was at times gravely inadequate.
We must listen to the survivors and take to heart what they say.
In many instances their childhood was destroyed.
As adults, many had to cope with addiction, depression and even suicidal tendencies.
Their trust in others and their faith in God were often irreparably damaged.
It is crucial that their stories are heard and believed. When a mature person is disclosing abuse it may be an innocent 11year old who is speaking.
Healing begins when the victim is believed.
The Catholic Bishops’ Lenten pastoral letter of 2005 states:
“It is our duty to help people who have suffered abuse to see the face of Jesus in the life of the Christian community and anything that could allow child abuse to happen and to be hidden, has to be addressed and corrected.”
There followed a section in which the Diocese outlined how it is addressing safeguarding issues.
If you take time to look at the Safeguarding Children Notice Board in our church, you will find policies on Safeguarding Children, Codes of Behaviour and Conduct for adults and children; Free Counselling services; Advice on how to process a complaint and Details of the personnel who will help you to do this.
An account of the personnel, all volunteers, who implement the Diocesan and National policy on Safeguarding Children was given.
To date the Diocese has trained 205 Parish Representatives for its 37 parishes and two Religious Houses. These in turn have trained and vetted 650 lay leaders of under18 parish activities in the parishes in the Republic and another 550 in Northern Ireland.
In other words, over 1,200 lay people have answered the call to address and correct anything that allowed this abuse to happen and to ensure it never happens again.
Their commitment expresses their appreciation of the un-selfish service given by our priests. It is an acknowledgement that these men, who have themselves suffered and are still suffering as a result of these terrible scandals, need our support and affirmation. They were not responsible for what happened and are firmly determined, as we all are, to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.
They too have been vetted and trained. It is important to note that all clergy are vetted by the State for working on both sides of the Border and attend in service training yearly.
It is the responsibility of the Diocesan Safeguarding Children Committee comprising the Bishop, three priests and ten lay people, to oversee the Safeguarding Training programme and to ensure that best practice is implemented in every parish.
The talk then dealt with the implementation of policies.
A local self audit in each parish has been part of our strategy since 2005.
In 2011 a comprehensive audit based on national guidelines laid down by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland was carried out in each parish. This audit indicated whether or not the parish was compliant in every aspect of the Safeguarding Children’s initiative.
The Board mentioned above (NBSCCC) was set up by the Church as an independent support and supervisory body to ensure compliance with its standards by all dioceses and religious congregations. It has already audited several dioceses and is scheduled to conduct an audit in our own diocese later this year.
Pat Drury, Safeguarding Children Training Co-ordinator’s Office,
Ardleenagh, Ardross, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan,
Email : pat[email protected] Tel: 00353(0) 429661477 ; 00353 (0) 872345924