Bishop Ray Browne’s response to the Publication of the Review of Safeguarding in the Diocese of Kerry By the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI)
I welcome and fully accept the findings and recommendations of the NBSCCCI Review of Safeguarding Practice in the Diocese of Kerry which we publish today.
I want to start by calling to mind all people everywhere who were abused as children and particularly where that abuse occurred in the Church within the Diocese of Kerry. Their suffering past and present is truly horrific. Abuse of a child in any form is evil. It is a serious crime and a grave sin. It has caused incalculable, lifelong damage to the lives of innocent children and their families. Such abuse is even more disgraceful when it is perpetrated by a person who holds a position of trust in the Christian community; by a person who professes a Gospel which speaks of love, justice and care for all, including the most vulnerable in society.
To any person who has been abused by a priest or anyone else in the Diocese of Kerry, and to their families and friends, I want to express my sincere sorrow and regret that such crimes were committed. I have met and listened to survivors of abuse and I am horrified at the abuse they have suffered and how it has profoundly affected their lives.
I encourage anyone who has been abused as a child to report the matter to the Health Service Executive, An Garda Síochána or the Diocese, seeking support and help.
The publication of today’s Review, details an independent objective assessment of current safeguarding practice in the Diocese of Kerry. It documents the progress the Diocese has made in terms of establishing robust safeguarding policies and procedures. These proactive safeguarding measures endeavour to guarantee that all Church activities within our Diocese are a safe place for children to be involved. They also ensure that complaints or concerns with regard to child abuse are dealt with in a prompt, sensitive and professional manner. They are always dealt with in conjunction with the HSE and An Garda Síochána.
I take this opportunity to thank all the people who have been involved in the safeguarding structures in our Diocese over the years: Designated Persons, Priests, the Committee for Safeguarding Children, Support Persons, diocesan office staff, etc. I thank local Parish Representatives, Trainers, Parents and all those who work in a voluntary capacity at parish or diocesan level to ensure that we are doing all in our power to safeguard children and all who are involved in church activities. I thank the HSE and An Garda Síochána for their professional advice and assistance over the years. I thank Teresa Devlin and all the Staff at the National Office for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church for the professional manner in which they have carried out this Review and for their continuing availability to give us guidance.
I urge everyone involved in our Diocese both laity and clergy to take time to read the Review for themselves and to reflect on what personal contribution s/he can make to child safeguarding. Let no one in the Diocese of Kerry be found wanting in our efforts to safeguard children. Today we focus on the findings of the Review in terms of the Diocese’s standards in current safeguarding practice. It is imperative that our work in this area remains a key priority. We will continually strive to fully safeguard all children in our care. The Diocese of Kerry will implement all the recommendations of the Review. Many of these recommendations centre on our current major project of renewing our Diocesan Policy document. This project is currently nearing completion.
Our Diocesan Policy on Safeguarding states the following:
The Diocese of Kerry values and encourages the participation of children and young people in parish liturgies and in activities that enhance their spiritual, physical, emotional and social development. We recognise and uphold the dignity and rights of all children and young people. We are committed to supporting and safeguarding children in a way that promotes their human dignity and integrity as children of God.
In keeping with this we undertake to do all in our power to create safe environments for children and young people, to ensure their safety from physical, sexual and emotional abuse or neglect.
As I make public this Review today I take this opportunity to invite and encourage every person in the Diocese to join me in renewing our commitment to always uphold and work for the highest standards in child safeguarding.