East Anglia bishop expresses sorrow for abuse victims
The Catholic Bishop of East Anglia has written to all parishes across the diocese expressing his sorrow for victims after recent revelations about abuse in the Catholic Church and as a former Norwich priest was jailed for almost ten years for abusing children in the 1970s.
Fr Francis McDermott, a retired priest from the Diocese of Northampton, who was found guilty of abusing six children during the 1970s in London, High Wycombe and Norwich, was yesterday (March 14) jailed for nine years and 11 months.
Bishop Alan Hopes said: “I want to express my horror and deep sorrow for the hurt and damage that has been caused to the victim-survivors of this terrible abuse.
“These men and women have shown such great courage in coming forward at this time after carrying the burden of this hurt and damage for so many years. I hope and pray this will bring some closure and much healing to their lives.
“Any kind of abuse is not tolerated in the Church. Our robust present day procedures ensure that we are continuing to build a safe environment for all.”
Bishop Alan has offered to meet and listen to the victims of this case and anyone else who wants to talk to him about abuse in the church.
Last weekend he wrote to all congregations across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire addressing the issue of abuse within the wider Catholic Church.
“It has been distressing to learn that some bishops and other religious leaders have failed to respond adequately to accusations made against clergy in their respective dioceses,” he wrote. “The lack of response to the suffering of the victim-survivors by some bishops and religious leaders, even to the point of rejecting them and covering them up to protect the perpetrators and the Church, has left a deep wound in the relationship with those we are sent to serve. All of this is both deeply offensive and disturbing.
“In solidarity with Pope Francis and my fellow bishops, I want to express my deep sorrow for the hurt and the damage that has been caused to the victim-survivors of such abuse,” wrote Bishop Alan. “Nothing that I can say will ever be adequate or mitigate this hurt and damage.
“I also wish to assure you that since 2001, the Catholic Church in England and Wales has adopted robust procedures in order to begin to rebuild that trust which has been lost. They are found in every Diocese and parish.
“Every Diocese has a Diocesan Safeguarding Co-ordinator together with an independent safeguarding commission and any suspected criminal behaviour is immediately reported to the statutory authorities.
“Every parish has a safeguarding representative to check that all those who work in any way with the young and vulnerable are able to do so.”
The East Anglia Diocesan Safeguarding Coordinator, Mick Thurley, can be contacted on 020 8505 4199 or 07429 215344.