In this our second blog comparing the recent reports published by IICSA into the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches we look at redress and accountability.
IICSA has reviewed the varying approaches taken with respect to redress across the Anglican Church and Roman Catholic Church, looking at how victims are compensated financially in addition to emotional support and apologies given.
Within the report concerning the Anglican Church, it was identified that the Church has an inconsistent approach to providing support such as counselling or therapy, in addition to offering an apology to the survivor of the abuse. There was also a criticism that the Anglican Church was not doing enough in respect of providing continuing support to the victim.
Taking on board this criticism, the Church of England now seeks to implement a redress scheme in order to combat the issues found by the Inquiry, with a view to including the input of survivors in the design of the scheme.
Whilst the new scheme will aim to provide sufficient financial compensation, apologies and emotional support, the Church additionally wants to ensure “comfort to survivors for their injuries” and to try to “put right the wrong which they have suffered, acknowledging for some that will never be possible”. To assist with achieving these aims, the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) has provided the following suggestions:
- To take reasonable steps to allow victims to receive compensation where legal liability arises, with the scheme avoiding victims being disadvantaged from accessing other methods of seeking compensation;
- The Redress should reflect both the harm caused and the wrongdoing of the Church by providing financial compensation, support and an apology where possible;
- The scheme should not reinforce the trauma of the abuse, nor should it be hindered by the structure of the Church;
- Redress should form part of the Church’s pastoral responsibilities.
The Roman Catholic Church was also criticised for its attitude to redress. This involved comments by members of the Church about victims of the abuse who were seeking redress, making suggestions that the victims were motivated by money. One of the allegations was raised by a victim and survivor of child sexual abuse, Mark Murray, who stated that he was accused of being a ‘money grabber’ by a member of the Italian Province of the Comboni Order.
The advice and regulations set out within the Guidance for Catholic Church Organisations Responding to Complaints of Abuse (2007) was commented upon, and it was agreed that the advice was inconsistent when it came to apologies and it was explained that this was due to the complexities surrounding the involvement of insurers. New guidelines were allegedly being drafted at the time of the Inquiry however they have yet to be published.
Similarly to the recommendations set out within the Anglican report, it was advised also within the Roman Catholic report that the Church ought to ensure that sufficient financial compensation is given.Its’ use of ex gratia payments which are applied for from the charity’s funds, was considered. The Church was praised the actions of the Archdiocese of Birmingham who approached two victims to offer to review how the Church had responded to their case, and subsequently made further ex gratia payments as a result. was Again it was recommended that any redress should not reinforce the trauma for the victim.
Both the Anglican and the Roman Catholic churches will no doubt be considering what they now do to address the issues raised, bearing in mind that IICSA will comment substantially on redress and accountability in its final report. Regard will also no doubt be given to redress schemes in other jurisdictions.