Friday, November 04, 2016

Church abuse survivors say they continue to be ignored of sexual abuse at Catholic churches and institutions say they continue to be ignored by Bishops who once pledged to involve them in reforms.

Alan Draper, of the In Care Abuse Survivors group (INCAS), said that many of the 400 people represented by the organisation were still waiting to be approached by the church and had been offered no compensation for the abuse they suffered at the hands of priests, staff and teachers. 

Mr Draper spoke out after the church came in for criticism from Dr Andrew McLellan, who chaired a commission charged with investigating Catholic abuse after a series of scandals. 

Dr McLellan, a former Kirk minister and Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland, said earlier this week that the church had failed to deliver on its promises to act on the commission's recommendations, which included delivering progress reports, contacting survivors and acting transparently. 

Mr Draper said that the Catholic Church's public position had been that the survivors were the experts on what had happened to them, and that they would be listened to. 

However, he accused it of a second cover up, after ignoring the scale of the abuse for years. 

He said: "The statement was that survivors are the experts who should be used by the Catholic Church, but at no stage were we intended to be involved. 

"What we want to know is what happened and why did it happen? Apologies are nice but they must be followed up by action. As it is, they do nothing for the very people who suffered. 

"What we would ask is that they involve us. We have not been approached, and I know of no attempt to do so. The Catholic Church continue to cover up the whole process." 

Dave Sharp, who chained himself to a cross during a 12-day vigil outside St Andrew's Cathedral, was raped and sexually assaulted by a Christian brother at St Ninian’s residential school, in Fife. 

He said that he fully backed Dr McLellan's comments, which echoed his own experiences with church authorities. 

Mr Sharp said: "The Catholic Church are not interested in survivors. During my vigil forty of fifty people came forward with their own stories of abuse, and none of them have been spoken to by the Church. There has been no engagement and little transparency." 

A children's charity has also called on the catholic Church in Scotland to be more open with survivors in the wake of the criticism, saying that it was important that those who suffered abuse were listened to. 

An NSPCC Scotland spokesman said: “We know that the impact of child sexual abuse can be devastating and last a lifetime but also that there are many barriers which stop children and adults coming forward when they have been victims. 

“When survivors do take the incredibly brave and painful step of coming forward, it is vital that they can have confidence that they will be taken seriously and action will be taken.” 

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: "There is no single organisation which represents survivors and it would be inaccurate to suggest they all have the same needs. The Church is engaging and will continue to engage with survivors." 

He added: "We have now had a national counselling service running for a year. It is free and open to all survivors and very easily accessible, and will provide support to anyone who asks.
"Throughout this process the Church has continued to seek best practice in all of the support work it does."

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