NBSCCC chief praises Kilmore's progress on safeguardingTuesday, May 29th, 2012
Good leadership and a sound set of policies and procedures are, “essential ingredients,” for effective safeguarding, according to the Chief Executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC).
Ian Elliot was addressing the diocese of Kilmore’s annual safeguarding children conference at the diocesan pastoral centre in Cavan town. The conference was attended by 200 safeguarding representatives from the diocese’s 36 parishes and 95 churches across Co Cavan and parts of Leitrim, Fermanagh, Meath and Sligo.
The conference was also addressed by Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Gerry Lowry, HSE Child Care Manager for Cavan/Monaghan, and Superintendent James Coen of the Gardaí.
In his address, Ian Elliot paid tribute to Bishop O’Reilly’s support for the implementation of safeguarding policies and procedures and for ensuring that, “from the very top, sound safeguarding practice is prioritised.”
“Kilmore is one of a number of church authorities that have made really significant strides in recent years in terms of establishing effective safeguarding structures,” Mr Elliot told ciNews afterwards. He added, “I think children are safer in the Church today than they were previously, but there is no room for complacency.”
He explained to ciNews that, across the Church, in excess of 3,000 volunteers have been recruited, “who are part and parcel of the safeguarding structure that exists in the 26 dioceses and with the religious orders and congregations.”
Mr Elliot said it is, “very important that those people feel valued and appreciated and that they are encouraged and feel motivated to continue because, quite simply, without their input, the task of effectively safeguarding children in the Church would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for us given the level of resources that we have.”
In his address, Bishop Leo O’Reilly told the conference delegates, “I am committed to the objective that our work in safeguarding children will do everything possible to ensure that abuse within the Church can never happen again.”
He added, “I wish to assure young people and their parents and guardians that the Church in Kilmore is a safe environment for children.” The Bishop of Kilmore described ministry to children as, “central to our pastoral mission to spread the Good News of Jesus.”
He said, “A key element of this ministry is valuing and encouraging the participation of children in parish and diocesan activities.” Bishop O’Reilly said it had been the practice of the diocese to publish statistics concerning allegations of abuse on an annual basis and that he intended to do that again later this year.
In a reference to the failures of the Church in Kilmore in the past to protect children, notably the victims of paedophile, Fr Brendan Smyth, the Bishop said in his address that safeguarding structures and procedures came too late to protect many people who suffered abuse at the hands of priests and religious in the past.
“I once more express my profound sorrow and regret to those who have suffered abuse in the Church and thereby experienced a terrible betrayal of sacred trust. I am committed to the objective that our work in safeguarding children will do everything possible to ensure that abuse within the Church can never happen again,” he said.
He described the diocese’s updated policy manual, Safeguarding Children in the Diocese of Kilmore, Policies and Procedures as a tangible expression of the commitment to safeguard children throughout the diocese and another important stage on the journey of ensuring that children and young people are safe when they take part in Church activities.
An updated newsletter with basic information and which is aimed at homes across the diocese was also launched. In a tribute the staff of the National Board for Safeguarding, Bishop O’Reilly said they have done, “tremendous work,” in a very short time and, “with limited resources.”
The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland was established in 2006 to provide advice on best practice in safeguarding children in the Church across both jurisdictions of Ireland. In 2009, the NBSCCCI developed seven standards that represent the expected level of performance that all parts of the Church should reach.
According to Bishop O’Reilly, meeting these seven standards will protect children by ensuring that they are in a safe environment and minimising risk of abuse to them; they will protect Church personnel by clarifying how they are expected to behave with children and what to do if there are allegations and suspicions about the safety of a child; and they will protect the integrity of the Church.
By Sarah Mac Donald