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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Archbishop of Birmingham expresses remorse for ‘serious mistakes’ in clerical sex abuse cases

 

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham has apologised for clerical sex abuse in his archdiocese, admitting that “serious mistakes” have been made the past.

The apology came during hours of questioning during a hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse in London on Friday.

The Archdiocese of Birmingham was chosen as a “case study” by the inquiry to represent the entire Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Over five days, the inquiry heard shocking descriptions of the abuse of boys at the hands of priests and studied how the Church had dealt with them, discovering numerous failures.

Archbishop Longley, who has served in the diocese since 2010, told the inquiry: “I am deeply sorry. I apologise.

“I apologise to those survivors and those victims of abuse for what they have suffered with the archdiocese over the years.

“I am mindful of individual survivors and victims who have been present over these last five days and I am conscious that some of them are here with us today.

“I apologise to them and I would certainly wish to seek some way of lifting the burden. I know that apologies feel that they come too late and are inadequate and I accept that.”

“I believe that being here this week has been revealed some serious mistakes and I wish to learn from them,” he added.

“I can only say that I hope it’s not too late. I represent a Church whose message is that it’s never too late but that’s not for me to say in relation to victims and survivors of abuse.”

Archbishop Longley told the inquiry that while it was “impossible to rule out any danger in every circumstance” the archdiocese continued “to put in place the best practises in order to safeguard children and vulnerable adults”.

“I think there is still room for a lot of improvement,” he said. “I know that within this week there are two or three examples that I can think of that are mistakes – some of which have been acknowledged from which we can learn.

“I hope that the inquiry will, in its recommendations to the archdiocese, enable us to.”

He said that he had met abuse victims on several occasions, adding: “I learnt something of the trauma they had experienced and an insight into the way in which the circumstances of abuse had evolved.”

“My door is open to victims and survivors of abuse,” he said.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishp of Westminster, who served as Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000-2009, will give evidence to the inquiry on December 13.

The Cardinal is expected to be questioned over the way allegations of abuse against Fr John Tolkien, the son JRR Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, were handled by the archdiocese during his tenure.