Controversy over Nichols remark


The new head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has courted controversy after describing members of the clergy who admitted abusing children in their care as courageous for facing up to their past.

Most Rev Vincent Nichols made his comments in an interview with British broadcaster ITV following the publication yesterday afternoon of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

“It’s very distressing and very disturbing and my heart goes out today first of all to those people who will find that their stories are now told in public... Secondly, I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts from their past which instinctively and quite naturally they’d rather not look at."

“That takes courage, and also we shouldn’t forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did.”

Dr Nichols, When asked if those who perpetrated violence and abuse should be held to account, he said: “Yes they should, no matter how long ago it happened.

“In this country now we have a very steady and reliable system of co-operation with police and social services who actually now hold us in good regard.

“They know that we are reliable and trustworthy partners. Those that abused the trust that was placed in them should be brought to public account.”

Dr Nichols was asked if clergy should face legal and police process.

“Yes, absolutely. If the offences are such that demand that.”

Asked why abuse seemed more prevalent in the Catholic Church than other faiths, he said: “Every time there is a single incident of abuse in the Catholic Church it is a scandal.

“And I’m glad it’s a scandal. I would be very worried if it wasn’t a scandal... I hope these things don’t happen again but I hope they’re never a matter of indifference.”