Review of Catholic Church in Scotland to hear from abuse victims

From BBC News:
Commission launch
Dr Andrew McLellan named the other commissioners and announced their remit

Victims of abuse within the Catholic Church in Scotland will speak to a special commission set up to look into the issue.

Andrew McLellan, a former Church of Scotland moderator, is leading an external review of how the Catholic Church handles allegations of abuse.

His recommendations will aim to make the Church “a safe place for all”.

He has named 11 commissioners who will assist him, including a senior police officer, a journalist and an MP.

Dr McLellan stressed the commission would not “investigate or adjudicate” on current or historical allegations.

However, he said it would “listen to the experience of survivors of harm and abuse” and use what it learns to “bring about material change”.

The review was announced last year following a series of scandals.

The Church faced allegations of abuse at a former Catholic boarding school, at Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands.

The former leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, stepped down earlier in the year after admitting sexual misconduct.

The McLellan Commission will look at the existing systems for dealing with allegations of abuse within the Church and make recommendations on how to improve them.

It will hear from experts and interested parties and take advice on best practice.

The review will also look at how the support available to victims can be improved.

It will consider wider aspects of culture and governance within the Church and examine how effective it is at promoting “safeguarding” as a core part of its life, work and teaching.

Joining Dr McLellan on the Commission are:

  • Ranald Mair (deputy chair), chief executive of Scottish Care
  • Bishop John Arnold, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Westminster
  • Malcolm Graham, Assistant Chief Constable, Police Scotland
  • Prof Nancy Loucks, chief executive of Families Outside and member of the Scottish government’s early years task force
  • Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, retired judge, and former Solicitor General for Scotland
  • Kathleen Marshall, former Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland
  • Sheena McDonald, journalist and broadcaster
  • Roisin McGoldrick, teaching fellow at Glasgow School of Social Work
  • Bishop Stephen Robson, Bishop of Dunkeld
  • Lindsay Roy, MP for Glenrothes
  • Danny Sullivan, chairman of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission
  • Dr David McAllister (secretary), former Assistant Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland

Dr McLellan said: “With the commissioners now in place we can begin to undertake the challenging task that will be the work of the commission.

“Of paramount concern is the contribution we can make to bringing about the best protection of many vulnerable children and adults.

“As well as setting up this commission, the Catholic Church in Scotland has also given a robust commitment to acting upon all of its findings and recommendations.

“This means that we have before us a significant opportunity to bring about material change.”

Report due

He added: “Today I emphasise my firm commitment to discovering the truth, and setting out unambiguous recommendations that can be taken forward by the Church to secure the safety and security of those that rightly expect it.”

The commissioners said details would be provided in due course of how victims, and others with an interest, can contact them.

Their final report is due to be delivered in the summer of 2015.

But Dr McLellan said if any areas of “immediate concern or action” arose during the course of the commission’s work, he would work with the Catholic Church to progress these “more urgently”.

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