Bishop Brian appeals to abuse victims … help us to respond better
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am appealing to anyone who may have been affected by any kind of abuse at the hands of clergy or church officials … ‘tell us where we went wrong and how we can do better’.
The evil that is abuse has brought untold and life-long pain to victims and their families. It has brought shame and hurt to innocent faithful and clergy. Too often the response of the Church’s leaders was inadequate. People have lost trust in the Church which has prevented her from fulfilling Christ’s mission as she ought to have.
I can assure you that before I became your bishop, the Scottish bishops have been determined to both reach out to survivors of abuse and to make our safeguarding procedures as robust as possible. I share their determination. To ensure compliance with our commitments every Scottish diocese will be independently audited. Argyll and the Isles will be audited over three days in late April.
I welcome that the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) will conduct an external, independent review of our diocese.
The voice of survivors is central. Therefore, I want SCIE to hear from people with first-hand experience of how our diocese has responded to reports of abuse.
This is a genuine attempt to listen and learn. SCIE is a totally independent body. The diocese will have no role except to help to publicise that the audit is taking place, and that the external team want to hear directly from abuse survivors.
SCIE wants to hear from people with first-hand experience of how those in diocesan roles have responded to disclosures of abuse or sharing of concerns regarding clergy and others in Church-related roles, paid or voluntary.
While the audit will concentrate on the last 5 years, I recommend that anyone who has experience of how we have dealt with abuse claims should speak to SCIE staff directly. Nobody at any level in the Church will be told that they are taking part. What they tell SCIE will be confidential and will not be shared with the diocese except as part of an overall report which will absolutely not identify any individual.
When the work has been completed the diocese will publish the report and copies will be made available to survivors.
Anyone who may wish to report on their experience should contact SCIE directly, before April 23rd, by email at email@example.com or by phone on 07921 251614. SCIE will then get in touch to arrange a time to report to the auditors in a way that suits each individual.
Yours in Christ,