The McLellan Commission Report: Summary and Response from Archbishop Tartaglia

In the Report, the Commission set out 8 principal recommendations:

1. Support for the survivors of abuse must be an absolute priority for the Catholic Church in Scotland in the field of safeguarding. The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland should make a public apology to all survivors of abuse within the Church.

2. The “Awareness and Safety” manual should be completely revised or rewritten.

3. There must be some external scrutiny and independence in the safeguarding policies and practices of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

4. Effectiveness and improvement must be measured at every level of safeguarding in the Church.

5. A consistent approach to safeguarding is essential: consistent across different parts of Scotland and consistent across different parts of the Church.

6. Justice must be done, and justice must be seen to be done, for those who have been abused and for those against whom allegations of abuse are made.

7. The priority of undertaking regular high-quality training and continuous professional development in safeguarding must be understood and accepted by all those involved in safeguarding at every level.

8. The Catholic Church in Scotland must set out a theology of safeguarding which is coherent and compelling.

The full report is available here


Responding to the report and offering the Public Apology called for in its first recommendation, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said:

“As the President of the Bishops’ Conference, and on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, I want to offer a profound apology to all those who have been harmed and who have suffered in any way as a result of actions by anyone within the Catholic Church.

Child abuse is a horrific crime. That this abuse should have been carried out within the Church, and by priests and religious, takes that abuse to another level. Such actions are inexcusable and intolerable. The harm the perpetrators of abuse have caused is first and foremost to their victims, but it extends far beyond them, to their families and friends, as well as to the Church and wider society.

I would like to assure the survivors of abuse that the Catholic Bishops of Scotland are shamed and pained by what you have suffered. We say sorry. We ask forgiveness.

We apologise to those who have found the Church’s response slow, unsympathetic or uncaring and reach out to them as we take up the recommendations of the McLellan Commission.”

Commenting on the report, Bishop Joseph Toal, the Bishop responsible for Safeguarding said:

“In accepting fully the recommendations in this report, the Catholic Church in Scotland renews its commitment to protect and safeguard everyone in our parish communities. Our clergy and lay faithful are committed to on-going training and professional development and accept this is a priority for all those involved in Safeguarding at every level. We ask God’s blessing on the clergy and lay faithful who have special responsibilities in carrying out this essential service in our parishes and church organisations.”


Reacting to the Report, the Church’s National Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Mrs. Tina Campbell, said:

“The detailed and informed analysis of the McLellan Commission will be incorporated fully into the work being carried out by the Catholic Church in Scotland to develop and maintain Safeguarding standards, which will protect and defend all members of our Catholic community.”

“I acknowledge and thank the many volunteers who give generously of their time as Parish Safeguarding Coordinators, as well as Trainers and others whose work represents a huge commitment to ensuring the safety and welfare of everyone in the Church. I offer particular thanks to the Diocesan Advisers who have contributed significantly to ensuring that Safeguarding policies are implemented at a local level, while providing dedicated support and assistance above and beyond what is expected of them.”