Tuesday, 17 June 2008

New appeals process in child protection system

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0870.htm

Priests who say they have been wrongly accused of child abuse will be allowed a right of appeal against any alleged mistreatment by their bishops. The Catholic Church in England and Wales will introduce review panels in September to examine complaints made by priests who insist they are innocent but say they have been sacrificed to save their superiors. The measure was announced at a June 12 press conference in London. It was recommended after a review of child protection procedures last year. Bill Kilgallon, chairman of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, which oversees child protection for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said it was felt widely that another step in the process would improve the justice of it to all parties. We want to feel that the systems dealing with abuse are (as) robust as possible, he said. We want a system that is thorough in investigations and fair to all parties. Priests who have grievances against the way their cases have been handled by their bishops only have been able to complain directly to the pope. The new panels will consist of child protection professionals, canon lawyers and other specialists. They will examine how priests should be treated on the balance of probability that they are guilty or innocent of any wrongdoing after the statutory authorities and the Church have ruled on their cases. Any party directly involved in a complaint - the priest, the alleged victim or the bishop -could apply for a panel to revisit a case. The move is partly a concession to the growing number of priests who believe new child protection measures are loaded unjustly against them. Many believe the procedures brought in six years ago after several high-profile clerical abuse cases treat them as if they are guilty as soon as an accusation has been received.

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