LAUNCH OF DUBLIN DIOCESAN CHILD SAFEGUARDING AND PROTECTION POLICY AND PROCEDURES
Speaking Notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland
Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, 14th April 2011
The launch of the Dublin Diocesan Child Safeguarding and Protection Policy and Procedures document is not an isolated launch. It is part of a process, not the beginning of something new. This policy document has been the object of consultation for some time. It represents the policies that have been in place and have guided the actions of the diocese and it applies to the particular circumstances of the Archdiocese of Dublin the Standards and Guidelines documents of the National Office for the Safeguarding of Children within the Catholic Church in Ireland.
From this evening onwards we will be holding a series of meetings with representatives, clergy and laity, from all 199 parishes in the Archdiocese who have undergone training and indeed retraining in Child Safeguarding over the past few years.
The aim of this process is to heighten once again the awareness of all our parishes of the need to ensure that all our policies and norms are scrupulously observed. There is a natural temptation within human nature to relax awareness when nothing dramatic seems to be happening. This process of consultation is to ensure that we never allow slippage to permit us to be off guard.
This is process is about building on what we are already doing and continuing to do it well and indeed to do it better. That is why this afternoon it is not my intention to say very much. The point of this meeting is not to illustrate what the Archbishop of Dublin is doing; it is about a broad commitment which is taking place at all levels in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
The Murphy Report expressed concern that the implementation of good safeguarding policies within the Archdiocese might be over dependent on a small number of individuals. This afternoon I hope that you will learn about just how far our parishes and Church organizations across the diocese have taken wide ownership of these policies.
The Dublin Diocesan Child Protection Service was established by Cardinal Connell shortly before he left office. Its initial work was the difficult one of gathering together into one place all the documentation relative to cases of abuse of children by clergy and of ensuring that the norms then in place regarding the management of abuse cases were correctly applied in a coherent manner.
But child safeguarding is not just about the management of abuse cases. It is about creating an environment which facilitates and encourages the involvement of children and young people in the life of the Church by making parishes and agencies safer places for children. Child safeguarding in the Archdiocese is not just the job of the Archbishop or of the Director of Child Safeguarding. It is a matter for the entire Archdiocese and of every community within the Archdiocese.
It involves training leaders within every parish community. It involves education of every parish community. It involves creating a different way of understanding the nature of basic safeguarding procedures. Good child safeguarding policies enhance the ministry of the Church; good child safeguarding policies enhance the ministry of priests.
The Archdiocese of Dublin is not a stand alone diocese. There is no way our work can go forward separately from that of the National Office for the Safeguarding of Children within the Catholic Church. The work of the National Office in drawing up and continuing to work on Standards and Guidelines in Child Safeguarding is putting the Catholic Church in a vanguard position. Its work of monitoring how those standards and guidelines are being implemented is vital to ensure that standards are understood and applied in a uniform way. The National Office is not just a policing body, but a body which can help every diocese and every religious congregation to be sure that their application of norms and practices are the right ones. This is especially important for the Archdiocese of Dublin where in addition to our own diocesan priests there are over one hundred religious congregations present.
Child protection norms are not mathematical, clear cut formulae. They always involve some element of personal prudential judgement. As a bishop who has to make decisions and assume responsibility for my decisions, I know just how much I need the professional advice of my own Child Safeguarding Office, of the Diocesan Advisory Panel and of the oversight and help of the National Office. I appreciate the evolving and effective cooperation emerging – while fully respecting their specific competences – with the Health Service Executive and with An Garda Síochána. Hopefully, as time goes on these good arrangements can be given a stronger framework.
Our recent Liturgy of Lament and Repentance reminded me very dramatically of the on-going suffering of survivors and how that suffering was caused not just through the actions of their abuser but also through the action or inaction of Church authorities.
I mentioned in a talk in the United States recently how one victim constantly reminds me that the stern words of Jesus in Saint Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 18:6) about the “great millstone” to be fastened around the neck of anyone who becomes a stumbling block for the “little ones”, are quickly followed (Mt 18:12) by the teaching on the Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep to find the one who has been lost.
This victim reminds me that it is the lost child, the abused child, who should be the focal point of our attention. The Church should be actively seeking out victims to embrace them with the healing power of Jesus Christ. Certainly so many victims are left with the impression that they are at best being “dealt with” rather than being sought after and reached out to with priority care. Victims rarely feel that they are been given priority over the ninety-nine. There again rests a challenge for all of us in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
I wish to thank all those who have brought the Diocesan Child Safeguarding services to where they are at this moment, especially Phil Garland and Andrew Fagan the two first directors. I wish to thank especially all those in our parishes who work to ensure that we attain best practice in all our endeavours. Ends
The launch of the Dublin Diocesan document is not an isolated launch. It is part of a process, not the beginning of something new. This policy document has been the object of consultation for some time. It represents the policies that have been in place and have guided the actions of the diocese and it applies to the particular circumstances of the Archdiocese of Dublin the Standards and Guidelines documents of the National Office for the Safeguarding of Children within the Catholic Church in Ireland.