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Contrasting Narratives on Responses to Victims and Survivors of Clerical Abuse in England and Wales: Challenges to Catholic Church Discourse

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 21 Issue: 6 Dated: November - December 2012 Pages: 414-426
Philip Gilligan
Date Published
December 2012
13 pages
Accounts of the Catholic Church's response to those disclosing sexual abuse by clergy to diocesan safeguarding commissions (formerly child protection commissions) in England and Wales are analyzed and compared.
The accounts given and the conclusions reached by the Church and those it employs or has commissioned are considered alongside the experiences reported by survivors. The contrasts between these narratives are discussed using techniques underpinned by critical discourse analysis and highlighting service user perspectives. Reports for the period to 2010 and published in 2011 by the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission and Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors are discussed in detail, with the resulting analysis of the narratives emerging arguably reflecting a broader discourse. It is suggested that, despite attempts to present the situation differently, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales continues to be hampered in its efforts to respond sensitively to the needs of those who have been abused, because, as an institution, it also continues to serve conflicting legitimacy communities, and that, as a result, it risks further alienating those victims and survivors who have been led to expect that their needs will be prioritized over the financial interests and reputation of the institution. Abstract published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons.