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Gareth Fuller/PA
UK News

Inquiry finds Cardinal Vincent Nichols focused on Church reputation over welfare of children

by Cara Bentley

There have been over 130 allegations of child abuse since the 1930s within the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

The independent inquiry in child sexual abuse has been investigating the response to allegations surrounding four priests and announced on Thursday that the Church, more than once, did not inform police of allegations, moved priests to new parishes and failed to take appropriate action.

It said 78 of the perpetrators are now dead but made conclusions about the handling of their cases by others.

The inquiry has found that Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who is now the Archbishop of Westminster but was the Archbishop of Birmingham between 2000-2009, focused too much on the reputation of the Church rather than the welfare of children.

Once example explained that Cardinal Nichols was "misplaced and missed the point" when he criticised the BBC in 2003 for tracking down and approaching James Robinson, one of the abusive priests, around the silver jubilee of the Pope. At the time, he criticised them and accused them of anti-Catholic bias.

James Robinson was moved to a different parish when allegations were made against him and was then helped to flee to the US to avoid persecution for years, where journalists tracked him down.

The report said "Whilst Archbishop Nichol's response to the broadcasting of 'Kenyon confronts' did acknowledge the damage done to those who had been abused, it focused overwhelmingly on the tactics employed by the programme makers and the Popes silver jubilee. This response was misplaced and missed the point. The focus should have been on recognising the harm caused to the complainants and victims. Instead the Archbishop's reaction led many to think that Church was still more concerned with protecting itself than the protection of children".

The report, significantly, also found that the archdiocese is still falling short of its safeguarding arrangements today, saying in 2018 there was a "lack of supervision of the safeguarding team...the case management systems were inadequate" and that the Archdiocese "must professionalism both the way the safeguarding team operates and the way the team is managed and overseen".

Premier has contacted Cardinal Vincent Nichols and is waiting for a response.

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