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Diocese of Westminster
UK News

Vincent Nichols acknowledges safeguarding criticism as he celebrates priests

by Cara Bentley

Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrated a National Mass of thanksgiving and renewal for priests at Westminster Cathedral on Friday lunchtime, welcoming everyone and then saying:

"In recent days, in the IICSA Report and in the media, there has been sharp criticism of our work of Safeguarding in the Catholic Church, and of aspects of my ministry in Birmingham. I acknowledge this, of course.  

"Yet this not the time nor place for those matters. Rather today is about you, my brother priests, about your faithfulness, your steadfast generosity, your ministry of healing, your endurance, not least under the burden of the grievous damage done to innocent victims by just a very few of our brother priests. I thank you for your faithfulness, your generosity, your perseverance. I thank you, as do each of us bishops, and the people of your parishes. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!"

He then moved on and did not refer to the topic again in his homily. 

In June, Cardinal Vincent Nicholls was criticised in the report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse for putting the reputation of the Church before welfare of children. 

He was the Archbishop of Birmingham between 2000 and 2009, the Archdiocese which was looked into thouroughly. 

Once example of Cardinal Nichols' behaviour was that the report found he 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 the broadcaster 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".

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