The Catholic Safeguarding Project is the delivery of wide-ranging reforms to safeguarding structures and processes in the Church in England and Wales. In 2019, the Catholic Bishops Conference commissioned Ian Elliott to undertake a ‘root and branch’ review of safeguarding structures and procedures. This was the first such review in a number of years since the Nolan Report in 2001 and then Cumberledge Commission in 2007.
This project is to deliver the recommendations of the Elliott Review.
Over the last twenty years there has been increasing professionalisation of safeguarding in Dioceses and Religious Life Groups, and there is much that is positive and effective in safeguarding in the Catholic Church particularly at grass roots level. However the landscape of safeguarding continues to mature and there remains work to be done in improving safeguarding in the Church. Bishops and leaders of Religious Life Groups are committed to making those improvements, particularly in responding to incidents and disclosures and listening to the wisdom of survivors. This led in 2019 to the Bishops in England and Wales commissioning Ian Elliott, an internationally renowned expert in this area, to review exisiting structures focussing on six key elements namely, the safeguarding infrastructure and organisation, alignment of Dioceses and Religious Life Groups, accountability, training, policy and procedures and financial arrangements. The Bishops received his report in November 2020 and have accepted in full the recommendations which this project seeks to put in place.
In November 2020, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its report into the Roman Catholic Church. The report was heavily critical of the Church, in how allegations had been handled, at the lack of improvements in some areas, and at how survivors had been considered and responded to. IISCA has made seven recommendations around leadership, training, compliance, external auditing, Canon Law, training, policy and procedure, compliance and auditing. The Bishops and Religious Life Groups have accepted the recommendations and are currently acting on them either through the Elliott Review or through separate work.
The Elliott Review has made fifteen recommendations across three major areas, namely
The creation of a Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency, which sets the standards for safeguarding within the Catholic Church.
Create a dedicated resource for Religious Life Groups (more formally referred to as Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life), bringing an end to the current alignment arrangements for Religious Life Groups
Creation of a National Tribunal Service to address Canon Law matters connected to clergy discipline and Canonical Offences.
The Elliott Review Recommendations incorporate five of the seven IICSA recommendations, with the remaining two happening alongside but not within this project.