• Clerical Abuse and Laicisation: Rhetoric and Reality in the Catholic Church in England and Wales

      Gilligan, Philip A. (2012)
      Discussion of the declared policies of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, since 2001, with regard to the ongoing status of priests convicted in criminal courts of offences against children is presented. The extent to which these policies have followed recommendations 77 and 78 of A Programme for Action (Nolan, 2001a) and the extent to which they have resulted in the laicisation (removal from the clerical state) of priests are both explored, using national data and with reference to two particular cases from the Diocese of Salford. The potentially adverse impact on victims and survivors of any mismatch between the rhetoric of policy and the reality of practice by the Church is emphasised. Data presented demonstrate that, between November 2001 and September 2010, a majority (64%) of relevantly convicted and sentenced priests had not been laicised as would be expected. Suggestion is made that the Church is inhibited in carrying out its declared policies because it is attempting to serve legitimacy communities beyond victims and survivors of clerical abuse. Full commitment to the paramountcy principle by the Church and genuinely independent external scrutiny of its relevant decision-making processes are recommended.