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Church in England and Wales to act on sexual abuse of children

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has pledged to investigate all allegations of child abuse where no action was taken in the past.

The promise came as the Church published an independent inquiry into paedophile priests.

The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, said there was an "expectation" that records would be trawled through in a bid to pinpoint cases where child abusers have gone unpunished.

He said: "Something that I have tried to do is to create an expectation in the Church where people who believe that they have been abused come forward and say so."

Cases which were not on file but were in "people memories and in their hearts" would be "heard and listened to", he added.

The Archbishop was speaking at a press conference to launch the final report of the Nolan review on child protection in the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The committee of the Nolan inquiry - made up of four Catholics and six who are not - was set up a year ago by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster.

The Cardinal welcomed the final report as "clearly a thorough and comprehensive document.

"It is the aim of all of us that the Catholic Church in England and Wales will come to be seen as an example of best practice in the prevention of child abuse, and in responding to it," he said.

The 83 recommendations in the report include measures to make sure that both children and priests are seen but not heard when taking part in the sacrament of confession.

The move could mean the end of the old-fashioned confessional box and the introduction of glass screens to ensure visibility.

The Nolan Review
Bishops' Response