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Church in Britain receives 150 sex abuse complaints

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has published a report that indicates nearly 150 complaints have been made against priests and church workers since guidlines were introduced 18 months ago.

The figures do not account for unreported incidents of sex abuse. They reveal that an average of four priests each year have been convicted of sexual abuse.

The report's authors suggest the figures vindicate the Church's policy of greater accountability, following prosecutions of priests in Britain and accusations of paedophilia that have been made against the church in many countries.

The Guardian newspaper says that it is thought that more than 1000 people have contacted the church's child protection office since it was set up in 2001, though only a minority have raised accusations.

The Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults' was set up in the wake of the report by a committee headed by Lord Nolan that recommended each parish should appoint a child protection officer, and that each diocese should have full-time staff recording complaints.

Meanwhile in Tasmania, an abuse victims group has accused the Church of responding to abuse claims with too little, too late.

ABC News reports that Survivors Confronting Child Abuse and Rape spokesman Steve Fisher has described Archbishop Adrian Doyle's response to claims as little more than damage control.

Mr Fisher says Archbishop Doyle has effectively ignored claims of child abuse in the church until they have been made public.

He said the Archbishop's recent pledge to review the handling of such claims within the church is a prelude to another allegation about to be publicised.

The Mercury today carries an article revealing that Monsignor Philip Green was allowed to continue as a parish priest for six months after admitting he had kissed and fondled a boy.

Archbishop Doyle, who conceded that the Church should have acted more quickly over the Monsignor Green case, has been resisting calls over the weekend to resign over his handling of sex abuse cases in Tasmania.

He said he would commit the Catholic Church to an inquiry into sex abuse in the Church in Tasmania if it were called.

The Church would continue to follow the guidelines set out in the Towards Healing document.

Church receives 150 sex abuse complaints (The Guardian)
Child abuse victims critical of church response (ABC)
Priest kept on despite abuse (The Mercury)

Catholic Child Protection Office launches First Annual Report (Catholic Communications Service, Catholic Church in England & Wales) | Text of Report
Nolan Review

Tasmanian archbishop backed on sex abuse stance (27/10/03)
Archdiocese of Hobart

28 Oct 2003