The annual conference of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland took place in Tullamore, Co Offaly. The two-day conference was attended by 220 delegates from throughout Ireland, North and South, and included bishops, priests, members of religious congregations, safeguarding liaison personnel and voluntary parish representatives. In the opening address to the conference, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, spoke about recent developments in safeguarding standards in the Catholic Church.
He said: “It is now twenty years since the publication in 1996 of Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response. Ten years later, at their ad limina visit to Rome in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI set out for the Irish Bishops the principles by which to guide our efforts in safeguarding. He said:
‘In your continuing efforts to deal effectively with this problem, it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure the principles of justice are fully respected and, above all, to bring healing to the victims and all those affected by these egregious crimes’.”
Archbishop Martin continued, saying, “Shortly after this, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland began its work in preliminary mode, although it was not formally incorporated until 2008. The Board has helped to bring us a long way. Still, we recognise that when it comes to safeguarding we can never say we have arrived at the point where our work is done. We continue to learn from best practice which is always evolving; we remain open to new ways of going about our work, to learning from our mistakes, and to identifying and responding to new challenges and emerging risks. In short, we avoid complacency.
“When it comes to the protection of our little ones, and those who are most vulnerable, we want only the best, knowing that they are special in the eyes of God. Jesus said (Mark 9:37): ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’”