The work of safeguarding, child protection and case management is critical in any Diocese. The mission of evangelization and the participation of young people in our parish life and liturgies are predicated on good protocols, policies and procedures in these regards.
On becoming Bishop of Meath in September 2018, I had immediate contact with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) in relation to obtaining their advice and support. That support was forthcoming and was very much appreciated.
A few months later, as a new bishop, I invited the National Board to conduct a review of child protection and safeguarding in the Diocese. The purpose of that review was to identify to me areas that might need attention in becoming a model of best practice in this area. The last review of this diocese was in 2014 and a second round of diocesan and congregational reviews is now well underway. This review, conducted in October 2019, is the result of that invitation.
The Diocese was commended in relation to the safeguarding work in our parishes and at diocesan level. That is a tribute to those who were involved in the Diocesan Safeguarding Team since the last review in 2014 and to those who are and were involved in this vital work at parish level. I want to thank them for their work. This is an area that will continue to enjoy my full support.
All case management in the Diocese of Meath since 2018 is subject to the advice of the National Board’s case management committee but I want to acknowledge the time and work that Bishop Smith, the various Designated Liaison Persons ( DLPs) and the other members of the diocesan committee put into this work. It is a difficult task and their contribution was significant. In acknowledging their work, I also wish to express my appreciation for the confidence that the National Board has placed in me. I pray that it shall be justified.
The sad reality is that many lives have been destroyed by child abuse. When this happens in a Church context, it is a betrayal of all that we stand for and a denial of Christ’s ministry who came that all might have life and have it to the full. Since becoming bishop in Autumn 2018, I have met and engaged with survivors of clerical child abuse. These conversations are humbling and shocking.
I remain available to engage with survivors in the hope that healing will be found and that faith can, in some way, be restored.
Most Reverend Tom Deenihan
Bishop of Meath.