Scotland’s most senior Catholic Archbishop, Philip Tartaglia, has apologised to survivors of abuse within the church in Scotland following the publication of an independent review of its handling of allegations.
A commission led by the Very Rev Andrew McLellan called for the church to make an ‘’unmistakeable and unequivocal’’ apology and said support for survivors of abuse must be its ‘’absolute priority’’.
Archbishop Tartaglia, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, issued the apology in his homily during a mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow on Tuesday afternoon.
He said: “As the president of the Bishops’ Conference, and on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, I want to offer a profound apology to all those who have been harmed and who have suffered in any way as a result of actions by anyone within the Catholic Church.
“Child abuse is a horrific crime. That this abuse should have been carried out within the Church, and by priests and religious, takes that abuse to another level.
“Such actions are inexcusable and intolerable. The harm the perpetrators of abuse have caused is first and foremost to their victims, but it extends far beyond them, to their families and friends, as well as to the church and wider society.”
The Archbishop said the actions of perpetrators of abuse were “criminal and sinful”.
He added: “I would like to assure the survivors of abuse that the Catholic Bishops of Scotland are shamed and pained by what you have suffered. We say sorry. We ask forgiveness.
“We apologise also to those who have found the Church’s response slow, unsympathetic or uncaring and reach out to them as we take up the recommendations of the McLellan Commission.
“We recognise the trauma and pain that victims and survivors of abuse have suffered and we are committed to providing for them both justice and healing.”
The Archbishop said the report gave the Catholic Church in Scotland “a vision and a programme” to strengthen safeguarding and respond to the needs of survivors.
He said: “The Bishops of Scotland, I’m glad to say, have agreed unanimously to accept the report’s recommendations in full.
“We will act on every recommendation and redouble our efforts to ensure that safeguarding standards are as high as possible.”