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A response from the Faith Communities Forum of the Inter Faith Network for the UK to the publication of the IICSA report ‘Child protection in religious organisations and settings’

“The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published a report addressing abuse and safeguarding in a number of different faith communities.  This follows earlier reports by it on the Church of England and the Catholic Church.

At the heart of our different faith traditions are core values such as compassion and justice.  The IICSA reports highlight how badly short of the mark the organisational actions and processes of many of our communities have at times been in relation to these – in some cases across decades – with resulting appalling trauma and damage to survivors.  Those communities and organisations where this has happened have been responding individually, expressing deep regret and outlining planned actions.

As faith communities we condemn in the strongest terms such abuse. We are strongly committed to make a reality of our values - to strengthening our protection for the vulnerable and potentially vulnerable; to supporting and assisting those who have come forward because of what they have experienced or on behalf of others; and also to appropriate care for handling of allegations.

The IICSA process, and other processes relating to sexual abuse, have had the consequence of faith communities working even more closely together for the wellbeing of their communities and the wider community. For example, IFN’s Faith Communities Forum has discussed on a number of occasions in recent years the question of how faith communities can improve their safeguarding measures and ensure a safe and secure environment for their members and others.  We have shared our knowledge and received helpful advice from bodies such as SCIE and Strengthening Faith Institutions. We acknowledge those organisations that have already implemented robust procedures.

We must continue to use this mutual learning to ensure that all our faith leaders and lay leaders are trained, aware, and committed to best practice; and all our community places are safe places for the young and for any who are vulnerable or potentially vulnerable.”

6 October 2021

NOTES

  1. Media queries to the Inter Faith Network: email ifnet@interfaith.org.uk.
  2. The Inter Faith Network for the UK www.interfaith.org.uk was founded in 1987 to advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Britain and to promote good relations between people of different faiths in this country. It works with its member bodies and others to carry out these aims.
  3. Member bodies of the Inter Faith Network include: national faith community representative bodies; national, regional and local inter faith bodies; and academic institutions and educational bodies concerned with inter faith issues. A list of member bodies can be found at www.interfaith.org.uk/members.
  4. IFN member National Faith Community Representative Bodies meet together as the Faith Communities Forum of IFN.  This statement has been issued following the Forum’s first meeting (5 October) since publication of the IICSA report on 2 September.
  5. This statement can be found at http://interfaith.org.uk/resources/statements-and-messages and a copy of IFN’s statement making policy at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/Policy_on_making_of_statements.pdf.
  6. The IICSA report can be found at https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/26895/view/child-protection-religious-organisations-settings-investigation-report-september-2021.pdf.

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