Safeguarding and the Catholic Church

The safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults is at the heart of the Church’s mission. There is no place in the Church, or indeed society, for abuse, a grievous crime which can affect people for their entire lives. 

Victims come first. This has not always been the case. The Church deeply regrets all instances of sexual abuse and the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults, and accepts that grave mistakes were made in the past. 

Today, the safeguarding of children and the vulnerable is a Church priority from the top down, and there will be no place to hide for offenders. 

In December 2013, Pope Francis, who has declared there should be ‘zero tolerance’ of abuse, established a Vatican commission on the protection of minors. In 2019, the Holy Father said that he wants to encourage and promote the Church’s commitment to protection and care “at every level — episcopal conferences, dioceses, institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life — to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults and to respond to their needs with fairness and mercy”. 

The Director of CSAS, Colette Limbrick, writes: ‘The Church’s approach to safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk has developed considerably since the publication of the Nolan Report in 2001. Safeguarding structures at national and local levels work to ensure that as safe an environment as possible is created for children and adults taking part in the life of the Church…However, there is no room for complacency and we must continue to improve; in particular we must ensure that the needs of the victims and survivors of abuse always come first and that we provide a more sensitive and pastoral response which truly places the needs of victim or survivor at the heart of our work.’ 


Reporting abuse

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, do not delay in contacting the police, using 999 if a child or adult is believed to be in immediate danger.

It is the policy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to report all allegations of abuse to statutory authorities, regardless of whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, or whether the accused person is living or deceased.

If you are in any role within the Catholic Church in England and Wales, you must refer allegations directly to the safeguarding office for your diocese or religious congregation, or directly to the Police.

If you are a member of the public, please refer allegations directly to the police and also to the safeguarding office in your diocese; (the relevant Diocesan safeguarding office can be located using the interactive map on the links page of the CSAS website – contact details will be shown when you click on the relevant area of the map). You can also contact CSAS by telephoning 020 7901 1920 or via email at

Diocese of Westminster Safeguarding Service