Nazir Afzal & The Poisoned Chalice

GUEST BLOG. Anon and other survivors, myself included, are increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress and answers to outstanding issues, like Cardinal Nichols’ promise at IICSA which has not been acted upon. My own view is that the Church is not investing in its Safeguarding Officers. Two important figures who we’ve interacted with only work three days a month. Nazir Afzal, also, is only working part time as Chair.  Also three days a month, So I see these part time jobs, albeit by well meaning, genuine and sincere people, as window dressing by the Church, obscuring the serious lack of action and investment.

I, like other activists, must spend far more than three days a month collating, responding to, and publishing important testimonies, which I’m very happy to do. I need to do it.  But that puts it in perspective. The task of Safeguarding surely requires more full time staff.

So here’s Anon’s view below which I wholeheartedly agree with.

Nazir Afzal & The Poisoned Chalice

The Reality behind the Rhetoric of Roman Catholic Safeguarding Today

Nazir Afzal’s acceptance of the post of Chair of The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency inspired a heartfelt sigh of relief from Roman Catholic parishioners, clergy, victims and survivors of abuse and their allies.

The potential was, that after forty years of unmet promises, avoidance, victim blaming & cruel indifference – the Catholic church in England & Wales would stop mistreating the human beings that their clergy sexually abused in childhood. Here was a leader that could be trusted. Sadly, that hope turned out to be a *disappointingly damp* squib. While, Nazir Afzal OBE is indeed now the (3 days a month) chair, he seems to have minimal autonomous authority. He is required to offer up recommendations to Cardinal Nichols for decision making, who arguably should have resigned years ago for his own mishandling of survivors.   

Within the last 3 months, the *brand new* CSSA “doing things differently” have done a lot of things “exactly the same.” Survivors have been exhausted by the agency’s avoidance to provide answers to simple questions and disrespected by unprofessional reception and insulting incompetency. Asked to prove his authenticity by releasing all victims of Roman Catholic abuse silenced by non-disclosure agreements, Nazir is unresponsive.  The Unfinished business of the Catholics are not being addressed by Nazir. Cardinal Nichols promised under oath at IICSA to find out who leaked a survivor’s intimate, confidential information. Neither Nichols nor Nazir have said anything.

When such integral issues are being swept under the carpet, and so much evidence is accumulating about current avoidance – let’s face it – the safety of Roman Catholic children and vulnerable adults is likely to be dangerously compromised. If the regulatory body cannot lead by example, those they advise will just pick up bad habits.

Professor Davis of the Cadbury Centre for Public Understanding of Religion in his letter to the Tablet warned of the The Maze of Pain that survivors experienced recently in their contact with safeguarding personnel.

One admirable, determined survivor recently won a settlement for the way she was mistreated by Catholic safeguarding. A subject access request revealed Safeguarding personnel bitching behind her back, essentially, describing her as needy & manipulative with whom they were “playing the good practice card.”

Those individuals still hold posts in Catholic Safeguarding – so human resources standards are evidently so low they are in the gutter.  

3000 victims of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy et al contacted IICSA. Each and every one will have their story of mistreatment by Catholic Safeguarding and files of documents evidencing that. Each one is likely to be quite curious right now about what was being said behind their backs too. The full scale of the mistreatment of survivors by catholic safeguarding is colossal.

Catholic Safeguarding personnel with appalling track records are still in post across England & Wales.  If Nazir Afzal OBE does not address the barrel of bad apples, he’s going to end up with a stinky mess on his hands.

Will his reputation survive?  

Safeguarding campaigners are twittering about it.

Pat Mills, as usual sums it up with cut to the chase vigour.  

“I see Nazir as a failed symbol of hope, and the sooner we all realise we’re wasting our time in thinking he can lobby for or lead major changes, the sooner we can all move on. He has limited power and extremely limited time and he cannot come close to what abuse lawyer Richard Scorer described as a ‘fundamental reset’ being needed for the Catholic Church’s dealing with abuse.”

Amen. Anon.

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