Procedures for managing concerns, suspicions and allegations are set out in Resources 2 and 15 of the Standards and Guidance Document. For specific reference to canonical processes see page 87 and Appendix 1 below.

The Bishop/Congregational Leaders should advise the National Office for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church

  • that an allegation has been received
  • that it has been referred to the statutory authorities
  • and that a Church enquiry will commence.

The Church enquiry is simply initiated and then suspended, pending the outcome of the civil investigation. No church investigation should interfere with the civil inquiries, which takes precedence at this stage.

At every stage whether under civil or canon law, the respondent enjoys the presumption of innocence, and all appropriate steps shall be taken to protect his/her reputation.

The respondent will be offered an Adviser who will encourage him/her to obtain advice from both civil and canon lawyers. (see appendix 2). The Bishop/Congregational Leader should also engage canonical advice (see Appendix 1 )

The Bishop/Congregational Leader possess all the necessary powers to take measures to promote and ensure the safety and welfare of children. Among the actions necessary, during both a civil investigation and church enquiry, may be the requirement to restrict a respondent’s exercise of his/her office and/or sacred ministry and apostolate. A respondent may be asked to withdraw from a particular office and from other forms of sacred ministry and apostolate, including public celebration of the Mass and other Sacraments during the course of any civil as well as church/canonical investigation.

The respondent may also be required to cease from wearing clerical attire. There are two factors which will determine the Bishops/Congregational Leaders action in this regard: the credibility of the allegation and potential risk to children. Each case will have to be considered on its own merits, but the following procedure should be employed.


Interim Guidance- Leave from Sacred Ministry