Vatican orders child abuse probe at British abbey

25th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Vatican has ordered an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at an abbey in London, the local diocese said Tuesday.

Certain monks and lay preachers at Ealing Abbey in west London have been linked to abuse dating from the 1960s to as recently as two years ago.

The apostolic visitation of high-level figures in the Catholic Church in England follows abuse scandals that have rocked the Church in Ireland, the United States, Germany and other countries in recent years.

A spokesman for the diocese of Westminster told AFP: "There clearly are concerns in the Vatican about what may or may not have happened at Ealing Abbey, and this is a chance to establish what happened for themselves."

In a statement, the diocese added: "The effective safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is a priority for the Catholic Church, and Ealing Abbey's safeguarding policies and procedures formed part of the remit of the Apostolic Visitation."

The panel, which visited the abbey last month, is led by Bishop John Arnold, an auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, and Father Richard Yeo, president of the English Benedictine Congregation.

A former abbott of Ealing Abbey, Father Laurence Soper, 81, is wanted by police after jumping bail before he could be charged with child abuse offences.

He is alleged to have carried out offences while teaching at St Benedict's school near the abbey.

Another teacher, Father David Pearce, was jailed for eight years, later cut to five at appeal, for abuse carried out from 1972 to 2007.

The Times newspaper, which revealed the scandal, said abusers at St Benedict's were allowed to leave the school and found new jobs elsewhere because no warning was given to their future employers.

© 2011 AFP

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