Diocesan Safeguarding Day, 2021
Letter from Archbishop Farrell
Sunday, 26 September, is Diocesan Safeguarding Day. This year our focus is on
safeguarding in a time of pandemic.
Our Safeguarding Day poster, which is available to download on
www.csps.dublindiocese.ie draws attention to some of the ways we have tried to
protect each other during this time: by observing social distancing guidelines; by
wearing face masks; by caring for the poor as we see two people putting together
hampers for distribution to poor families at Christmas. When we refer to
safeguarding we think of the steps we take to protect children and vulnerable
adults from abuse. Our recent experiences of Covid-19 remind us that this is not
something new or alien. The terminology may be different, but the activity of
protecting the young and the vulnerable has always been central to who we are
as a Christian community.
While the term ‘vulnerable adult’ has a particular meaning within our policies and
guidelines, we have all learned a little bit more about what it means to be
vulnerable during this time. We have been vulnerable to illness, to the loneliness
that goes with social isolation, and to poverty as traditional sources of income dry
up. We have experienced this at diocesan level through the very painful experience
of letting go of some of our much loved and valued colleagues. We have had to
make do with less. However, that opens up fresh challenges and opportunities as
we learn to share with each other, across parishes and across dioceses, our time
and our expertise in the work of safeguarding.
There have been some changes over the past year. Safeguarding training has
been delivered via Zoom, though it is hoped that people will be able to attend
training in person again sometime in 2022. The National Vetting Bureau have
limited the number of roles for which vetting can be obtained. We, along with
others who work with children and vulnerable persons, have appealed against
what we consider an overly restrictive interpretation of the legislation. While we
await the outcome of a review of the vetting legislation, we must not allow this to
weaken our safeguarding practices. We need to explore other means to ensure
that those who minister in our parishes do not represent a threat to the safety of
children and vulnerable adults. All this is a reminder that there is never just one
way of doing things. If one door is closed to us, we must open another.
Some things have changed, but others remain the same. In 2015, Pope Francis
told us that: “Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to
protect their children. They should also know that they have every right to turn
to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home”. Our
safeguarding practices may have to change to adapt to new circumstances. Our
commitment to make the Church in Dublin a safe and secure home for children
and vulnerable adults remains undiminished.
I ask you to remember in your prayers all those who have suffered abuse.
+ Dermot Farrell