7 Nov 2011
Monks are to be stripped of their role in running a leading London Catholic school in the wake of a sex abuse scandal, an official report is due to reveal.
Ealing Abbey, which has run the neighbouring St Benedict’s school for more than 100 years, is expected to lose this position in an overhaul of the school’s governing body designed to prevent future abuse.
The plan, which means that St Benedict’s will become fully independent, is understood to be the key recommendation of a report carried out for the school by leading QC Lord Carlile of Berriew that will be published on Wednesday.
It follows a paedophile scandal that led to the conviction of Father David Pearce, an Ealing Abbey priest and former head of St Benedict’s junior school, and allegations against others from the Abbey.
One other senior figure there, Father Laurence Soper, the former abbot, is on the run after failing to return from Rome to answer bail imposed over potential child abuse offences.
Lord Carlile’s report, which the peer will unveil alongside the head of St Benedict’s, Christopher Cleugh, was commissioned by the Abbey to examine how to improve child protection.
The report follows the recent disclosure that the Vatican is examining the conduct of teachers and monks at St Benedict’s and Ealing Abbey.
An apostolic visitation, led by two senior church officials, was ordered by the influential Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome in response to increasing evidence about the scale of the abuse scandal, which dates from 2009 back as far as the Sixties or earlier.
In addition to the prosecution of Father Pearce and the investigation into Father Soper, police also probing the conduct of three other former teachers, two of whom were clergymen, after further abuse claims.