Jesus said: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ (John 8:12)
The Catholic Church has “a duty to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia – the service – of the truth” (Fides et Ratio, Pope St John Paul II, 1998).
The light of truth, revealed to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ, is the principle which must guide the expression of all authentic Christian communication. Indeed, truthfulness and transparency are vitally important for the integrity and trustworthiness of all forms of human communication. Sadly, in the Church as in society in general, this has all-too-often been lacking.
It is a cause for deep shame and regret that some members of the Church, especially clergy, religious and lay people entrusted with positions of leadership in the Church and its institutions, have on occasions failed to be faithful in their ‘service of the truth’. By this negligence they have also failed to defend and protect the innocent and most vulnerable amongst us. A combination of hubris and a misdirected desire to ‘protect the Church’s reputation’ has caused untold harm and suffering, all too often perpetrated or perpetuated by those in positions of the greatest trust.
It is the light of truth itself that has brought these past failures within the Church rightly into the open; failures for which I as a bishop feel profound sorrow and shame. My heart grieves especially for those within our own Diocesan Family whose lives have been devastated by abuse. This was not – and is not – Christ’s way. Truth and justice require that we shine a light into those dark places. What was once shrouded in secrecy, darkness and denial must now be communicated with clarity, courage and compassion.
The Diocese of Leeds Safeguarding Communications Plan is to set out how, within the Diocese of Leeds, we promise to care safely for others; how we will communicate our policies, our best practice, our guidance and our openness in providing safe, welcoming church environments; and how we will demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that the safeguarding of children, young people and adults at risk is at the heart of the Church’s mission.
Bishop of Leeds