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High Court rules Catholic Church liable over priests

The High Court has ruled the Catholic Church can be held liable for the wrongdoings of its priests.

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The judge held the Church "may be vicariously liable" for Father Baldwin's alleged wrongdoings

Mr Justice MacDuff gave a decision in favour of a woman, who claims she was sexually assaulted as a child by a priest of the Portsmouth Diocese.

The woman, now aged 47, alleges she was abused by the late Father Wilfred Baldwin at a Hampshire children's home.

The judge said the Portsmouth Diocese "may be vicariously liable" for Father Baldwin's alleged wrongdoings.

Lawyers for the claimant said it was the first time a court had been asked to rule on whether the "relationship between a Catholic priest and his bishop is akin to an employment relationship".

The NSPCC has welcomed the ruling and said it will look closely at the wider implications.

Professional relationship Jon Brown, from the children's charity, said: "All organisations that work with children have a clear responsibility to ensure their safety. Religious organisations are no different.

"This is a ruling in favour of children and rightly places the responsibility on the Church to ensure that they select and monitor priests carefully and have robust procedures in place to take steps to protect children when there are concerns."

The Church had claimed it could not be held vicariously responsible because there was no formal employment relationship with its priests.

But Mr Justice Macduff decided the professional relationship between a priest and his bishop was sufficiently close so as to impose responsibility.

TAGGED: ABUSE, LAW, VATICAN/ROMAN CATHOLICISM


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