The Catholic bishops of England and Wales are seeking to appoint a Chair and Non Executive Directors to a new safeguarding agency.

The appointments will mean that the bishops will be able to deliver the fully-functioning Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) within the six months originally envisaged by the Catholic Safeguarding Project.

The agency has been created amid wide-ranging reforms to safeguarding structures within the Church following the recommendations in November by the Elliott Review (see below), with the aim of establishing the highest possible standards.

The agency replaces separate existing structures with a single body with greater regulatory powers across the Catholic Church of England and Wales, extending to all dioceses and associated religious bodies.

It has been established as a trading company with independence in its day-to-day operation under the responsibility of a management board and with the powers to ensure that each Church body partnered with the agency is complying with published standards.

The agency is now ready to appoint its first Chair of the Board and a number of Non Executive Directors from a diverse range of backgrounds.

The Chair will provide effective leadership and management to the board of the CSSA, and will have responsibility for the governance and strategic direction of the agency.

He or she will work constructively with the chief executive, the board, the Catholic Church, survivor groups and wider stakeholders to ensure that its objectives are fully achieved.

The Non-Executive Directors of the Board will share responsibility for ensuring the long-term success of the agency. They will have oversight of its financial and operational management,  and its sustainability and will contribute to planning and implementing its future strategic direction.

Applications should be submitted by March 18.

The Most Rev. Malcolm McMahon, the Archbishop of Liverpool and VicePresident of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “A significant milestone has been reached in reforming safeguarding structure, as the process of recruiting a Chair and directors begins. Transparency and accountability will come from having an appropriately skilled and experienced Board at the CSSA, and I am delighted that we are now at the stage of seeking to appoint people to those roles.”

Carol Lawrence, Project Implementation Director, said: “This is a major development in the project to put in place the new safeguarding structures in England and Wales. Working closely with victims and survivors, the external recruitment of a chair and directors is a significant commitment to drive meaningful change in safeguarding in the Church.”

The bishops in November accepted all the recommendations made by the Elliott Review, a “root-and-branch” examination of safeguarding in the Catholic Church, and wish to adopt them without delay.

In January, the bishops invited Carol Lawrence, the Financial Director of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, to take up the six-month post of Project Implementation Director with immediate effect to ensure all of the improvements are fully and swiftly implemented.

Mrs Lawrence sat on the panel of the Elliott Review and was a key member of the team that devised the proposed changes.

Soon afterwards, the bishops appointed Dr Edward Morgan, a barrister and an internationally respected expert in The Code of Canon Law, to oversee the establishment of a National Tribunal Service as part of wide-ranging development of safeguarding structures and processes in the Church.

The National Tribunal Service will deal principally with regulatory cases, including clergy discipline. Providing a centralised process of adjudication, it will seek to address concerns of interested parties with enhanced transparency and due process.

The establishment of the National Tribunal Service is part of a suite of measures which will see the transfer from existing structures and the creation of the single Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency with the power to enforce uniformly high standards of protection.

The bishops are adopting a “One Church” strategy which will place safeguarding in a comprehensive model covering religious institutions and other areas of ecclesial life as well as diocesan parishes and schools and other settings.

Fr David Smolira SJ, a former Jesuit provincial, has been appointed as the Religious Lead for overseeing the implementation of the new safeguarding structures on behalf of the Religious in England and Wales. His role has been established to ensure the needs of religious congregations are met as the new “standards-based” safeguarding structure is established.

The process of implementing the work of the Elliott Review will involve working closely with survivors, dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, safeguarding coordinators, the lay faithful and others to fulfill the recommendations made in the Elliott Review.

Appointment Brief

Catholic Safeguarding Project Website