A Journal for The Contemporary Church

New and Back Issues

Giving People the Confidence to have Difficult Conversations


In my nearly 20 years of talking to fellow priests about safeguarding and child sex abuse, one statistic stands out. It is not the number of children affected, priests I have talked to or Roman Catholic meetings and conferences I have addressed. It is the number of responses I get to my standard request to my clergy audiences: raise your hand if you have never had a meaningful conversation about how to deal with child sex abuse. Without exception, in every group every priest raises a hand. For the great majority of Roman Catholic priests, and most likely for clergy of other faiths as well, child sex abuse is simply taboo, a difficult conversation best avoided – Lawrence Shulman’s ‘invisible sign’ seems to hang on the walls of our churches.