Churchgoers should take Roman Catholic priests to watch football matches or invite them for a glass of wine to stop them becoming emotionally “isolated” and turning into paedophiles, the Church’s child protection chief has suggested.
Baroness Scotland, chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission for England and Wales, said the fact that some priests lived “a fairly lonely existence” may have been a factor contributing to the sexual abuse scandal.
Her comments came as figures showed that the number of victims alleging they were abused by Catholic priests and other members of the religious community had doubled in a year.
The commission welcomed the rise as a sign that victims felt more comfortable coming forward to report their cases, partly as a result of last year’s visit to Britain by Pope Benedict XVI, who met abuse survivors.
Baroness Scotland, a former Labour minister, said she wanted the issue of abuse, including sexual attacks and violence against both children and vulnerable adults, to be openly discussed in church groups across the country.
Priests may also need more support, she said.
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