The most senior Catholic in England and Wales was accused of “seemingly” putting the image of the church above victims. Cardinal Nichols was also condemned for a “lack of understanding” of the impact of abuse on survivors. The criticism came in a damning report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse following hearings last year.
It said: “As a senior leader and the figurehead for the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Catholics look to Cardinal Nichols to lead by example.
“It is difficult to exercise good leadership if you engage in bad practice.”
The report also found the Cardinal demonstrated “no acknowledgement of any personal responsibility to lead or influence change”.
Richard Scorer, a lawyer representing child abuse survivors at the inquiry, said yesterday: “This is an absolutely damning report.
“It highlights the shocking scale of abuse, the disgraceful slowness of the church’s response and the abject failures of leadership by Cardinal Nichols.
“Cardinal Nichols needs to go right away. In any other walk of life he would be gone immediately.
“This is a church that cannot be trusted to protect children.” Yesterday, Cardinal Nichols revealed he had recently offered his resignation to Pope Francis – but on the grounds of age and not the criticism of his handling of abuse allegations.
He said: “I was 75 very recently. A few weeks ago, as according to the law of the Church, I sent my resignation into Pope Francis and I have received a very unequivocal reply, and that is that he tells me to stay in office here.
“So that is what I will do, that is where my orders come from. I’m staying.”
Asked if he is the right man to lead he said: “I do what I’m told.
The Holy Father put me here and he tells me to stay here, that’s enough for me. I’m not here to defend myself. I’m here to say we accept this report.”