Safeguarding: Fr William MacCurtain

The Jesuits in Britain have issued the following statement concerning an historic allegation of abuse in South Africa by one of their members:

The British Province of the Society of Jesus is aware of the case involving Fr William MacCurtain. The case, which dates back to the late 1980s, was only reported to the Jesuits in Britain for the first time in 2001 Fr MacCurtain had already returned to the UK in 1990.

Fr MacCurtain was informed of the allegations by the British Provincial and immediately withdrawn from all active ministry. He has never ministered again. Steps have been taken to ensure that at no time since his withdrawal from ministry has he posed any safeguarding risk to children.

An investigation was carried out by the British Province of the Society of Jesus because Fr MacCurtain is a member of this Province and it has jurisdiction over him. A local lawyer met with the complainant and his lawyers at the time in Johannesburg. The diocesan authorities were verbally notified of the case. It was agreed that those responsible for him must deal with the case.

The Society of Jesus in Britain is currently aware of an ongoing investigation by the police in South Africa. Working with the Society of Jesus in South Africa we have been in contact with the complainant and his lawyers. Whilst the police investigation continues we do not wish to take any steps which might prejudice that investigation, but we have engaged with the complainant’s lawyers to focus upon his immediate psychological needs.

The Society of Jesus in Britain has a strict no-tolerance policy to child abuse. It continues to do everything possible to protect children and vulnerable adults and cooperates fully with any safeguarding investigation. We also take very seriously our responsibility to support victims of abuse and to do everything possible to assist their healing.

The Society of Jesus in South Africa adheres to the protocols laid out by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference for all Jesuits ministering in South Africa.

For further information on this matter contact Fr Paul Nicholson SJ at socius@jesuit.org.uk.