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Welcome! To ‘Stolen Lives’


Stolen Lives is for all of us.

Anyone who wants to contribute to making the Church a safe, inclusive and just Church.

Anyone who wants to understand more about the abuse of power and the process of cover-up in the Catholic Church.

Anyone who wants to appreciate the life-long impact of clerical sexual violence and other forms of abuse on victims and survivors.

Anyone who wants to break through the silence barrier that surrounds sexual and other forms of abuse in the Catholic Church.


Shaking the Tree - Resources and Support

If you want to know more about our resources for those affected by church-related abuse see the documents below.

We pledge that all our resources will be available free of charge

to anyone who wishes to read or use them.


Our Maggie Mathews spoke powerfully at Bishop Stephen Wright's installation as 

Bishop in Hexham & Newcastle diocese, UK.

19th July 2023

Why was this important? 

The former bishop had resigned and an investigation into his time as Bishop, by the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Authority, found that his conduct had left children and young people at potential risk of harm. 

Maggie Mathews - Transcript

We urge you to read this report and start asking some challenging questions. It is all too believable. ‘The bishop placed the needs of himself and his associates over the safety of potentially vulnerable individuals. This was unacceptable and dangerous practice.’


Children and young people were put at potential risk of serious harm because, although the bishop’s conduct was known to be risky, effective action was not promptly taken.

The CSSA, funded by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, has reported a miserable catalogue of failures. However, it has no authority to enforce its far-reaching recommendations. 

Now it's down to the Bishops of England & Wales. Will they follow through on their website statement this week that ‘The Bishops’ Conference reiterates that safeguarding lies at the heart of the mission of the Church’? Please note that they don’t commit to implementing the recommendations, only to examining them.

We all need the courage to:

  • Read the executive summary                                 and the full report: 

  • Send it to all our friends and contacts and ask them to read it too.

  • Start asking difficult questions about the appointment and removal of bishops.

  • Raise it with every parish priest and pastoral council; copies available in church; piece in the newsletter with a link to the report.

  • Do it yourself if the priest refuses, and tell us. Give a link to the website and a plea to ‘read this report’ explaining why, to everyone leaving church.

  • Insist that survivors must be involved as equal partners in putting things right.

  • Make sure that your bishop knows your views.

  • Read and share our publication ‘It’s Our Church and it’s up to us!’.

The full statement from Root & Branch Stolen Lives

View and download our new Learning Resource (29 page pdf) and flyer (2 page pdf). 

Please circulate and post the flyer around your parishes and contacts.


Maggie Mathews transcript (pdf) - 

'It's our church and it's up to us' 

matters to survivors of clerical power abuse ...

'...the feeling of being seen, heard and valued, and appreciation of the time and effort that's gone into this resource gives me both hope and a sense of belonging. I look forward to seeing the results being used, to hearing feedback from it and I would be interested to see what kinds of discussions it provokes. Will it change minds and hearts? Will it change people's perceptions of victims & survivors in a positive way? Will clergy take the time to read and use it?'

'It might mean that survivors feel others in the church are actually bothered about what has happened to us. If ordinary people in the church spoke up, it would contrast massively with the silence and disbelief that we are used to.'

Anchor 1

Our resources:


We pledge that all our resources will be available free of charge to anyone who wishes to read or use them.


Stolen Lives - a series of five survivor-led talks on abuse of power and it’s cover-up in the church.

A learning resource, ‘Telling the Stories that need to be told’, which is based around Survivor’s Stories

and the five talks in the Stolen Lives series.


In partnership with the

Scottish Laity Network, Survivor Voices/Loud Fence -

Reclaiming Stolen Lives -

two talks focused on actions that we can take

to break through the silence and avoidance

surrounding abuse and contribute to change.

Resources for Support and Information


Summary - 


Detail -

These freely available and downloadable learning resource is for anyone who wants to  understand more about the abuse of power in the Catholic Church and its impact on victims and survivors. It's for anyone who wants to heal the horrendous, ongoing wounds – physical, spiritual, institutional, reputational - of clerical abuse.  


Full report here:-

View & download pdf here:

View & download pdf here:


Full report here:-

View & download pdf here:

View & download pdf here:

Root & Branch and Scottish Laity Network are deeply grateful to MACSAS (Ministry and Clerical Sexual Abuse Survivors) and Catholic Survivors

for supporting us and guiding our planning.


This powerful series seeks positive, lay-led and empowering outcomes to create

a safe and just church for all people, especially the most vulnerable.


Sadly there can be a huge distance between what we say we want and what we’re prepared to make happen. 


We hope that anyone who wants to contribute, in whatever way, to making the Church safe, inclusive and just will find that Stolen Lives helps them to understand the true scale of the issues involved.

We hope that you will draw inspiration from the courage of survivors and the deep thinking of our speakers and others.

Root & Branch and the Scottish Laity Network are very grateful to all our thought-provoking speakers for their permission to develop a learning resource based on their four talks. We would be honoured if people from other religions find it helpful in their own understanding of institutional abuse and its impact. 


Gerald Arbuckle SM, one of the people who inspired us to develop Stolen Lives and author of 'Abuse and Cover-Up, Refounding the Catholic Church in Trauma', (2019) told us  'It is unique. Nothing like it exists that so clearly articulates the tragedies that survivors have and are experiencing. Yet it is a document of hope. Readers are invited to journey personally and collectively to build a church in which these tragedies do not exist.'

“Heartbreakingly brave speakers.”


“Extraordinarily powerful, moving, courageous.”

"As a survivor I am so grateful to you."

Please catch up with our recordings below.

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