A new web resource for Catholics experiencing domestic abuse has been launched by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales Domestic Abuse Working Group.
The aim of CEDAR (Catholics Experiencing Domestic Abuse Resources) is to create an environment within the Catholic community in which domestic abuse is understood and recognised as unacceptable and where appropriate responses are available.
The Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, David McGough said: "Domestic abuse is possibly the most widespread and yet most hidden form of abuse in society today and I know from many years experience as a parish priest that our own Catholic Community is no exception.
"From our point of view, the bishops of England and Wales, we are quite clear in our understanding as to why this resource is so necessary and the roots from which our concerns spring.
"First and foremost, domestic abuse is not tolerated because the inherent dignity of every individual is something that is rooted in nature. For those of faith there is a vision that each and every person is formed in the image and likeness of God. That image and likeness is to be cherished and safeguarded.
"The Church's teaching over many years is that the home is the place where that precious image is developed; is safeguarded. But in situations where that is not the case, we do first of all need to recognise that where abuse is occurring; we need to listen to the victims. Often it will be the parish priest who will be approached; that's not to say that the parish priest is the only person who could be approached; it could be the leader of any organisation or anyone in the parish who is a part of the community."
The CEDAR website is aimed at all those who serve in any capacity in the Church; it recognises that domestic abuse is not just between spouses but also impacts elderly people being cared for by family members. It features a range of existing resources as well as new resources developed specifically for this initiative. These include a series of podcasts, featuring, among others, Archbishop Bernard Longley, who affirms the Church's position on domestic abuse.
In addition to raising awareness about the CEDAR website - Elizabeth Davies, Marriage and Family Life Project Officer - would like to see the new CEDAR door stickers put up inside every church toilet door throughout England and Wales. The stickers highlight the new CEDAR website address and the National Domestic Abuse helpline number. She also hopes that parish volunteers will be equipped with the new CEDAR prayer cards which again highlight the Domestic Abuse helpline number and web resources.