Posts Tagged australian bishops
With a sexual abuse record among the worst in the world, and an exhaustive and fair investigation completed by a Royal Commission that produced a clear set of recommendations, the international church ought to be looking to Australia for a way forward. All Australians, and particularly the Catholic community, should do what they can to shame and pressure the Australian bishops. The first step is to arise from their slumber. (The Sydney Moening Herald)
“Australian Catholics are being conned. After all the disgrace of the Royal Commission evidence and its specific and telling recommendations, the response effectively proposed by the Australian Bishops is to call a Plenary Council of the church in Australia in 2020-21. Australia’s Catholics seem to be meekly agreeing to what is an unconscionable delay and a fudge. In short, the bishops have us where they want us: corralled and quietened.
“In one sense, convening such a forum could be seen as innovative and consultative. Realistically, it downplays the magnitude and urgency of the issues that need to be addressed. Whether the agenda ultimately addresses the main reform issues raised by the Royal Commission is a moot point. Such forums in the Australian church have a habit of being lead down paths that produce platitudinous outcomes and avoid the contentious. More significantly it is openly acknowledged that there is considerable doubt and dispute as to whether such a forum would have the authority to make decisions that address the real issues.
“The temper of Australian Catholics appears to have moved from outrage to exhausted resignation that change in our church is just too hard. And indeed, it is. Faced with a witheringly perceptive analysis of the problems that contributed to sexual abuse, the bishops give little indication, individually or collectively that they know how to respond. They seem caught between their own, not surprisingly, inadequate skills in managing and leading organisational change and the very real sense that they are beholden to Rome and incapable of acting authentically and in ways that recognise the stark reality of the Australian church’s predicament.”
By Terry Fewtrell, The Sydney Morning Herald — Read more …
Catholics for Renewal has drafted this letter in consultation with many Catholics strongly committed to the teachings of Jesus and their Church. People of the Church have been distressed by the increasing failings of our Church, particularly in the context of the evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Australian Catholics are invited to consider and sign below the following Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia. The Open Letter provides an opportunity, consistent with the Church’s Code of Canon Law, for the faithful – lay people, religious, priests, all members of the Church – to seek renewal of the Church.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has exposed grave governance failures in our Church, failures that undermine its very mission. We, the undersigned Catholics of Australia, write to you as Pilgrim People of God, accepting shared responsibility for our Church, expressing our sense of faith which Vatican II recognised as critical to the life of the Church, and asking you our bishops to listen and to act decisively, executing necessary reforms now.
Over several decades we have seen our Church declining steadily to its now shameful state. Countless Catholics have been alienated, particularly younger generations who are our Church’s future. The Royal Commission has now exposed dysfunctional governance, an entrenched culture of clericalism, and a leadership not listening to the people. Too many bishops have denied the extent of clerical child sexual abuse and its systemic cover-up, and even protected paedophiles ahead of children.
The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry also found that the Church’s governance contributed to coverups and further abuse. Yet the failings go beyond the scandal of child sexual abuse. Archbishops have admitted to “a catastrophic failure of leadership”, and some have spoken of ‘criminal negligence’. Church credibility has been squandered. To rebuild trust, there must be reform of governance based on Gospel values, reflecting servant leadership and engagement with the faithful. There has to be accountability, transparency, and inclusion particularly of women.
Changing processes is not enough. We ask each and every bishop to act now on these reforms:
- Eradicate the corrosive culture of clericalism – “an evil . . . in the Church” (Pope Francis).
- Become truly accountable with full involvement of the faithful, including diocesan pastoral councils, and diocesan assemblies or synods; with pastoral plans and annual diocesan reports.
- Appoint women to more senior diocesan positions, such as chancellor and delegate of bishops.
- Hold diocesan synods/assemblies in 2018, with deanery and parish listening sessions, to develop the agenda for the national 2020 Plenary Council; and as part of normal diocesan governance.
- Further remodel priestly formation, including ongoing development, assessment and registration.
- Reconcile publicly and fully with all the persons abused, their families and communities, and commit to just redress.
- Send an urgent delegation, including laity, to Pope Francis:
- urging him to purge child sexual abuse from the Church: legislating civil reporting of abuse, and ensuring effective discipline, major canon law reform, and review of priestly celibacy;
- advising him of the Royal Commission’s exposure of the Church’s global dysfunctional governance; particularly its clericalist culture and lack of accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness, especially the exclusion of women from top decision-making positions; and
- requesting immediate reform of bishop selection processes, fully including the faithful in identifying the needs of dioceses and local selection criteria.
None of the above proposals requires deferral to the Holy See or awaiting the Royal Commission’s report before acting. All these actions are within your own competence. We ask you to lead the reform of our Church now, acting promptly and decisively – anything less would be a betrayal of the Gospel.
We pray that the Spirit guide us all at this critical time.
Catholics of Australia
Australian bishop testifies on prevalence of child sex abuse in the church / National Catholic Reporter
Dying of cancer, Bishop Emeritus Geoffrey Robinson appeared Aug. 24 before the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to testify to the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the church.
“He painted a sad picture of a brave and lonely Sisyphus with his band of bishops in tow, pushing a boulder with a reasoned response to the crisis up the Vatican Hill, only to have it pushed back by popes and cardinals who had no idea about the issue and a blindness about the incapacity of canon law to deal with it.
“‘However great the faults of the Australian bishops have been over the last 30 years, it still remains true that the major obstacle to a better response from the church has been the Vatican,’ Robinson told the commission. Most of the Roman Curia saw the problem as a ‘moral one: if a priest offends, he should repent; if he repents, he should be forgiven and restored to his position. … They basically saw the sin as a sexual one, and did not show great understanding of the abuse of power involved or the harm done to the victims.'”
By Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
An Australian bishop told a special commission of inquiry into sexual abuse that he failed to familiarize himself with the personnel file of a serial pedophile priest ‘because the whole area of sexual abuse is so distasteful that I would have found it very unpalatable to dig further.'” By Stephen Crittenden, National Catholic Reporter
Read the entire article by clicking here.
The Roman Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse scandal in Australia continues to prompt calls for reform, particularly since the beginning earlier this year of the Australian national royal commission inquiry. Now, two former Australian bishops have joined Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney Geoffrey Robinson to seek reforms and to promote a Vatican III to look at the structure of Church.
A group of rebel Catholic bishops have today (June 4) launched a petition to tell the people at the top – the Pope and the Vatican – to act to stop the abuse of children within the church. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, emeritus auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, said the national royal commission into institutionalized child sex abuse could bring healing and change laws but it could not force the church hierarchy to make fundamental changes.” From story by Janet Fife-Yeoman, The Daily Telegraph, “Catholic Bishops Launch Appeal to Church for Action on Child Abuse,” as the story appeared in The Australian — Click here to read the entire article.
National Catholic Reporter columnist Jamie Manson interviewed Bishop Robinson several days before his announcement of his online petition for an ecumenical council and a new book.
Robinson, a retired auxiliary bishop from Sydney, created the petition in conjunction with the release of his latest book, For Christ’s Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church…for Good. The book, like the petition, calls on the church hierarchy to confront the systemic causes, like moral immaturity and the celibate culture, that have contributed both to the abuse and to the bishops’ woefully inadequate response to the crisis.” Read Ms. Manson’s entire interview by clicking here.
The Australian media have covered the continent’s child sexual abuse scandal extensively. Here are links to a couple of additional news stories about Bishop Robinson’s petition and book: