Posts Tagged Australian Catholic Church

Australian Catholic Church falls short on safeguards for children, study finds / The New York Times

In nearly 400 pages, the report traces the history of child sexual abuse in the global church and tries to identify factors that have contributed to it, with a particular focus on Australia. (The New York Times)

A study that examines child sexual abuse worldwide in the Roman Catholic Church has found that the Australian church has done less to safeguard children in its care than its counterparts in similar countries have.

“The report, released on Wednesday by the Center for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, also found that the church’s requirement that priests be celibate was a major risk factor for abuse. And it said that the possibility of abuse in Catholic residential institutions, like orphanages, should be getting more attention, especially in developing countries.

“Experts said the report could put pressure on Pope Francis, and particularly the church in Australia, to do more to prevent abuse. The Australian church was rocked in June when Cardinal George Pell, an Australian who is one of the pope’s top advisers, became the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses.

“Desmond Cahill, the report’s lead author, said its findings pointed to an urgent need to rethink the priesthood in the 21st century. He said the church should reconsider the celibacy requirement for priests.”

By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times — Read more …

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Seeking a path from Pell to a Plenary Council / Commonweal

“The hearings have laid bare the cultural factors that enabled the (clergy abuse) scandal to be so badly managed,” he (Francis Sullivan, head of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council) told me. “They can be summarized as issues of power, privilege, and participation. Who controlled decision-making, who was involved in decision-making, and who benefited from the decisions taken. The lack of transparency and the entitlement attitudes that underpin clericalism were given a lot of ventilation.” (Commonweal)

Arriving in Sydney, Australia, this summer for a round of conferences sponsored by the Broken Bay Institute of the Australian Institute of Theological Education, I found a church confronting events likely to have a profound impact on its future: the Royal Commission’s completion of its work on an ‘institutional response to child sexual abuse’; the return of Cardinal George Pell from Rome to face charges on sexual abuse cases alleged to have taken place decades ago in the diocese of Ballarat; and the announcement of a Plenary Council for Australia set for 2020—the first since 1937.

“The three issues are interwoven. The Pell case frightens the institutional church for the ripple effects the trial might have on other investigations into clergy sexual abuse. It complicates the creative response of the Australian episcopate to the scandal: the creation of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council launched shortly after the establishment of the Royal Commission and headed by Francis Sullivan, a lay Catholic who for fourteen years was chief executive of Catholic Health Australia. After the expected publication of the Royal Commission’s report at the end of this year, the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council will publish its own report. It will be interesting to see how the episcopate receives it. Created by the bishops, the council has nonetheless maintained an independent attitude; for example, it has refused the request of some bishops to cross-examine witnesses heard by the Royal Commission.

“Sullivan gave me his assessment of the impact of the Royal Commission hearings. ‘The hearings have laid bare the cultural factors that enabled the scandal to be so badly managed,’ he told me. ‘They can be summarized as issues of power, privilege, and participation. Who controlled decision-making, who was involved in decision-making, and who benefited from the decisions taken. The lack of transparency and the entitlement attitudes that underpin clericalism were given a lot of ventilation. This has opened public debate about the role of women, celibacy, seminary training, supervision of clerics, and the ethical use of church finances.’ The church, he added, has lost control of this public debate. ‘Its voice has been muted and compromised,’ he said. ‘Any semblance of a defensive tone is jumped on by critics and the majority of the leaders have been missing in action.'”

By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal — Read more …

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Catholic Church unlikely to change, abuse review head Elizabeth Proust says / ABC News Australia

“I don’t see any sign that the lessons have been truly learned to the point where the institution of the Church is being questioned by those who’ve got the ability to change it,” she (Elizabeth Proust, head of the Australian Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council) said. (ABC News Australia)

The senior Australian businesswoman appointed to supervise the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis says she is ‘pessimistic’ about the Church’s willingness to reform.

“Elizabeth Proust, the head of the Church’s own Truth, Justice and Healing Council, fears the institution will emerge from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse only ‘partially cleansed and unreconstructed.’

“‘I fear there’s a view that once the royal commission reports, and the publicity around what will be a fairly dire report all dies down, that life will go back to what it was,’ Ms Proust told The Religion and Ethics Report.

“‘I hope I’m wrong. I’d like to think that the possibility for real transformation of the Church exists, but it’s an institution that’s been very slow to change on a whole range of issues.'”

By Andrew West, ABC News Australia — Read more …

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Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia / Catholics for Renewal

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.

Dear Bishops

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:

  1. Eradicate the corrosive culture of clericalism – “an evil . . . in the Church” (Pope Francis).
  2. 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.
  3. Appoint women to more senior diocesan positions, such as chancellor and delegate of bishops.
  4. 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.
  5. Further remodel priestly formation, including ongoing development, assessment and registration.
  6. Reconcile publicly and fully with all the persons abused, their families and communities, and commit to just redress.
  7. 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

The Open Letter can be signed by Australian Catholics by clicking here or by downloading this PDF, printing, signing, and mailing it.

 

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An opportunity for deep reform in the church / La Croix International

‘Sad to admit, the evidence is clear that the church in Australia is sick to its institutional core. It has a nasty, though treatable cancer that is being fed by a pervasive clericalism.’

Australia is often used as a controlled market to test new technology products. With an educated, tech-savvy, multicultural society, it has representative features that appeal as a laboratory for commercial researchers.

“But now Australia might also become a test bed for what needs repair and how it can be done in the Catholic Church. The facts are friendly. Those reported in La Croix International by Frank Brennan on Feb 14 are staggering statistics. Some of them are new and some are have been in the public domain for some years.

“Widely and well known or not, the statistics shine a light on a deeper and systemic illness that needs root and branch reform. Without such reform, the church will continue to be fertile ground for the abuse of power – of which sexual abuse is a catastrophic symptom.”

By Peter Day, La Croix International — Read more …

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Australia’s grim toll in the church’s sex abuse scandal / The New York Times

The global scale of the Catholic clergy’s sexual abuse scandal becomes harder for the Vatican to deny with each shocking national inquiry. The latest, from Australian government investigators, found that from 1980 to 2015 there were 4,444 victims of abuse and at least 1,880 suspected to be abusers, most of them priests and religious brothers.

“Through this period, the haunting subtext is the culpability of bishops who did nothing about the crimes. The abused children were ignored or punished while priests who raped children were protected by supervisors.” (emphasis added)

By The New York Times Editorial Board — Read more …

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Child abuse: 7% of Australian Catholic priests alleged to be involved / BBC News Australia

An inquiry examining institutional sex abuse in Australia has heard 7% of the nation’s Catholic priests allegedly abused children between 1950 and 2010.

“In one religious order, over 40% of church figures were accused of abuse.

“Over 4,440 people claim to have been victims between 1980 and 2015, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse was told. The commission, Australia’s highest form of inquiry, is also investigating abuse at non-religious organizations.

“It has previously heard harrowing testimony from scores of people who suffered abuse at the hands of clergy.”

By BBC News Australia — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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