Posts Tagged Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse

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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New Catholic standards body to crack down on clergy / The Age

A newly established national oversight body for the Catholic church will have the power to publicly name dioceses or religious orders which fail to meet its robust standards, a royal commission has heard.

“The inquiry was told the new body, Catholic Professional Standards (CPS) Ltd, will also give bishops the authority to penalise priests who do not to comply with the new benchmarks.

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard that the body, formed late last year, would set, enforce and audit new standards on the protection of children and vulnerable people.”

By Rachel Browne, The Age — Read more …

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Father Thomas Doyle tells royal commission Vatican failed sex abuse victims / Sydney Morning Herald

The Vatican has failed to support survivors of sexual abuse in the church for decades, with prominent Catholics demanding action at a royal commission.

“A whistleblower priest who was one of the first to report allegations of sexual abuse to the Vatican in the 1980s told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he was punished for speaking out.

“Father Thomas Doyle, an American canon lawyer, told the second day of the inquiry into Catholic Church authorities, secrecy, cover-ups and betrayal of victims were hallmarks of the institution’s response to abuse.

“‘One of the massive holes in the Roman Catholic Church’s approach to this issue today is a failure to completely comprehend the spiritual damage that is done to victims, to their families . . . and the community itself,’ he said.”

By Rachel Browne, Sydney Morning Herald — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Bishop Bede Heather ‘destroyed’ documents: Royal Commission / The Sydney Morning Herald

The former Catholic Bishop of Parramatta Bede Heather has told a royal commission he destroyed documents relating to potential legal action against a paedophile priest.

“Bishop Heather told the public inquiry he destroyed documents because he was traumatised by a police search of his office as part of an earlier investigation into sexual abuse by clergy.

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard Bishop Heather advised his lawyers Makinson & D’Apice of his actions in a 1996 letter.

“‘Following the police raid on our offices, shortly afterwards I took the precaution of destroying all papers of mine which could have been to the disadvantage of persons with whom I deal,’ he wrote in the letter which was partly read out before the commission.”

By Rachel Browne, The Sydney Morning Herald — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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