Tag Archives: Child Sexual Abuse

Statement from Archbishop Denis Hart, President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at the conclusion of case study 50 of the Royal Commission

Archbishop Denis Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart

As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concludes its final hearing into the Catholic Church, I acknowledge the cooperation of witnesses, agencies, religious institutes and dioceses across the Church in Australia.

I particularly want to acknowledge the bravery of the survivors of child sexual abuse who have given evidence, not just in case studies involving the Catholic Church, but across the more than 50 case studies so far that have examined the many different institutions throughout Australia.

Over the past three weeks, more than 70 Church leaders and professionals have appeared before the Commissioners sharing expertise, identifying failings and describing best practice for the future of our Church structure, culture and governance.

The final hearing discussed many aspects and characteristics of Church and clergy life including: Canon Law, the confessional, celibacy, clericalism, formation, professional support and supervision.

What we have learnt from our involvement in the Royal Commission case studies and our own work in coming to a better understanding of the many different issues that have contributed to child sexual abuse in the Church will inform our future policies and practices.

The work of the Commission staff and the Commissioners themselves has no doubt been gruelling and challenging and, along with the rest of the Australian community, we owe them a debt of gratitude for their years of service.

I also acknowledge the work of Truth, Justice and Healing Council in responding to the Royal Commission on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia. Looking ahead, we turn our focus to the newly established Catholic Professional Standards Ltd to ensure child protection standards are set and audited at the highest level.

As the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference I make this commitment to the survivors of child sexual abuse, the Catholic and broader community: I will do all within my power to ensure the abuse of the past never happens again, that the reforms my fellow bishops and religious leaders have endorsed over the past years will be implemented. I reiterate that the Catholic Church in Australia will continue to support the survivors of child sexual abuse.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference looks forward to responding to the final report and recommendations to Government from the Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM, Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, due to be presented at the end of this year.


Statement from the Truth Justice and Healing Council to the Royal Commission as part of Case Study 50: Catholic Church authorities in Australia

logo-TJHC_200Statement read by Francis Sullivan, CEO, Truth Justice and Healing Council on 6 February 2017


Commissioners I make this statement on behalf of the Truth Justice and Healing Council.

When the Truth Justice and Healing Council made its first major submission to this Royal Commission in 2013 it included a nine-point Commitment Statement by the Catholic Church leadership.

This in part said the leaders of the Church in Australia committed themselves to repairing the wrongs of the past, to listening to and hearing survivors, to putting their needs first and to doing everything the Church can to ensure a safer future for children.

Over the past four years, as the Church has been through what many would say has been the most intense and unforgiving examination of almost all aspects of its operations in Australia, the Council has worked hard to hold the Church leadership accountable to these words.

But more than that – to put these words into action.

And having been involved with this Commission from the word go I have seen the Church leadership rise to this challenge. Continue reading

Dealing with abuse, theological and spiritual reflections

Fr Hans Zollner SJ

Fr Hans Zollner SJ. Photo credit news.va

On 28 July, Fr Hans Zollner SJ will lead a day of reflection for bishops and leaders of religious institutes across Australia about dealing with abuse.

Fr Hans is President of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

The National Committee for Professional Standards will host the day of reflection in Sydney entitled: Dealing with abuse: Theological and Spiritual Reflection with an international perspective.

Fr Hans lectures at the Gregorian Institute in Rome and is also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. He is visiting Australia for a short time in late July 2016.

The day will focus on exploring the personal and communal impact of child sexual abuse. There will be an opportunity to reflect on how we live spiritually and theologically in this time and to ask where God is calling us through this challenge. There may be an opportunity to share the experiences and lessons learnt from those in similar circumstances in other parts of the world.

The National Committee for Professional Standards is seeking to provide an important opportunity for our bishops and religious leaders to share and explore their own experience of dealing with abuse during this challenging time for the Church internationally.

Further details are available from:  timmsc@ncps.org.au or (02) 9669 6218.


Liturgy of Lament and Hope

D8E_9384_ThumbOn Friday 3 June, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, a Liturgy of Lament and Hope to acknowledge publicly the pain and suffering of those who have been wounded by abuse in the Catholic Church, was held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, Waitara.

Bishop Peter Comensoli, Bishop of Broken Bay, called upon his brother priests and the Diocesan faith community to join him for this sacred event, with more than 200 braving the wild Sydney weather to come together in prayer.

Opportunities for expressing lament such as this are important – a time at which people can give voice and shape to shared feelings of sadness, regret, and solidarity for what has occurred in our communities, and a time for the Diocese as a family to pray for those who have been wounded and turn towards the Lord with hope for healing. Continue reading