Posts Tagged Truth Justice and Healing Council
“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 …
“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 …
In Rome —
Pope Francis had encouraged bishops from more than 120 countries to speak freely when they gathered at the Vatican nearly three weeks ago for a broad discussion of family matters to guide the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. And speak freely, they have.
“The result has been the most momentous, and contentious, meeting of bishops in the 50 years since the Second Vatican Council, which brought the church into the modern era. The meeting has exposed deep fault lines between traditionalists focused on shoring up doctrine, and those who want the church to be more open to Catholics who are divorced, gay, single parents or cohabiting …
“‘This is a pivotal moment of this pontificate,’ said Roberto Rusconi, who teaches the history of Christianity at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, a state school. Pope Francis is sounding out the world’s bishops ‘to better understand whether they are going to follow his line or not.’”
By Laurie Goodstein and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
In Australia —
The Church has described its history regarding child abuse in Australia as “shameful, corrosive and complicit” and says it now expects its liability exposure to be potentially $1 billion on top of payments already made.
The CEO of the Truth justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, said in a speech in Canberra on Tuesday (Oct. 20) night the Church’s history was ‘littered with examples of cover-ups and crimes and of Church leaders failing in one of the very basic tenets of their calling.’
Yesterday, we posted links to news regarding the release of a Victoria, Australia, parliamentary inquiry report that castigated the Church for “horrific sexual abuse cover-ups.” The Catholic Church in Australia issued a statement yesterday which said, in part, that the “whole Church in Australia is deeply ashamed.” Below is the statement that priests were instructed to read to their congregations:
COMMITMENT STATEMENT FROM LEADERS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA
The Catholic Church in Australia, in its submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and in its communications with both the Catholic and broader communities has made the following commitment:
The leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia recognize and acknowledge the devastating harm caused to people by the crime of child sexual abuse. We take this opportunity to state:
- 1. Sexual abuse of a child by a priest or religious is a crime under Australian law and under canon law.
- 2 Sexual abuse of a child by any Church personnel, whenever it occurred, was then and is now indefensible.
- 3 That such abuse has occurred at all, and the extent to which it has occurred, are facts of which the whole Church in Australia is deeply ashamed.
- 4 The Church fully and unreservedly acknowledges the devastating, deep and ongoing impact of sexual abuse on the lives of the victims and their families.
- 5 The Church acknowledges that many victims were not believed when they should have been.
- 6 The Church is also ashamed to acknowledge that, in some cases, those in positions of authority concealed or covered up what they knew of the facts, moved perpetrators to another place, thereby enabling them to offend again, or failed to report matters to the police when they should have. That behavior too is indefensible.
- 7 Too often in the past it is clear some Church leaders gave too high a priority to protecting the reputation of the Church, its priests, religious and other personnel, over the protection of children and their families, and over compassion and concern for those who suffered at the hands of Church personnel. That too was and is inexcusable.
- 8 In such ways, Church leaders betrayed the trust of their own people and the expectations of the wider community.
- 9 For all these things the Church is deeply sorry. It apologises to all those who have been harmed and betrayed. It humbly asks for forgiveness.
The leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia commit ourselves to endeavour to repair the wrongs of the past, to listen to and hear victims, to put their needs first, and to do everything we can to ensure a safer future for children.
First published in the Truth Justice and Healing Council’s Towards Healing submission to Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, September 2013
Truth Justice and Healing Council
PO Box 4593 KINGSTON ACT 2604 | Tel: +61 2 6234 0900 | Fax: +61 2 6234 0999
The Catholic Church has admitted grave faults in its dealings with victims of sex abuse by priests. The peak body that represents the church, the Truth Justice and Healing Council, has reported shoddy record-keeping, secrecy, inconsistent outcomes and lack of effective supervision of the dioceses and religious orders responsible for the care of victims.” By David Marr, The Guardian
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