The Truth Justice and Healing Council has released an Activity Report describing its activities over the past two years as it has driven the Church's reform agenda and led the Church in its response to the Royal Commission.
The report documents the Council's engagement with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in its public hearings and its policy and research processes.
It draws from the hearings and from wider engagement with the Catholic and broader community emerging issues about the way the Church has responded to the abuse of children in its institutions and to survivors.
The Catholic Church is taking a two-pronged approach to safeguarding children in the Church and to ensuring survivors of child sexual abuse from all institutions throughout Australia have access to justice.
Last week I outlined our first approach, the establishment of an internal independent supervising and auditing body in the Church.
The second approach is the establishment of a national redress scheme operated by governments but funded by the institutions responsible for the abuse.
Members of the Griffith community met with Francis Sullivan this week in the Sacred Heart Parish Hall in Griffith to hear about the child sex abuse royal commission and the Church's response. Mr Sullivan outlined the history of child sex abuse in the Church, the Council's engagement with the Royal Commission and the Church's reform agenda designed to ensure, as far as possible that children are safe in our schools, parishes and institutions, and that survivors of abuse are treated fairly and with compassion. "It was a great evening in Griffith with a very engaged and lively debate about our history and more importantly our future," Mr Sullivan said.
The Catholic Archbishop of Perth has officially blessed simply refurbished office space in the centre of Perth where survivors who have experienced abuse at the hands of priests and other church workers can feel welcome, accepted and not overwhelmed by church-related symbolism.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe gave a brief address, saying:
"There is no one poorer or more abandoned who has been abused by someone in the Church. That means that dealing with this terrible reality is the core business of the Church. It is not an added extra or something on the sidelines but is at the heart of what we need to do as a Church today."
(Left to right) Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Andrea Musulin (Safeguardian Project Coordinator), Peter Stoyles (WAPSO Director), Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, Mary Mantle (WAPSO Administrator), Kathy Gething (WAPSO Deputy Director)
The science and nonsense in child sexual abuse prevention
Council Member, Associate Professor Rosemary Sheehan, attended the RG Myers public lecture in Melbourne last week about 'the science and nonsense in the struggle to prevent sexual abuse in children'.
The lecture, by Professor Paul Mullen, Emeritus Professor of Forensic Psychiatry from Monash and Swinburne Universities, covered a range of issues focusing on the nature of perpetrator's of child abuse.
Mid next year the Truth Justice and Healing Council will be holding a symposium in which issues such as this and much more around institutional child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church will be aired.
There will be more details on the symposium in the new year.