While Churches in some countries represented at the conference have been dealing with the clerical sex abuse crisis for decades, others are only just beginning to recognize the damage done to victims, families and the wider parish or religious communities.
We are now at the end of the first week of the Commission's hearing into the way in which the Archdiocese of Melbourne dealt with years of abuse that took place in the Doveton Parish in outer suburban Melbourne. And this week we also released our guidelines on how church authorities being sued for child sexual abuse claims should behave during the legal process.
Church guidelines for responding to civil claims for child sexual abuse
Guidelines for how Church authorities should respond when claims of child sexual abuse are made against them have been released this week.
The guidelines, which have been endorsed by the Church leadership, will come into effect from 1 January 2016 and are designed to promote justice and consistency in the way the Church handles child sexual abuse claims and conduct litigation when taken to court.
They also include a requirement for Church dioceses or religious orders to assist a claimant to identify the correct defendant to respond to legal proceedings.
Sexual offending against children is a highly emotive issue so it is important public policy initiatives to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse are based on the available evidence.
This 2011 paper by researcher, Kelly Richards, addresses five common misperceptions about the perpetrators of sexual offences against children including whether all child sex offenders are 'paedophiles', who sexually abuse children, whether most child sex offenders were victims of sexual abuse themselves, rates of recidivism among child sex offenders and the number of children sex offenders typically abuse before they are detected by police.
The TJHC met with chancellors, vicars general and child protection professionals from NSW dioceses last week to map what lies ahead for the Catholic Church as the work of the Royal Commission continues.
At a separate meeting the Council met with other Churches in Sydney last week to talk about shared concerns such as response to victims, the need for a national redress scheme, data collection and policy developments.
In August, a commission led by the Very Rev Andrew McLellan made eight recommendations, including that justice must be done for those who have been abused and that the Church's safeguarding policies and practices be completely rewritten and subject to external scrutiny.