A Church united by Christian faith
This editorial focuses on some of the attributes and qualities needed by the institutional Church if it is to respond adequately to the scandal of Clerical Child Sexual Abuse, and looks beyond to our whole catholic faith.
Within our Church all of the 'People Of God' are united in faith, though not always equally. Journeying towards the shared faith that Christ taught and exemplified demands inclusion, openness, listening, collaboration, sound decision making, addressing failures, and renewal. Christ brought renewal and was a living model of the faith and practice we aspire to. As part of the process, renewal is unlikely to succeed without also listening to and engaging youth.
Catholics for Renewal has responded comprehensively to Issues Paper 11 (Catholic Church Final Hearing) of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. While it is expected that this response will be published on the Royal Commission's website we are publishing here an abridged form of the submission without the detailed footnotes.The submission has focussed on the grave impact of the Church’s dysfunctional institutional governance in its response to the Royal Commission’s Issues Paper 11. This is key to the institutional Church’s unaccountable response to clerical child sexual abuse resulting in further sexual abuse of children throughout the world. The Church’s dysfunctional governance has been tragically exposed in the clerical sexual abuse of children, involving injustice and cover-ups.The submission responds to the following Issues:
Issue 1a: Catholic theology and doctrine insofar as it is relevant to the institutional response to child sexual abuse.
Issue 1b: The Catholic Church’s structure and governance, including the role of the Vatican. Issue 1d: Canon law
Issue 1e: Clericalism
Issue 1f: Mandatory celibacy.
Issue 1g: Selection, screening, training and ongoing formation of candidates for the priesthood and religious life.
Issue 1h: Support for and supervision of working priests and religious. Issue 1i: The operation of the sacrament of confession
Issue 1j: The use of secrecy, including the practice of mental reservation. Issue 1l: Factors operating in society as a whole.
Issue 2: To what extent has the occurrence of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions been a result of the failings of the individuals who committed the abuse? To what extent have systemic institutional factors including structure, governance and culture contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions?
Issue 3: To what extent have any inadequacies in the institutional response to child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions been a result of the failings of responsible individuals? To what extent have systemic institutional factors including structure, governance and culture affected the institutional response to child sexual abuse by Catholic Church authorities?
Issue 4: To what extent are any factors that have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions, or affected the institutional response to this abuse, unique to the Catholic Church? To what extent are any such factors common to other faith-based institutions or organisations providing services to children more broadly?
It is the premise of our submission that the Royal Commission can have little confidence in the institutional Church’s process responses to the Royal Commission’s findings until the Church acknowledges both its ‘institutional abuse’ of children throughout the world and the dysfunctional governance at the heart of that abuse, and actually reforms that dysfunctional governance.
Read the Catholics for Renewal abridged response to Issues Paper 11 (Catholic Church Final Hearing) of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse HERE