"On 31 August 2018, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) released their official Response to 80 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It came 259 days after the Royal Commission’s Final Report, and 123 days after the Truth, Justice and Healing Council (TJHC) advised them on what to do....".....Full editorial HERE
NSW commits extra $127m to abuse prevention and support
Extract from Cathnews, The Daily Telegraph, 19 October 2018
The New South Wales Government has committed an extra $127 million to help implement key recommendations from the child sexual abuse royal commission. The new money, which brings the government’s total contribution to the redress scheme up to $570 million, will mostly go towards the prevention of child sexual abuse but will also help improve support for children and adult survivors. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government passed laws on Wednesday allowing survivors to sue institutions where they had been sexually abused as children, closing a legal loophole that had previously prevented them from taking action. “NSW has continued to lead the way whether it’s in relation to the redress scheme, whether it’s in relation to providing support to survivors,” Ms Berejiklian said yesterday. “I want to make sure nobody else suffers at the hands of institutions or people who were there to protect the children – not commit those horrific acts which instead have ruined lives and caused so many in the community to have an adverse impact.” Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward said the package was about ensuring all NSW organisations “promote a healthy child environment” and that workers are properly monitored. “We’re also strengthening the ability of parents to know whether or not they are enrolling their child in a child-safe organisation, whether that’s the local ballet school or the local swim club,” she said. In a statement released yesterday, Catholic Religious Australia welcomed the government's commitment to strengthening and broadening measures to protect children....(more)
New research shows Australian teens have complex views on religion and spirituality
Extract from Andrew Singleton, Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Research, Deakin University; Anna Halafoff, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Deakin University; Gary D Bouma, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Monash University (and friend of The Conversation); Mary Lou Rasmussen, Professor, School of Sociology, Australian National University, The Conversation, September 18, 2018It’s perhaps not surprising that few Australian teens are engaged in formal religion and its practice. But, according to a new national study, many young people are nonetheless interested in spirituality, taking a complex and broad-minded approach to the issue. As researcher Andrew Singleton writes, the findings further challenge the idea that Australia is largely a Christian country, with teenagers at the forefront of overturning old ideas and constructing new ones. The researchers found that teenagers broadly fit into six groups on matters of spirituality, from those with strong convictions to those questioning and discovering. And what is also striking is that they are remarkably tolerant of others’ views on the matter. As the researchers often heard: “it’s all good”. The 2016 Census suggested about a third of Australian teens had no religion. But ask a teenager themselves about religion, rather than the parent or guardian filling in the census form, and the picture is slightly different. According to our new national survey, at least half of teens say they are “religious nones” - those who do not identify with a religion or religious group. Digging deeper, we found a more complicated picture of faith and spirituality among young Australians. Most Gen Z teens have little to do with organised religion in their personal lives, while a significant proportion are interested in different ways of being spiritual. Migration, diversity, secularisation and a burgeoning spiritual marketplace challenge the notion that we are a “Christian” country. More than any other group, teenagers are at the forefront of this remaking of Australian religion. Their daily experience of secondary school and social media sees them bumping into all kinds of difference. Teens are forming their own strong views about existential matters. Our national study by scholars from ANU, Deakin and Monash – the AGZ Study – comprises 11 focus groups with students in Years 9 and 10 (ages 15-16) in three states, a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,200 people aged 13-18, and 30 in-depth, follow-up interviews. …(more) Image: Teenagers, abstract collage, Katrina Frazer
Father Hans Zollner: Post abuse crisis, how can we get back to our Christian roots?
Extract from Jim McDermott, America, The Jesuit Review, 17 September 2018
Hans Zollner, S.J., is a licensed German psychologist and
psychotherapist with a doctorate in theology and one of the church’s
leading experts in the area of safeguarding minors. He is the president
of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian
University in Rome, a member on the Pontifical Commission for the
Protection of Minors and a consultor to the Congregation for the Clergy.
America spoke with Father Zollner in July and followed up recently as the sexual abuse crisis in the United States continues to roil the church. This is the first of three interviews James McDermott, S.J., is conducting about the abuse crisis.
What is your reaction to what we’ve seen in the United States and elsewhere over the last month?
The strongest impression I have is that it has now reached another level. The discussion and the awareness and the intensity, especially in the United States, is very surprising because you have gone through this for many years already. And it brings out the American [social and political] divisions that are visible in the country and in the church.
why is it so shocking for so many, left and right of the divide? It is
because the extent of the cover-up by church leaders in the past and
their co-responsibility for it (no matter what their ideological
persuasion) are becoming clearer now. And then the question is how
people deal today with all these issues.....(More)
NZ: What victims want most: justice
Extracts from Opinion, ODT Insight, Otago Daily Times, 8 September 2018
..... But, most of all, they want the Catholic Church to answer for what happened. Which is exactly why the Catholic Church, and churches of all stripes, need to be part of the Government’s pending Royal Commission into historic abuse. And not just included, but put under the microscope. Investigated. Cross-examined. And compelled to answer questions.Because, even to this day, old habits die hard. Dunedin’s new Catholic Bishop, the Most Rev Michael Dooley, seems like a good and honourable man. He has fronted media and his parishioners, expressed shock and pain at recent revelations, apologised to victims and the city for past events and urged those still suffering in silence to come forward. But he remains reluctant to answer some tough questions. Bishop Dooley won’t say how many complaints have been received, or how many past offenders he is aware of, within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin. That information will only be revealed to police or the Royal Commission, not to media, the bishop says. He is also not yet prepared to discuss some allegations levelled against clergy, including those aimed at one of the most senior figures within the diocese in recent times. Instead, he has insisted Dunedin’s problem remains small compared with the shocking revelations seen in other countries, from the United States and Ireland to Australia. But, as he does so, the list of alleged offenders from the Deep South keeps growing........New Zealand must follow in Australia’s footsteps, despite the extra time and cost involved, and include churches - and all of their various settings - in a truly inquisitorial Royal Commission. Only then will we finally get to the bottom of who did what, and when, in this country. Only then will sunlight finally expose the true extent of the problem. Only then will victims have justice....(More) Image NZ Maori Fern patterni.net
Health and Integrity conference calls for a ‘reformation’ of Australia’s churches following Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
Media Release, Friday 31 August 2018
In a week when the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults in church institutions has once again been making international headlines, a conference of Christian churches in Melbourne has called on Australia’s churches to embrace thoroughgoing reformation of their structures, governance and culture inthe wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The three-day ecumenical Health and Integrity in Church and Ministry conference on the task of rebuilding and renewal for the churches after the Royal Commission (27–29 August 2018), was hosted by the University of Divinity and sponsored by three leading Catholic religious institutes and Yarra Theological Union. The conference was attended by church members and leaders, academics, clergy and religious, ministers and church workers, survivors of child sexual abuse and their advocates, and groups advocating church reform.....(full Media Release HERE)
Archbishop Comensoli meets mother of abuse victim
Extracts from CathNews, ABC News, 31 August 2018
Pope Francis must lead on the sexual abuse crisis
Extract from The Editors, America - The Jesuit Review, 28 August 2018
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s 11 pages of accusations against Pope Francis and other church leaders have weaponized the church’s sexual abuse crisis, shifting the focus from listening to survivors to Vatican intrigues. Yet these new accusations amount to more of the same problem the church already had: priests, bishops and popes who, when they learned of abuse, protected each other rather than the victims. The recommendations we made when the McCarrick case was first revealed, in July, and after the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released, in August, still stand: The church must prioritize listening to survivors of abuse and seeking justice for them. Clear public mechanisms to report abuse and misconduct and to discipline bishops who fail in their duties must be established. The church must undertake a comprehensive, transparent accounting of its tragic failures over the past decades and conduct and cooperate with any necessary investigations. To achieve true reform, Pope Francis must give this crisis his full focus. His letter to the church and his statements in Ireland are a start, but he must follow through and make them concrete. Francis’ refusal to respond to the Viganò accusations may be an attempt to stay above the fray rather than dignify a venomous ideological attack. Nonetheless, the pope’s refusal is an insufficient pastoral response for a church that is deeply wounded. The best way for Pope Francis to respond to the attempt to use the sexual abuse crisis as a weapon in the culture war is to be honest and humble himself, as he ultimately was in his response to abuse survivors in Chile, and to lead the church in caring for those who are hurting the most.....(MORE) Photo: America - The Jesuit Review, CNS Paul Haring
Ampleforth and Downside (English Benedictine Congregation case study) Investigation Report August 2018, UK
Extract from Executive summary with link to full report, 14 August 2018
There are 10 English Benedictine Congregation (EBC) monasteries in England and none in Wales. Some of the abbeys have schools associated with them, including Ampleforth and Downside. Both are regarded as leading Catholic independent schools, each with acknowledged academic and sporting achievement, and both are now co-educational. The EBC is not pyramidical in structure; it has no recognisable line management oversight. Each abbot or abbess has responsibility for their own community, which is autonomous. Nor does the monastic order fit neatly into the Catholic diocesan structure, meaning that the relationship to a diocesan bishop is usually collaborative rather than hierarchical. It is difficult to describe the appalling sexual abuse inflicted over decades on children aged as young as seven at Ampleforth School, and 11 at Downside School. Ten individuals, mostly monks, connected to these two institutions have been convicted or cautioned in relation to offences involving sexual activity with a large number of children, or offences concerning pornography. The true scale of the abuse however is likely to be considerably higher. Some examples of the abuse are set out below......(full report)
© Crown copyright 2018
Members of Women's Wisdom in the Church (WWITCH) respond to 'synodal' Church call for comments in relation to Institutional Sexual Abuse, Tuesday 24 July 2012
On 22nd July, the Feast of of Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, members of Women's Wisdom in the Church (WWITCH) submitted a response to the Synodal call of the Church in relation to the Australian Catholic Church’s role in, and response to, the Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse. The response calls for a complete apology from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the National Council for Catholic Religious Australia wherein they take full responsibility for past acts of systematic concealment of the crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children and other vulnerable individuals. Together with other comments the response also calls for the immediate release of the final Statement of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council to all Australian Catholics. A copy of the full statement including details of their group is available HERE. Image: Saint Mary Magdalene, Icon by Br. Robert Lenz OFM
Change of era in Australia
We are in a change of era and the shape of that era is only just beginning to be explored.
Limited Extract from Michael Kelly SJ, Bangkok, Subscription journal La croix International, 5 July 2018
In a line for his vision for renewal and change, Pope Francis captured something that is true for the church across the world but most especially for the church in Australia. The pope described our time in the church and wider society as “not so much an era of change as a change of era.”