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Australia: Bishops, Religious Respond to Royal Commission Abuse Report

Give Local Shape to Pope’s Letter to the People of God

Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) on August 31, 2018, released their response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Royal Commission in December of 2017, presented a final report to the Governor-General, detailing the culmination of a five-year inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and related matters. It called for a number of reforms in the protection or youth and response to allegations when they arise. The response by the bishops and religious agrees with most of those recommendations, the exception being a recommendation that would require priests in some circumstances to break the seal of confession. However, the response stated that protection of the seal and protection of children are not incompatible.

In their preamble to the report, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the ACBC, Monica Cavanagh RSJ, president of  CRA, thanked the commission for their report and “especially the survivors of abuse who showed such courage in coming forward to bear witness to their suffering. To them and their families, we offer our sincere and unreserved apology, and we commit anew to doing whatever can to heal the wounds of abuse and to make the Church a truly safe place for all. We renew to all our expression of profound sorrow that children and young people were abused by clergy, religious and lay workers of the Catholic Church, and that many bishops and religious leaders failed to act to prevent abuse and to report offenders to police.”

Bishop Coleridge and Sr. Monica noted that many of the recommendations already have been or are being implemented and that Australia wants to be aligned with the spirit of the recent letter of Pope Francis:

“The Pope’s recent Letter to the People of God makes clear that the Church’s response at the highest level begins with the acknowledgment of grave sin and failure by bishops and religious leaders and a culture of clericalism. Our response in Australia gives local shape to the action required to address such failure and the need for cultural change.”

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