“Australian Catholic Church warns congregation ahead of final ‘grim’ royal commission hearing” & related articles

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ABC News (Australia)

03 February 2017


Catholic Church leaders throughout Australia are warning church-goers and school parents about the release of data on Monday at the child sex abuse royal commission, describing it as an “horrific portrait of appalling abuse”.

Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge was so concerned about the impact of the statistics relating to the extent of reported abuse within the Catholic Church, he emailed a video message to tens of thousands of Catholic school parents.

“The royal commission is about to hold its final hearing into the Catholic Church which will be a very challenging time,” he said in the video.

“My sincere hope is that all the blood, sweat and tears will produce justice and healing and ensure that the future is much safer for the young than the past has been.”

Archbishop Coleridge’s video message will be played in more than 200 churches in the Brisbane diocese throughout the weekend.

The Townsville diocese will also play the message in each of its parishes for this weekend’s masses.

The 68-year-old archbishop said in his message there would be some “grim moments and some shocks” in the royal commission’s final hearing into the Catholic Church.

“We have to shift the culture and that’s a far more difficult thing to do,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

Letters from the senior Archbishop read across the country

Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart leads worshippers Photo: Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart leading a service. (Joe Castro: AAP)

One of the nation’s most senior Catholic leaders, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Denis Hart, has written to 42 bishops throughout the country.

The letter is set to be read out in masses around the country, including the larger archdioceses of Melbourne and Sydney.

He wrote:

“For the victims and survivors, for the Catholic community and for many in the wider Australian community, this hearing may be a difficult and even distressing time … deeply mindful of the hurt and pain caused by abuse, I once again offer my apology on behalf of the Catholic Church.”

Archbishop Hart quoted Pope Francis, writing: “It is the sin that shames us.”

A spokeswoman for the Archbishop of Sydney told the ABC that priests had been asked to read out Archbishop Hart’s letter, to make themselves available for questions from concerned church-goers and to refer anyone with specific concerns to the church’s Safeguarding Children office.

Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools Dr Dan White has written to school principals and every school parent, promising a “total commitment to respond to the recommendations of the royal commission in a proactive and positive way”.

In the letter to tens of thousands of parents attending Sydney’s Catholic schools, Dr White included a link to a new online child protection resource.

The hearing will run for approximately three weeks in Sydney from Monday.


Child Sex: 6 Australian archbishops face probe


On February 3, 2017  7:58 pm

Six Australian archbishops will be questioned by the country’s powerful royal commission as part of an investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children in Catholic churches and institutions, the commission announced on Friday.

The public hearing will begin in Sydney on Monday as part of the four-year-long inquiry into the handling of abuse cases, some as old as 70 years.

The hearing seeks to find out what churches are doing now to protect children.

Six of Australia’s seven archbishops will appear in the three-week-long hearing.

One of them has already been charged with concealing information about child sexual abuse by a paedophile priest in 1971.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Bishops and leaders of other church orders, like Christian Brothers, Jesuits, as well as education officials and experts, will also give evidence at the hearing.

The commission will also release statistics on child sexual abuse by the clergy, the first such data to be released, including details of the complaints, and how or if they were dealt with.

Some of the Catholic leaders are so wary about the fallout they have issued messages warning parishioners about the inquiry.

Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge, one of those being questioned, said in a video message to be played in more than 200 diocese on Saturday that there would be “grim moments and some shocks.”

“We have to shift the culture and that’s a far more difficult thing to do,” he said.

“It will reveal a horrific picture of the extent of the claims of abuse by priests and brothers whose responsibility was to protect and care for children,” Francis Sullivan, the chief executive of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, said in an email statement.

“It is absolutely important this information is made public. “It is part of being transparent and ensuring the complete story is told.”


Archbishops questioned over sexual abuse

Sky News  (Australia)

Published: 7:43 pm, Friday, 3 February 2017

Senior Catholic leaders charged with concealing child sexual abuse, will be grilled at a royal commission.

Australia’s most senior Catholic leaders, including an archbishop charged with concealing child sexual abuse, will be grilled as a royal commission investigates why widespread offending occurred in church institutions.

Six of Australia’s seven archbishops, many of whom have already appeared before the royal commission, and the leaders of Catholic religious orders will give evidence at the final public hearing into the church.

World-first data on the extent of child sex abuse claims known to the church in Australia will be released when the hearing begins in Sydney on Monday.

The metropolitan archbishops including Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson will participate in a panel at the end of the hearing, set down for three weeks and one day.

Archbishop Wilson has pleaded not guilty concealing information about a serious indictable offence, relating to the 1971 sexual assault by a pedophile priest in NSW.

He is believed to be the most senior Catholic official in the world to face a charge of this kind.

Of the archbishops, only Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous is not on the witness list for the commission’s 15th hearing focused on the Catholic Church.

The provincial leaders of the Christian Brothers, Marist Brothers, Jesuits, Salesian and St John of God orders will also appear, along with several bishops, Catholic education officials, academics and experts.



Royal commission into sexual abuse: Senior Catholic leaders called to give evidence next week


03 February 2017   Updated

Photo: Evidence will be given before the full panel of royal commissioners. (AAP: Jeremy Piper)

Every Catholic archbishop in the country except for Hobart is being called to give evidence at a royal commission hearing starting next week in Sydney.

The three-week public hearing will focus on the extent of child sexual abuse over almost seven decades and what church leaders are doing to protect children.

The church’s most senior leaders will face the full panel of royal commissioners, and include the archbishops of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra Goulburn.

The bishops of Darwin, Broome, Parramatta and the Maronite diocese of Australia are also on the witness list.

This is the 50th public hearing of the four-year-long royal commission and it is the 16th dealing with abuse in the Catholic Church.

The opening address by the counsel assisting the royal commission, Gail Furness SC, is expected to include some grim statistics — an overview of the number of reports of child sexual abuse relating to the Catholic Church since 1950.

The ABC has been told the data runs into hundreds of pages and includes details of the complaint, age of the victim, which diocese or religious order the offender came from and how claims were dealt with and whether compensation was paid.

Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge was one of a number of Catholic Church leaders to warn parishioners across the country about the nature of the evidence that would be presented at the hearings from Monday.

In a video message to be played in more than 200 diocese across the weekend, the 68-year old archbishop said there would be “grim moments and some shocks”.

“We have to shift the culture and that’s a far more difficult thing to do,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

The CEO of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, has told the ABC “it’s the first time in the western world the Catholic Church has been so open about its data and its records”.

“This is very confronting, it’s a miserable tale, you can’t put a coating on it, it speaks of so much damage, it’s heartbreaking,” Mr Sullivan said.

Commission heard harrowing evidence from abuse victims

The commission has investigated how institutions across the country, including schools churches, sports clubs and government organisations, have responded to allegations and instances of abuse.

Last August, the commission heard harrowing details from a number of abuse survivors in the Newcastle Anglican Diocese north of Sydney.

One victim, Paul Gray, told the commission he continued to suffer from a mental breakdown after being raped by a priest “on a weekly or fortnightly basis” for years.

In November, the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle gave evidence about allegations of abuse in the church there.

He spoke about himself being a victim of abuse at the hands of more senior clergy in his youth, and also gave details about the culture of abuse within the church.

The commission heard about alleged instances of child abuse in the Salvation Army institutions between 1940 and 1990, and evidence on how it failed to protect children and deal with reports of abuse.

It also heard evidence that the Australian Defence Force had a systemic problem of failing to provide support to victims of abuse.

4 Responses to “Australian Catholic Church warns congregation ahead of final ‘grim’ royal commission hearing” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    Uh. Oh! Sounds like the Bishops of Australia are a teeny weeny bit concerned?

    I’m sure though they’ll manage just fine on the stand. We can almost wrote the script. A little bit of ‘We didn’t know,’ and whole little more of “We didn’t understand,’ and perhaps a wee bit of “We’re so terribly sorry,” and NO – NO – “We’re going to get every single known molester defrocked/laicized/reduced to the lay state.

  2. Geenda says:

    And you all keep telling me they’re NOT “all in on it”… ! Australia (like Canada) has never been known for stiff sentences for this type of abuse. They’ll get away with it..pretty smug to want to “move forward” never mind that the complainants can’t get past it…

  3. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Denis Hart has been eating way too many burgers! Perhaps he should be reminded in public that the children in Sierra Leone don’t live in “palaces” nor do they have the luxury of fat burgers. No offence Cardinal Dolan, but perhaps all of you (bishops) should start leading by example and not by decree. Mike.

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