PROTECTING CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS
Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) unreservedly expresses our sorrow for the pain, suffering, hurt and harm that people have suffered through abuse and failure to respond appropriately to that abuse. We acknowledge that abuse can irreparably damage a person’s life and that the pain and suffering is on-going. Nothing will right the wrongs that have been done.
The release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on 15 December 2017, was the culmination of almost five years of intense examination of the way in which many different institutions, including the Catholic Church, have historically failed children and vulnerable adults. The Royal Commission has been an important validation of the courage of survivors of abuse in seeking truth and justice.
The extent of the abuse has affected all in our country and we acknowledge that the highest number of private hearings in the Royal Commission related to the Catholic Church. We re-visit those figures with deep regret and shame. The Royal Commission has had a significant impact on the way the Catholic Church operates in Australia and CRA recognises that now is the time for action.
“During the years of the Royal Commission, we have begun the work of implementing change to create a culture of greater care, accountability and transparency. This may not yet be visible, and much work is yet to take place, but it is a beginning and we are committed to action,” says Monica Cavanagh rsj, President of CRA.
This action is in the form of robust, preventative strategies in safeguarding, and the recognition that a change of culture within our Church is necessary. CRA continues in its resolve to support changes in our Church, including in its governance and practices to make our communities and the nation safe for all people, but especially for the young and the vulnerable. The manner in which the Church responds to situation of risk is a vital area of focus.
Safeguarding in Action
Today, there are strict procedures and policies which apply to CRA member congregations, their ministries and to all who are employed in their works to ensure the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people. Many changes have been made in recent years to help ensure Catholic settings are safe for children and vulnerable adults. They include protocols around formation/training of priests and religious, safeguarding policies for parishes, schools, social services and health and aged care, and more responsive processes when allegations of child sexual abuse are made. Procedures and practices continue to be reviewed and improved. All congregations must comply with all civil reporting laws.