Dear Merici College Community
Like many Catholics, over the past years and weeks, I have struggled to express my feelings, thoughts and reactions to the abuse of power, privilege and position by members of the Catholic Church, including Pell’s guilty verdict.
I personally, have found it difficult to comprehend how such horrendous crimes have occurred. My prayer life has also been put to test, yet I believe that these challenges can only be eased by praying with an open and trusting heart.
Greater than my struggles are the pain and suffering of abuse victims. I am mindful of those who have suffered abuse in the past and how these reports will affect them. I pray that the redress scheme will allow truth and justice for all individuals involved.
I believe John Warhust in Eureka Street (6 March 2019) summarised the feelings of Catholics and non-Catholics associated with Catholic agencies when he said:
“The reaction of regular church-going Catholics and the broader Catholic community is harder to capture. Anger and outrage at betrayal, even grief and trauma, was frequent. What they seemed to have in common was devastation for the church and guilt by association by being branded a Catholic in a hurtful way.
This association may be extended to the tens of thousands of non-Catholic parents and students in Catholic schools and the many thousands of non-Catholic staff of Catholic agencies, including hospitals, welfare services, aged care and international aid and development.”
I want to take this opportunity to reassure and reaffirm to all parents and carers that the Catholic Education system already undertakes training on a regular basis in areas of child protection such as:
- reportable conduct,
- mandatory reporting,
- privacy and confidentiality,
- detecting and responding to trauma,
- a nominated child advocate,
- conducting investigations,
- how to identify signs of harm,
- counselling availability,
- facilitating child-friendly ways for children to express their views, participate in decision making and raise their concerns.
The safety and welfare of students remains our top priority.
I also pray that in our brokenness there is an opportunity for change. That the Plenary Council 2020 will listen and discern where the Spirit is calling the Catholic Church in Australia. That it puts in place governance measures which demonstrates commitment to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is safe and inclusive. Finally, that we are a Church with a focus on the mission of Jesus Christ – to be people of faith, hope and love.
Should you wish to contact me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
United together, in the spirit of “Fidelitas”