AUSTRALIAN Catholic lay people in some parishes are already meeting to discuss issues surrounding the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, including how the Church has handled the issue.
Truth, Justice and Healing Council chief executive officer Francis Sullivan (pictured) said priests and clergy needed to consider encouraging such initiatives.
He met with more than 30 priests responsible for the pastoral care and support of clergy to discuss the role of the council as it prepares for the September start of public hearings at the Royal Commission.
At the recent National Conference of Directors of Clergy Life and Ministry in Sydney’s north-west, Mr Sullivan said priests and clergy needed to help parishioners understand what the Catholic Church had done and was doing to protect children.
“We need to walk alongside those who have been damaged through the abuse scandals,” Mr Sullivan said.
“The path of atonement and reconciliation demands as much.”
Mr Sullivan highlighted other initiatives currently underway in some parishes including:
• Creating expressions of atonement and reconciliation in liturgies and at local Church events and meetings.
• Providing local avenues through which anyone who has been damaged can receive support and access the Royal Commission process if they so wish.
• Monitoring and supporting fellow clergy and other Church employees.
The TJHC was established by the Catholic Church to co-ordinate the Church response to the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The 13-member council is made up of men and women with professional and other expertise, especially across issues related to child sexual abuse, paedophilia, trauma, mental illness, suicide and public policy.
Its role is to oversee the Church’s engagement with the commission, to develop new policies to protect young people and to ensure the Church responds to any future complaints appropriately with justice, putting the needs of victims first.