When the two leadership groups of the Catholic Church in Australia, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia, set up the Truth Justice and Healing Council in December 2012 they did so knowing the Royal Commission into institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse would reveal enormous and confronting challenges.
The Royal Commission is investigating how the Catholic Church and other organisations dealt with victims and allegations over the past decades.
The Church’s history has involved crimes, cover ups, failures of leadership and a careless disregard for some of the most defenseless members of our community, children.
And despite the very real improvements that have taken place since 1996 with the introduction of the Church’s two victims’ reparation schemes, the Melbourne Response and Towards Healing, more still needs to be done.
Over the coming years, as the Royal Commission undertakes its work, the Church will need to face up to some very harsh realities. And it will need to show an openness and willingness to reform.
Victims are coming before the Royal Commission and telling their stories of abuse and betrayal. These stories tear at the hearts of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
This is now the time for the Church in Australia to accept that the behaviour of some of its members in the past has had a devastating impact on hundreds, if not thousands of people, and in the Royal Commission the full consequences of these actions will now be examined and judged.
Text courtesy of the Truth Justice and Healing Council website.