As the Royal Commission wraps up its hearings into the Catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse, the SVD Provincial, Fr Henry Adler, has recommitted the Province to safe ministry and to continuing to provide support and pastoral care to all affected.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse completed its hearings of Case Study 50, known as the Catholic ‘wrap-up’ last week, after three weeks in which the overall extent of abuse by Church personnel over several decades was laid bare in statistics which were described as “tragic and indefensible”.
Speaking of the data released in the report: “Cases of priests and religious and non-ordained religious subject to a claim of child sexual abuse 1950-2010”, Francis Sullivan, the CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council referred to a “massive failure on the part of the Catholic Church in Australia to protect children from abusers”.
The hearings also heard from the Church hierarchy and other experts about what the Church has done and is doing to ensure such abuse cannot happen again.
In his letter to SVD confreres at the outset of the final hearings, Fr Henry acknowledged the statements from Australian bishops expressing sorrow for past failures and committing to do more to protect children.
“Many of us involved in ministry have been providing pastoral care, counselling and praying for and with people affected by these shocking revelations,” he wrote.
He urged the Divine Word Missionaries of the AUS Province to continue to provide such support and pastoral care.
Fr Henry also encouraged his confreres to follow the proceedings of the Royal Commission and talk about it in their local SVD communities and make it the focus of their daily prayers.
“Most importantly, let us continue to be committed to our Mission in a safe Church, protection of children and vulnerable people and high professional standards in ministry of all Divine Word Missionaries, especially in our Province,” he said.
Fr Henry said the Divine Word Missionaries AUS Province is proactive in ensuring all members receive regular formation in the area of professional standards, both in the seminary and in ongoing formation of older members. It is also a priority for newly arrived missionaries from overseas.
PHOTO: Mr Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council addresses the Royal Commission. (Source: Royal Commission)