RELIGIOUS leaders have shown their support for reform within the Catholic Church in its efforts to prevent future child sexual abuse within the organisation.
Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive officer Francis Sullivan was in Bathurst yesterday to speak with a group of 40 local church officials including Bishop Michael McKenna, priests and representatives from Catholic welfare and health organisations about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and the church’s response to it.
The Catholic Church established TJH to help it fully embrace the Royal Commission.
The council helps the church deal with the tragic legacy of child sexual abuse and to help victims and survivors be heard and supported.
Mr Sullivan told the Western Advocate that he spoke to yesterday’s conference about the Royal Commission and what the council is doing.
In particular, he addressed the development of new policies to protect young people in the future and to help the church respond appropriately and justly to any future complaints, putting the needs of victims and survivors first.
Mr Sullivan said it was important to promote the interests of survivors at a public policy level.
Having spoken to Catholic leaders across the country, Mr Sullivan said he was heartened to see so many Catholics at local parishes meeting and confronting the sex abuse scandal and looking for real solutions and real change in the church.
He said this change was so the community could feel the church was “a safe place to be”.
Among the changes, which will be in place next year, are amendments to the supervisory structure within all dioceses.
“There will be certain standards of child protection in place which will be audited and made public,” Mr Sullivan said.
“The recommendations have been accepted without question with a very strong sense of support.”
While acknowledging respect for the church’s leadership had taken a beating as a result of the child sex abuse scandal, Mr Sullivan said regard for the work of the Catholic Church on the ground, in schools, social services and health organisations was still high.