Message for Child Protection Sunday 2016
Dear Friends in Christ,
On Child Protection Sunday, we turn our minds to the present, the past and the future.
We hold in our hearts and prayers all the children who today are suffering neglect, exploitation and mistreatment.
Around the world, there are children in slavery, conscripted into armies, or displaced, maimed or killed in the conflicts that ravage our world. Millions of children lack enough food or clean water, let alone the education and health care that we take for granted.
Even in our own country, children are also suffering from neglect, domestic violence, detention and in the silent tragedy of abortions.
The words that Pope Francis wrote recently in the visitors’ book at Auschwitz can resonate with us in this situation: “Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”
As Catholics, we reflect on the past with particular pain. The current Royal Commission has heard dreadful stories of child abuse in Australian institutions. This has happened in our own institutions too, at the hands of people working in the name of the Church. They violated both their sacred promises and the lives of innocent young people. Their fellow Christians are ashamed.
We cannot undo the past, but we can give substance to our apologies, which I repeat today, with a commitment to do better now and into the future.
For the past two decades, Catholic bishops and religious leaders in Australia have been pursuing programs to make our schools and other ministries safe for children. We are not complacent about our achievements, but will continue to improve policies and procedures.
Our Diocese has published a summary of what we are doing now and into the future. You can read it HERE and in your parish.
This Sunday, please pray for the children, here and around the world, who were harmed in the past and are being harmed today. And pray for God’s mercy and for the wisdom and courage to do all we can, today and tomorrow, to heal the past and protect the future.
Bishop of Bathurst