Message for Child Protection Week

2nd - 8th SEPTEMBER 2012

Over the past two decades, we have become more aware of the prevalence of sexual abuse of minors in our society. We have begun to understand the extent of its devastating and lasting effects on victims and their families.

We have discovered that the perpetrators of these crimes have most often been, not strangers, but trusted family members and friends, and respected professionals. This has been a problem within the Church: that some of these offenders were our own clergy and religious, abusing not only positions of trust, but betraying their sacred commitments: inflicting not only emotional wounds, but spiritual damage as well.

In the past, Church leaders sometimes dealt poorly with these incidents when they came to their attention. That is a matter of sorry record. Since then, we have worked hard to turn good intentions to do better, into strict and fair policies and procedures. The principles and process known as Towards Healing was adopted in 1996 and is revised and improved continually as our knowledge grows.

Last week, the Archdiocese of Sydney published a detailed account of how the Towards Healing process works there. It does not differ substantially from what we do in the Diocese of Bathurst, though obviously we operate on a smaller scale.

The following links will be helpful for those seeking more information: Towards HealingIntegrity in Ministry,  Sexual Abuse: the Response of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

I encourage all our parishes to include in their prayers this Sunday the worthy goals of National Child Protection Week.

+M J McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst
27th August 2012
St Monica’s Day

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