A Long Way from Rome: Why the Australian Catholic Church Is by Chris McGillion, Geraldine Doogue

By Chris McGillion, Geraldine Doogue

Why Catholicism in Australia has did not preserve its relevance regardless of frequent proof of a starvation for that means, values and a renewed feel of group.

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It meant that the old closed ranks and crisis management approach had been dropped. It also meant that those bishops who had been inclined to tough out the publicity generated by the Royal Commission into Police Corruption, as well as the wider controversy generated by the sexual abuse issue, had been talked around by other bishops who felt the need for urgent and decisive action. And it meant that the Bishops’ Conference had finally accepted that it had a role to play in issuing authoritative directives on behalf of the entire Church in Australia.

In cases where children were involved, the Church should ‘co-operate fully with child-protection agencies and the judiciary, not claiming preferential treatment for one of its personnel when suspected or formerly accused’ of sexual offences. Action must be taken to rebuild trust in the community affected by abusive clergy. To this end, the draft contained an unequivocal warning that ‘priests, religious and Church workers need to be aware that sexual abuse or misconduct on their part is not compatible with on-going ministry in the Church’.

Lawyers representing alleged victims of physical and sexual abuse in the Brothers’ care in Western Australia had compiled a list of accusations against 93 Brothers—20 of whom were still living. As well in Victoria, the Christian Brothers had set up a ‘hotline’ to take allegations of abuse against members of the order and to provide counselling to the victims. The same year a Canadian drama, The Boys of St Vincent, which was based on the scandal involving a Christian Brothers orphanage at Mount Cashel in Newfoundland, was broadcast nationally.

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