Commitment to safeguarding

These are my thoughts as a priest with pastoral responsibility; they have no other status.

Reading the news reports of the horrific abuse which took place in Pennsylvania brought back to mind the survivor’s stories narrated in our own Royal Commission. Their stories could convey only a little, I am sure, of the horror they experienced, but they were still disturbing in the extreme. We should be grateful to them for telling their stories and to the public bodies which are holding institutions to account for the failure of leadership.

The work which has been done over quite a few years was acknowledged in the Pope’s recent letter:

I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable.

A great deal of work has been done by our own Archbishop, his co-workers in parishes, schools and agencies. The Professional Standards Office and the Safeguarding Office have been working hard to respond to survivors and help us build safer communities. The Professional Standards Office ‘responds pastorally to survivors of abuse and manages the process that seeks to bring these people to a place of wholeness, hope and healing’. The Safeguarding Office, established by Archbishop Costelloe, ‘is responsible for ensuring the safety of children, young people and the vulnerable within the confines of the Catholic Church across the Archdiocese of Perth, educating the Catholic community on child protection and protective behaviours, and establishing Safeguarding Officers within Perth’s metropolitan and rural parishes’. We are guided by the agencies, but the work is not theirs alone.

How will I respond personally?  These events summon me together with the rest of the church’s ministers to conversion. Indeed as the Holy Father has written:

To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.

How will we respond? All of us are on this journey together; Pope Francis calls us all to this work:

Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change.

We, in the Cathedral parish, all need to be part of change of culture. I am committed to building on that which has already be done, working  with all the members of our Cathedral community to ensure that the protection of children and the vulnerable is integral to all that we do. If there are issues you wish to raise or questions or you need assistance please do get in touch with someone who can help whether that be the police service, the Cathedral’s Safeguarding Officers or any of the agencies or with me or one of the other Cathedral priests.