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Province of Oceania

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Apology to sex abuse victims

The national apology to survivors of child sexual abuse will be offered by the Prime Minister, The Honourable Scott Morrison, MP, in the House of Representatives this Monday at 11.00 am.

The apology will be an important moment for our society. Sexual abuse is not new, it has accompanied the history of humankind and occurs in all societies. However, the recognition of the horrific effect sexual abuse has on those who have suffered it is something that is leading to a fuller consciousness in contemporary society. It is none too soon.

All societies have seen sexual abuse perpetrated in their midst. The imagined perfect society of the Catholic Church was no exception where institutional and personal abuse has occurred almost since the beginning with the first known reference being in the Didache at the end of the first century.

Monday's apology is to all survivors and will therefore include those women and men abused by our own confreres. Of course, saying "sorry" is only a small part in a larger response of society, the Church and the Congregation. Some will say it is only symbolic. Yes, it is symbolic, but it is more than a gesture. It is a public proclamation and part of a piece - the ongoing outreach to and accompaniment of the survivors of abuse. The Province is fully committed to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Response of Institutions in the face of Sexual Abuse. But more deeply, the Province is entering into processes aimed at changing the culture of religious life and formation so as to bring the personal growth, transparency and accountability that will make for a healthier Congregation more able to respect the dignity of all persons.

The Province is fully committed to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Response of Institutions in the face of Sexual Abuse. But more deeply, the Province is entering into processes aimed at changing the culture of religious life and formation so as to bring the personal growth, transparency and accountability that will make for a healthier Congregation more able to respect the dignity of all persons.

Last month at Galong, during the Province Assembly, confreres and mission partners participated in a largely wordless lament. It was a small attempt to stand still for a moment before the horror of the abuse that has occurred and to do so broken before God. Each community and each confrere this Monday can choose how to enter into the spirit of the national apology and to be further renewed in heart and mind - girded for action now and over the coming years.

A prayer for today may be accessed HERE.

Learn more about our formation for Apostolic Life in the 21st Century by clicking HERE.

You can read a joint statement from Catholic Religious Australia & Catholic Bishops Conference HERE.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: A Catholic perspective

National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse