The Australian Catholic Church is continuing on its ground-breaking path toward a potential dramatic overhaul with the announcement that a panel of experts will thoroughly review the governance and management structures of Catholic dioceses and parishes.
Such a review was a key recommendation of Australia’s landmark Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which handed down its findings in October 2017 after four years of hearings that rocked the country with serial tales of child abuse in Catholic dioceses and institutions, other Christian and religious institutions and secular groups.
“The Royal Commission uncovered some practices that could have exacerbated the abuse of children and hampered the response to that tragic reality,” said Josephite Sr Monica Cavanagh, president of Catholic Religious Australia, which jointly announced the review with the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
The terms of the review were outlined in a six-page document released by the advisory committee that sets the scope and timeline for review.
“The appalling revelations of widespread sexual abuse of children by clerics and in Church organisations and the mishandling of complaints of abuse have been a lightning rod attracting and focusing attention on calls for cultural and practical renewal and reforms as an essential part of the response to the tragedy,’” the document noted.
“If there is to be a restoration of trust and credibility in the Church in a way that will make it a safe place for all who come to it and that will enable it to proclaim its Gospel mission, there must be ‘real social and cultural transformation’. This can only occur if all of the people of God are involved in the way the Church is governed,” it said.