As I write this, I’m aware that this week the Australian Catholic Bishops and Catholic Religious Australia will release a statement in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Last week the Pope addressed a letter to the People of God on the same topic. Bishops in Chile have resigned, as has an American Cardinal.
What a time we are in! Research conducted in 2016 in Australia showed that the confidence of Churchgoers in Church authorities has been damaged by the cases of sex abuse by priests and religious. More than one-third of Churchgoers stated that their respect for priests and religious declined as a result of these offences. Nearly two thirds of Churchgoers stated that the response of Church authorities to incidents of child sexual abuse had been inadequate and showed a complete failure of responsibility.
I’m writing ahead of the release of the official church response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but I’m confident that most of the recommendations of the Royal Commission will be accepted and the Church will commit to better standards of professional behaviour and reporting.
Fr Hans Zollner, a professor of psychology and president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, says, “We need a new model of accountability and responsibility and a new way of educating the whole people of God in Christian ideals.”
So I wonder: What role do we, as women, have in the Church at this time?
What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?