|Bishop Speaks out against Sex Abuse
Sydney Morning Herald
September 14, 2010
An Australian Catholic bishop has compared child-abusing clerics to Judas and says the church must be purged of their sinfulness.
The Bishop of Broome, Christopher Saunders, spoke out on Tuesday following a recent report documenting systemic sexual abuse by Belgian clergy.
Released on Friday, the report, compiled by a commission within the church, includes revelations of widespread abuse by Belgian clergy over the past five decades.
It's been issued following the resignation in April of high-profile Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who admitted to child sex abuse.
Bishop Saunders told AAP on Tuesday: "When a priest or a bishop or a religious leader of any sort commits these sorts of crimes ... it brings a great sadness into our heart.
"We hope that we are able to cleanse and purge the institutional church of this sort of violence and this sort of sinfulness.
" ... There is a certain amount of disappointment that comes naturally because it's not unlike Jesus Christ, who had one betrayer in his midst in the disciple Judas - to a degree that broke the apostolic bond."
Bishop Saunders, who is also chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, was speaking at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney at the launch of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Social Justice statement.
The annual pastoral letter, entitled Violence in Australia, addresses the growing social problem at all levels - in the home and across the community and national structures.
The bishop was joined at the launch by NSW Governor Marie Bashir.
The collaborative letter cites incidents of schoolyard and cyber bullying, and says the "recent demonisation of asylum seekers as a threat to our national security" is an example of how violence occurs in divisive political rhetoric and sensationalist media reporting.
"Assaults, which constitute the bulk of all crime, have increased by over 50 per cent in the decade to 2007," the statement says.
"We hear increasing reports of road rage, of bashings fuelled by drugs and alcohol, or armed robberies on trains or in shops, of professional sportsmen involved in violence in pubs and clubs, of players and umpires being assaulted even at junior sporting events."
Bishop Saunders said urgent action was needed.
"A violent society is doomed to fail," he said.
"We talk about America being a violent society, but I think ours is developing unfortunately along the lines of that which is unacceptable and not healthy for a peaceful society."
The statement urges people to build peace and to identify and speak out against exclusion and oppression.
It will be distributed and presented to churches across the nation on Social Justice Sunday, celebrated on September 26.
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