Submission to Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
Group of Concerned Queensland Catholics As Submitted to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
October 2, 2013
[Concerned Queensland Catholics]
PART 1: INTRODUCTION
1. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is seeking submissions from all interested parties about the content and operation of the Catholic Church’s Towards Healing process. The authors of this submission come from a variety of walks of life. However, the overwhelming driving force in us making this submission is not our varied skills and life experiences but, rather, our deep concern for the victims of abuse within the Catholic Church (“Church”) and our condemnation of the manner in which the Church treated those victims in the past and continues, under present Church leadership, to treat those victims at the present time.
2. This submission does not dwell on the past treatment of victims as the Church Leadership has publicly acknowledged its failings in the past. We are concerned here with how the Church treats victims of abuse now, and into the future. To this end the Church puts Towards Healing forward as its successful vehicle for providing healing, support and justice to victims of abuse. For example, the Church, through its advisory organisation, the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, recently stated that “Towards Healing is evidence of the Church’s professional approach to the scourge of sex abuse” and also that “ The Towards Healing protocols have radically improved the Church’s handling of sex abuse allegations and its treatment of victims of abuse”. Of course, at its highest levels, the Church
has had to address the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and religious. Whilst in Australia in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI stated, “Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice”.
3. Accordingly, we are left in no doubt that Towards Healing is the Church’s flagship in regard to the treatment of victims of sex abuse. The Church will be judged, ultimately, if it is established that Towards Healing truly provides compassion, care and justice. To assist the Royal Commission we have set out to examine, in some detail, the content and operation of Towards Healing so that we can express our views on the extent to which this process does give victims compassion, care and justice. Unfortunately, we have concluded that Towards Healing fails on all accounts and we will call upon the Royal Commission to recommend the dismantling of Towards Healing, and in its place,
recommend the creation of a truly independent and transparent body, funded by the Church, to investigate and determine complaints of abuse against the Church.