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Talking to children about the Royal Commission

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Kristina Keneally |  22 November 2012

Rotten apple'By their fruits you shall know them,' says Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. He is talking about the religious leaders of his time, and reminding people that actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to discerning holiness and devotion to God.

As a Catholic, I can't help reflecting on and being challenged by this in light of recent events.

My soul has been wrenched reading the stories of abuse of children, many of them incredibly vulnerable, at the hands of Catholic priests and brothers. It's utter horror to contemplate such crimes.

Stories of sexual abuse in the Church have circulated for years, and in America and Ireland the systematic horror has been exposed. Perhaps it was naive, but those of us in Australia — Catholic and non-Catholic alike — weren't forced to face the potential scale and magnitude of the problem here.

But the voices of victims can't be ignored any longer, and they rightfully demand compassion and justice.

Just as horrifying is the likelihood that the Royal Commission into the institutional response to sexual abuse of children will confirm that the Australian Catholic Church is guilty of perpetrating child abuse by hiding criminals from the law. Rather than acting to protect children, the institutional Church may well be found to have simply moved sexual predators round the country to new locations where they could find new victims.

If that is what the Royal Commission brings out, it will be an incredible challenge for many Australian Catholics to continue to follow their faith within an organisation that would appear to have so grossly violated some of the most basic teachings of the Gospel.

Jesus said, 'Let the little children come unto me.' Jesus loved children; he welcomed children. He elevated children as holy and special. Individual members of the Catholic clergy and the institutional Catholic Church appear to have done the polar opposite.

The sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church represents so much sinfulness that it seems to drive home Jesus' point: by their fruits you shall know them. Australian Catholics are going to face very difficult questions as this Royal Commission conducts its work: What do we really know of our Church? How can we grow in our faith within an organisation whose fruits may well be found to be rotten?

As a mother of children being raised in the Catholic faith, who go to Catholic schools, who are old enough to watch the news and understand, I don't know how to explain to them why a Royal Commission is being called.

As a Catholic, I am not helped by the response of the Church's leadership to the Royal Commission. I'd liked to have told my children that the Catholic Church is acting with compassion and understanding for the victims of abuse and a determination to protect children into the future. Rather, I was left trying to explain why Cardinal Pell sounded defensive and seemed to be projecting blame onto the media for reporting stories of abuse.

It's a challenge to raise children in a religious faith. It's a challenge to hold on to a religious faith as an adult, especially at times like these, when the very institution that has nurtured faith may well be found to have so broken its own faith with Jesus, with its followers and with the community at large.

My Catholic faith has nurtured me; it has given me every great value I have; it has guided me through the best and the worst periods of my life; it has brought me closer to God and delivered moments of real grace.

I object in conscience to the Church's teachings on women, homosexuality and contraception. But I have always endorsed every word of the Apostles' Creed, have always believed Jesus is the Son of God, and that his grace is available to me through the sacraments of the Catholic faith.

These past two weeks have tested my faith in the Church like nothing else. It's possible the findings of the Royal Commission will create a crisis of faith for many Australian Catholics. By their fruits you shall know them: can a church be so sinful yet also full of enough grace to still mediate Jesus' love to its followers? 


Kristina Keneally headshotKristina Keneally is CEO of Basketball Australia and a former Labor Premier of NSW 


 



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can a church be so sinful yet also full of enough grace to still mediate Jesus' love to its followers? Yes! For "when minds are enlightened and hearts are enkindled, signs begin to "speak". The RC is a response to the signs of the times, in particular the child abuse scandal. Sadly, it is the government that had to initiate it, when our church leaders could have resolved it years ago. In the words of Pope John Paul II, "If history demonstrates that mistakes have been made by believers as I acknowledge, this must be attributed not to "Christian roots" but the failure of Christians to be faithful to those roots". Did you know these things were happening on your watch?

J. Anthony 23 November 2012

Yes Kristina, it is difficult. My faith is vital to my life yet I too am horrified by what we read re sexual abuse and the possible cover ups by the establishment of the Church. Now with Parish Councils, Pastoral Associates and generally more openness in the running of most Parishes hopefully we can know more and so be ready to respond in the event of questionable events occurring. We need to be honest with our children and for us Grandchildren so that while allowing them to see the depth of our faith we don't miss the opportunities to point out the human failings that have occurred. It is my prayer that the Royal Commission will strengthen us as a community. Don't be concerned about The Cardinal's lack of media presence, you would have seen many people in your political life who couldn't respond adequately to the media. Let's pray on two counts 1) that the Church will appoint a more media savvy spokesman and 2) that all will be supportive of that person.

Phil van Brunschot (Mrs) 23 November 2012

Thank you Kristina, for expressing exactly how I feel about our Holy Mother the Church. Someone said to me once, when I was having a similar discussion with my children's music teacher, a beautiful gifted elderly nun, " You know Murray, even if your mother's a prostitute, she's still your mother." I've clung onto these words of wisdom very strongly these past days/weeks. I too was horrified at Pell's remarks and with gut wrenching contempt of the man, felt ashamed of being a member of the church he's supposed to lead. My friends laugh at me for remaining a Catholic (I'm gay) but now they're openly vilifying me for even wanting to remain a Catholic. But, for me, "She's still my Mother!" It's a trying time for all Catholics right now! - And a praying time!

Murray J Greene 23 November 2012

The author is one of those (ex)politicians who sought to blur the line between being a secular politician and being an advocate for her own religion. On top of that, she makes it very clear that she really does not support major planks of the Catholic teaching, yet still insists she has a 'blind faith' ability to bow to selected elements of the Church. Frankly, that adds up to a lack of credibility, something that many politicians suffer from these days. "But the voices of victims can't be ignored any longer", is an interesting statement implying that she was happy to ignore these very well publicised claims for many years, including during her time as a politician in NSW, further adding to a 'lack of credibility'. Being an 'apologist' is one thing but being a highly selective apologist is another. It seems Catholics have forgotten all about the slave-trade laundries that were run here in Australia, and the exodus of British children, in cahoots with the Australian government, that tore the life out of hundreds of thousnads of vulnerable children entrusted to the care of this 'church [be] so sinful yet also full of enough grace to still mediate Jesus' love to its followers'. Selective beliefs goes hand in hand with a selective memory, it seems.

janice wallace 23 November 2012

At the start of each of the Masses last Sunday, before the Penitential Rite, I asked all of us in the churches to reflect on three questions about the Royal Commission, the victims of the sexual crimes and impropriety of members of the Church and the effects on our faith and our Mass-going. I wandered around up and down the aisles, listening to the offerings of the Mass goers. They were appalled as I was, at the plight of the victims, angry for any failures of officials in dealing with the crimes and improprieties and determined that they would not lose sight of their faith, because that is all they have. I can understand Kristina as a mum, living with those very same questions and hope that the Royal Commission will uncover the full extent of the problems for institutions, including the Catholic Church and the State and Federal Governments. Unless the institutions of the culture (do we include the Media as one?) are across all the issues, individuals and families won't have a hope of doing what Kristina is setting as a task for herself as a parent.

Fr Mick Mac Andrew 23 November 2012

Dear Kristina, Thank you for your simple, yet poignant piece. As a longstanding committed Catholic, a theologian (and former seminarian), and a lawyer, I am ashamed by the institutional Church's initial, defensive response to the Commission. I hope that that seemingly predominant approach will change after the meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops next week. This matter needs - now more than ever - strong, compassionate leadership.

Christopher Sexton 23 November 2012

Murray's statement brings to my mind when the enlightened and humanist Erasmus met Luther in Rome and they saw the Pope Julius 11(if I remember well) leading an army and Luther was scandalised.Erasmus replied She(the Church) is better than the others

Emmanuel Sant 23 November 2012

Like every mature Catholic, Kristina finds herself questioning some part of her faith. She mentions her objections in conscience to some of the Church's teachings, and her struggles to explain the sexual abuse crisis to her children in ways that make sense of the Gospel. Her mention of all the belief statements in our creeds makes me think that we also as Catholics, could do with a Credo of Commitments. We need to articulate how our beliefs could be and should be translated into action . One of these actions would be to scrutinize more closely the words and actions of those who exercise power and authority in the Church in the service of the people of God. When we find ourselves gasping in dis-belief at what has happened, we should ask ourselves how we all became so compliant and unquestioning of the myriad of "teachings" which allowed such appalling things to happen. It is our Gospel, our Church, and we should accept a more active involvement in shaping its life and actions.

Garry 23 November 2012

I cannot say how much this article summarises how my wife and I feel; we have a 15 year old daughter and are also concerned about the impact of the Royal Comm'n on her, Thanks!!

Mark Meade 23 November 2012

Yes, the Church can endure. Many have already walked away, and more yet will walk away,not realising that the reality is that we too are the church. It's not just the priests, brothers and nuns who are the Catholic Church. They are our spiritual directors, our leaders, yet this has been an ever increasing church of the lay person leading in many areas. The church survived the early days in Australia when there was virtually no clergy. They met as the first Christians did, in their homes. The Church has been off track before, been led by a couple of bad popes, but the fundamental church has always been there and survived.

John Morris 23 November 2012

Thank you Kristina.As a Catholic I am deeply offended by the 'official' Catholic Church's response to so many allegations (and prosecutions). We know sexual abuse is found everywhere, but the historical pontificating about the highest moral ideals by the Catholic Church is now seen as the worst and most blatant hypocrisy.Clerical sexual abuse destroys so deeply any trust in God, and Christ's message of Love.It is abuse of the sacred. The Catholic church is the wealthiest christian movement in Australia, and enjoys much authority and freedom along with government funding. It is hard to find a more devastating example of evil."Evil happens when 'good' men do nothing, and also when they hide the truth, and harbour the suspected or convicted perpetrator(Criminal). Victims have had to wait for a Royal commission to find justice.Does not the church speak of justice as a core part of mission? Phil, I would suggest sexual abuse has been smearing the church's reputation for decades. Cardinal Pell enjoys a very powerful position in the church hierarchy,surely he could have effected justice and change??' The medieval monarchy that is the Vatican, has to relinquish its absolute control for any justice to be done, and no more 'spin' from media savvy clerics will 'contain' collateral damage.The church is now in my mind very anti-christian . and signifigantly higher

Catherine 23 November 2012

I would have loved to be at your mass FR MICK MAC ANDREW.

Kate 23 November 2012

The Catholic church has signifigantly higher numbers of reported cases of sexual abuse, therefore it will be the focus of media attention.There are laws protecting innocent people and their reputations. Cardinal Pell,thankfully, also stated The church has nothing to hide and will cooperate with the Royal Commission.This is going to be painful for him, but I cannot help thinking of all the victims.

Catherine 23 November 2012

Thank you Kristina, for your thoughtful assessment to which I agree. Two mothers of victims have described their incredible pain and suffering, one in NSW Patricia Feenan in "Holy Hell" and one in Victoria Chrissie Foster in "Hell on the way to Heaven". If anyone says that the Church has nothing to hide, then he is ignorant of the gravity of the situation.

Peter M 23 November 2012

Thanks Kristina. I appreciate your dilemma as a Mum. When Premier though, did you miss opportunities to lead on clerical abuse in NSW? On church leadership,these extracts from Fr Michael Mullins in this issue of Eureka Street say it all, don't they? “...the Church needs to take its own advice about imitating the humility of Christ. It often preaches this using the text from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians: ‘In humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.’ Any hope that the Church has of being a credible witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ depends upon its ability to accept its current humiliation and give glory instead to the sexual abuse victims whom it has humiliated.”

Dr Frank Donovan 23 November 2012

The author states: "I object in conscience to the Church's teachings on women, homosexuality and contraception." As I have explained before, our Holy Mother, The Church is sinless and blameless. She is The Church founded by Our Lord, Jesus Christ, on the Rock of Peter. With a well-formed conscience, all Catholics would abide by ALL Her Teachings. The people to blame for these heinous crimes are the ones to be taken to task for breaking the tenets of the Catholic Faith so egregiously, many of them "priests" and all those people in the hierarchy who have allowed this gross conduct to go totally unchecked. It is impossible to label them as Catholic. The filthy stables need to be cleaned out completely by good and conscientious true Catholics and those who have participated in these sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance should be removed from the priesthood

Trent 23 November 2012

Kristina - you are confusing Christian faith with Catholicism....the two are not necessarily complementary.

Helen Martin 23 November 2012

Like Kristina I have realised this crisis has had a grave effect on my faith and trust in the Catholic Church. This crisis is far larger than most of us realised. There is need to seriously look into what may have arisen within the church culture has has caused these crimes world wide. In other words stop the causes at their root. No one can be sure that this scourge will never again emerge but there is a very real need to look at possible inherent causes. This is too wide spread to be just an aberration. There has also been serious flaws in the management of these crimes, far too much covering up at least in the past.Many victime are still living through the abuse they suffered from what some of our church leaders call historic cases.

margaret M.Coffey 23 November 2012

Bless you Kristina. Your horror is in human beings. Your faith is in your Lord and your God. P.

the reverend patricia bouma 23 November 2012

The revealed Word of GOD should be our only source of guidance, 1Timothy 4:1~3 deals with the man made law of celibacy and it's evils. Romans 1 puts paid to a man centred Gospel as does 1Thessalonians2:4 as does Hebrews 13:4. GOD is the centre, the Creator, He makes the rules, we are the created and must conform to HIS ways.Jesus is the redeemer and the very image of GOD, loving man so much.. John3:16 but never condoning sin. We need only approach Him in repentance, He hears us and forgives and not through a second person or an institution.

Carol Britton 23 November 2012

In my eagerness to read what (if anything) useful points an ex-premier of NSW could provide about what she did about the well known sex abuse going on during her time as politician and as premier of that state, I missed the ill-chosen illustration, the selection of which, of course, has nothing to do with Ms. Keneally. The well worn phrase 'a few bad apples in the barrel' had better never be used by anyone in relation to this Royal Commission when it comes to the Roman Catholic church's complicity in crimes over a very long period of time. Those who seek to minimise the forthcoming and well deserved damage will use it though. I hope Eureka Street avoids, in future, the temptation to give the phrase a run, in word or illustrations such has graced this web page today. Shame on you editorial team, shame.

janice wallace 23 November 2012

The answer to your final question is YES. Since Christ is the Head and we, the members of the Body of Christ. refer to ..Pope Pius X11 encyclical, 'Mystici Corporis Christi.' As with our human bodies there can sometimes be 'bad or diseased' parts, the whole body can be affected by the illness, but nonetheless it still keeps functioning as a human body. We don't give up life because we have gangrene in our foot, or cancer of the stomach. So too, if our beliefs are strong, our way of life is through Christ, then we don't walk away from the Church because of the failure of some of its members. We are one with Christ, the Head.

Alison Smith 23 November 2012

I would add my thanks for a fine piece of writing. It isn't just the Catholic Church that is being investigated Kristina.!! As a responsible parent one hopes you taught your children about safety in side and outside the family, it would be here that you could explain the Commission to your young people and also that ALL of us one way or the other are sinful. It is difficult to entertain the notion of abuse of children however as one who worked in Counselling for many years I can say that the issue is prevalent and frightening too. No-one it seems to me now is above the law of either the land or the Church in regard to abuse.

Rosemary Keenan 23 November 2012

Dear Janice Wallace, The illustration chosen for this article is intended as a pictorial reference to the phrase used by Kristina in paragraph nine, 'How can we grow in our faith within an organisation whose fruits may well be found to be rotten?' Kind regards, Tim Kroenert Assistant editor

Tim Kroenert 23 November 2012

It's not only Roman Catholics, and not only adherents of religious denominations and institutions who will be asking similar questions. However, as for the Roman Catholic church, appropriating the means of Grace and claiming it as the church's is part of the problem. Many would argue that Grace is God's and any human institution will inevitably mediate Grace with considerable imperfection.

As to the abuse of and violence perpetrated against children, let's be clear about one thing: it is not 'sex'; it is not 'sexual'. The latter require both mutuality and consent. The Church in all its guises has visited violence and violation on our children, who were neither consenting nor willing.

Alistair P D Bain 23 November 2012

How wonderful to read this article, despite its horrible sunject matter. Ironically, I am supervising a room full of children in one of Australia's oldest Catholic Boarding schools, which my own great grandfather and many other relatives attended. Even though far from a teacher of mathematics, its helpful to bring some statistical data to this issue; that you are more likely to be sexually abused by a relative than a priest or that other rarity, a religious brother. The sad truth is that it's probably a bit late for a Royal Commission as the damage is already done. The boys I see are quite open and already suspicious about these matters - not so, earlier generations, many of whom were lambs sent to the slaughter. May they seek resolution and find healing from the hurt and damage they endured.

Valery 23 November 2012

I went to a Catholic school throughout my whole education and saw nothing of the horrific acts that are being reported but something about the way the church is set up doesn't sit right with me, it seems like there is one simple solution that crazy as it might sound just might work...... take away the rule where they have to be celibate and let them get married, it might just work? Otherwise it seems like the church is just inviting homosexuals and pedophiles to act as priests and when they have shuffled around to different churches to hide from the law that is just plain wrong.

David Bedford 23 November 2012

thanks for this letter . your faith belongs not to an institution Kristina.. your faith is nothing more than an accident birth if it belongs to an institution your faith belongs to Jesus Christ.
Ask what Jesus would think of your church .
and 'By their fruits you shall know them"and
'Let the little children come unto me.' .. have also echoed in my head..
and the answer is as clear .. I will do everything in my power ,no less than Jesus would ..to to hold the Catholic Church any Church ; accountable for crimes against humanity..and that includes our Gay brothers and sisters, the poorest of the poor dying of aids being taught contrapection is a sin .
Leave your church , grow -up and follow Jesus.


rosemary ridings 23 November 2012

Tonight on Radio Nationals PM program a comment was made that the church cannot release funds to cover the compensation for victims of sexual abuse.
In a recent issue of The Tablet I read that Cardinal Pell had authorized a thirty million dollar renovation to the boutique Australia Guest House in Rome. ( I believe it was purchased for forty million).
This obscene luxury must be sold and the money used to help the many abused by clergy in Australia.

Karen Giudici 23 November 2012

I received an e-mail from Catholics for Renewal, advising that it will lodge a submission with the Royal Commission on Child Abuse.

I recall signing its Open Letter to the Pope and Australian Bishops for their ad limina visit to the Vatican in October 2011, which:
1. mentioned the 'sexual abuse scandal where the Church's initial response was manifestly inadequate and where some authorities, in their attempts to protect the institution, exposed innocent young people to grave harm';
2. expressed serious concerns with the Church's governance;
3. was signed by more than 8,000 Australian Catholics; and
4. was apparently effectively ignored: it was simply handed over to the Vatican Secretariat of State.
I have been scandalised by revelations of child abuse. I have read of the consequences for those who were abused (and for their families) by those with power over them and who professed to be Christians, who should have been wholly trustworthy. This is the worst possible betrayal of such trust and I cannot imagine a worse crime before God.

To know that abusers have been simply “forgiven” and moved to another place in Australia or overseas, where they were again open to temptation and could again commit the same crime, tells me that there is a systemic problem in the Catholic Church. Non-Catholics now have every right to hold us up to ridicule and contempt for allowing behaviour which would be abhorrent to Jesus Christ; which shows that as a body we are hypocrites. I don’t think Christ had a greater criticism than that of the leaders of the Jewish temple. We now have no credibility with non-Catholics. How can we bring people to Christ when our very organisation has allowed behaviour antithetical to Christ’s teachings?

We MUST change, urgently. Bishop Pat Power and the late Cardinal Carlo Martini SJ recognise(d) this:
• we need “a total systemic reform of Church structures”;
• the Church is “200 years out of date”; in need of “radical change, starting from the Pope and the bishops'”.
As others here have stated, WE are the church. I cannot walk away from the Church because of the failure of some of its members; because it has failed in its mission of justice due to its dysfunctional hierarchical power structure.
St Francis said: “Preach the Gospel; and if you have to, use words”. Until we squarely addresses these concerns with actions rather than just words, I expect that we will have no credibility with non-Catholics, nor with the victims of abuse and their families.
Please e-mail your concerns to Archbishop Denis Hart both as President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and as Archbishop of Melbourne: gensec@catholic.org.au and archbishop@cam.org.au requesting a response.
Copy/CC your email to:
i. the Apostolic Nuncio's office (the Vatican's ambassador)
nuntius@nunciature.com.au
ii. possibly your local bishop, and
iii. Catholics for Renewal at copy@catholicsforrenewal.org

Frank S 23 November 2012

Once again, I expected the usual scapegoat of homosexuality would crop up in comments from bigoted and ignorant observers. I'm tired of defending the rights of people with different sexual orientations to the majority, but suffice to say that that they no more prone to commit the crimes of paedophilia than someone with blond hair, or balding, or of celtic ethnic background.
Any statistics that attempt to prove that homosexuals commit the majority of sexual abuse crimes is a bit like saying in Ireland that celtic people commit the majority of sex abuse crimes, or in Mexico that latinos are all child abusers.Please leave homosexual people out of this and go and after the rapists and child abusers instead.

AURELIUS 24 November 2012

Thank you Frank for all this information.

I will be sending my letters/emails to the Vatican and have emailed the Catholic Bishops last week.Our outrage and anger is all we have.This could be a chance for all catholics and the Australian community to really send a strong message of rejection and abhorrence to the secretive, dark structures and places of our church.We too have a duty to push for real justice.We have a duty to stand with victims.


How can this be OUR church? We have no voice, or power to right any wrongs.The Pope has all the power.Bishops, it seems have no vehicle for due process.This must change.

We have seen thousands of people walk silently in honour of a murder and sexual assault victim, Jill Meagher.

I would like to see a rally in every town, to PROTEST LOUDLY against the church and all institutions for abusing so many thousands of victims.Then,maybe, church leaders will get the message.

The cost of abuse is horrendous.The church must make reparation, as a most wealthy and priviledged 'corporation' .Our CEO must go.

Catherine 24 November 2012

The brave Australia victims of child sex abuse and Detective Peter Fox and the media news coverage are to be commended for having the courage to take action to expose the truth about the sex abuse and cover up within the Catholic church system.
And a big thank so goes to Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, for ordering a royal commission that will look at institutional responses to the child sex abuse by predator priests.

Child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever...
BUT, an even more powerful danger is when high ranking officials enable, empower, and cover up these crimes against kids. They need to be held accountable for allowing more innocent kids to be sexually abused.
Child sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day. Hopefully there will be some healing and justice to all those who have suffered from such a massive betrayal of trust.
There is way too much at stake for us to stay silent, "the safety of our children today".

Judy Jones 24 November 2012

A good article, Kristina, which I am sure will assist your children to have a compassionate understanding of this child abuse issue. A number of the Church hierarchy will have some difficulty in explaining the institutional cover-up to the Royal Commission over a long period of time.
I believe that only a minority of priests and brothers were involved in child sexual abuse and the majority are good law abiding citizens. I was pleased to see a recent report in the Geelong newspaper where the parish priest, Fr. Kevin Dillon, suggested that the church hierarchy needs to acknowledge incidents of sexual abuse. There are many other priests, bishops and brothers who have similar opinions to that of Fr. Dillons.

Mark Doyle 24 November 2012

Kristina you subscribe to every word of the creed, including the belief in the Holy Catholic Church [and that ought include its teachings on concerns from which you dissent].
Luke 10:16 "He that hears you hears me; and he that rejects you rejects me; and he that rejects me rejects him that sent me".
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

father john george 24 November 2012

Kristina, stick to your basketball. You have been hood-winked. Your Church is a dud.

otis 24 November 2012

Good article, Kristina. I sympathize with you and with all parents having to explain without excusing the circumstances that have led to the Royal Commission. On one hand I want to say that you're wrong, Trent, in saying that the Church is sinless and blameless. It's human as well as divine, so it is faulty and in need of healing. On the other hand, I want to say that the Church is not only sinful and malignant. It's also the Body of Christ that feeds, heals, gives life - and we can see that every day in individual members and in Catholic organizations. We have every reason for the hope that leads to the action we need now.

Joan Seymour 24 November 2012

Christine I loved your article and it just said where and how I am feeling Thank you

barbara Barber 25 November 2012

Thank you Catherine 23.11.2012 "Clerical sexual abuse destroys so deeply any trust in God, and Christ's message of Love.It is abuse of the sacred ". Ditto. I was brought up by in an Italian Catholic family in Australia with strong family values. I find it difficult to trust any priests in the Church now. They have broken the trust of many Catholics and believers .I felt and still feel so betrayed and angry I can no longer pray at times .I have lost trust in a Church that did not protect and keep safe children and vulnerable young people.Personally I have experienced verbal,spiritual, psychological and emotional abuse from many priests as an adult from my 30's up to now in my 50's.I have been a Church employee ,volunteer, a member of CCR since 1985,spent 15 months in religious formation .A banker for many years .Worked as a child abuse investigator. I have heard many testimonies of abuse survivors for many years .They were adults when they told me about childhood and their young adult abuses.My Catholic High school had abusers .I do not trust the clergy at all.I went to confession to a very senior priest and asked what do with all the anger and strong emotions I felt because of the betrayal by the abusive clergy and the harm they caused .He just shrugged his shoulders. May the Royal Commission exposes the hidden crimes committed.May all those responsible be held accountable and justice delivered..May the survivors be heard and believed ,receive justice and restorative compensation and assistance. The Church must be reformed from top to bottom. The Church must stop rationalizing and minimizing its crimes and be fair dinkum with itself and us. The Church is Gods visible sign of His presence here on earth. If we can't trust God's Church to act with courage,integrity,honesty and transparency and who then can we trust? Our faith in God ultimately is all we can cling to.The Church must do what is right and just.Simple.We get taught as children to be honest. Humble yourselves and be honest.Tell the truth .That is what our families and nuns, and priests taught us.Be compassionate and gentle in your words.Stop being so defensive! As Jesus said "let your yes be yes,and your no be no".

John Smith disaffected Catholic 26 November 2012

Thank you John, for your honesty. It is sickening to face appallingly hypocritical and gravely sinful actions. Thank you also for reminding me we are not alone in this struggle for justice.Thank you Eureka Street for allowing this space to freely express our objection. We all need to discuss and learn new ways to live, to be really more Christ-like.We cannot blindly follow or condone, we must act. I love Christ's words "the Truth will set you free".

Catherine 26 November 2012

Thank you Kristina for a compassionate and thoughtful article. I was also impressed by your appearance on Sky last night. One issue that hasn't been raised, but which to me seems essential. Shouldn't parents be explaining to kids that they may encounter people within the school or church why may seek to relate to them in inappropriate ways. If they do encounter such behaviour, the kids should be taught what to say. For example: "My parents say that what you are suggesting is inappropriate. Please stop." Or "My parents said that if a situation like this occurs that I should ask you what Jesus would do in a situation like this." Not sure what the right words might be. But surely we need to prepare the kids on how to deal with the situation should it arise.

mondo 28 November 2012

Objecting to the Church's teachings on (I presume you mean) women priests, homosexuality and contraception, means that you are not accepting dogmas of the Faith and that, therefor, puts you outside the Church, and in honesty you cannot call yourself a Catholic if reject the Church's moral teachings. After all that us what pedophile priests did - they rejected the Church's moral teachings, and what example are you showing to your children in rejecting the moral teachings of the Church?

Fred 29 November 2012

The church's initial response was terrible, regardless if the media reporting in their opinion was on sided. If they were proactive and helpful, perhaps the media would have been able to balanced. I've read Patricia Feenan's book Holy Hell and encourage anyone who is a Catholic to read it. It is not a church-bashing but a view from a catholic mother who was betrayed by her own church and priest. You can get copies at http://www.holyhell.com.au

Barry S 05 December 2012

Hopefully the Royal Commission will help make people more aware of this dreadful problem within the Catholic church and in every other place where children are at risk. Kristine Keneally should tell her children the truth. In a case of apples not every apple is bad but if left within the case the bad apple will infect the others. So bad apples have to be weeded out as soon as possible.I pray this can be done.

Peg Saunders 21 December 2012

There are two things to consider in this matter: 1. the facts of sex abuse and 2. conclusions to draw from the facts. Re 1, many facts have been revealed - they are facts. Re 2., we need to be careful. Not a single item of the Creed or of the dogmatic teachings of the Church has been falsified. My commission of a sin does not make false that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead or that Baptism brings forgiveness of sins. The Church teaches that sex abuse is a sin. All agree with the Church - therefore, they can have no quarrel with that teaching of the Church. The sins of any member of the Church - Pope, priest, banker, nurse, father, does nothing to make it untrue that it is the Church established and authorised by the Lord Jesus. The Sacraments remain powerful aids to salvation, as always, even when administered by a paedophile. The Church began with some notable sinners and has continued with, for all I know, an overwhelming majority of sinners ever since. As for "By your fruits you will know them", the Gospel is preached, sins are forgiven, charitable works abound.

FRANKMOBBS 21 December 2012

As a victim of catholic clergy abuse. I had a similar but more difficult problem to Kristine. As i am going before the RoyalCommission i needed to tell my parents that i had been abused 45 years ago. I live a distance from them, i phoned them on Christmas eve one at a time and had light chatter. Then i told them i would call them back later as i had some devastating news and needed to prepare them, i let them know that my family i were safe and well. I rang each one and told them that they had been wonderful loving parents who made good decisions to educate and care for me and helped me develop good values, and what i had to say will trouble them but they were not responsible. Then i told them. Although upset, my father said he was very proud that i had enough courage to stand up for what is right as it has gone on too long, and he would do everything he could to support me. I am grateful for the hundreds of friends globally who stand behind me and i now request the support of the Catholic Community.

Aroyal commission 09 January 2013

We frequently make the mistake of looking at a "then" situation through a "now" prism. Thee were circumstances operating in the Catholic Church prior to 1996 which have not existed since then such as ignorance of the nature of paedophilia,a mindset that the "good of the Church" was of paramount importance,a resistance by the Vatican Curia to the dismissal of offending priests from office, none of these factors are in play any longer. One reason for the focus on the Catholic Church is that it has the most accurate statistics of the incidence of child abuse by clergy of any organisationin Australia

Leo Franics Donnelly 18 January 2013

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