Francis Sullivan on the Royal Commission aftermath

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Transcript

After five years, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concluded with volumes of stories and a set of recommendations. Yet the work hardly seems done. What lies ahead for the Catholic Church, against which so many claims of abuse and cover-up were made?

Francis Sullivan is CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, which was convened by Australian Catholic bishops and congregations to coordinate Church engagement with the Royal Commission.

He talks about what the process has been like, and the growing unease among ordinary Catholics that church leaders still don't get it. 

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Fatima MeashamFatima Measham is a Eureka Street consulting editor. She co-hosts the ChatterSquare podcast, tweets as @foomeister and blogs on Medium.

Topic tags: Fatima Measham, Francis Sullivan, Truth Justice and Healing Council, clergy sex abuse, Royal Commission

 

 

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Many thanks to Francis and Fatima for providing such a helpful discussion. There seems to be a concept among Church clerical authorities that the sexual abuse/cover-up catastrophe was a failure in their managerial competence. This is then thought to be answered by putting new protocols in place (and we all greatly approve of the new measures to protect children and vulnerable adults from institutional abuse). Yet, as Francis Sullivan comments: Who is addressing the profound need for a human heart change in all clergy? Whilst some clergy did not directly abuse, lie, conceal, or persecute the victims, they all participated in a heartless culture of secrecy and self-favoritism. We are waiting for the deep cultural change in which clergy repent and weep that they did not speak-up about their colleagues' wicked misuse of Christ's flock. Afterwards, followed by the realisation that Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Apostles lived their lives totally integrated among ordinary people. Personal openness and transparency are sadly lacking in our bishops, priests and nuns; most of the time they could secretly be doing anything, as far as we know. Sadly, they have been captives to a false norm - that being set aside to God means being separated from the flock. That is the poisonous tap-root of all clericalism and ungodly privilege. Only when pro-social seminarians and postulants are selected and trained to live godly lives, constantly cheek-by-jowl with ordinary Catholics, then the evil root of clericalism and its dreadful crimes will shrivel. It's lovely to see the gorgeous vestments and impressive habits - they are part of our Catholic heritage; as are beautiful convents and presbyteries. Yet, let's not forget that true shepherds live and sleep among their sheep full time. So much so, they smell like sheep and instinctively know exactly what is best for sheep. Such shepherds will even lay down their own lives to protect God's lambs from the ravening wolves.
Dr Marty Rice | 25 January 2018


Well said Dr. Marty Rice! I think Francis Sullivan's assessments of the Catholic Church are very accurate, especially his thoughts on the pervasive evil of clericalism. The Royal Commission has revealed two criminal activities within our Church: one is the activity of pedophiles, the other is the actions of negligence by bishops and priests who denied the rights of children. The Church does not represent the teachings of Christ, rather they represent a tradition that is based upon ideals and doctrines (formulated in another age). Christ is first and foremost 'Personal' and reveals God's Trinity on the level of the personal, but the Church preaches the value of Doctrines over the value of persons, and children have no status at all in Theology and therefore the minds of celibate males. Jesus stated that children have inherent value that exceeds adult value due to their innocence but clerics have stomped on childhood innocence. Until this attitude changes, I'm sure Jesus weeps bitterly for his Church.
Trish Martin | 26 January 2018


Thank you Dr Marty ... "Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Apostles lived their lives totally integrated among ordinary people ... true shepherds live and sleep among their sheep full time. So much so, they smell like sheep and instinctively know exactly what is best for sheep. Such shepherds will even lay down their own lives to protect God's lambs from the ravening wolves". I concur.
Mary Tehan | 26 January 2018


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