Monday, March 06, 2017

Prowse promises 'listening tour' with victims

Archbishop Christopher ProwseIn his Lenten Message, Canberra-Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse has promised a "listening tour" to meet victims of child sexual abuse and their families as part of a healing mission.

Archbishop Prowse again apologised and condemned past crimes and also acknowledged his own failings and pledged to focus on the care of victims and prevention of further abuse.

His message referred to royal commission revelations that since 1950 in the Archdiocese there were 43 complaints against 16 priests and 36 against 21 lay people.

"Structures and policies are now in place in the Archdiocese to ensure that the scourge of sex abuse does not continue in our communities," he said.

"A cultural shift, good governance and structural changes to prevent child sexual abuse are the hallmarks in going forward in hope."

Archbishop Prowse said he feared being a defensive Church.

"This whole tragic situation has been like a cancer for people of faith," he said. "We pray for healing and as people of hope, we ask Jesus to lead us."
 
Several other bishops also made reference in their Lenten messages to the abuse issue.

"Everyone realises that changes is needed," wrote Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth, emphasising his commitment to implement change.

Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta wrote that "the Church must be grateful for the work of the Royal Commission."

"More importantly, we must seize this Kairos, this moment of grace, this opportunity as a catalyst for change and not treat this period as a temporary aberration," he insisted.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne called for prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

"Consider visiting and spending some real quality time with people who are sick or elderly in your parish," he wrote. "Or reach out to some recently arrived refugees in your area by your welcoming presence with them. Our increasingly fearful, polarised and selfish world desperately needs to see the witness of Catholics who welcome the 'stranger'."

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