The Australian Government has finally followed other countries and Prime Minister Gillard states that the Royal Commission
will be consulting with the organisations that represent the survivors of child abuse, with religious organisations, with state and territory governments, to ensure the terms of reference are right.” The inquiry will not be confined to the Catholic Church, but extend to all religious organisations and to children in state care, and into other institutions including schools.
The sickening incidence of sexual abuse is often regarded as Roman Catholic issue. But Scout Leaders, Pentecostal and other church Ministers, sports coaches, teachers, doctors, in fact all areas of society are infected with this scourge. Since 1969, as a 10 year old, I have been personally aware of (mainly) men behaving badly: my scout leader, a friends father, a diocesan youth ministry Catholic priest and ministers of others religions. The Catholic Church, however, seems to get the most press.
At the same time, I have known a fantastic priest falsely accused due to childrens memory being faulty but finally the correct offender was identified. A wonderful teacher who brushed against a students breast endured ten months of accusations and court appearances until the student apologised. Her complaint was made due to a breakup with her boyfriend, and she wanted attention. Also, a great friend who was a wonderful intelligent university masters graduate who felt he was called to the priesthood was brutally raped by senior seminarians within days of entering the seminary and fled Australia in order to recover from his ordeal. Child sexual abuse also extends to adult sexual abuse.
As an employee of the Catholic Church for twenty years I heard many horrific stories of fathers abusing children, of priests, nuns and brothers likewise. However, at the same time was I privy to the processes and ongoing education that the the Catholic Church in Australia was attempting to use to stop this abuse. Some victims were assisted very well, others not so well. Systemic procedural changes have ensured that young children today have many safeguards in place.
Yet, there have been multiple cover ups. By churches, by police, the scouting movement, by schools and institutions, and by families. As a student nurse I saw senior medical staff have affairs with my classmates. Young innocent country girls suddenly thrust into an unwanted pregnancy, or subject to derision and ridicule because they had been seduced. As a young married man I was subjected to sexual harrassment by a senior female ward nurse. Sexual abuse is not limited to children. This a complex issue. Australians will now have to endure ongoing exposure of the horrific deeds done to children, and no matter what the final findings of the Commission are, disgust, sorrow and regret cannot change the evil reality of child abuse.
As a loud and proud Roman Catholic I trust the majority of our clergy, nuns and brothers who over the past twenty years have lived with the shame of this never-ending scandal. I believe that some values are worthwhile. What my values are may differ from others, but I hope that the Commission uncovers and resolves the sex abuse scandal for many who have been abused. Nothing, however, can change the trauma the victims have suffered. And the ongoing reality is that sexual abuse of children will continue.
There is a willingness by the Australian Catholic Church to cooperate with the Commission, yet the problem is societal: from families through to institutions. The Roman Catholic Church, far from innocent, is just part of a far bigger problem. There has been engrained abuse within sections of the Australian Church, specifically some Religious Orders, and this has been noted:. Statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference :
While there were significant problems concerning some dioceses and some religious orders, talk of a systemic problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is ill-founded and inconsistent with the facts.
I concur with the ACBC
We deeply regret the suffering and trauma endured by children who have been in the Church’s care, and the effect on their families. Mistakes were made and we apologise to victims and their families for these failures.
The Royal Commission, hopefully, will be given a lengthy time span to fully investigate this serious issue and bring closure for some victims. It will not solve the dilemma of maladjusted people who abuse children. There is a sickening litany of Australian Roman Catholic Abuse documented here.
It has been disconcerting over the past days to overhear pornography being defended by a woman; and driving home from work tonight, to hear on the radio a discussion on the merits of the ‘shades of grey’ books for couples… A university lecturer several years ago stated “There is no such thing as normal”. Society has to discover what is ‘essentially’ normal in sexual behaviour. Yet a sexually maladjusted adult will always prey on children.