Child Sexual Abuse, Society, and the Future of the Church

Child Sexual Abuse, Society, and the Future of the Church

edited by Hilary D Regan
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 142
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    Child Sexual Abuse, Society, and the Future of the Church
    Book Description:

    In November 2012 the Australian federal government announced the establishment of a ‘Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’. This Royal Commission was set up after many years of reports of sexual abuse in Australia within religious institutions of various Christian churches, some state government inquiries and in the context of inquiries in other countries, most notably Ireland. The Royal Commission began its first hearing in April 2013. It has been forecast that the Commission will be hearing submissions for a number of years from witnesses, both from those who ask to speak to the Royal Commissioners and from those who will be asked to appear before the Commission. At the same time as the establishment of the Royal Commission, the Catholic Church in Australia established a Truth, Justice and healing Council to oversee the Catholic Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission. This collection brings together essays from biblical scholars, a church historian, theologians, ministers of religion from a number of churches, lawyers and a psychologist. They each address the issues of sexual abuse, society and the church in the context of the Australian inquiries. The volume ends with an overview of the processes engaged with by the Catholic Church and the State in the Republic of Ireland and reactions to these inquiries. The volume of essays considers sexual abuse from the perspective of the victims. What is to be done about the mess we are in over clerical sexual abuse? That question is puzzling concerned people today. This diverse collection offers them profitable reading, wherever they are coming from. It has enough useful suggestions and ideas to stimulate the calm, intelligent discussion now demanded by our communities.’ Edmund Campion, Australian Catholic University.

    eISBN: 978-1-922239-25-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-x)
    Hilary D Regan

    This collection brings together essays from biblical scholars, theologians, ministers of religion, legal scholars, a church historian and a psychologist, from a number of churches. They each address the issues of sexual abuse, society and the church. The context of this volume is the recently appointed Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

    In November 2012 the Australian Federal Government announced the establishment of a ‘Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’. This wide-ranging Royal Commission will involve federal and state governments, church and non-church-based agencies. It will investigate sexual abuse within institutions and responses...

  4. An Autoethnographic Reflection on the Rresponse of Churches in Australia to Victims of Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy Over the Past Fifteen Years: Who is Welcome at the Table?
    (pp. 1-14)
    Michelle Mulvihill

    Growing up in the late 1950s in country New South Wales, one of the larger states in Australia, was like living in an episode of the TV show, ‘Heartbeat’. Our family home was always full of priests; well, that’s how it seemed to me as a child, at least. Every Sunday five or six baby-faced, white, Irish Catholic boy-priests, all dressed in black suits and dog collars, would sit at our dining room table for lunch, along with Dad, Mum and my three siblings. There was no housekeeper at the bishop’s house on a Sunday so they were left to...

  5. Towards a Theology of the Child
    (pp. 15-28)
    Alan Cadwallader

    In the all-too-brief outline following there are two halves: a) issues of prolegomena and b) contributions to the construction of a theology of the child.¹ The first section, I believe, is particularly necessary so that we might be circumspect and accountable for our heritage which has sadly lacked an awareness of and sensitivity to the child in christian theology. The second section can be no more than distinct items of contribution and demands a more profound analysis. These contributions cover a range of traditional categories, pastoral theology, theological anthropology, theological ethics, christology and theology and await a more thorough integration....

  6. Sexual Abuse and Luke’s Story of Jesus
    (pp. 29-44)
    Michael Trainor

    On March 13 2013 Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as Bishop of Rome. As Pope Francis and leader of Roman Catholic Church he will face enormous challenges. One of the most pressing is the scandal of sexual abuse that has affected almost every corner of the Catholic world. Here in Australia, the issue is no less serious. In November 2012, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced that a Royal Commission would be established to investigate institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse. The focus of the Commission would not be solely on one particular institution such as the...

  7. Sin, Holiness and Openness in the Early Church
    (pp. 45-52)
    Denis Minns

    That they abandoned themselves to promiscuous sexual couplings at their assemblies, that they slaughtered infants and ate their flesh, were two of the more lurid of the accusations brought against Christians by their enemies in the second century. The earliest defence known to us against such charges was made by a convert to Christianity writing in Rome in the middle of that century and who was himself to be tried before the Urban Prefect and put to death for his Christian belief. He is known to us as Justin Martyr. Justin countered these charges, in the first place, by reference...

  8. Personal Reflection on My Experience of Dealing With Clergy Sexual Misconduct Within the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Uniting Church in Australia
    (pp. 53-58)
    Ann Drummond

    I write this essay from my personal experience over twelve years as a member, and five years as chair, of the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Sexual Misconduct Complaints Committee. These are my reflections and do not necessarily reflect the position or thinking of the Uniting Church in Australia.

    The Synod Sexual Misconduct Complaints Committee (SSMCC) deals only with cases of adult-to-adult misconduct complaints. Any complaints that are in breach of the law are not dealt with until after the legal process is completed. Complainants are always informed of their right to take legal or civil...

  9. Sexuality and the Clerical Life
    (pp. 59-74)
    Chris Geraghty

    Some little time ago I put myself on a training regime to toughen my ageing body to attempt a second walk on the Camino through France and over the border into Spain, on the ancient pilgrim track to Santiago de Compostella. With my friend Max, I took the train from Central Station, up the mountains outside of Sydney, past the little township where I had spent my youth in the seminary, to the railway station at Wentworth Falls, where we walked the narrow paths, climbing up and down hundreds of uneven steps. It was tough going but the scenery was...

  10. Dysfunctional Church Stares into the Abuse Abyss
    (pp. 75-82)
    Michael Kelly

    Charles Dickens’A Tale of Two Citiesbegins: ‘It was the best of times. It was the worst of times’. If we take St Paul seriously, the worst of times can be the best of times for Christians. In his biblical account of faith, he sees adversity, trial, rejection and hardship as the nodal points for growth. ‘We have no other boast but the Cross.’

    This time in the Church in Australia is tragic. The intervention by Cardinal Pell in mid-November, 2012, following the announcement by the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, of a Royal Commission into child sex abuse...

  11. The Space for Religion in Australian Society: An Assessment of the Impact of Australian Anti-Discrimination Legislation on Religious Freedom
    (pp. 83-116)
    Laira Krieg and Paul Babie

    The 2012 establishment of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (‘the Royal Commission’)¹ focuses, for the first time, national attention on the ways in which religious organisations have dealt with matters that involve their interaction with the broader Australian society and its legal structures. The concern, seemingly well-founded, which lies behind the establishment of the Royal Commission, is that many religious organisations acted in ways which at best ignored and at worst actively sought to circumvent and pervert the operation of the law related to the abuse of children and others at the hands of...

  12. Child-Care Investigations in the Irish Catholic Church
    (pp. 117-128)
    Bernard Treacy

    The Catholic Church in the Republic of Ireland would seem to be the most closely investigated of all the entities that make up the Catholic Church worldwide. Over a period of just over ten years, many of its dioceses, religious orders, and child-care institutions have been closely examined in reports issued by judicially-lead teams appointed by the state. Most of these investigations arose in response to information uncovered and published in some pioneering television programmes.

    The Ferns Report was the first such report to be published. A BBC programme, ‘Suing the Pope’, broadcast in March 2002 had detailed the brutal...

  13. Contributors
    (pp. 129-132)