Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Cost of Clergy and Religious Abuse in The Catholic Church

As a person who has worked with survivors of clergy abuse and their families I too believe it takes a monumental "leap of faith" to tick the Catholic box in the census form.

Just reading the anger and pain in comments on social media from those who have been on the receiving end of  processes that have failed to point towards healing is enough to understand why the Church is losing its integrity in the community.

This week's headline in The Age: "Church to block victims' court bids despite promise to abandon practice by Pell" can only leave the Church open to ridicule and empty pews.

 In a year dedicated to the value of the Consecrated Life there are too many bodies carrying the scars of abuse and neglect by members of religious orders for this initiative to inspire  those who are not in the habit of taking vows.

If the Church really wants to look this issue in the eye I suggest it abandons its financial investment in the coming World Youth Days and invests the funds in a compensation package for survivors. If it included the investment made for WYD2008 in Sydney I'm sure there would be a reasonable  bank account, even if it needed to sell a few assets.

Thanks Frank Brennan for stating it as it is. You and fellow clergy who speak out such as Fr Kevin Dillon in Gelong will never reach the ranks of the hierarchy. Your mission is to disturb their comfort zones and  rattle their mitres.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Dignity of Work:An Australian Catholic Perspective

Joseph With Baby Jesus - Louis Glanzman
To celebrate the Feast of St Joseph the Worker the Australian n Catholic Social Justice Council released a pastoral  letter, The Dignity of Work -When It Matters Most.

There are times when Catholics are able to celebrate their religious and civic identity as integral and meaningful. This letter is one such opportunity.

We are not a community obsessed by issues of sexuality, nor are we a community that prefers to protect the institution over the victims of institutional abuse.

 We are a community passionate about being fully human and sharing the dignity inherent in every person and creation.This pastoral letter  picks up a sentence I have used as a touchstone for my faith and action:

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.1

The pastoral letter is a political challenge to the  dominant economic culture and policies  adopted by recent Governments  formed by both of the major parties.The challenges are laid out in four sections:

  • Failing vulnerable individuals and families
  • Failing communities on the edge
  • Failing future generations
  • The source, the centre and purpose of economic life

This is not the first time the Australian Bishops have issued a pastoral letter of this strength and passion.In fact there is a series of them going back to 1998 on this site. I wonder how many of these letters have been seen by the current Catholic members of the Federal Government? I also wonder how many parishes and diocese have promoted these letters. When was the last time your parish or faith community discussed one of these topics?

Putting People First: The call for an economy of social inclusion
Indigenous employment: the most basic form of social justice 
Working families’ and the minimum wage at a time of financial crisis
The voice of vulnerable workers in the changing world of work 
Casual work: the costs of flexibility 

When I was looking for an image for this story i selected the one from the work of Louis Glanzman.I thought the work looked familiar and then I discovered I had seen it before. It is part of a collection published in a book with Richard Rohr, Soul Brothers Men in the Bible Speak to Men Today. That book, signed by Richard sits among my  readable treasures. To those treasures I will now add this series of Pastoral Letters for the Feast of St Joseph The Worker.