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Child safety officers to be appointed across Perth under Catholic Church plan
Child safety officers would be appointed in parishes across Perth under a proposal to eradicate sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe recently outlined to senior church personnel a draft policy to appoint
child safeguarding officers with specialist training.
Common in the UK, the officers take a key role in responding to allegations of abuse and advise
parishes on child protection policies.
A spokesman for Archbishop Costelloe said he was “keen to act as swiftly as possible” to
strengthen the protective measures already in place.
In his Easter Sunday message, Archbishop Costelloe will today reflect on the “terrible
history of abuse perpetrated by some of our diocesan clergy”.
The sermon comes days after Perth priest Patrick Holmes admitted sexually
abusing two young girls more than 30 years ago.
The guilty pleas sparked Archbishop Costelloe to issue a “sincere apology” to the victims.
“We are supposed to be a light for the world and salt for the earth and often we
are anything but,” the head of the Catholic Church in Perth will tell worshippers at St Mary’s Cathedral.
“In my own Church we have a terrible history of abuse perpetrated by some of our diocesan
clergy and religious clergy, and an equally distressing history of inaction by some of our leaders.
“We are supposed to be disciples of Jesus and we have failed very badly.”
Archbishop Costelloe is overseeing a range of strategies as part of his aim to
“ensure the Catholic Church becomes the safest place for children”. These include:
* More than 200 clergy, religious and lay staff attending a three-day seminar on the protection of minors and steps to prevent child abuse;
* Examining child protection policies and procedures of the Catholic Education Office;
* Ensuring the continuation of professional psychological assessment of young men who want to become priests;
* Mandate ongoing formation programs to ensure trainee priests mature psychologically, emotionally and spiritually;
* Regular letters to clergy highlighting and explaining critical aspects relating to pastoral boundaries.
Archbishop Costelloe’s spokesman said recommendations and feedback relating to the proposal for child safeguarding officers
were still being received.
Recommendations from the ongoing Royal Commission into child sex abuse, which will hold its first pubic hearing in
Perth on April 28, are likely to be years away.
The Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council has also recently drafted a
discussion paper on reforms to deal with safeguarding.
The paper will be considered at a meeting of bishops and religious leaders in
Sydney next month ahead of a broader consultation.
“Archbishop Costelloe is keen to move forward with all that needs to be
done in the Archdiocese of Perth while being a part of any national policy being
introduced by the Catholic bishops of Australia as a whole,” the spokesman said.
“The challenges remain many and yet the Archbishop is determined to do all he
can to confront them and to bring about all necessary change.”
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