Address of Archbishop Hart at the launch of the CEM/ACU programme ‘Certificate in Safeguarding’ at James Goold House
Tuesday 9 August 2016
It is indeed a pleasure to be with you to acknowledge this significant milestone in child safety and growth; our first responsibility.
We witness another innovative partnership between Catholic Education Melbourne and Australian Catholic University as the Graduate Certificate in Education: Safeguarding Children & Young People is launched.
Saint Gregory the Great compares the Church to ‘the dawn’, that moment between night and day when light first appears in the sky.
‘The dawn intimates that the night is over; it does not yet proclaim the full light of day. While it dispels the darkness and welcomes the light, it holds both of them, one mixed with the other, as it were’ (1).
This great image of ‘the dawn’ of a new day can be likened to the position of the Church as we move from darkness toward the light following the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and the continuing work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
As we struggle with disturbing truths, the extent of the crimes perpetrated and the devastating personal impact of the abuse felt by victims, their families and the community, I am reminded of the words of Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans (13:12): ‘cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light’ because the day is at hand.
As night passes and day approaches, we must become the true light of Christ and do all that we can to support, guide and protect young people from harm. We must listen compassionately and with care to ensure the hurt and failures of the past are never repeated.
Now is the time to restore but to join with all affected in some way in seeking new hope, new life and a new way.
As Archbishop of Melbourne, I acknowledge the important work of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and the Royal Commission in giving voice to those who have suffered abuse.
These public processes have enabled us to confront our past and the undeniable truth that members of our Church committed crimes against children with devastating consequences.
I reiterate our enduring apology for what has taken place. Any incident of sexual abuse is an absolute tragedy, especially for the children against whom the acts were committed.
I reaffirm my own determination and that of our Archdiocese and Church to listen to people’s hurt and respond with humility and compassion. We must work towards bringing healing and hope to lives damaged by this evil and to do everything we can to proclaim the preciousness of every child to ensure a safe future.
I know through the Executive Director that Catholic schools today are safe places with vigilant staff and communities where the spiritual, physical and cognitive wellbeing of all young people is the essence of our educational vision.
I am also aware of the significant work taking place through this Office, at a Diocesan and cross-sectoral government level to support schools to implement the Child Safety Ministerial Order recommended by the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.
W have made many positive changes, with heightened awareness, increased vigilance and stronger processes in schools, within the Church, our organisations and in the community.
I commend Catholic Education Melbourne and Australian Catholic University for their latest vision in developing the new Graduate Certificate in Education: Safeguarding Children & Young People.
Thank you for your ongoing dedication and concrete steps taken towards building the capacity of staff within our Catholic schools to better protect children and young people.
I reaffirm my commitment and that of the Church to creating safe environments for all children. I pray that a renewed culture of respect, integrity and Christ-like love prevails in our midst and permeates our society. May we each be a satellite of hope, reaching out to all in need.
Let us pray.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just.
You call each of us to mission as your disciples of love and mercy in our world.
Guide us as we strive to ensure that our communities are safe, caring and nurturing environments where all children and young people can grow, flourish and reach their full potential.
May Jesus the teacher be with Catholic Education Melbourne and Australian Catholic University as they work together in this new endeavour to safeguard and protect young people.
God of new beginnings, we offer our prayer to you knowing that your Spirit lights our way. Give us hope, strength and courage. Through Christ our Lord.
(1) St. Gregory the Great’s Moral Reflections on Job (Moralia in Job, Lib. 3, 15-16: pl 75, 606-608)