Thursday 12 November 2015.
Office of the Archbishop of Melbourne.Pastoral reflection by Archbishop Denis Hart in preparation for the Royal Commission’s hearings commencing 24 November 2015.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In April this year, Pope Francis proclaimed an Extraordinary Year of Mercy to be celebrated as a special time for the Church. The Jubilee Year will commence on 8 December 2015 and conclude on 20 November 2016. During this time, Pope Francis calls on us all to renew our appreciation of the Mercy of God and our commitment to be living agents and signs of his mercy.
In announcing the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis reminds us:
‘Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.’ Misericordiae Vultus (Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy), par. 10
This force for new life and the courage to look to the future with hope takes on particular significance for us in the Church of Melbourne at this time.
The Royal Commission hearings return to Melbourne on 24 November. At these hearings, we can expect to hear the testimony of those who suffered abuse perpetrated by those representing the Church in our Archdiocese. Many of those living with the pain and suffering of the consequences of the abuse, and the failings of how it was dealt with in the past by those in authority, will have an opportunity to tell of their experiences and the impact on their lives.
We will continue to be challenged as a community as we listen to the pain and anguish of the victims, their families, those who offered support and those who sought to bring their concerns to the attention of Church authorities. Those in leadership and all of us as a Church must face this challenge and hear the cries of those who were vulnerable and who were taken advantage of in this shocking and despicable way.
We must all listen to their experiences with open hearts and minds. We must all continue to learn from the mistakes of the past so that we may confidently move into a future, reawakened with new life and the courage to look forward with hope for all of God’s children – past, present and future.
It is my fervent prayer that those who have been so wronged in the past through abuse will find renewed hope for their future. I also pray that the experiences revealed and the investigation and findings of the Royal Commission will enhance the efforts already made to safeguard our children today and into the future.
May the grace of God bring compassion and healing to those who are suffering, together with understanding and insight for those in leadership and all in our Church community.
Yours sincerely in Christ,Denis J. Hart
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE
12 November 2015
Archbishop Hart’s pastoral reflection may be downloaded in .pdf form here