Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Recently, our world has been shocked by the tragedy of flight MH17. It was unthinkable that an attack on a domestic plane should become a reality. The reactions have been strong and varied … disbelief, shock, anger, sadness, loss, grief, uncertainty. The impact of the loss of 298 innocent people has been palpable. The devastation for families, friends and local communities is so evident.
The Church has been coming to terms with a reality born out of the unthinkable – that in our history there were some in ministry, entrusted with the care of our children, who violated their trust and innocence in a way that has brought such devastating consequences. We respond with profound sadness, disgust and regret for the anguish of victims, families and friends. Parish communities have grappled with understanding how these despicable acts could have ever happened.
The Royal Commission is investigating the experiences in many institutions and how they responded to reports of abuse. We support those who lead the Royal Commission as they make their determinations regarding the past and future practice for all institutions, including the Catholic Church.
The Royal Commission will have a public hearing in Melbourne from August 18 to 29. The Archdiocese of Melbourne and the Melbourne Response will be examined.
Recently Pope Francis met with victims. At that time he asked God “for the grace to weep and make reparations for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons”. May we learn from the past. I pray we will listen more carefully to the pain of victims and offer support and reparation which will bring healing. May leaders of the Church seek forgiveness for the betrayal which stole innocence from God’s beloved.
It is our duty in homes, schools and communities to provide a safe environment where children are loved, protected and nurtured. We will do all in our power to ensure the Catholic Church is a place where all children may flourish. Society demands it…our Gospel demands it!
May God’s grace heal the broken hearted and strengthen us in our service.
+ Denis Hart
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.