The Catholic Church is just one of many organisations that has been the subject of allegations of ongoing sexual assault cases. In this instance, new cases continue to make headlines as the true extent of the incidents is gradually revealed.
It’s a situation that recently prompted Pope Francis to write an open letter to staff and members of the organisations across the world, urging them to remain vigilant as it works to make amends for current sexual abuse cases and those yet to be uncovered.
What did the Pope’s letter say?
Pope Francis said in his letter that the only way to ensure these incidents stop occurring – and stop old cases from staying hidden – is to enforce a policy of zero tolerance.
“I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst,” the letter read. “[The church] recognises the sins of some of her members: the sufferings, the experiences and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests. It is a sin that shames us.”
The Guardian reported that the latest letter is a continuation of what has been an ongoing crusade for Pope Francis since his election in 2013. However, as reported by both The Guardian and The Australian, some victims abroad and here in Australia are still not confident in the organisation’s ability to protect them or to completely stop future incidents from occurring.
The Australian response to Catholic sex abuse
There are currently a number of ongoing investigations into sexual abuse cases involving the Catholic Church throughout Australia. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating incidents of the kind Pope Francis spoke out about: those that go beyond one-off encounters and potentially involve multiple people within an organisation.
The cases and investigations are split up by region and given individual court dates. For example, the public hearing into ongoing abuse by Catholic Church members in the Maitland-Newcastle region continued throughout December 2016 as the authorities worked towards a understanding the extent of the allegations.
Catholic organisations in Australia have responded positively to Pope Francis’ message, including the Vicar-General of Ballarat in Victoria who echoed his sentiments, according to The Australian.
At Gerard Malouf and Partners, we understand that sex abuse cases require an especially delicate and understanding approach. To talk to a member of our team, get in touch with us today.