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Australian prelate on abuse: ‘as a Church we have failed terribly’

Catholic World News - April 24, 2014

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth has issued a letter on child sexual abuse in which he expressed “our horror and deep shame at what has happened.”

On April 28, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will begin to hear testimony on the abuse of minors in Perth, especially in institutions operated by the Christian Brothers.

“The curse of sexual abuse has infected the Catholic Church right around the country,” said Archbishop Costelloe, who was appointed to his position in 2012. “Tragically, it is becoming ever clearer that it is a universal problem for the Church. We have some hard questions to answer.”

“The fact that we now know sexual abuse of children is a pervasive problem throughout our society does not, and must not, allow us in the Church to use this as some kind of perverse excuse,” he continued. “Christians hold up very high standards, and not just for ourselves. We also propose them to those who do not share our faith. It is right that we should be held to a higher standard, and that we hold ourselves to this same high standard.”

“As a Church we have failed terribly,” he added. “The perpetrators of sexual abuse have robbed so many people of their childhoods and left deep scars. Church leaders have at times failed to respond adequately when children or their parents raised the alarm, sometimes even moving abusers from one place to another, putting other young people at risk.”

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  • Posted by: normnuke - Apr. 24, 2014 3:54 PM ET USA

    Blame should more accurately be placed in the laps of bishops, religious superiors, pastors, and, yes, popes who have shirked their obligations of governance. They are not the whole of the Church. Indeed, there is a whiff of arrogance in saying 'We as a Church have failed'

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