Safeguarding designed to ensure failures of the past are never repeated again, says Archbishop Costelloe

08 Sep 2022

By Jamie O'Brien

2022 Child Protection Week Morning Tea Highlight. Video: Michelle Tan.

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has this week spoken in support of National Child Protection Week at a morning tea ahead of Safeguarding Sunday, this weekend, Sunday 11 September.

The Safeguarding Project, said Archbishop Costelloe, is one of the most important things that the church in in this Archdiocese, and more broadly across Western Australia is involved in.

“It is, of course, a response to the terrible failures of the past. But it is a response that’s designed to ensure that they are never repeated again,” he said.

This year, parishes across the diocese are being encouraged to celebrate Mass in acknowledgement of Safeguarding Sunday, rather than just one main celebration at St Mary’s Cathedral.

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has this week spoken in support of National Child Protection Week at a morning tea ahead of Safeguarding Sunday, this weekend, Sunday 11 September. Photo: Ron Tan.

Continuing his speech to representatives from the Archdiocese at the morning tea, Archbishop Costelloe said he believes they – the people on the ground in the concrete realities of our local communities – are the ones who are there to help ensure that no child, no young person, and no vulnerable adult is ever hurt again, in any of our communities.

“You fulfill the ministry of the Lord who brought hope and healing to the broken, and it was the good shepherd, making sure that his flock was kept safe from harm,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“So I’d like to invite you to think of yourselves as fulfilling in the ministry that you have, the call that we all have in our own particular vocations, to be good shepherds to each other. It’s a shepherding role that you have. And it’s very much a preventive role,” he said.

Artistically designed Kites are displayed at the Archdiocese of Perth National Child Protection Week Morning Tea, Tuesday 6 September at St Mary’s Cathedral Parish Centre. Photo: Ron Tan.

This year, the Archdiocesan Safeguarding Office marked the occasion by holding a kite decorating activity, inviting Perth parishioners to be artistic.

The theme for the occasion this year was ‘Every child in every community needs a fair go.’

Acting Director of the Safeguarding Program Office, Barbara Blayney said the Safeguarding Program works with the Church community to raise awareness and to provide guidance, protocols and practices for a safe and nurturing Church.

“Our logo, the kite, was this year was impetus for Child Protection Week activity. And the kite symbolises their connection to self and community while being guided by God, which is our kite tail and the kite guiding string,” Mrs Blayney said.

Zero tolerance for priests guilty of abuse, Pope Francis says in interview

Calling sexual abuse “diabolical” and a “monstrosity,” Pope Francis underlined there is “zero tolerance” for those in the church who are guilty of abuse.

“One very key thing is zero tolerance. Zero. A priest cannot continue being a priest if he is an abuser. He cannot act (as a priest) because he is sick or a criminal,” Pope Francis said in an interview with CNN Portugal.

“If he is a priest, he is there to lead people to God and not to destroy people in the name of God. Zero tolerance and we must not stop at that,” he said.

The lengthy interview was recorded in August at the Vatican and aired in two segments over two evenings on 4 and 5 September.

Reporters at the Vatican were provided a transcript of the interview in Spanish by CNN Portugal.

The interview covered a wide range of topics, such as the liturgy, the role of women, the importance of dialogue, synodality, prayer life and World Youth Day, which is to be held in Lisbon, Portugal,  1 to 6 August 2023.

The Holy Father was asked about the anger people may feel toward the church because of the abuse carried out by some of its members and how those cases were handled.

“Abuse by men and women of the church — abuse of authority, abuse of power and sexual abuse, is a monstrosity because the man or woman of the church — whether priest, religious or layperson, was called to serve and create unity, to foster growth, and abuse always destroys,” Pope Francis said.

Most abuse occurs and remains hidden in families, he said, and it is estimated three per cent of reported abuse was perpetrated by members of the church – a number that is still too high, Pope Francis said.

Even if there were just one perpetrator, “it’s a monstrosity,” he said. Unfortunately, the culture of abuse is widespread in the world, but “I look at this one that exists (in the church) and that I am responsible that it doesn’t happen again, right?”

“Let’s take the percentage that concerns us and go after that,” he said.

Celibacy is not the reason for abuse, as can be seen with abusive family members who are not celibate, he said.

Abuse in the church “is simply the monstrosity of a man or woman of the church, who is psychologically sick or evil, and uses their position for their personal satisfaction. It’s diabolical” and it must be faced, he said.

Featured in The Record Magazine, Issue 38, December 2022.