Sexual abuse within the Catholic Church has been nothing short of an epidemic of catastrophic proportions. The devastation of victims, a culture of mistrust built among clergy and religious, the damage to a major world religion and its faithful are horrendous and incalculable.
Australian Catholic Bishops Geoffrey Robinson, Bill Morris and Pat Power call on Pope Francis to seize the opportunity of his appointment to establish a Council of the whole Church, inclusive of the laity from around the globe, to confront the global sex abuse scandal and address the issues that contribute to the causes of systemic sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
Bishop Robinson identifies three major tasks to be performed in eradicating sexual abuse from the Church: identifying and removing all offenders; reaching out to, and assisting, all victims and survivors; and identifying and overcoming the causes of both abuse and the poor response to abuse by the Church’s hierarchy.
Bishop Robinson has considerable expertise, having been involved in these first two fields for eighteen years. He and Bishops Morris and Power firmly believe there is a desperate need to address the third element: preventing abuse from happening in the first place . . . for good! Together, the three Bishops are calling for nothing less than a Council of the whole Church, inclusive of the laity, to confront the issues that contribute to the causes of systemic sexual abuse.
There are many people and many groups around the world seeking change in the Catholic Church. Though they may have slightly different emphases, there are a number of changes, common to all groups. These groups are calling out for:-
1) Greater Inclusiveness – a Church that is as much for laypeople as for clergy, for the marginalized as for those in the mainstream and as much for women as for men.
2) Greater Openness – if there are scandals, it is better to bring them into the light and confront them rather than seek to conceal them.
3) Greater Participation – not taking away the power of the Pope, but asking for greater participation and consultation, so that the whole Church may have a more active role in the mission of the Church.
4) Greater Sense of Mission – a greater concentration on the person and mission of Jesus Christ rather than on authority, laws, obedience and theological conformity.
Bishops Robinson, Morris and Power believe it’s time to unite as one voice that the Vatican can no longer ignore.
IT’S TIME FOR ACTION
This global petition will give people around the globe a collective voice. It will let the new Pope know the intensity and solidarity we feel in relation to the sexual abuse issue. It will show him that the whole world wants to help him, to work with him on this issue of paramount importance. We want the new Pope to lead the Church into a future he and all Catholics yearn for - and the world needs.
FOR CHRIST’S SAKE - FIND YOUR VOICE AND GIVE YOUR SUPPORT
By signing this petition you are assisting groups calling for change. You are helping to create something very special: - the voice of the faithful. You will be helping to create a church for the future, free of sexual abuse, full of participation and inclusiveness.
For more details on Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s action plan to end sexual abuse - for good, read his latest book, For Christ Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church…for good.
When so many people either offend or respond poorly, we cannot limit ourselves to blaming individuals, but must also look at systemic causes. The situation is so grave that we call for an Ecumenical Council to respond to the one question of doing everything possible to uproot such abuse from the Church and produce a better response to victims. An essential part of this call is that the laity of the whole world should have a major voice in the Council (for it is our children who have been abused or put at risk), and that the following subjects be included:
1. The continuing influence of the idea of an angry God
2. The immaturity that arises from passive obedience in adults
3. The teaching of the Church on sexual morality
4. The part played in abuse by celibacy, especially obligatory celibacy
5. The lack of a strong feminine influence in every aspect of the Church
6. The idea that through ordination the priest is taken above other people (clericalism)
7. The lack of professionalism in the life of priests and religious
8. The unhealthy situations in which many priests and religious are required to live
9. The constant placing of right beliefs before right actions
10. The passion for secrecy and the hiding of faults within the Church, especially in the Vatican
11. The ways in which the protection of papal authority has been put before the eradication of sexual abuse
12. The provision of structures to make a reality of the ‘sense of faith’ (sensus fidei) of all Catholic people
13. The need for each Conference of Bishops to have the authority to compel individual bishops to follow common decisions in this matter.