University of Melbourne Chaplaincy and Religions for Peace Australia – Victoria Branch presented one lecture on Tuesday 6th February 2018 on Appraising the Royal Commission Report into Sexual Abuse and Religious Organisations.
On 27 September 2015, in a press briefing during an official visit to the United States soon after Pope Francis had met with survivors saying that ‘God weeps for the sexual abuse of children’, the Vatican’s chief spokesperson, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, admitted to the global nature of the issue, which he described as ‘a universal problem in the universal Church everywhere’. His predecessor Pope Benedict went futher; he said, “There is filth in the Church and it has to be excised!”
Purpose of Religion:
According to the psychologists, authentic religion is about believing, bonding, behaving and belonging, and its beneficial personal and community outcomes have been empirically demonstrated by the social sciences. In the emerging global and post-secular world, we live in a very religious world and research continues to demonstrate that religion, on balance, adds to personal well-being and national social wealth, including in Australia. In addressing the interface between religion, spirituality, sexuality and deviance, this topic is dealing with very sensitive, complex, and difficult issues.
Catholic Church In Australia:
The Catholic Church in Australia has lagged significantly behind other comparable countries in relation to developing safeguarding policies and protocols to safeguard children and vulnerable adults. It is yet to develop and put into practice many of the initiatives that have been implemented in Ireland (regular audits), appointing a safeguarding representative in every parish (England and Wales) and delivering safe environment training to all Catholic employees including priests and religious as well as children (USA).
Theology of the Child needed:
Notwithstanding the centrality of Mary, the Virgin Mother, in the Catholic tradition, women in the Catholic Church are essentially second-class citizens with little formal power, and the Catholic approach to gender as seen by the literature is too dichotomised, wrongly dividing human nature into a male nature and a female nature. The last section has been a reflection on the lack of a Catholic theology of the child, despite the centrality of the Child Jesus in popular Catholic culture.
Emeritus Professor Desmond Cahill OAM
B.A., S.T.L., M.Ed., Ph.D, F.A.C.E.L.
Chair: Religions for Peace Australia
Educated in Australia and Italy, Desmond Cahill, Professor of Intercultural Studies at RMIT University, is one of Australia’s leading social researchers. In 2006, he was made an honorary fellow of the Australian Council of Educational Leaders for his work in immigrant, cross-cultural, interfaith and international education. He currently chairs the Religions for Peace (Australia), and represents Australia on the Asian Conference of Religion and Peace (ACRP). He led Melbourne’s successful bid to stage the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions, the world’s largest interfaith gathering, and is now its Melbourne Program Director. A member of the Australian Partnership of Religious Organizations (APRO) and of the Victoria Police Multifaith Advisory Council, he is a Club Melbourne Ambassador as part of the “Think Melbourne, Think Victoria” strategy of the Victorian Government. He was consultant to the Royal Commission on Sexual Abuse and Religious Organisations from 2015-2017.