A recent newspaper report about a Catholic brother jailed for at least three and half years for abusing children at a western Sydney school reflects an appalling history of sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church, writes Francis Sullivan.
- The Daily Telegraph
The victims of this type of abuse go through extreme damage and suffering and the impact it can have on their lives is profound. It is this damage and suffering that is at the centre of the Catholic Church's Towards Healing victims' reparation protocol.
For the better part of 20 years the Catholic Church in Australia has used Toward Healing to offer victims of sex abuse by catholic priests, brothers, teachers and others church workers a way to tell their story and to receive pastoral care and reparation.
It is a process that has worked well for some and hasn't worked at all for others. Through Towards Healing church leaders hear what the impact of sexual abuse has been on victims. These typically include failed relationships, careers and financial setbacks; constant and debilitating feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, guilt and shame. And much more.
In essence Towards Healing offers a victim the chance to tell their story, personally and directly, to someone in authority in the Church - often a Bishop - who will accept responsibility for what happened, acknowledge the damage done, give a sincere apology and put in place pastoral care and reparation.
This 'pastoral care and reparation' can take many different forms - assistance finding and paying for counselling, school or university fees, help finding employment, covering the costs of rent, equipment such as computers, a vehicle, medical or dental expenses. More often than not the reparation can also include a payment that will differ from victim to victim.