Christian Brothers: We will right this terrible wrong

Mea culpa

As the representative of all the decent, committed Christian Brothers living and working throughout Oceania, I accept our shame and ask forgiveness of those whom my Brothers have harmed, writes Julian McDonald in The Australian.

With searing eloquence, 11 men bravely told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Perth of the devastating impact of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Christian Brothers in residences at Castledare, Clontarf, Bindoon and Tardun in Western Australia more than 50 years ago.

No one could be but moved by these men, who told of their painful experiences of stolen innocence, of being subjected to physical brutality and the depths of sexual depravity by supposedly religious men from whom they had every right to expect care, nurture and respect. Instead they were betrayed and treated as ­objects for sexual gratification.

A regret I have is that every Christian Brother in Oceania was not present to hear the testimony of the men, victims of an earlier generation of Christian Brothers.

The ongoing suffering of children so wantonly abused by those charged with their protection demands of their carers an immediate and effective response. That response is demanded from Christian Brothers for survivors now in the later stages of their lives.

At the Christian Brothers’ Congregation Chapter held in Nairobi in March, I went on the record as saying there will be no future for the Christian Brothers unless and until we do all in our power to address the devastation inflicted on the lives of children and vulnerable adults by the sexually, emotionally and physically abusive conduct of some of our number. However, I am conscious that rhetoric is validated only by ­appropriate action. We have to find additional ways of engaging with those victimised so their ­voices are heard.

As the representative of all the decent, committed Christian Brothers living and working throughout Oceania, I accept our shame and ask forgiveness of those whom my Brothers have harmed. I have spent the past 25 years reaching out to victims to try to address the hurt they suffer.

I ­acknowledge that there have been times when my efforts have been less than perfect. I can only promise to work at doing better. However, I am confident this royal commission, at which I was a witness, will give us some direction. I pledge the co-operation of the Christian Brothers in working with the royal commission in whatever way we are able.

FULL STORY We will right this terrible wrong

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