The Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Bill Wright, has appointed a new body to advise him on protecting children and vulnerable adults, reports The Newcastle Herald.
The nine-member diocese protection and safety council will help “rebuild a sense of trust within the community about Maitland-Newcastle diocese’s commitment to protect children and vulnerable adults”, said a statement released on Monday.
It came four months after evidence at a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing in Newcastle which revealed systemic failings in the Church’s responses to child sex offenders including Fr Vince Ryan and Marist Brothers Romuald (Francis Cable) and Patrick (Thomas Butler).
Bishop Wright said the council would foster a culture of continuous improvement throughout the diocese on the protection of children and vulnerable adults after a history which includes “allowing predatory individuals to continue to abuse”.
“It is this sad history which sees us now at the forefront of safety and protection as we aim to continually push forward with any activities which minimise the risk for people suffering in the future,” he said.
“The newly formed council will offer independent advice to ensure the diocese continues to develop its policies and practices in the field of professional standards.
“We have an absolute and enduring commitment to promoting and ensuring the safety of all who are connected with us – be it through our parishes, Catholic schools, early education or community outreach services.”
Council members were appointed by the bishop. The nine members are not employees of the diocese or clergy in the diocese.