Royal commission a ‘catalyst for change'

Geraldine Doogue and Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. (Melbourne Catholic)

Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. joined broadcaster Geraldine Doogue in Melbourne last week for the Ozanam Conversation on “What it means to be a Catholic organisation in a post-royal commission world”. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

After 20 years as the Ozanam Lecture, last Thursday saw the St Vincent de Paul Society event rebadged as the Ozanam Conversation, held at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne.

Prior to the conversation with Ms Doogue, Bishop Long, a former Melbourne auxiliary Bishop, spoke about the “crossroads” at which the Church finds itself, coming off the back of the damning report from the royal commission into child sexual abuse and the Church's response to it.

In his preliminary address, Bishop Long commented on the crisis now facing the Church in the post-royal commission era, noting that it will be a catalyst for much-needed change.

St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria CEO Sue Cattermole began the conversation proper by posing the introductory question, “Is the word Catholic now becoming a dirty word?” The Bishop agreed that the sexual abuse scandal had cut the very heart of the Church and threatened to erode its public voice for generations, where all Catholics are labelled “guilty by association”.

What must happen now, Bishop Long said, is that the Church's leaders must undertake a journey of radical conversion. “We, the leaders of the Church,” he said, “have failed the people and especially God's little ones. The abuse crisis has revealed deep structural problems within the Church.”

He continued, “We have been humbled and humiliated, having betrayed our own ethos.”

In his conversation with Ms Doogue, who said there was a yearning among the laity for a more inclusive Church, Bishop Long agreed that there have been artificial and unsustainable divisions between the clergy and the laity. He reminded the audience that clergy and laity had a common identity through baptism.

Bishop Long spoke on the need for the Church to create “a community of disciples”, in total opposition to the pyramidal top-down structure of previous generations.

In his opinion, said Bishop Long, the hierarchical and patristic structures of the Church had led to a lack of kindness and charity, to a “travesty of the Gospel”, and to what he referred to as the “virus of misogynism”.


The Ozanam Conversation: Bishop Vincent Long and Geraldine Doogue (Melbourne Catholic

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