Church seeking to rebuild: Prowse

Archbishop Christopher Prowse

Archbishop Christopher Prowse has told the Canberra Times he sees light among the darkness of child sexual abuse revelations.

The Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, who last week faced calls to resign, likened himself to biblical figure Job in the ash heap and conceded he had needed emotional support to deal with the unfolding tragedy.

He said he hoped the Church in future would be known more for its good works than the shame of abuse.

"Communities are largely traumatised by it," Archbishop Prowse said yesterday. "I know many of my priests find it very, very painful. The vast majority of priests are heroic, dedicated and holy men. One paedophile priest is one too many, but there have been too many Judases in our midst and it's really affected us all."

Archbishop Prowse said it would be his Lenten pilgrimage to engage with victims of abuse and their families.

"It's difficult because so many people touched by abuse don't want to have anything to do with us because of the bushfire, tsunami effect on them and their families," he said.

"However, I have seen green shoots coming out of the bushfire, where people are saying the Church wounded me, but the Church is now healing me.

"I would like to be part of the healing church. I want to walk alongside victims and re-engage with them and their families if they will allow me to.

"That would mean the victim is no longer on the periphery and perhaps seen as a bit of a nuisance, but is seen at the centre of our pastoral life; it's almost like an ethical conversion that we have to have."

The Archbishop said he also needed to console the many Catholics who have been shamed by the revelations.

"People forget the bishop is a human being and I myself have received help to cope with this ... I think my role now is to listen carefully and I intend to do that at various places around the diocese, to be there and listen."

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Melbourne has explained its decisions relating to an independent review of its Melbourne Response scheme in a statement released on Friday.

The ABC reported on Friday that the Archdiocese had rejected Donnell Ryan QC's recommendation to extend compensation for child sex abuse victims to their families or carers. It also rejected the review's recommendation to allow victims it has paid compensation to, to seek further legal action.

'The Archdiocese has accepted a number of the recommendations made by Mr Ryan and the royal commission. It has already implemented an increase in the cap to $150,000 and has provided additional redress payments totalling more than $5 million to over 90 applicants with applications still being received and processed.

"The Archdiocese intends to await further advice from the federal and state governments on the design principles for a national redress scheme or failing agreement on a national redress scheme for a Victorian redress scheme before making any further material changes. It continues to have confidence in the integrity and professionalism of the Independent Commissioners and Assessment Panel under the Melbourne Response."

The Archdiocese urged governments across Australia to "avoid any unnecessary delays in establishing a national redress scheme available to all survivors of child sexual abuse" within non-government and government institutions.


Archbishop Christopher Prowse (YouTube)


Catholic Church seeks to rebuild after pain and scandal of child sex abuse (Canberra Times)

Response to the report by the Hon Donnell Ryan QC in relation to the Melbourne Response (Melbourne Catholic)


Catholic Archdiocese blocks victims path to further compensation (ABC News)

Melbourne Church pays extra $5m to victims (AAP)

Cardinal O’Malley says voices of clergy sexual abuse survivors are critical (Boston Globe)

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