Please click on the link for the full newsletter: 25th Sunday Ordinary Time 180916
Child Protection Sunday
In 2014, Pope Francis called for a new way forward, a new direction for the Church, born out of the betrayal and suffering caused by abuse in the Church. He said: families need to know that the church is making every effort to protect their children [and vulnerable adults]. This statement echoes the sentiment of the new commandment – through our care, concern and the protection of all people, especially children and vulnerable adults, the world will see that we are Jesus’ disciples. However, this too needs to be based on objective revealed truth – real, genuine and lived-out and not just words.
In response to the Pope’s statement, Archbishop Mark initiated a new way forward, designating a Safeguarding Officer for the Archdiocese, creating the new Archdiocesan Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults policy and establishing a Safeguarding Advisory Committee to assist and guide him.
However, addressing abuse in the Church and implementing the Safeguarding Policy throughout the Archdiocese is not just the responsibility of the Archbishop, or even just your Parish Priest – it requires a whole of church approach. This means that everyone one of us has a part to play. There would be very few of us in the community who could throw our hands up and say, ‘I don’t need to know this stuff!’ or “It doesn’t concern me.”
You may have children or even grandchildren who attend this or another Parish, you may be elderly or have elderly relatives who are ministered to by volunteers from the Parish, anyone of us could be considered a vulnerable adult at anytime through illness, grief/loss, separation or financial stress or you may be a volunteer involved in one of a number of ministries within the Parish.
No matter which scenario you relate too, I am positive that we all want to know that the church is making every effort to protect everyone in our Church, especially the most vulnerable.
The Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy includes important elements identified by the Truth Justice and Healing Council:
- A clear written policy statement
- Safe recruitment and selection processes for both employees and volunteers
- A code of ethical behaviour
- Training and education in conducting safe activities for children
- Responsible management of disclosure
- Mandatory reporting of suspected criminal behaviour to the police
The implementation of this policy here in the Parish is now part a Parish Compliance Audit. There will be matters/actions/procedures that the Father, Parish Staff and/or the Local Safeguarding Officers will need to implement and there will matters that will require your involvement and support. Implemented well, this will help to prevent abuse from occurring in our Church.
Monitoring of parish practices in accordance with this policy and regular auditing for compliance are also recommendations from the Truth Justice and Healing Council. These we have implemented. The Parish will be internally audited each year and, starting this year Parishes undergo an independent, external audit, the results of which will be made public in the coming weeks.
I will finish by quoting His Grace Archbishop Mark, in his statement on Safeguarding Children, “A policy is only as good as the people who implement it, or fail to implement it. May the Lord give us all the strength and compassion to do whatever needs to be done.”
Troy Tornabene, Safeguarding Officer, ADS