The Record: Archbishop Costelloe’s response to clergy abuse themed drama

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has this week written a moving response in the lead up to the release of the clergy abuse themed drama, Spotlight.

Starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachael McAdams, Liev Schreiber and John Slattery, the film tells the story of the award winning investigative work of journalists at The Boston Globe in the late 1990’s, who uncovered evidence that the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has gone to extraordinary lengths to cover up sexual abuse and silence victims through payoffs, legal threats and personal intimidation.


The Australian release of the movie Spotlight, which details the uncovering of the sexual abuse of minors in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and in the United States of America more generally, tragically has many parallels for the Catholic Church in Australia.

Here, too, defenceless and innocent children and young people were sexually abused by priests, religious and other Church personnel. Their faith and their lives were profoundly damaged, if not destroyed, by this terrible betrayal. When they found the courage to tell their stories they were often not believed, or treated with dignity, or offered any assistance to deal with the legacy of the abuse. Sometimes they had to endure the pain of seeing their abusers moved from place to place, putting more innocent young people in danger.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, continues its vital work of investigating this terrible scourge which is, to our great shame as a nation, far more widespread in institutional settings than any of us have previously realised.

In our Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, we are fully committed to a number of key tasks and actions in response to this horrifying reality. We now have a well-resourced Professional Standards Office, which seeks to respond as objectively, compassionately and justly as possible to anyone who comes forward with a complaint about sexual abuse.

We have compulsory psychological assessments for any person applying to join our seminaries, prior to their formal acceptance, and we have ongoing formation for our seminarians in the areas of human and especially psycho-sexual development, and in the codes of conduct required by those who minister in our Church.

Our Catholic schools have clear policies in relation to the well-being and protection of children under their care, and very clear protocols for dealing with complaints or concerns. All clergy and others in our Catholic Community who work with children are required to have a current Working With Children Card. This requirement is monitored both at the local level and by the central diocesan office, and is of course a requirement for employment in our schools….


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