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NCP tackles big issues

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‘Being Catholic in Australia today…after the Royal Commission and before the Plenary Council’ was the theme for the National Council of Priests’ Convention held in Canberra in September.

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About 125 clergy from all over Australia gathered for the biennial event, including five from the Adelaide Archdiocese and four from the Pt Pirie Diocese.

Robert Fitzgerald, one of the Royal Commissioners, gave a powerful presentation on the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

He told the gathering while the Commission looked at a wide cross section of society where sexual abuse occurred, his focus was on what changes it called for within the Church.

Mr Fitzgerald identified the cloak of secrecy adopted by the Church, clericalism, desire to protect the Church’s good name, and the absence of lay people, especially women in church leadership and governance, as major issues to be addressed. He also applauded the formation of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council.

Gerardine Robinson, a clinical psychologist who has worked with clergy in the USA and Australia for more than 30 years, shared her experience and offered several recommendations regarding the need to combat clericalism and to introduce better systems for the selection, screening and ongoing personal development and support for candidates to the priesthood.

Other speakers included Bishop Vincent Long OFM of Parramatta, Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Fr Noel Connolly SSC and Lana Turvey-Collins who spoke about the Plenary Council.

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