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Action must follow Summit: Coleridge


Action must follow whatever happens at the Summit on the Protection of Minors being held at the Vatican this week, says Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Mark Coleridge who is in Rome for the important meeting of bishops from around the world.

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In a video recorded just prior to the commencement of the Summit, Archbishop Coleridge says words are no longer enough and that “we started learning that long ago in Australia and we have to keep learning and re-learning”.

He stresses the importance of listening first, especially to survivors, and not thinking that the issue is behind us.

The Summit is the first meeting on child protection to involve all presidents of episcopal conferences and those responsible for religious orders worldwide and the first to address the issue of abuse from a Gospel perspective.

A statement issued by the Vatican said the meeting also showed how, in the present historical context, the fight against the scourge of abuse committed by members of the clergy, was a priority for Pope Francis.

“Listening to victims, raising awareness, increasing knowledge, developing new norms and procedures, sharing good practices, these are some of the objectives of the meeting,” the statement said.

However, it goes on to say it is not the first step taken in this direction by the Holy See, or by episcopal  onferences.

“It is an historic stage in a journey undertaken by the Catholic Church for over 30 years, in countries like Canada, the United States, Ireland and Australia, and for the past ten years in Europe. This journey will continue after the Vatican meeting.

“The renewal of canonical norms for cases of abuse of minors by members of the clergy, began in the Vatican 18 years ago. Over the last 20 years, the Popes have dedicated countless gestures, speeches and documents to this painful subject.

“The publication of norms and protocols has not always produced the change of mentality necessary to combat abuse.

“But on the eve of this meeting, called for by the Pope, we certainly cannot speak of ‘Year Zero’ in the Church’s commitment to the protection of minors.”




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