Sheree Limbrick CEO of Catholic Professional Standards Limited in conversation with Dwayne Jeffries
For five years, as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse revealed the horrific details of child sexual abuse in Catholic parishes, schools, children’s homes and other places, Catholics and the broader community slowly came to understand the true extent of the failings of past leaders.
They also saw the complete disregard, not just for Gospel values, but the rule of law and for the most basic human instincts of compassion and kindness by the hundreds of priests, brothers and others, whose commitment was to protect children, not abuse them.
The statistics are appalling: more than 4400 allegations of child sexual abuse against some 1880 priests, religious and others in the Catholic Church, occurring in more than 1000 different Catholic institutions in the six decades between 1950 and 2010.
If this were to have occurred in any other institution the community could reasonably ask, ‘Why should it be allowed to continue operating?’
If the safety of children and vulnerable people is not at the very centre of the Catholic Church’s mission both here and in all other places around the world, then something has gone very, very wrong in the Church.
The answer is that the Catholic Church is much more than what has been revealed in the commission; and the Church, and the broader Australian community, is very different to what it was 30 years ago.
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Responding to the consequences of its failure to protect vulnerable children and adults and implementing necessary changes in policy and culture is surely the biggest challenge facing the Catholic Church, and other churches and institutions, worldwide.
One of the agencies charged with leading this change is Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL).
Its role includes strengthening child protection regimes across Australia, improving accountability and transparency, and setting new standards in line with recommendations of the Royal Commission.
On Open House Dwayne Jeffries spoke with Sheree Limbrick, CEO of Catholic Professional Standards Limited.