An Open Letter to the People of Tasmania

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An Open Letter to the People of Tasmania

I write to the people of Tasmania as the final hearing involving the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has commenced.

The Royal Commission will review the evidence it has received concerning the Catholic Church over the past four years and it will seek to understand the reasons behind sexual abuse and the failures to adequately deal with perpetrators. This will be a distressing time for the victims and their families. It will bring shame on the Catholic community.

As Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, I once again offer my sincere apology on behalf of the Catholic Church, particularly here in Tasmania. I am sorry for the damage that has been done to the lives of victims of sexual abuse and their families. Pope Francis said recently, ‘it is a sin that shames us’.

For three weeks evidence presented during the Royal Commission hearings will be analysed, statistics about the extent of abuse will be made public, and the way forward will be explored. A number of Catholic bishops and other Catholic leaders will appear before the Royal Commission. They will explain what the Church has been doing to change the old culture that allowed abuse to continue and to put in place new policies, structures and protections to safeguard children. Here in Tasmania I have initiated a program entitled “Safe Communities”, which is drawing on the outcomes from the Royal Commission and will ensure the highest levels of safety for children and vulnerable people.

Pope Francis has urged the whole Church to, ‘find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated’. I am personally committed to achieving this goal and will ensure that the Archdiocese of Hobart has the necessary resources to make this a reality. 

It is my fervent hope that the Church, humbled by this experience, can emerge a better servant of the Gospel and a source of good for all people it serves.

Yours sincerely,
+Julian Porteous
Archbishop of Hobart
Monday 6 February 2017