Church guidelines for priestly behaviour under review
The Church is currently reviewing Integrity in Ministry, the document that sets out the principles and standards for Catholic clergy and religious in Australia.
The National Committee for Professional Standards has begun studying responses to a questionnaire it sent to clerics, religious and some parishes about the document.
Sr Angela Ryan, executive officer of the committee, says there have always been plans to review the document, which was described as "ad experimentum" when it was first published.
But it might transpire that no changes are deemed necessary.
Integrity in Ministry was originally published in June 1999 in response to revelations of abusive behaviour within the Church.
Its stated objective was to support clergy and religious in their concern to protect children and adults from all abuses of power and to support the Church in responding to instances of sexual abuse and professional misconduct.
The document says that in order to "safeguard integrity, and to preserve clarity of sexual and professional boundaries", clergy and religious must avoid any behaviour that could reasonably be interpreted as harassment.
Clergy and religious should never seek to initiate sexual behaviour, should reject any sexual overtures and avoid situations and relationships that place undue stress on their commitment to celibacy.
The document stresses that where clergy or religious feel sexually attracted to a person with whom they have a pastoral relationship, or when they feel frustration or anger in such a relationship, they should seek professional advice.
Integrity in Ministry (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
3 Jul 2002