Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





Adelaide archbishop leads Rome abuse meeting

Archbishop Philip Wilson last week presided over an international group of officials from English-speaking countries in a Rome meeting aimed at working out a strategy of preventing further clergy sex abuse.

The meeting of 30 bishops, religious superiors and church child protection officers from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Great Britain, Ireland, the United States, Canada and Jamaica, took place from Monday to Thursday.

Archbishop Wilson told Catholic News Service that the group resolved that the problem would be acknowledged, and they would make sure "people who do this are stopped, that the laws of the land are fulfilled and that the victims and those associated with them are cared for and looked after."

"At the same time," Archbishop Wilson said, "it is not enough just to look back at things that have gone wrong, but we must work out a way in which the church can be a light to others by the way that it takes up the issue of child protection."

The gathering was the group's fifth meeting since 1996 when the bishops decided they should get together after sharing by telephone experiences and suggestions for dealing with cases of clerical sex abuse.

Archbishop Wilson said the breaking of the scandal was not a sign that the issue was not being taken seriously.

"Through my experience of becoming a bishop and being sent to a place where there were really deep problems, it is one of those areas where you need to be very attentive all the time," he said. "You cannot do it on your own. You need to surround yourself with people with expertise, insights into psychology and knowledge of child protection laws.

He described the group that met in Rome as "semi-authorised" by the bishops' conferences, who do not sponsor the meetings. However, the members usually are part of their conferences' child protection or sexual abuse committees, and they share the information gathered with their conferences, he said.

The group had been meeting every other year, although in May participants decided to move to an annual schedule, Archbishop Wilson said.

Bishop says church serious about getting rid of abusive priests (Catholic News Service 28/5/04)

Sexual abuse victims outraged over Vatican appointment (ABC Radio AM 28/5/04)

31 May 2004