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‘Listen attentively, look to the scriptures’ – Archbishop Costelloe on fallout of Royal Commission response


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has addressed the people of the Archdiocese of Perth in a pastoral letter in the immediate aftermath of the ACBC and CRA’s formal response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. Photo: Ron Tan.

By Matthew Lau

“Anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone round his neck.” (Matthew 18:6)

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has last week released a Pastoral Letter lamenting the destruction caused in the Catholic Church by the hands of evil.

Archbishop Costelloe addressed the Perth Catholic community shortly after the release of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia’s joint formal response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse.

He began his letter with his own sincere and heartfelt apology.

“I want to once again express my own deep shame and sorrow that so many people’s lives have been so badly damaged by these terrible crimes,” he stated.

Archbishop Costelloe noted the deplorable acts of people who “publically professed their commitment to Christ, dared to preach Him to others, yet could so blatantly betray or so comprehensively turn their backs on Him”.

The shocking and traumatic situation is seen to have irrevocably damaged the reputation of the Church in Australia and in November 2012 saw the call of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.

“The Royal Commission itself, over long years of intensive investigation culminating in its final report and extensive recommendations, has been and will continue to be an invaluable tool in assisting us to grapple with the causes of this terrible tragedy,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.

“We must never allow ourselves to become complacent and think of this only as a dark past which, with the conclusion of the Royal Commission, is now behind us: it is also our present and an urgent demand on our future.”

The ACBC and CRA have either accepted, accepted in principle, or supported all but one of the 82 recommendations which relate directly or indirectly to the Catholic Church to the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

The one recommendation they were unable to accept was in relation to the confidentiality of the Sacrament of Penance (confession).


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB with many of the Archdiocese’s safeguarding officers at the Safeguarding Officers 2018 Blessing Mass. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Archbishop Costelloe is adamant that this situation of the Catholic Church will never be repeated, showing his immense gratitude to the Safeguarding Officers of our Archdiocese.

“Our eyes are now open and our determination to root out this evil from our midst is uncompromising,” he said.

“We must as a Church, as a community of disciples of Jesus Christ, do everything we possibly can to help people move into a better future. That we failed to do this in the past only makes it more urgent that we do so now and in the years ahead.”

In his Pastoral Letter, Archbishop Costelloe made it clear that the bishops of Australia are not looking to ensconce themselves away from fundamental challenge to lead God’s Church and “place Christ at the centre of everything”.

“We must have the courage to acknowledge that, for a long time, the Church in Australia [and of course not only here but in other places as well] has been going through a deep spiritual crisis which ultimately points to a ‘de-throning’ of Christ from his rightful place in the Church,” he added.

“This is not a task which falls only to the bishops, the clergy, the religious or those who work in ministry within our communities: it is a task which we all share together.

“We need to discover again the call of the Gospel.  We need to recommit ourselves again to a faithful following of Jesus.”

Read the Pastoral Letter by Clicking Here