Archbishop Calls on Catholic Community to Respond to Parliamentary Inquiry
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has today issued an open letter to advise that on 25 June 2020, the Legislative Council of Western Australia referred the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019 to a Committee of Inquiry. Photo: Ron Tan.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has today issued an open letter to the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Archdiocese of Perth to advise that on 25 June 2020, the Legislative Council of Western Australia referred the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019 to a Committee of Inquiry. Archbishop Costelloe’s open letter can be accessed on the Archdiocese of Perth’s website by Clicking Here.
This Committee will be chaired by the Hon Sally Talbot MLC and current members are the Hon Nick Goiran MLC, the Hon Pierre Yang MLC and the Hon Simon O’Brien MLC. The Hon Jacqui Boydell MLC will be co-opted as a member. The Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019 proposes to amend the Children and Community Services Act 2004 to implement recommendations of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and a statutory review of the Act.
One of the main purposes of the amendments to the Children and Community Services Act 2004 is to introduce mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse for ministers of religion which includes “religious confession”. In short, what this means is that any information disclosed to a priest during the course of Confession which leads the priest to believe that a minor is being sexually abused must be reported to the authorities, irrespective of the wishes of the penitent. Failure to do so will constitute a criminal offence under the proposed amendment.
A young Perth Catholic woman prepares to attend the Sacrament of Confession. Photo: Sourced.
As part of its consultation, the Standing Committee on Legislation has invited Archbishop Costelloe to provide a written submission on matters relating to the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019. The Archbishop will be taking up the Chair’s invitation and will lodge a formal submission by Friday, 24 July 2020.
The Archbishop’s submission will be informed by his Pastoral Letter to the Archdiocese of Perth (dated 18 May 2020) which clearly outlines not only the Archbishop’s views on the proposed amendments to the Children and Community Services Bill 2019, but also Catholic teaching and the fundamental theological reasons which underpin the Sacrament of Penance in the Catholic tradition. A copy of this Pastoral Letter is available via this link: http://www.perthcatholic.org.au/Our_Archdiocese-Archbishop-Latest_News-2020-Pastoral_Letter_from_the_Most_Rev_Timothy_Costelloe_SDB.htm
Individuals and organisations are also invited to make submissions to the Committee with the closing date for submissions being Friday, 24 July 2020. Information is available via this link: https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/WebCMS/webcms.nsf/content/committeefaqs
Archbishop Costelloe today called on the support of the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful throughout the Archdiocese to direct the attention of the Catholic community to the existence of this Standing Committee, and to invite them to consider lodging an individual submission or to work with a group of parishioners and other interested people to lodge a joint submission.
It is hoped that in doing so, the widespread concerns of Catholics about this fundamental challenge to such an important aspect of our Catholic faith might be strongly communicated to our State politicians.
Archbishop Costelloe SDB concluded his open letter to Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Archdiocese of Perth by writing:-
“I remain fully committed to the safety of children and young people within the Archdiocese of Perth. Any person with allegations of sexual abuse by Church personnel should go to the police. Our Catholic Professional Standards Office stands ready to assist people to do so. The sexual abuse of children and young people is an abhorrent crime wherever, whenever and by whomever it is perpetrated. I recommit the Archdiocese of Perth to its ongoing safeguarding initiatives that are in place across all our agencies”.