Aussie bishops want Vatican III — on sexual abuse

Three retired Australian bishops are calling for a new ecumenical council — including lay people — to “confront the issues that contribute to the causes of systemic sexual abuse” in the Catholic Church.

The group is led by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who retired as auxiliary bishop of Sydney in 2004, aged 66, partly because of lack of recognition of the sexual abuse problem in the Church.

He is supported by Bishop Pat Power, retired bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, and Bishop Bill Morris, who was removed from his office as bishop of Toowoomba by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.

Bishop Robinson, who launched the Towards Healing protocol in Australia and headed the Australian bishops’ professional standards committee, has just launched a new book entitled For Christ’s Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church … for Good.

He says he wants a “Catholic spring” revolution, a people-power movement to force the Vatican to tackle the abuse crisis at its source.

“There has been so much abuse that it’s impossible to blame just the individuals — we blame them too, of course — but it’s impossible to limit ourselves to that,” he said.

“We have to look at any systemic causes of the abuse. We have to take a really hard look at the Church itself and see what we can find there in the way of causes, factors which have in any way contributed to abuse.”

Bishop Robinson, who was abused as a child, said millions of good Catholics have been “deeply disillusioned, both by the revelations of widespread abuse and even more by what they have perceived as the defensive, uncaring and unchristian response on the part of many who have authority in the Church and claim to speak in God’s name.

“Catholic people all over the world are sick of the scandal and this is a chance for them to speak up and join a collective voice that will be heard in Rome.”


The Australian

ABC News

Sydney Morning Herald

Image: Daily Telegraph

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