Priests’ training dangerous and distorted

The Australian child sex abuse Royal Commission has heard seminary life and training of Catholic priests in the past was “dangerous and distorted”.

It also heard the priests should have had ongoing formation and supervision.

Diocese of Broken Bay vicar general Dr David Ranson also told the Royal Commission the changes in priestly formation over the last three decades need to acknowledge the failures of the past.

“I think there will be no movement forward until we can not only implicitly acknowledge the liabilities of the past but actually publicly acknowledge that this was wrong and that this was just distorted,” he said.

Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald questioned whether the changes meant the church recognised there were deep failures in past approaches and that seminary life was unhealthy in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

Archdiocese of Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Randazzo said the church recognised the failures.

“I think there is an acknowledgement that there were aspects of the formation in the past that were not as good as they could have been and that they did contribute to the shortcomings within this area that we’re talking about,” he told the Sydney hearing on Monday.

Bishop Randazzo, a former seminary rector, said there were holes in formation in the past but there was a deliberate change in teaching, including no longer taking children into minor seminaries.

The Royal Commission was set up to examine the Institutional responses to child sexual abuse to inquire into the current policies and procedures of Catholic Church authorities in Australia in relation to child-protection and child-safety standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse.


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