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Cardinal Pell conviction: a challenging time for victims, workers and the Church

Cardinal George Pell has been imprisoned for heinous sexual abuse crimes against two young people. He has appealed against the convictions.
The implications of this are profound.  They include: 
  • All victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, and those who stand with them, can’t but be reminded of the horror and lasting effect of such crimes.  Society and its institutions are at the same time reminded of the need for a renewed commitment to respond to abuse with justice and appropriate support. 
  • Those working to build institutions and a society where children and vulnerable people are safe are reminded of the importance and the urgency of their work.  This would include all Catholic social service organisations.
  • Those who work as part of the institutions of the Church, in social services and beyond, are called to continue our work of loving service and work for justice, no matter what narrative develops around the recent conviction.
There has already been much media and related comment.  Solidarity with victims and a commitment to prevention must be at the heart of our response.  As Archbishop Coleridge concluded:  ‘we pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones, and we commit ourselves anew to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all, especially the young and the vulnerable.’  

All of us within the Catholic social services sector will be affected in some way, and I hope that all have an opportunity to discuss developments with colleagues, and to reflect on how clients, staff etc might be impacted.  For some organisations support will be available through an Employee Assistance Program; for others it might be appropriate for senior staff to be available to talk to staff, or to make contact with stakeholders.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Catholic Social Services Victoria if you’d like to explore further any aspect of these unprecedented developments.

Denis Fitzgerald
Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Victoria
0418 136 372

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