"Life is not so much beginnings and endings as it is middles, middles that don't measure up -- and our happiness depends on how we come to terms with the pale reflections of our dreams. (Paul D. Zimmerman, "Middles and Muddles," review of film "Sunday Bloody Sunday," Newsweek, September 27, 1971, 106)

Course: A View from inside the Royal Commission

Stephen Crittenden
JStephen Crittenden
Starts Tuesday Oct 15

The Royal Commission and After

Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been described as ‘the most thorough-going and credible report on religious sexual abuse of children ever produced’, and as a gift to the Australian nation and to the churches. Its influence will be felt for a generation. This course looks at the scourge of child sexual abuse in Australia and internationally, what the Royal Commission found and recommended, and the challenges ahead for the church in Australia and internationally.

Presenter: Stephen Crittenden
Where: Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney
When: Three Tuesday mornings, 10am - 12noon, October 15, 22 & 29, 2019
Cost: $120/person (including notes)

Nobody will be turned away simply because they cannot afford to pay. Offer a donation if you cannot pay the full registration fee.

Week 1, Tues Oct 15: Why was the Royal Commission necessary, and what did it do?
We begin by mapping the history and dimensions of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia and internationally, including what we already knew from previous inquiries. We also look at the dimensions of the problem in other institutions and Australian society generally, and at the scope of work undertaken by the Royal Commission – how it went about its work, what it investigated, what it found, and what it recommended.

Week 2, Tues Oct 22: The Royal Commission’s Catholic “Why?” question
In thinking about the causes of institutional child sexual abuse in the church, Catholics have tended to focus on the failings of individuals or external factors in the wider society. But that kind of deflection is no longer tenable following the Royal Commission’s work on the structural and cultural factors behind the abuse scandal – including theological factors, clericalism, governance and leadership, canon law, mandatory celibacy, and formation and support of people in ministry.

Week 3, Tues Oct 29: After the Royal Commission: The task ahead
Grief, disgust and demoralisation are everywhere in the church because of the abuse of children and the misuse of power that is at the core of the problem. With a constant stream of new allegations around the world, it sometimes seems that the abuse crisis will never end and that the church may never recover. So what are the challenges that face the church in Australia and internationally in the wake of the Royal Commission, and how has the church been responding? What are the implications for the forthcoming 2020 Plenary Council? And while many people inside the church are working to instil a safeguarding culture, is some deeper – theological – response also necessary?

Stephen Crittenden is Director of Professional Standards and Safeguarding for the Franciscan Friars and the Patrician Brothers. He was lead writer on the Religious Institutions volume of the Royal Commission’s final report (Volume 16) and advised on development of its recommendations directed to the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. Prior to joining the Royal Commission, Stephen had a distinguished career as a journalist and broadcaster with the ABC, including as national arts correspondent for the 7.30 Report, Executive Producer of ABC Radio Religion, and presenter of The Religion Report.

For further information please telephone 02 9247 4651 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please register before the course starts so that notes will be available.

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