Course: The Tragedy of Sexual Abuse - Where are we now?
Dr Gerard Webster
Starts Friday Oct 18
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
It is almost two years since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse published its findings. We are now faced
with the challenges of taking stock of what we have learned. We must now discern how best to respond to the patterns of harm and suffering that have been identified within our Church.
As Church leaders and professionals from many disciplines work to build structures and refine procedures that aim to correct the poor official responses of the past, the greater task falls to every one of us in coming to terms with what has been occurring within our communities and to find ways forward to respond to the ongoing opportunities and risks.
The teaching of Jesus provides unambiguous guidance about how this can and must be achieved: by acting justly, with love and humility. No one is exempt from Our Lord's healing and transformative grace. Can the voice of the Gospel expand our horizons to include every person affected by child sexual abuse as someone worthy of just and loving responses from the whole community?
The purpose of this three-part discussion series is to bring to the surface issues that we all must face but have been avoiding. Where is the Holy Spirit leading us now? This extended conversation will be led by Dr. Gerard Webster, who has worked with victims and offenders of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church for almost three decades. Gerard will share his understanding of the broad scope and ramifications of sexual violence within our Church, which includes but is not limited to child sexual abuse. It is anticipated that Gerard's input will stimulate conversations in an environment where participants will feel confident to raise challenging questions and to share their insights. The topics addressed in each session will evolve out of our earlier conversations.
Presenter: Dr Gerard Webster
Where: Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney
When: Three Friday mornings, 10am - 12noon, October 18, 25 & November 1, 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.
It is anticipated that the following questions may arise.
Week 1: What have we missed?
What have we learned from the Royal Commission? Whose experience was not voiced throughout the four-year investigation, such as non-offending minor-attracted people, repentant rehabilitated offenders, and the innocent families of offenders who are also part of our community? While child sexual abuse is now recognised as a critical issue within the Catholic Church, what other secrets are yet to be identified and addressed, such as the sexual abuse of women and young men by clergy, and the sexual abuse of candidates in houses of formation?
Week 2: What has been our response as a community?
Criminal courts across the country continue to process multiple cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and religious brothers. What has been our focus as a Church community over the two years following the Royal Commission? How have the Royal Commission’s revelations impacted the relationships between individuals and the Church both as an organisation and as a community of believers? How are people feeling about the reality of sexual abuse within the church and the changes that are taking place to prevent further incidents?
Week 3: And what does the Lord require of us?
How are we to heal and grow in the knowledge of all that has occurred? What are we as individuals and as a community to do to pursue Christ’s invitation to love when hate and vengefulness are common human responses to injustice? How can we recognise the uniqueness and value of every person in light of not only the harm each has suffered, but in some cases, the harm they have brought upon others? Can we forgive and how would does forgiveness take shape in our communities? Is there a place for forgiveness and, if so, how can it strengthen our ability to protect children and other vulnerable people in our community?
Pre-Reading (optional): The Boy with Perpetual Nervousness
Please register before the course starts so that notes will be available.