Short Takes: Australia, Milwaukee, Pope Francis, Dreamworks
Down under, the hunt for truth is on.
The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) salutes the courage of the survivors in Australia who would not rest until a vehicle was created for the truth.
That vehicle, the Australian parliament’s inquiry, backed by Prime Minister Julie Gillard and known as Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has begun its work. More than 5,000 victims are expected to testify and the commission says the number could go higher.
5,000 – that’s a number that should be left to sink in upon the Church, the religious communities and the state institutions in which victims became victims.
Free basic legal advice will be available to victims, the commission has announced.
As the commission began hearings the Roman Catholic Church in Australia named members of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, the tool the Church will use to manage its response to the findings of the commission.
Fine words, Truth, Justice and Healing.
And this time, as it was in the United States, and is in each country where the survivors have found the courage to come forward, the question hangs in the air: why didn’t these words mean what they truly mean when the survivors and their families came to them in the first place?
NSAC salutes the hard work of SNAP leaders Peter Isley and John Pilmaier in Milwaukee in the wake of news that it has produced a trove of 3,000 pages of documents regarding sexual abuse.
The documents are expected to include depositions taken from former Archbishop Rembert Weakland and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as well as Auxiliary Bishop Skliba.
The Archdiocese has long fought the release of the documents but Cardinal Dolan, who was deposed shortly before going to Rome for the conclave, says he’s pleased the documents will be released.
Come July 1, the date the documents are set for release, we will see whether the rest of the Church will be pleased with Cardinal Dolan.
Pope Francis continues to be a hit with the choices he makes, the places he goes, and the things he says.
On Easter Sunday he included a reference to human trafficking in his Urbi et Orbi address from the balcony where he and the world make their acquaintance on March 13.
We’re opposed to human trafficking but what bothers us about the pope’s comment is the worry that putting human trafficking front and center has had a tendency to be a shield for putting dealing with sexual abuse deeper in the closet — sort of a shell change that it is hoped no one notices.
Indeed, this has been the case for religious orders of women who have been visible at high profile events, such as the Super Bowl, working for the elimination of human trafficking while continuing to refuse to meet with survivors who show up outside at their annual leadership conferences.
The pope’s sister, who was interviewed by National Catholic Reporter this week, believes that Pope Francis will address the sexual abuse crisis.
Here’s the exchange:
John Allen, NCR: You mention the abuse cases. How do you think your brother will respond to them?
Maria Elena Bergoglio: I have no idea what he’ll actually do, but I know that he’ll do what needs to be done.
She is down to earth, wise, open, and articulate throughout the rest of the interview. On this subject, we certainly hope she’s right.
Dreamworks Studio acquiring the rights to the Boston Globe Spotlight Team’s Pulitzer Prize winning coverage of the Archdiocese of Boston’s cover-up of sexual abuse has to be a nightmare for Cardinal Bernard Law.
Now that’s something he has in common with survivors.
— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com