Towards Healing

Towards Healing is the process set up by the Catholic Church (“the Church”) in 1996 to handle complaints of sexual abuse. The Royal Commission is now considering submissions on its second Issues Paper regarding the content and operation of Towards Healing. You can read the submissions here. The submissions, including some by Catholic groups, are overwhelmingly critical. Reading the submissions, one can sense the hurt and anger still experienced by the victims. The Church submits that Towards Healing was set up to be a pastoral process. But in such an emotionally charged environment, where the betrayal by the Church was absolute, and where well founded criticisms of Towards Healing abound; the Church should not be surprised when it is met with hostility and distrust. The submissions make a number of suggestions for reform.

The Problems with Towards Healing

The Church must be prepared to accept that its offer of pastoral support in Towards Healing will be flatly rejected by some, and that many others cannot help but question the sincerity of the offer. The source of distrust is not only the abuse. It is also the way complaints are being handled through Towards Healing. For example, in the news recently, a scandal emerged surrounding a Memorandum of Understanding between New South Wales Police and the Church which relieved the Church of its disclosure obligations, and would have helped shut down Police investigations into offending clergy. Victims cannot trust an offer of pastoral support from a Church which is also trying to protect the identity of paedophiles. To read more, please click here.

About Peter Kelso

I am a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I have been admitted to practice since 1984. I am the principal and founder of Kelso Lawyers which has operated in Newcastle since 1986.

I have been an advocate for compensation for victims of abuse since the commencement of the Victims Compensation Tribunal in New South Wales in 1988. I conduct the largest victims practice in New South Wales. I have a high level of engagement with numerous NGOs such as woman’s refuges, sexual assault services, community organisations and healing centres.

On 31 October 2012 I was a finalist for the Justice Medal, presented by the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales.

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