AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – AUSTRALIAN NEWS 4th DECEMBER 2013
- CHURCHES CONDEMNED IN VICTORIAN CHILD SEX ABUSE REPORT
- A SAD DAY FOR THE UNBORN IN TASMANIA
CHURCHES ARE UNPREPARED AND AT RISK IN NEW MEDIA AGE
CHURCHES CONDEMNED IN VICTORIAN CHILD SEX ABUSE REPORT
Condemnation of the Catholic Church in particular in Victoria for its betrayal and neglect of abused children seems certain to have a sequel in the findings of the royal commission into institutional sexual abuse. The parliamentary committee found Catholic clergy in Victoria were the main culprits in inflicting “unimaginable harm” on children, compounding their behaviour with a culture of denial and concealment. Among 15 main recommendations made by the committee is a call for laws that make it a crime to conceal child abuse offences, to groom a child for sexual abuse and to place a child at risk.
It has also called for the Catholic Church to be incorporated so it could be sued and for an independent scheme for victims of criminal child abuse to be established. Justice Peter McClellan, chair of the nationally-focused Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said his inquiry would examine its evidence and findings. He said the commission’s terms of reference “require us to look at the civil and criminal processes relevant to the abuse of children”. For the hundreds of victims who gave evidence to the Victorian inquiry and the thousands more whose lives were damaged and destroyed, the report is what they have always wanted.
Committee chair Georgie Crozier told parliament the inquiry heard graphic accounts of “horrendous” abuse suffered by many victims at the hands of the clergy. “Children were betrayed by trusted figures in organisations of high standing and suffered unimaginable harm,” she said. “Parents and the community were betrayed by the failure of organisations to protect children in their care.” The report is scathing of the Catholic Church’s response to sexual abuse by its clergy and others in its parishes, schools and homes. Senior church leaders had trivialised child abuse and failed to disclose or even respond to many cases prior to the 1990s; and ensured perpetrators were not held accountable.
The initial response from the Catholic Church in Victoria has been heartening, if belated. Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart described the abuse detailed in the report as “irreparable”. “It is the worst betrayal of trust in my lifetime in the Catholic Church,” Archbishop Hart said. “I fully acknowledge that leaders in the church made mistakes – these are indefensible. “I have to accept that church leaders in the past concealed crimes and caused other children to be offended against.” The Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said his Government will introduce changes to the law in parliament early next year to reflect the committee’s recommendations.
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports
A SAD DAY FOR THE UNBORN IN TASMANIA
Tasmania’s upper house has passed legislation which will make it easier to obtain an abortion in the state. The Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said abortion is already legal in the state but the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill, which removes abortion from the criminal code and puts it in the health code, means abortion in the state will no longer be seen as taking another life by the government but as a mere medical procedure. “The rights of children are less protected under this framework then being in the criminal code which acknowledges this is not just another medical procedure,” he said.
He said women will have less restrictions to accessing abortion now that they didn’t have to get doctor’s consent for medical or psychological reasons until after 16 weeks. “This means there’s less likelihood of a woman having informed consent about her decision. The majority of women and girls who have abortions do so because of a lack of support from partners, parents and friends. Research shows 70% of women say they felt they had no alternative but to abort,” he said. Mr Brown said although aspects of the bill are less objectionable than originally, freedom of conscience hasn’t been upheld.
“The law requires doctors with a conscientious objection to pass on a pamphlet with the options. But many doctors who are opposed to abortion say that they still feel complicit in the process by handing someone a document with a pamphlet of services,” he said. “Freedom of speech has also been a casualty in this bill with the introduction of fines and the possibility of 12 month jail term for those who might hold a silent vigil outside an abortion clinic,” he said. Mr Brown has praised those MLCs who voted against the legislation – Ivan Dean, Rosemary Armitage, Adriana Taylor, Leonie Hiscutt and Tony Mulder.
Source: Australian Christian Lobby
CHURCHES ARE UNPREPARED AND AT RISK IN NEW MEDIA AGE
Churches and Christian ministries are unprepared for the dangers of the new media age, according to the Principal of Mercer Public Relations Lyall Mercer. Mercer says the Australian media landscape has changed with the evolution of social media, placing churches at a greater risk of serious reputation damage. “The general media is now primarily anti-church, fuelled by social media that provides a platform for minority views to be awarded much greater attention and credibility,” he explained. He said the mob mentality of social media creates momentum that is often picked up by the mass media which can propagate stories in seconds, whether factual or not”.
“This provides the perfect storm for churches and church leaders who are too often caught off guard when being the subject of criticism or attack.” As well as advising companies and industry groups, Mr Mercer has worked with high-profile issues across the world, consulted to some of Australia’s best known churches and ministries and trained church leaders across North America. He said Australian churches are in greater danger than those in the USA because of the lack of church culture here. “Churches in Australia are not seen to be a central part of the community, meaning that many here look at the church with cynicism and even hostility.
“They don’t see the good churches do, but are driven by atheistic ideology.” Mr Mercer said many church and ministry leaders wrongly believe that their personal communications skills will see them through any public issues. “Any church or ministry leader that thinks they can develop a strategy in the middle of a public relations storm is deluded.” He said every church and Christian organisation must have a workable and structured media policy, issues management plan and public relations strategy. “It’s a new media world – what worked in the past won’t work anymore.”
Source: Christian Today