The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference has hit back at claims that a new national safeguarding office may be a step backward from the work of Catholic Professional Standards Ltd. over the past three years.
Catholic Professional Standards Ltd. was established by the bishops in response to the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse to conduct audits of Church entities’ compliance with child safe standards and to deliver safeguarding training.
It was set up as a not-for-profit company operating independently of the Church hierarchy and runs at a cost of around $1.8 million (approx. £1.4 million) a year. It is expected to be replaced early in 2021 by a national approach to streamline and co-ordinate the Church’s work to protect children and vulnerable adults.
Some Catholics are worried that the new approach being considered by the bishops may lack the independence and transparency of CPSL, with The Australian newspaper reporting that there is ‘concern that old habits of secrecy and nontransparency are creeping back into the Church’.
But Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the bishops’ conference, said it is “seriously mistaken” to see the decision to bring various national organisations into a single entity as a “diminishment in the Church’s commitment to child protection and safeguarding”.
Picture: Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, and Josephite Sr Monica Cavanagh, president of Catholic Religious Australia, are seen in a file photo. (CNS photo/David Gray, Reuters).