Bishop apologises for sex abuse and concealment of crimes

Lismore Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett.
Lismore Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett. CATHY ADAMS

THE Lismore Catholic Diocese has publicly apologised to the victims of child sexual abuse for the "heinous" crimes of the past, saying history would never repeat itself thanks to a range of new policies and procedures.

Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, on behalf of the Catholic Schools Office of Lismore, wrote to the parents of St Carthage's and Trinity school children in light of the recent revelations of past child sexual abuse by two Marist Brother predators employed at the schools.

"While the events that occurred are historic, they are nonetheless disturbing and unacceptable," Bishop Jarrett wrote.

Through the mishandling and, in some cases, concealment of child sexual abuse, Church leaders have betrayed the trust of all people of faith and amplified the pain for victims

- Lismore Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett

"The emotional and psychological pain by the victims of the clerical child abuse and their families is real and acknowledged.

"Through the mishandling and, in some cases, concealment of child sexual abuse, Church leaders have betrayed the trust of all people of faith and amplified the pain for victims."

Bishop Jarrett said as a current leader of the Catholic Church, he gave his unreserved and heartfelt apology to victims of this heinous crime.

"The Catholic Church supports the work of the Royal Commission and through it, the Diocese of Lismore will work to ensure that the whole truth is revealed," he wrote.

"The current procedures and practices for the church personnel to protect the vulnerable, including school children, are vastly different and improved from those of the past.

"The Diocese of Lismore is fully compliant with NSW child protection legislation."

Lismore Catholic Diocese spokesman Frank Hannigan said it was unlikely any "systematic wrongdoing of this kind" could take place again.

Measures put in place include Australia-wide criminal history checks and screening for all potential employees, referee checks, mandatory reporting of any suspicious activity or allegations and thorough job interviews.

Mr Hannigan said new laws and a heightened awareness meant parents of Catholic school students could rest assured children were safe and well looked after.

Topics:  catholic church

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