My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This Pastoral Letter carries my sincere gratitude for your prayerful support during the public appearance of the Diocese of Wollongong before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. As you know, the focus of the hearing was “... the relationship between the Diocesan Bishop (and, in his absence, the Diocesan Administrator) and the Holy See (Vatican) in matters concerning preventative and disciplinary action taken in response to allegations of child sexual abuse against John Gerard Nestor.” (Media Release, Royal Commission, 4 June 2014)
It was important that this story be told and that we provide whatever assistance we were able to the essential work of the Royal Commission. The public appearance of the Diocese before the Royal Commission concluded on Friday, 27 June 2014, earlier than anticipated. We are grateful for the professional assistance of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church.
I reiterate my heartfelt apology to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic Church personnel. I also apologise to their families and all who have shared their suffering. Victims and their families must receive respect, justice and compassion. I am conscious that the pain of those who have suffered abuse and of their families may be heightened as the Royal Commission carries out its work. Should you feel that pastoral support or counselling would be of assistance to you, please contact the Diocese on 02 4222 2400 and the appropriate support can be arranged.
I again strongly urge any person with a complaint of mistreatment or abuse to come forward to the appropriate authority. If the complaint is of a criminal nature, please notify the police through the Police Assistance Line on 131 444. I also encourage you to contact the Royal Commission Support Line on 1800 099 340. If you need assistance with this, or if the matter is not of a criminal nature, please contact the Diocese on (02) 4222 2400.
I affirm again the commitment of the Diocese to work with the Royal Commission and am hopeful that the Commission will be given the time required to accomplish its task well. I renew my invitation to all people of the Diocese to join me in prayer for the continuing work of the Royal Commission that our combined efforts may lead to the greater protection of children and to justice and healing for victims of sexual abuse.
Bishop Peter W Ingham DD
Bishop of Wollongong
2 July 2014