Final hearing of the Royal Commission
Letter from Archbishop Wilson and Fr Philip Marshall VG
Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide | February 7, 2017
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On behalf of Archbishop Wilson and myself, I write to you as the final hearing involving the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse unfolds.
Our first thoughts go to those who are the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. The terrible memories of abuse at the hands of priests and religious they trusted impact their lives forever, and through these weeks those memories will once again be re-lived. There are no words sufficient to express our sorrow for the suffering those children experienced within our Church. We also recognise and feel deep sorrow for the ongoing suffering of parents, families, friends and partners of those who were abused.
To the extent that I can, I offer my apology on behalf of the Catholic Church to all those who suffered directly or indirectly as a result of abuse within the Church. As Pope Francis said recently, 'it is a sin that shames us'.
I promise we will leave no stone unturned in our effort to make our Church in Adelaide safe for children, and to ensure that they will never be at risk of abuse in the future.
I know that this is also a difficult time for all of you in the Church who share the sorrow, outrage and shame of hurt to children. The evidence presented during the Royal Commission hearings will be distressing and confronting. The Royal Commission's statistics and analysis of the extent of abuse will be made public as the Royal Commission reviews the evidence it has already received and seeks to understand why and how this tragedy has occurred.
Many of our Bishops and other Catholic leaders will appear before the Royal Commission to explain how the Church has sought to change the culture that allowed abuse occur and to continue, and to put in place new policies, structures and protections to safeguard children and vulnerable persons.
Pope Francis has urged the whole Church to, 'find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated'. In the Archdiocese of Adelaide we have pursued these safeguarding goals with energy and vigour for the last 15 years, building on the procedures that were authorised by the Bishops and Religious Leaders in 1996. We are fully committed to the Holy Father's call for Zero Tolerance on Child Sexual Abuse when he said: "Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated. 11
Throughout the coming weeks, I ask you to join with me in prayer as we turn to Jesus, who in his own life expressed such protective tenderness towards children. Let us pray that all children everywhere may experience that same protective respect and tenderness from us. This has been a terrible darkness, let us choose to be light for all, especially children and all who are vulnerable.
With fraternal greetings in Christ who is our light,
Fr Philip Marshall, Vicar General
Christmas message 2016
Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide
Archbishop Wilson’s Christmas message
December 22, 2016
If ever there were a time to reflect deeply on the meaning of Christmas it is now. Never before have we witnessed such a massive displacement of people around the globe, giving us reason to seriously question how this could come about and how we can respond to the crisis both as a nation and as individuals.
There are forces at work that could result in us battening down the hatches out of fear and ignorance, and then there is the way of hope and compassion which is at the very heart of the Christmas message.
Just as no door was opened to Mary and Joseph when they went looking for a room in Bethlehem, so today there are 65 million refugees who have no place to call home.
Europe is experiencing the biggest cross-border movement of people since World War II and globally there is a record number of people being forced to leave their homes (nearly 34,000 a day). Those who remain are often at risk of persecution due to their religious or political beliefs.
In the Middle East, Christians are among the most oppressed groups. Once thriving Christian communities in northern Iraq are ghost towns since more than 100,000 Christians were expelled by the Islamic State in 2014. Houses, churches and cathedrals have been destroyed or ransacked, making it difficult for residents to return any time soon. The situation is similar in Syria, where Christians have suffered greatly and are now caught up in the devastating impact of war. They face the difficult choice of deciding whether to remain in the place so closely connected to their faith or join the long queue of people migrating to a strange land.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by this human disaster and to be indifferent to people’s suffering. But if we truly heed the message of Christmas we will never forget or lose sight of the fact that every person matters to God. Jesus was born for us – and that means all of us.
The message of Christmas is one of fraternity, solidarity and welcome. Rather than closing our eyes to the pain and misery of others, we need to open our hearts and minds to their plight. We can show our support by contributing to relief operations and lobbying political leaders to change harsh immigration policies. Above all, we can offer our constant prayers for our brothers and sisters.
As indicated by the calendar date beginning with the birth of Christ, his arrival heralded a new era. Everything changed after he came into the world as a baby to be our saviour. Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus showed us a different way to live – a way of love, for each other and for God. He taught us to see the face of Christ in every person but especially in the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed.
Even when violence and hatred is so prevalent, Jesus gives us hope and assurance that peace and love will prevail through his constant presence in our midst.
Praying for renewal
The Southern Cross newspaper – November 2016
Deepening our understanding of marriage sacrament
The Southern Cross newspaper – October 2016
Statement from Archbishop Wilson to Members of the South Australian Parliament regarding the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016
September 28, 2016
A vote on the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016 introduced by The Hon Steph Key is likely to occur soon in the South Australia House of Assembly.
Given significant concerns expressed within our community regarding persons experiencing mental and physical suffering as a result of medical conditions, and the view by some that Euthanasia represents the best response to ‘unbearable and hopeless suffering’, I want to reaffirm the deep commitment of the Catholic Church to the inherent dignity of each human person.
Download pdf below to read Archbishop Wilson's full statement.
Pope Francis calls for a more tender, merciful church
Pope Francis is ever attentive to God’s love at work in the ordinary circumstances of our lives. His recent apostolic exhortation, The Joy of Love, emphasises again and again the tenderness and mercy of God—that with which Jesus looks on all people. Francis urges the church to see mercy as its fundamental calling. All pastoral activity, he says, should be caught up in the tenderness of God (310).
The Joy of Love was written following the synod of bishops in October 2014 and 2015. It reflects the great value with which the Catholic tradition holds love, marriage, and family life. It meditates on love, marriage, and family life in a pivotal chapter that takes up St Paul’s hymn to love (1 Cor. 13:4-7) line by line. At the same time, Francis is deeply concerned about the pastoral difficulties faced by divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and he urges priests and pastoral workers to assist those people to a fuller participation in the life of the church. I want to reflect with you about these two matters with the hope of our being a more tender, merciful Archdiocese that cherishes the gift of marriage and family life. I urge you to set aside some time to read The Joy of Love, free on the Vatican website.
Download pdf below to read Archbishop Wilson's full message.
Responding to God's message of mercy
The Southern Cross newspaper – September 2016
Reigniting power of the Holy Spirit
The Southern Cross newspaper – July 2016
Mary mother of mercy
The Southern Cross newspaper – June 2016
The good shepherd
The Southern Cross newspaper – May 2016
Sharing mercy in the world
The Southern Cross newspaper – April 2016
The Joy of Love
Pastoral letter April 8 2016
Archbishop Wilson has expressed his great joy at the release of the Apostolic Exhortation on love in the family.
Easter Pastoral Message 2016
Easter Pastoral Message 2016 from the Archbishop of Adelaide The Most Rev Philip Wilson DD JCL
At Easter we are reminded that Christ gave his life for the salvation of the whole human race.
He didn’t die on the cross just for his followers or to please his father – he paid the ultimate price to show the world a new way of living and dying, with the promise of eternal life as fulfilled by his resurrection.
One of the ways we Christians commemorate Christ’s suffering and death is to re-enact the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his apostles. In the past this has involved gathering a group of men to participate in this rite, representing the disciples who, of course, were male.
But in fact this rite was bestowed on bishops and priests to intimately conform themselves to Christ who ‘came not to be served but to serve’ (Mt 20:28) and to demonstrate the humility and charity of Christ towards his disciples.
By washing the feet of the Apostles, Jesus wanted to reveal to us God’s way of acting in our human relations, and to give an example of his commandment to love one another as he has loved us.
Since coming to office, Pope Francis has used the washing of the feet rite to demonstrate his sincere love and concern for the most disadvantaged men and women in the community – prisoners, the destitute, the sick. Now other bishops and priests can freely follow suit and show our willingness to be a Church that goes out to the fringes of humanity.
The other special aspect of Easter this year is that it is being celebrated in the Year of Mercy which has been constituted by Pope Francis for us to reflect upon the mercy of God.
God’s mercy is shown so clearly in the death and resurrection of Jesus, where Jesus gave up himself entirely out of love for each one of us to save us and give us the gift of eternal life and to preserve us from sin.
But in the Year of Mercy Pope Francis reminds us that we all have a responsibility to share that mercy with people who live around us in the world.
The works of mercy that we have to be involved in are being thoughtful, kind, patient, forgiving, gentle and all of us can give action to that in any circumstances of our lives.
As a community we also need to be aware of the major changes going on in our own State in terms of the economy and rising unemployment, in particular the problems facing people in the northern suburbs as a result of the Holden closure. Pope Francis would want the Catholic community to engage with that reality and we have already begun to do so working out how we can respond in a practical way through our education, training, health and community welfare networks.
On a global level, we are grieving this Easter for the victims of the terrifying terrorist attacks in Brussels and we offer our prayers for the deceased, the injured, their families and all those offering assistance in the aftermath of the bombings. We stand united in our solidarity with the people of Belgium in the face of such senseless violence.
A little respect goes a long way
The Southern Cross newspaper – March 2016
Practical approach to mercy
The Southern Cross newspaper – February 2016
Letter from Archbishop Wilson
December 30 2015
View Archbishop Wilson's letter concerning his return from leave.
Pastoral letter from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
May 28, 2015
The Australian Catholic Bishops have released a pastoral letter on the issue of same sex marriage.
Letters from Bishop Greg O'Kelly (Port Pirie Diocese) and Bishop Peter A. Comensoli (Broken Bay Diocese) are also available below.
Open letter from Archbishop Philip Wilson
March 20 2015
Please find below an open letter from Archbishop Wilson to priests, deacons, Religious and people of God of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.
Making our hearts like Jesus
The Southern Cross newspaper – March 2015
Our role in the Synod
Southern Cross February 2015
Sampson Flat fires
Statement from Archbishop Wilson - January 7, 2015
Archbishop Wilson released a statement today expressing the solidarity and sympathy of the Catholic Community of Adelaide with all those who have lost homes, property, live stock and pets in the recent Sampson Flat fires.
“We are deeply aware”, he said “of the stress and human cost of these fires to so many families, friends and people of South Australia”.
Archbishop Wilson also confirmed that all the resources of the Archdiocese, particularly those of St Vincent de Paul, Centacare Services and the pastoral support of our parishes will be available to all those effected by the fire. Archbishop Wilson praised the heroism and dedication of the CFS and other emergency services through this period.
“They are an example of human goodness and self sacrifice at its best,” he said. Archbishop Wilson confirmed that prayers would be offered for all those effected by the fire at Masses over this and coming weekends, and that a special collection would be taken up for the support of those who were left in need as a result of the fires.
24 hours for the Lord - March 13-14
Notice from Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation
The Holy Father is proposing that Friday March 13 and Saturday March 14, 2015 be set aside for "24 Hours for the Lord".
The theme for these 24 hours of reflection and prayer will be "God rich in mercy", (Ephesians 2:4).
For more information, please download the two pdfs below.
Reporting on link between celibacy and clerical abuse
Monday December 22 2014
There has been much coverage in the media recently about the relationship between celibacy and clerical sexual abuse, following the release of the Truth Justice and Healing Council’s Activity Report.
Media outlets were quick to pick up on the one-line reference to celibacy in the report. While it was not implied that there was a link between celibacy and clerical abuse, this is the perception that many people have taken from the report.
Below is an article which appeared in Psychology Today some years ago in the wake of publication of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Report which was published on May 18, 2011. The John Jay report was a comprehensive research investigation on the causes and context of clergy sexual abuse in the United States Catholic Church. As reported in the article, the investigation found there was no direct link between celibacy in the priesthood and the abuse of children by some members of the clergy.
To read the article, click on the link below.
The gift of Jesus
The Southern Cross newspaper – December 2014
Participating in the synod
The Southern Cross newspaper – November 2014
Moment of conversion
The Southern Cross newspaper – October 2014
In solidarity with fellow Christians
Southern Cross newspaper - September 2014
Pray for Christians in the Middle East
August 19, 2014
I encourage you to read the pastoral letter of Bishop Gerard Holohan, from Bunbury Diocese, on the need to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who face persecution and martydom because of their faith.
Please download pdf below.
Statement from Ukrainian Catholic Church
Condolences to family and friends of MH17 victims
The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania have expressed their heartfelt condolences and spiritual solidarity to the friends and families of the the innocent victims of MH17.
Statement by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on Asylum Seekers
May 8, 2014
The Australian Catholic Bishops have been involved in many ways with asylum seekers. Some of us have detention centres close to home, and we have worked hard to ensure that asylum seekers receive proper pastoral care and human assistance.
We renew that commitment here. The Bishops have also intervened with Government in an attempt to make policy more respectful of human dignity and basic human rights, which today are being seriously violated.
We now make this urgent plea for a respect for the rights of asylum seekers, not only in Government circles but in the Australian community more broadly.
Federal decision-°©‐makers in both major parties have made their decisions and implemented their policies because they think they have the support of the majority of Australians. Therefore, we want to speak to the entire Australian community.
Download pdf below for full statement.
Pastoral letter to the people of the Archdiocese of Adelaide
March 12, 2014
My brothers and sisters
PASTORAL LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF ADELAIDE
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is holding its first public hearing in Adelaide this week. It is looking at the responses by our Archdiocese and the South Australian Police to allegations of child sexual abuse at St Ann's Special School. The shocking incidents of abuse against children with disabilities were committed in the late eighties/early nineties by a school bus driver, Brian Perkins.
As we move into this very important time for the Archdiocese of Adelaide before the Royal Commission, I want to once again apologise and express my deep sorrow to these especially vulnerable victims and their families for the devastating consequences of the abuse. The impact for many of the victims' families is as painful today as it ever was. The hurt and anger they feel is completely understandable.
I was, and still am, horrified by the crimes committed by Perkins. In 2003, I made ex gratia payments totalling $2.3 million as a pastoral response to a number of families including the families of those former students whom Perkins admitted having abused. Those payments were not just about money and they were not intended to reflect the level of anguish that these horrible events caused. Rather, I wanted the families to know that we recognised their pain and while we would never be able to undo the hurt caused to them, the very least we could do was something tangible to relieve some of their financial pressures and allow them to concentrate on caring for their children in the best way they could.
To read more please download document below.
Statement from Adelaide Archdiocese on St Ann's matter
Statement – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
STATEMENT FROM ADELAIDE ARCHDIOCESE ON ST ANN’S MATTER
The Archdiocese of Adelaide rejects the allegations made recently about the St Ann’s case and the litigation related to it.
Archbishop Philip Wilson has, from the outset, shown the utmost concern and compassion for the victims of Brian Perkins and their families. As soon as he learned about the shocking reality of this case, he apologised to the victims and their families and he put in place pastoral and counselling support for anyone who needed it.
In 2003 the Archbishop also paid $2.25 million in unconditional ex-gratia payments to families in an effort to help support them through this most difficult matter. He continued over extended periods to offer counselling and pastoral support for whoever required such assistance.
The Archbishop also encouraged families to consult with their lawyers to ensure that their rights were fully protected. A minority of families have since decided to issue proceedings. Those proceedings are in the control of the Courts, not the Archbishop.
Archbishop Wilson is aware that legal proceedings can and often do take a long time to progress through the Courts and while that is a matter of regret, he has not caused any delay in their progress.
Like everyone involved in this matter, the Archbishop was horrified to learn of the abuse perpetrated in this case and he repeats his sincere sorrow and regret that it ever occurred. He is hopeful that the Court actions will be resolved as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Address given at The Abraham Institute, Adelaide
July 7, 2013
Case Histories of Jewish Populations in Italy, Denmark and Bulgaria during the Holocaust
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to thank the Abraham Institute for inviting me to address you and for your all turning out this evening to do me the honour of listening to what I have to say. I look forward to your questions, comments and some discussion following the speech.
I also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are meeting. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today.
History is naturally a contested area but in speaking tonight I will try to draw from generally accepted themes.
It is said that Bulgaria, Denmark and Italy were the places in Europe where Jewish people received the best treatment during the Second World War. But the standard at the time was set very low, so I think it is much better to examine the actual behaviour for what it was so we can then draw our own conclusions on the levels of human failure and prejudice.
Download file below for full speech.