Kia tau te rangimarie kia koutou
In this first week of December, and the first week of Advent, we have begun to hear in the liturgy the promises that the Messiah will come. Two days ago at Mass we heard powerful words from Isaiah. 11:6-8 (a longer version was heard at Mass):
“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.”
That reading promised that God, the Saviour, will come, and that there will be a return to the peace of the Garden of Eden (even wild animals living in peace with one another). This year may not have felt anything like the Garden of Eden. Covid 19 has changed the world and our lives. There is still the promise of peace.
This week has been hard for us as Catholics with the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care holding public hearings at which some survivors of abuse in faith-based care are giving evidence. This week’s focus has been on cases involving the Catholic Church. It has been very hard for all of us to hear the survivor’s accounts. Prayer has been my only response this week.
Almost two years ago the Bishops and Leaders of religious orders asked to be part of the Royal Commission process. We saw that this was a necessary step in the process of justice, an opportunity to acknowledge our past, examine our failings and to listen to those who have been harmed.
In order to help prepare for the work of the Royal Commission we set up a Group called Te Rōpū Tautoko to help us prepare for this important work. The Key Principles guiding the Church’s involvement with the Royal Commission are as follows:
The Bishops and Congregational Leaders believe that every person has an innate human dignity (te tapu o te tangata), therefore we:
- regard all forms of abuse as unacceptable and indefensible
- accept the responsibility to continue to act to stop abuse in the Church
- listen to, learn from, and support survivors
- act swiftly on complaints and follow them through
- ensure action on accountability is followed through for those who are proven responsible for abuse
- support the need for the Inquiry and actively cooperate with the Commission
- commit to ensuring transparency
These are not easy times for any of us. I do believe that even though this is very hard that we shall come out of this a better Church, a Church where people will be safe and the dignity of all will be protected.
I ask that you please pray for all who are involved, especially those whose lives have been severely damaged by the harm done to them. Please pray too for all those who are helping us prepare the information needed by the Royal Commission.
I have had some wonderful messages of support and the promise of prayer over the last few days. I am very grateful for that and once again ask that you continue to pray over the weeks and months ahead.
With every blessing