Churches not learning on abuse: Briggs

University of South Australia lecturer, Professor Freda Briggs, will today tell a psychiatrists convention that churches have failed to learn the lesson of massive abuse compensation payouts.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports pressure is mounting on the Pope to offer an apology during his visit to Sydney for World Youth Day, with leading specialists saying the Pope's unequivocal condemnation of abuse would aid healing and that the children of the most devout Church followers remained at risk.

Professor Briggs, emeritus professor of child development and a lecturer at the University of South Australia, will tell a conference into religious based sexual abuse, organised by the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, that churches were disregarding the habitual nature of sex offenders and were welcoming back convicted clergy.

Perpetrators had been able to groom children for sexual abuse partly because naive and trusting parents had allowed priests to share the same room and even the same bed as their sons, and had been easily flattered when priests chose their sons as altar boys.

"Some Church leaders don't seem to realise that pedophilia is not akin to a traffic offence or even robbing a bank; he may have paid his debt to society according to law but that doesn't mean that he won't reoffend.

"There is no evidence to show that religion cures pedophilia - to the contrary - and the Church's eagerness to following the teachings of Jesus and forgive offenders could prove to be yet another costly exercise placing it, and further children, at risk."

According to the Herald, pressure is also mounting on Pope Benedict to address the issue during his World Youth Day visit to Australia.

Peter Jonkers, professor of philosophy at the faculty of Catholic theology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, told the Herald it was appropriate the Pope use the international forum of World Youth Day to strongly condemn sexual abuse.

"It is important that the Pope does it. On a local level, the bishops or cardinals some way or another need to make contact with victims and survivors to recognise them."

But Professor Jonkers, an advocate of forgiveness as a useful tool for personal recovery, cautions that for the Pope to repeat apologies wherever he next visits would be to eventually devalue the nature of an apology.


Youth Day suits a new kind of 'sorry' (Sydney Morning Herald, 20/6/08)

Taxpayers safe from WYD cost: government (Sydney Morning Herald, 19/6/08)


World Youth Day 2008



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