EREA Apology to Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse
The Feast of Pentecost is approaching. As it draws near, in the same way as Jesus’ followers gathered in an upper room, we gather as an Edmund Rice community, prompted by the Spirit, in the upper reaches of our nation’s capital, to proclaim a message of regret, lament and contrition – to say that we are sorry.
In his Pentecost Homily in 2016, Pope Francis stated: “The Spirit is given to us by God and leads us back to God. The entire work of salvation is one of “re-generation”. On this unique site of devastation and regeneration, the National Arboretum, we gather in brokenness to re-imagine a liberated future, where not a single life remains abandoned, where every life, however broken, is lifted up.
This morning, Edmund Rice Education Australia will acknowledge and apologise for the suffering of victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Christian Brothers, clergy and lay staff in our schools – abuse that has been reported and abuse that remains hidden. Because our schools are places where this abuse has occurred, it is right that we join together in solidarity with one another to take this action.
Today, we are in the privileged presence of survivors of abuse. It is our hope that the apology we will deliver demonstrates that we have listened to you – that we have sought to understand your pain, and that the essence of your views, thoughts and feelings are captured in our words, actions and symbols. It is our hope that today will be an important step in addressing a longstanding omission and healing pain which is unfathomable. Today we embark on a long journey to re-establishing trust: trust that can only be truly earned through action.