Today we were officially informed that the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will be one of the subjects of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse case study #43, focusing on Vincent Gerard Ryan and a number of Marist Brothers including Francis Cable (Brother Romuald) and Thomas Butler (Brother Patrick). The case study will begin with public hearings on 29 August here in Newcastle and will run for two weeks.
As a diocese we are committed to continuing to support both the Royal Commission and NSW Police in their ongoing investigations. As I have stated previously, I believe very firmly that both the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry and the Royal Commission will greatly serve the good of the community, by establishing a clear picture of the abuse that has taken place, its often devastating effects on the lives of the abused children, how this appalling abuse was allowed to continue, and what must be done to protect children now and into the future.
As Bishop, I will ensure this Diocese cooperates fully with the Royal Commission before, during and after any public or private hearings.
I have spoken before about our diocese's terrible history of child sexual abuse. In the past our diocese failed to protect our children from abuse and, because of that failure, today far too many individuals, families and communities continue to suffer the harm that was caused by predatory men.
I recognise that this case study may be an occasion of difficulty or distress for many in our community and I strongly encourage those who are affected to seek assistance. Zimmerman Services is the diocese's specialist child protection service and anyone who is affected by historic child abuse can contact Zimmerman Services' Healing and Support Team on (02) 4979 1390.