Australia's Catholic bishops and religious orders have welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's National Apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse at Parliament House in Canberra on 22 October.
In a joint statement with the bishops, Sr Monica Cavanagh, President of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA), said: "The National Apology today and the apologies made by institutions during the life of the Royal Commission and since have been an important validation of the courage of survivors of abuse in seeking truth, justice and healing. We think first of them at this time."
CRA represents more than 130 congregations of sisters, brothers and religious priests throughout Australia.
Brisbane's Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said abuse perpetrated by priests, brothers, sisters and lay people was "an utter betrayal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it should never have happened".
Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL), which was created by the Church in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to develop National Catholic Safeguarding Standards and to audit the compliance of Church bodies, also welcomed the Prime Minister's apology.
CPSL CEO Ms Sheree Limbrick said the apology was an essential landmark in Australia’s shameful history of crimes committed against children in Australian institutions.
“But the apology is not the end of the matter, it doesn’t stop here,” she said.
Ms Limbrick said auditing of bishops and religious leaders' compliance with the Standards would begin early next year and CPSL anticipated publicly releasing its first audit reports in the first half of 2019.
“All Church authorities will be audited within three years... CPSL’s standards and auditing process will go a long way to holding Church authorities to account,” she said.