Invitation to attend a public meeting

"The Honourable David Shoebridge, MLC issued an invitation for Bishop Wright or a representative of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, to attend and speak at a public meeting scheduled for Sunday 16 September 2012.


The diocese understands the meeting is titled "Is there a need for a Royal Commission into sexual abuse in religious and other institutions?"

The diocese believes that any balanced review of its conduct since the Wood Royal Commission's Paedophile Inquiry (c.1994-97), would conclude that great advances have been achieved and that the vast majority of diocesan priests, religious and laity are honest and hard working people who share an absolute commitment to promoting the safety, welfare and well being of children.

Bishop Wright has already made it known that if a public inquiry was to be held, it would be for government to determine in consultation with their agencies and other groups in the community, what would be the best form of inquiry and into which particular issues it should inquire.

The diocese would, of course, co-operate fully with any Royal Commission or other inquiry that might be established by the government and is confident that it would be found to have responded well to the issues and challenges revealed by inquiries in the 1990s, but the present discussion for Sunday's meeting is about the need for a Royal Commission.

That is now a party political question which Bishop Wright has declined to canvass.

Mr Shoebridge is the Master of Ceremonies for the meeting; he is also a member of the NSW Greens with a publicly stated position supporting a Royal Commission, which is at odds with the Premier and government of NSW.

It is therefore not appropriate for the bishop or any official representative of the diocese to attend or speak at, the meeting. The Honourable Mr Shoebridge's invitation has been declined.

In the interim the diocese will continue to reach out to those who have been harmed, their families and the faith community and assist and support those affected by abuse in their intensely personal journeys towards healing.

For more information about the child protection services offered by Zimmerman Services (the Diocesan Child Protection Unit, Healing and Support Services and Insights), please contact (02) 4979 1390."


-A statement from the Vicar General of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Fr Barry Tunks.