I support Archbishop Philip Wilson in his decision to resign as the archbishop of Adelaide, especially when considering the ongoing pain and distress being caused—particularly to the victims of Fr James Fletcher—by his maintaining the office of archbishop of Adelaide.
As a former priest of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, the grief is very close to home, and my heart goes out to those people who were abused by Fr Fletcher and to their families.
As the bishop of Wollongong, I also acknowledge the sadness and confusion being experienced on the local level. I am aware that Archbishop Wilson has been praised for his stance and support for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse during his time as the bishop of Wollongong—as evidenced during the Royal Commission’s public hearing on the Diocese of Wollongong. In the context of his conviction and the unknown outcome of his upcoming appeals process, it is important to continue the good work of the Diocese whilst respecting and supporting the legal process which binds us together as a society.
We must now renew our resolve to ensure that our ongoing policies and practices effectively address risk, recognise harm and take action for the prevention, reporting and response to abuse, while compassionately supporting victims and survivors—providing acknowledgement and just redress.
I urge any person with a complaint of mistreatment or abuse to come forward to the police through the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or to contact the diocesan director of professional standards and safeguarding, Anna Tydd, on (02) 4222 2405. I also wish to offer support to anyone who is affected. If this applies to you, or someone that you know, please contact Anna so that arrangements can be made for the appropriate support.
As we continue to strive to become the Church we should be, we entrust ourselves to the care of our loving God, whom we seek to imitate in our words and actions.
Most Rev Brian G Mascord DD
BISHOP OF WOLLONGONG
31 July 2018