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“… and what would God think?” Rebuilding pastoral health and integrity after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Emeritus Professor Desmond Cahill OAM


Educated in theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, and in psychology at Melbourne and Monash Universities, Des Cahill is Emeritus Professor of Intercultural Studies in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. After giving evidence in 2012 to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse on non-Christian religions, he was a senior consultant on the Catholic Church to the Royal Commission, authoring (with Dr Peter Wilkinson), the 2017 RMIT study Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: An Interpretive Review of the Literature and of Public Inquiry Reports. During his academic career, he conducted major policy and program evaluative studies in various Commonwealth Governrment departments, including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He served  on the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Council for Pastoral Research. He has also been co-convenor of For the Innocents, a support and advocacy group for victim survivors. He currently chairs Religions for Peace Australia, and is deputy moderator-general of Religions for Peace Asia. He is a member of the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO), and of the Victoria Police Multifaith Council.

Moving the church: a theology of possibility


Professor Richard Lennan, Professor of Systematic Theology, Boston College


Richard, a priest of the Diocese of Maitland-­Newcastle since 1983, is Professor of Systematic Theology in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. His principal fields of research and teaching are ecclesiology and the theology of ministry, and he has a particular interest in the theology and spirituality of Karl Rahner. He holds a Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford, and a doctorate in theology from the University of Innsbruck. He is the author of two books, The Ecclesiology of Karl Rahner and Risking the Church, and the editor of five others, most recently (co-edited with Nancy Pineda-Madrid) The Holy Spirit: Setting the World on Fire (2017). Prior to moving to Boston in 2007, he taught theology for fifteen years at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, and had wide involvement in ecumenical activities and pastoral planning in Australia and New Zealand. He is a past president of the Australian Catholic Theological Association, and currently serves as an editorial consultant for Theological Studies

Cultural change and renewal: challenges for religious life and the church


Dr Megan Brock RSJ


Dr Megan Brock RSJ is Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph, Lochinvar. She has worked for almost 30 years as a registered psychologist in private practice, and in consultancy to religious orders, dioceses and other organisations, and has worked extensively in the area of sexual abuse in individual therapeutic settings. For a number of years, she facilitated support groups for religious sisters who are survivors of sexual abuse. She has taught at the Counselling Institute of Sydney, the Catholic Institute of Sydney, and at Western Sydney University. Megan has served on both the NSW and National Committees for Professional Standards, the Board of CatholicCare, Sydney, and the Cancer Council of NSW Ethics Committee. She is a Tribunal Member of the Psychology Council of NSW, and is currently on the Council of Catholic Religious Australia. Her qualifications include BA, Dip Ed, MA [Counselling], and PhD. Her doctoral research examined the lived experience of Religious Sisters in Australia/New Zealand. Its findings have been presented at a number of conferences both nationally and internationally. In June 2018, Megan presented a paper at a conference in Rome about the role of culture as an enabler or barrier in the protection of children and vulnerable adults. Megan’s paper looked at Religious Life as a sub-culture, and explored the challenges for Religious who have been abused themselves.

Church governance and leadership

Susan Pascoe AM


Susan is President and Chair of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), Chair of the Community Director’s Council and of the Principals Australia Institute Certification Advisory Board. She is a member of the Board of Mercy Health Australia Group, and a Trustee of St John of God Health Care Inc. Ms Pascoe is Principal of Kadisha Enterprises and of Baxter Lawley, which provide consultancy services primarily to government and the not-for-profit sector in the areas of governance, review, strategic planning, and leadership. Ms Pascoe was the inaugural Commissioner for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), Australia's first national, independent regulator of charities from 2012–17. Prior to this, she was Commissioner of Victoria's State Services Authority (SSA). She has been President of the Australian College of Educators, CEO of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, and CEO of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria. In 2009, Susan was appointed as one of three Commissioners for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires. In 2017, she and Prof Deborah Brennan chaired a review into Early Childhood Education for the Council for the Australian Federation, culminating in the Lifting our Game Report. Susan is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Institute of Public Administration of Australia, and the College of Educators. In 2007, she was appointed Member of the Order of Australia for service to education, and in 2016, she was awarded the Leadership in Government Award for her outstanding contribution to public administration in Australia. 

Canon law and the recommendations of the Royal Commission


Professor Rik Torfs, Professor of Canon Law, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium


Rik is Professor of Canon Law at the Catholic University of Leuven, and from 2013–2017 was Rector of the University. The author of more than 300 articles on canon law, and church and state, he is visiting professor at the universities of Strasbourg (France) and Stellenbosch (South Africa), editor of the European Journal for Church and State Research, and a member of the editorial board of Revue de Droit Canonique. From 2010 to 2013 he was a member of the Belgian Parliament as a senator for the Christian Democratic Party. He is a member of the Honorary Committee of the Bern-based International Association for the Defense of Religious Freedom (AIDLR), and a member of the board of the International Academy for Freedom of Religion and Belief, based in Washington DC. In 1998, he was a member and co-rapporteur of the working group set up to establish Belgium's Commission on Sexual Abuse in Pastoral Relations. He is a regular newspaper columnist in Belgium.

Implications for ministry


Janiene Wilson


Janiene is a clinical psychologist registered with the Psychology Board of Australia. She is a member of the College of Clinical Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society, and a member of the NSW Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Janiene lecturers on human development and pastoral counselling at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, and has worked with clergy for many years, including as a psychologist at the Good Shepherd Seminary in Sydney. She has an interest in the convergence of psychology with theology and spirituality, and the unique pastoral dilemmas that the Church must now face and address.

Supervision reframed: an offer of pastoral care by the church and a spiritual discipline for the practitioner


Rev Dr Alan Niven


Alan is a Churches of Christ minister. Following 19 years of parish ministry, he was Lecturer in Pastoral Theology and Family Studies at Stirling College, University of Divinity (from 1994–2016). Currently Stirling’s Director of Research, he supervises doctoral work in healthcare, spirituality and chaplaincy, pastoral counselling, disability, policy and pastoral care, multicultural ministry, and ageing and spirituality. He has supervised ministers and priests (six different traditions) in their practice for over 20 years. He helped develop denominational Codes of Conduct, and was active in disciplinary processes including victim-advocacy. In 1997, he first taught the study unit 'Violence and abuse: Theological, pastoral and spiritual responses', as a personal response to family violence and the growing evidence of abuse within the Church.

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