The Victorian Catholic Bishops have condemned family violence in the strongest possible terms in a statement to the catholic community issued on 29 November. The statement picks up on the words of Pope Francis that “we must always say ‘no’ to violence in the home”.
Their statement says that domestic violence is now a crisis in Australia. Figures show that a woman dies at the hands of her partner or ex-partner every week and that one in four children experience the distress of witnessing their mother being abused.
The Bishops say that it is women and children who most suffer as victims of domestic violence. They urge for a society where all people are safe in their homes and families and where violence and abuse are simply not acceptable. They have asked that the whole Church community including priests, parishioners, teachers and the victims themselves work to prevent violence.
The Bishops call for responses to domestic violence which “provide victims with protection and help in rebuilding their lives, which make offenders accountable and assist their rehabilitation and importantly change those community attitudes from which violence emerges”.
The statement also opens the door to joining with other Churches and faith communities to support the necessary change while also congratulating the Royal Commission into Family Violence for its outstanding work and vital recommendations which have been promptly and positively responded to by the Victorian Government. It builds on the work of Catholic social service agencies in prevention and assistance to victims. These include CatholicCare, McAuley Community Services for Women, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, The Good Samaritan Inn, the Society of St Vincent de Paul, VincentCare, etc.
The statement will be distributed in all Catholic Parishes across Victoria this coming weekend. Download the statement here.
Download the brochure, Building on the Victorian Bishop’s statement on domestic violence: The Catholic community responding, here.
And here is a comment on the statement, by Fr Andy Hamilton sj. Fr Andy identifies the need to build on the statement, in the provision of support services, and in reflecting on the role of alcohol and of pornography in creating a culture within which violence can occur.
Contact person: Joshua Lourensz, Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Victoria, tel 0402 932 281