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Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference releases national code of conduct

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference releases “Integrity in Our Common Mission”: a national code of conduct ensuring safety and zero tolerance for clerical abuse.

By Francesca Merlo

A national code of conduct has been released by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) for people ministering in Catholic dioceses around Australia.

A new document

In a press release published on 8 April by the ACBC, the bishops present the 32-page document, which they say is a means “of furthering the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s ongoing commitment to the safety of children and vulnerable people”.

The Document, entitled “Integrity in Our Common Mission” (link) was approved by the bishops at their plenary meeting in November 2023 and replaces earlier codes such as Integrity in Ministry for clergy and Religious, and Integrity in the Service of the Church for Church lay workers, and brings these into a single presentation, as requested by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

It reflects the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards and aims to ” assist in the formation and induction of clergy and lay pastoral leaders to reflect integrity in all aspects of their lives”.

Essential to formation

In their press release, the Australian bishops write that “any person performing pastoral work at the request of, or under the ultimate supervision of, a diocesan bishop must comply with the national code of conduct. Depending on the circumstances, they may also be subject to specific statutory, contractual or other obligations”.

Words of the Bishop

Bishop Greg Bennet, chair of the Bishops Commission for Professional Standards and Safeguarding, emphasized this further by stressing that the Church has zero tolerance for abuse.

Integrity in Our Common Mission is a vital resource for renewing our commitment to the safety of children and vulnerable people,” he said, adding that “its principles have been developed to guide, form, strengthen and affirm those behaviours which are expected of all engaged in the ministries of the Church.”

The press release concludes by highlighting some of the other areas covered in the Code, such as physical and emotional boundaries, responding to complaints, positive relationships, using social media, abuse in the workplace and financial ethics.

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