This unit covers the context and issues relating to the safeguarding of Children and vulnerable adults in the Church. It will cover the issues relevant to providing a concrete framework to:

  1. understand the contemporary context for safeguarding including the current legal and ethical considerations;
  2. situate it within the central notion of the dignity of the human person, in the context of a theology of the child and a theology of the vulnerable and marginalised;
  3. develop effective responses to abuse with an understanding of its context, causes and life-long impact, and includes listening deeply to the voice of victims;
  4. highlight the responsibilities and develop the skills required to form reflective pastoral leaders with an understanding of issues of power in ministry and the need for on-going formation;
  5. develop the necessary capacities to implement and apply initiatives and policies to evaluate risk factors and create a culture of safety, and promote prevention, inclusion and wellbeing within a variety of Church settings in a transparent, collaborative, and accountable way.

Unit code: DP2015C

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Describe the current context of safeguarding at a local and global level and the rights and dignity of children and the vulnerable to feel safe and protected.


Explain the nature and impact of abuse, its life-long impact, and the contributing risk factors.


Articulate the theological foundations of the care of the child and the vulnerable and make connections to the safeguarding requirements.


Identify and apply the reflective leadership practices required to understand the nature of power in ministry, and promote a culture of safety, prevention, inclusion and wellbeing which is transparent, collaborative, and accountable.


Identify pathways for appropriate intervention and response to disclosure and allegations of abuse and/or neglect .


Create policies for safeguarding in a relevant ministry context.

Unit sequence

This unit forms part of a suite of three Pastoral Studies Units.


DP1001C/2001C Pastoral Studies 1: A Theory of Pastoral Practice

DP1002C/2002C Pastoral Studies 2: Pastoral Care and Spiritual Leadership


Learners will engage in intensive mode with lectures, workshops, facilitated peer discussion, electronic resources and online learning.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL). “National Catholic Safeguarding Standards Ed 1.” Melbourne: CPSL, 2019.
  • Catholic Religious Australia and The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Joint Statement and Response to the Royal Commission. August, 2018.
  • Bohn B., H. Zollner, and H. Liebhardt, H. “Child Sexual Abuse in the Context of the Roman Catholic Church: A Review of Literature from 1981-2013”. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 23, (2014), 635-56.
  • Gula, Richard. Just Ministry: Professional Ethics for Pastoral Ministers. Mahwah NJ: Paulist, 2010.
  • Heitritter, L., and J. Vought. Helping Victims of Sexual Abuse: A Sensitive Biblical Guide for Counsellors. Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House, 2006.
  • Integrity in Ministry: A Document of Principles and Standards for Catholic Clergy and Religious in Australia. Alexandria: National Committee for Professional Standards, 2010.
  • Leach, Jane, and Michael Paterson. Pastoral Supervision: A Handbook. 2nd ed. London: SCM, 2015.
  • Ortiz, F., and G. McGlone. To Be One in Christ: Intercultural Formation and Ministry. Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2015.
  • Scicluna, C., H. Zollner, H., and D. Ayotte, eds. Toward Healing and Renewal: The 2012 Symposium on the Sexual Abuse of Minors Held at the Pontifical Gregorian University. New York: Paulist, 2012.
  • Sperry, Len. Sex, Priestly Ministry, and the Church. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 2000 40.0
Case Study 2500 60.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 23 Jul, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2020-07-23 17:44:10 +1000