Francis Sullivan, with his wife Susan at their Canberra home, has been appointed CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council
It may be in the churches of south Canberra or on a bike cycling the backblocks of the ACT that Francis Sullivan draws strength for what he knows will be a torrid time ahead, reports The Canberra Times.
The seasoned Canberra lobbyist has been appointed chief executive officer of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, a role within the Catholic Church ''managing the issues and ramifications'' of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
Former NSW Supreme Court judge Barry O'Keefe, QC, has been appointed chairman of the council.Mr Sullivan says it will be the most difficult position of his career but one he takes on willingly to ensure the Catholic Church listens and responds to stories of abuse - and tries to prove that things have changed.
''I've said quite openly as a Catholic I'm very disillusioned with the whole thing and I think it's been a scandal,'' he said, of child abuse within the church.
''People don't expect church people to be engaged in this type of behaviour and there has been a history where there has been a cover-up, and that has also been scandalous.''
Mr Sullivan, 56, resigned as secretary-general of the Australian Medical Association to take up the role, one he was sought out for by the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
''I took a good week to say yes,'' he said. ''Both my wife and I spent a good deal of time talking and praying about it, because this is a terribly weighty responsibility and I took it seriously.''
Before joining the AMA, Mr Sullivan spent 14 years as the chief executive officer of Catholic Health Australia, speaking for hospitals and aged care services across Australia.
Mr Sullivan says the church's council will ''embrace'' the royal commission, which he sees as an opportunity to ''clear the air and let the truth come out''.
The council's role was not to circumvent any of the commission's processes or even ensure that it did not focus too much on the Catholic Church rather than other institutions accused of child abuse. The council wanted to ensure the church's handling of sexual abuse was ''more transparent, open and compassionate''.
FULL STORY Weight of responsibility in CEO's church council role (Canberra Times)