Two-pronged approach to domestic violence

Domestic violence was a most serious social topic that showed little signs of improvement, Archbishop Christopher Prowse told an ecumenical conference on the issue hosted by the Archdiocese’s Commission for Women.

“Solutions involve all of us. Hence, this ecumenical and interdisciplinary approach adopted today is a great way forward,” he said.

“May I suggest a two-pronged approach.

“In the first place, domestic and family violence is a social scourge and needs to be condemned as such immediately. Those who perpetrate such violence are to be seen as cowards in our community. Victims are in need of our compassion and practical support.

“A particular feature of domestic/family violence is its hidden nature.

“Too much happens behind closed doors. Victims face a multitude of pressures to keep the violence, rage, and intense frustration quiet and out of the public eye. So many feel isolated and under continual threat – both physical and emotional – to the abusive nature of power in relationships.

“Secondly, in condemning an evil, there is the priority to commend a social good.

“Pope Francis likes to use the image of the Church as a field hospital on the battlefield of life. When the wounded are bought to us they seek healing – and immediately. What is the type of healing needed for those wounded due to domestic/family violence whom we encounter?

“I am reminded of the famous expression of the Catholic mystic of the Middle Ages: ‘Where there is no love, put love – and you will find love.’

“The healing balm of all that makes relationships loving and beautiful needs to be invoked. The soul medicine of the dignity of every human person as reflecting the image of our loving and merciful God is a priority that immediately comes to mind.

“At the same time, the golden rule of the great world religions, ‘Do to others as you would want them to do to you’, is a guiding behavioural motivation of the highest priority.

“For Christians, the inseparable nature of love of God and love of neighbour assists us to see Jesus in the most vulnerable and alienated. It helps us to seek out the lost sheep and leave the 99 behind.

“On a practical and daily level this love of neighbour is expressed in many ways. One example is the practical assistance offered by CatholicCare, Marymead and St Vincent de Paul here in Canberra and beyond.

“There is a wonderful yearly remembrance in many Christian Churches called ‘The Triumph of the Cross’. It seems to summarise well the hope and mercy offered to us Amazing Grace. Jesus was the butchered victim of senseless violence on the Cross of Calvary. He entered into the world of a diabolical power that seeks to control and alienate. Yet God raised Jesus, who becomes human vulnerability incarnate, up from the dead at the Resurrection. “Risen Jesus now fills the hearts of us all with hope and healing. When the vulnerability of God meets the vulnerability of victims of domestic/family violence there is the sure dawn of divine intimacy that can never be taken away from the powerless.”