Port Macquarie priest Father Paul Gooley says his faith has been shaken by the conviction last week of Australia's most senior Catholic George Pell for child sexual abuse.
"The verdict did not shake the faith I have in God.
"But it has certainly shaken my faith in the leadership of our church and shaken my faith in human nature."
Father Paul said he has made himself available for parishioners to "talk to, vent their anger, express their dismay, offer suggestions or criticisms of the Church".
And many parishioners he said have not held back.
Father Paul's message to parishioners and the broader community is simple.
"Please know that at a local level I will be doing all I can to bring about change and to earn back the trust and confidence that has been lost by those the Church has hurt."
We now have a number of women in very significant roles within our church structure that are now part of the leadership of the church at a parish and diocesan levels.Father Paul Gooley
Father Paul said the verdict sends a strong message that "nobody is above the law".
He said there is always more that can be done but the Lismore diocese which includes Port Macquarie has taken steps to ensure any abuse is dealt with properly.
"Any matters that relate to abuse or possible abuse are immediately referred to our Safeguarding Manager in Lismore.
"She then carries out what is to happen moving forward.
In a letter to parishioners over the weekend Lismore Bishop Greg Homeming said he was "deeply disturbed and saddened" by the conviction.
Bishop Homeming, a former lawyer, said while it would be inappropriate for him to comment further because George Pell is appealing the conviction he trusted "the Australian legal system and its processes".
He said the diocese was "committed to co-operating openly and transparently with all the relevant child protection agencies and the police when an allegation is made".