Posts Tagged Australia
The church has found itself at the center of a spiraling sex abuse scandal, spanning countries and decades. (The New York Times)
“Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official, must stand trial on several charges of sexual abuse, an Australian court ruled on Tuesday (May 1), promising to prolong a case that has already dragged on for months, and which many see as a moment of reckoning for a church racked by scandal.
“Belinda Wallington, a Melbourne magistrate, found there was sufficient evidence for prosecutors to bring the cardinal’s case to trial, ending a two-month pretrial hearing, in which witnesses described abuse they said took place decades ago.
“But the majority of charges against the cardinal were either withdrawn or dismissed, including several of the most serious allegations, which were said to have taken place in a playground, on an altar, on a mountaintop and during a 1970s screening of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ in Ballarat.”
By Adam Baidawi, The New York Times — Read more …
The scale of the abuse in Ballarat was staggering. Gerald Ridsdale, the former chaplain of St. Alipius Primary School in Ballarat, was imprisoned for sexually abusing 65 children from the early 1960s to late 1980s. He was only one of several priests convicted of abusing children. (The New York Times)
Rob Walsh was outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court recently awaiting a pretrial hearing for Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official, when, he said, he unexpectedly walked into the cardinal himself.
“The encounter wasn’t their first. They both were raised in the same old mining town, which could be why the cardinal extended his hand, inviting Mr. Walsh to shake it. Mr. Walsh declined — a gesture that signified the lasting impact of a decades-long sexual abuse scandal that has rocked this town, Ballarat, and sent shock waves around the world.
“‘The ripple is still on the lake and it’s still occurring,’ Mr. Walsh said from his home in Ballarat, referring to the lingering effects from that scandal, in which priests preyed on children, including Mr. Walsh, during the 1960s and 1970s.
“‘It’s gone through families and generations.'”
By Jacqueline Williams, The New York times — Read more …
Priest sex abusers used confession to assuage their guilt, making it easier for them to repeat their crimes. (Kieran Tapsell in National Catholic Reporter)
The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has just released its Criminal Justice Report in which it deals with many matters relating to the way child sexual abuse within institutions is handled by the Australian criminal justice system. In the course of that report, it recommends mandatory reporting of all suspected child sexual abuse within institutions and the creation of new offences of failing to take proper care to prevent such abuse.
“One recommendation that understandably created some media interest is that there should be no exemption to the reporting requirements for information provided in confession.
“The commission’s report produces convincing evidence, not only in Australia, but also overseas, that priest sex abusers used confession as a means of assuaging their guilt. It made it easier for them to repeat their crimes because confession was always available.”
Commentary by Kieran Tapsell in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
A government commission in Australia on Monday (Aug. 14) said Catholic priests must violate the seal of confession if they hear about the sexual abuse of children. (Cruxnow.com)
Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse says the right to practice one’s religious beliefs ‘must accommodate civil society’s obligation to provide for the safety of all and, in particular, children’s safety from sexual abuse.’ Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said in a statement the inviolability of the seal of confession is a ‘fundamental part of the freedom of religion.’”
By Cruxnow.com Staff — Read more …
“There must be perpetrators out there who would be looking at this thinking if a cardinal can be charged, anyone can be,” (clergy abuse survivor) Mr. (Andrew) Collins said. “It gives survivors faith in the system again.” (The New York Times)
Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, made his first court appearance in Australia on Wednesday (Jul. 26) after becoming the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses.
“Cardinal Pell, 76, was flanked by police officers as he entered Melbourne Magistrates’ Court through a thicket of camera crews, reporters and photographers.
“He said nothing during the filing hearing, which lasted about six minutes.
“One of the cardinal’s lawyers, Robert Richter, told the court that his client would plead not guilty to all charges and vehemently maintained his innocence. Magistrate Duncan Reynolds set the next court proceeding for Oct. 6.
“Journalists from around the world started lining up outside the court as early as 5 a.m. to get a seat at the hearing, which was purely administrative in nature and allowed the magistrate to set dates for future hearings.”
By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times — Read more …
“The pope has achieved global popularity for his emphasis on inclusiveness and mercy, but he has come under increased criticism for the slow pace and reported internal resistance to efforts to safeguard victims of sexual abuse by priests and protect children in the church.” (The New York Times)
In an extraordinary statement, the Holy See announced on Thursday (Jun. 29) morning that Pope Francis had granted a leave of absence to Cardinal George Pell of Australia, a top Vatican official, adviser to the pontiff and as of this week the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual assault, so that he could return to Australia to defend himself.
“Speaking at the Vatican press office, Cardinal Pell, wearing simple black clerical cloths and a dangling cross, read a statement declaring his innocence against the charges and what he called leaks by the news media and ‘relentless character assassination.’
“‘I am looking forward finally to having my day in court,’ Cardinal Pell said as he sat next to a Vatican spokesman. ‘I am innocent of the charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.’
“The Australian police served the cardinal’s legal representatives hours earlier in Melbourne and have yet to reveal the details of the charges or the ages of the complainants.”
By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times — Read more …
‘Criminally negligent’: Catholic archbishops criticize church’s handling of abuse scandal / The Guardian
Australia’s most senior Catholic leaders have conceded that the church’s handling of the child sexual abuse crisis was ‘hopelessly inadequate,’ had catastrophic consequences, and amounted to ‘criminal negligence.’
“Five of Australia’s metropolitan archbishops appeared before the child abuse royal commission on Thursday (Feb. 23), asked to explain how the church had allowed the abuse of at least 4,444 children between between 1980 and 2015.
“Perth archbishop, Timothy Costelloe, said a major cause of the abuse complaints and the abysmal response to complaints was the leadership’s belief in the ‘untouchability of the church,’ which filtered down to bishops and priests.
“‘The church in a sense saw itself as a law unto itself; that it was somehow or other so special and so unique, and in a sense so important, that it stood aside from the normal things that would be a part of any other body,’ Costelloe said.”
By Christopher Knaus, the Guardian — Read more …