Posts Tagged Australian Catholic Church

Australia and Catholic Church ‘failed’ abused children, inquiry finds / The New York Times

“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions,” said the report, which was particularly critical of Catholic organizations. “We will never know the true number. Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.” (The New York Times)

A royal commission investigating the sexual abuse of children in Australia found Friday (Dec. 15) that the nation was gripped by an epidemic dating back decades, with tens of thousands of children sexually abused in schools, religious organizations and other institutions.

“The commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, urged government action on its 189 recommendations, including the establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety and penalties for those who suspect abuse and fail to alert the police, including priests who hear about abuse in confessionals. It also urged Australia’s Roman Catholic leadership to press Rome to end mandatory celibacy for priests.

“‘Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions,’ said the report, which was particularly critical of Catholic organizations. ‘We will never know the true number. Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.’

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said all Australians should read the report.”

By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times — Read more …

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‘Changes must be made’: shocking Australian child abuse inquiry ends / CNN News

(Hon. Justice Peter) McClellan (head of the investigation) singled out the Roman Catholic Church in particular for often putting reputation above the safety of children in what they found to be decades of systematic sexual abuse — a familiar pattern of scandals dogging Catholic institutions globally. (CNN News)

Children are still being sexually assaulted in Australian institutions.

“That was the stark warning of an exhaustive five-year investigation by an Australia Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse that concluded Thursday (Dec. 15).

In a short hearing in Sydney, Hon. Justice Peter McClellan, who has headed the investigation, said the ‘nation thanks the survivors’ who gave testimony about decades of systematic abuse and cover-ups in religious and state institutions such as churches, youth groups, care homes and schools.

More than 8,000 people gave evidence in private sessions, and 2,559 referrals were made to authorities, including the police, as a result of the $383 million (AU$500 million) probe.

“‘The sexual abuse of children is not just a problem from the past. Child sexual abuse in institutions continues today,’ said McClellan. ‘In some case studies into schools the alleged abuse was so recent that the children are still attending school.’

“McClellan singled out the Roman Catholic Church in particular for often putting reputation above the safety of children in what they found to be decades of systematic sexual abuse — a familiar pattern of scandals dogging Catholic institutions globally.”

By Lucie Morris-Marr, CNN News — Read More …

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Australian bishop urges end to clericalism / National Catholic Reporter

“The sex abuse crisis was more than the evil acts of individuals. (Bishop Vincent Long) Van Nguyen said the culture of the church contributed to the crisis in Australia.” National Catholic Reporter

Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, Australia, speaking to the National Council of Priests of Australia, urged an end to clericalism in the church and expressed hope that a newly revitalized Catholic clergy would emerge from the sex abuse crisis that has wracked the Catholic Church in Australia.

“He spoke Aug. 30 to the National Council of Priests in Australia, which reprinted his remarks in the December edition of The Swag, its quarterly magazine.

“Van Nguyen, 55, a Conventual Franciscan who became bishop of Parramatta last year, declared in a message to a Royal Commission investigating sex abuse in the Catholic Church that he himself had been abused by church members as an adult. He told the priests’ group that ‘we are in a big mess’ as priests ‘bear the brunt of public anger and distrust in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis. It is one of the hardest times to be a priest.’

“He suggested they look to the example of Pope Francis as a vision of priesthood based on a servant, not an authoritarian, model.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Melbourne’s Catholic archdiocese let pedophile priests free to abuse children / Victoria Herald Sun

In its report the commission found Archbishop Little’s “culture of secrecy … sought to protect the Archdiocese from scandal and liability and prioritised the interests of the Church over those of the victims.” (Victoria Herald Sun)

CULTURE of secrecy inside Melbourne’s Catholic Archdiocese let paedophile priests free to abuse scores of children, a damning report by the child abuse royal commission has found.

“Releasing its report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne today the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was most scathing of former Archbishop Frank Little …

“The commission found Archbishop Little lied about the resignation of paedophile priests, concealed ongoing financial assistance to others, and shuffled others between parishes.”

By Shannon Deery, Victoria Herald Sun — Read more …

 

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Trial begins for Catholic archbishop accused of protecting pedophile priest / The Australian

The most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be charged with concealing the child-sex-abuse offences of another priest will face a two-week hearing starting today (Nov. 28 in Australia).

“In what is seen as a test case for the potential prosecution of others accused of not disclosing such crimes, the Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Edward Wilson, faces up to two years in jail if convicted of ‘concealing a serious indictable offence.’

“It is alleged the 67-year-old had information he knew or believed about Hunter Valley priest James Fletcher that he failed to pass on to investigating police between April 22, 2004, when Fletcher was charged with child sex offences, and July 7, 2006, when Fletcher died in jail. Prosecutors say Archbishop Wilson, a former president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, knew Fletcher had abused a 10-year-old boy in 1971 but failed to notify police. He has denied the allegation.

“Since he was charged in March 2015, Archbishop Wilson has made three attempts to have the charge against him dismissed or permanently stayed …”

By Sam Buckingham-Jones, The Australian — Read more …

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Australian Catholic Church falls short on safeguards for children, study finds / The New York Times

In nearly 400 pages, the report traces the history of child sexual abuse in the global church and tries to identify factors that have contributed to it, with a particular focus on Australia. (The New York Times)

A study that examines child sexual abuse worldwide in the Roman Catholic Church has found that the Australian church has done less to safeguard children in its care than its counterparts in similar countries have.

“The report, released on Wednesday by the Center for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, also found that the church’s requirement that priests be celibate was a major risk factor for abuse. And it said that the possibility of abuse in Catholic residential institutions, like orphanages, should be getting more attention, especially in developing countries.

“Experts said the report could put pressure on Pope Francis, and particularly the church in Australia, to do more to prevent abuse. The Australian church was rocked in June when Cardinal George Pell, an Australian who is one of the pope’s top advisers, became the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses.

“Desmond Cahill, the report’s lead author, said its findings pointed to an urgent need to rethink the priesthood in the 21st century. He said the church should reconsider the celibacy requirement for priests.”

By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times — Read more …

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Seeking a path from Pell to a Plenary Council / Commonweal

“The hearings have laid bare the cultural factors that enabled the (clergy abuse) scandal to be so badly managed,” he (Francis Sullivan, head of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council) told me. “They can be summarized as issues of power, privilege, and participation. Who controlled decision-making, who was involved in decision-making, and who benefited from the decisions taken. The lack of transparency and the entitlement attitudes that underpin clericalism were given a lot of ventilation.” (Commonweal)

Arriving in Sydney, Australia, this summer for a round of conferences sponsored by the Broken Bay Institute of the Australian Institute of Theological Education, I found a church confronting events likely to have a profound impact on its future: the Royal Commission’s completion of its work on an ‘institutional response to child sexual abuse’; the return of Cardinal George Pell from Rome to face charges on sexual abuse cases alleged to have taken place decades ago in the diocese of Ballarat; and the announcement of a Plenary Council for Australia set for 2020—the first since 1937.

“The three issues are interwoven. The Pell case frightens the institutional church for the ripple effects the trial might have on other investigations into clergy sexual abuse. It complicates the creative response of the Australian episcopate to the scandal: the creation of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council launched shortly after the establishment of the Royal Commission and headed by Francis Sullivan, a lay Catholic who for fourteen years was chief executive of Catholic Health Australia. After the expected publication of the Royal Commission’s report at the end of this year, the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council will publish its own report. It will be interesting to see how the episcopate receives it. Created by the bishops, the council has nonetheless maintained an independent attitude; for example, it has refused the request of some bishops to cross-examine witnesses heard by the Royal Commission.

“Sullivan gave me his assessment of the impact of the Royal Commission hearings. ‘The hearings have laid bare the cultural factors that enabled the scandal to be so badly managed,’ he told me. ‘They can be summarized as issues of power, privilege, and participation. Who controlled decision-making, who was involved in decision-making, and who benefited from the decisions taken. The lack of transparency and the entitlement attitudes that underpin clericalism were given a lot of ventilation. This has opened public debate about the role of women, celibacy, seminary training, supervision of clerics, and the ethical use of church finances.’ The church, he added, has lost control of this public debate. ‘Its voice has been muted and compromised,’ he said. ‘Any semblance of a defensive tone is jumped on by critics and the majority of the leaders have been missing in action.'”

By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal — Read more …

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