Posts Tagged Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Australian Catholics need to wake up / The Sydney Morning Herald

With a sexual abuse record among the worst in the world, and an exhaustive and fair investigation completed by a Royal Commission that produced a clear set of recommendations, the international church ought to be looking to Australia for a way forward. All Australians, and particularly the Catholic community, should do what they can to shame and pressure the Australian bishops. The first step is to arise from their slumber. (The Sydney Moening Herald)

“Australian Catholics are being conned. After all the disgrace of the Royal Commission evidence and its specific and telling recommendations, the response effectively proposed by the Australian Bishops is to call a Plenary Council of the church in Australia in 2020-21. Australia’s Catholics seem to be meekly agreeing to what is an unconscionable delay and a fudge. In short, the bishops have us where they want us: corralled and quietened.

“In one sense, convening such a forum could be seen as innovative and consultative. Realistically, it downplays the magnitude and urgency of the issues that need to be addressed. Whether the agenda ultimately addresses the main reform issues raised by the Royal Commission is a moot point. Such forums in the Australian church have a habit of being lead down paths that produce platitudinous outcomes and avoid the contentious. More significantly it is openly acknowledged that there is considerable doubt and dispute as to whether such a forum would have the authority to make decisions that address the real issues.

“The temper of Australian Catholics appears to have moved from outrage to exhausted resignation that change in our church is just too hard. And indeed, it is. Faced with a witheringly perceptive analysis of the problems that contributed to sexual abuse, the bishops give little indication, individually or collectively that they know how to respond. They seem caught between their own, not surprisingly, inadequate skills in managing and leading organisational change and the very real sense that they are beholden to Rome and incapable of acting authentically and in ways that recognise the stark reality of the Australian church’s predicament.”

By Terry Fewtrell, The Sydney Morning Herald — Read more …

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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 church facing biggest crisis in its history, says Brisbane archbishop / The Tablet

High on the agenda at the Vatican summit was Australia’s Royal Commission inquiry into how institutions handled child sexual abuse. This has seen the Catholic Church facing unrelenting criticism for its response to the scandal. (The Tablet)

A leading Australian bishop says the Church in his country is facing the biggest crisis in its history after taking part in talks with the Vatican over how to address the problem. 

“The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, who is Vice President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, told The Tablet that he and fellow bishops were in Rome to discuss the fallout of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and how the Church will adopt a new approach. This, he says, will look at how to include women in positions of ‘governance.’  

“High on the agenda at the Vatican summit was Australia’s Royal Commission inquiry into how institutions handled child sexual abuse. This has seen the Catholic Church facing unrelenting criticism for its response to the scandal. The problem has been magnified after the Australian police’s decision to charge Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican treasurer and former Archbishop of Sydney, with historic sexual offences.”

By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet — Read more … 

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Commission in Australia says priests should report abuse heard in confession / Cruxnow.com

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 …

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‘Criminally negligent’: Catholic archbishops criticize church’s handling of abuse scandal / The Guardian

Catholic BishopAustralia’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 …

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The Catholic Church’s performance at the Royal Commission is farcical / Commentary in The Age

The Catholic Church continues to harm sex abuse victims by its failure to acknowledge the extent to which it covered-up sex crimes against children. For three weeks, the County Court of Victoria has been host to countless victim survivors of Catholic clergy child-sex crimes.

“The severe psychological and psychiatric harm caused by these crimes was evident not only with the primary victims giving evidence, but also the many family members of loved ones who had killed themselves because the pain and damage of the sex crimes were too great to bear.”

By Judy Courtin, a lawyer representing victims of institutionalized sexual abuse before Australian Royal Commission, commentary in The Age — Click here to read the rest of this commentary

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