Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. John Menadue

Dec 4, 2013

On December 9 the Royal Commission will commence public hearings into the role of the Catholic Church in Australia on this issue. Francis Sullivan the Executive Director of the Truth Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church said on 3 December that “Catholics and non-Catholics will be shocked and disillusioned when they hear the details of the four Queensland based case studies and how the Catholic Church handled the cases and treated the victims”.

Together with friends, I have made a submission to the Royal Commission. You can find it by clicking on my website which can be found at the top left-hand side of the home page of this blog. The submission can also be found on the Royal Commission website under the item ‘Towards healing issues paper’.

In our submission we highlight the problems of governance and a clerical culture which have contributed to the current problems.

Our concerns were identified earlier by the Murphy Commission which was concerned with the Archdiocese of Dublin. That Commission found that the “structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated the cover up”. Pope Benedict wrote a pastoral to the people of Ireland and blamed the bishops for not following the “long established norms of Canon Law”. The problem however was Canon Law itself.

The Maitland/Newcastle enquiry is continuing and is expected to  report on 28 February next year.

The Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations handed down its report ‘Betrayal of Trust’ on 13 November 2013. This report stated starkly ‘No representative of the Catholic Church directly reported the crimes committed  by its members to the police’(p170). The Committee found ‘That there is simply no justification for this position’. It said that in not one instance of the 307 cases involving the diocese of Ballarat, Sale and Sandhurst, did the Bishops report directly to the police.  That is extraordinary, even though  the Church cooperated once police enquiries were afoot.

What the Victorian enquiry did not elaborate on, was that any public reporting of information by the Catholic Church about sexual abuse of minors, (that a bishop was required to investigate internally under Canon 1717) was strictly forbidden by Canon law.  See guest blog on this issue by Kieran Tapsell on November 17.

In addition to our submission to the Royal Commission referred to above you might find the following blogs relevant. They are posted on this site

Bella Figura. Not admitting mistakes, Kieran Tapsell 4 December

What a good effort.   Chis Geraghty, November 30

Sexual abuse, two Popes late on the scene. Michael Kelly, November 26

Sexual abuse, don’t mention Canon Law. Kieran Tapsell, November 25

Victorian Parliament’s “Betrayal of Trust “ report. Kieran Tapsell, November 17

I have also posted earlier blogs on this issue, February 20, February 22, February 28, March 25 and April 3, 2013.

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