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Australian archbishop wants full investigation on abuse-victim suicides

Catholic World News - April 16, 2012

Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Australia, has called for a “proper investigation” into reports that there has been an unusually high rate of suicide among victims of clerical abuse.

The archbishop issued a statement in response to reports that police investigations were finding an elevated rate of suicide. He expressed dismay that “a confidential police report has been given to the media,” and said that the inquiry should be handled by the coroner.

Archbishop Hart rejected suggestions that the Melbourne archdiocese has been slow to respond to police requests for information about abuse charges. He said that Church officials have cooperated fully with investigations in every case in which the victim is ready to press charges.

“However it has been our understanding that for the great majority of victims, they do not want to go to the police,” the archbishop said. He said that the archdiocese respects the rights of the victims in these cases. “While understandably the police want all crimes reported to them,” he said, “this important factor must be balanced against the right of each victim to make their own decision.”

While admitting that Church leaders had failed abuse victims in the past, Archbishop Hart said: “I reject absolutely the allegations that the Melbourne archdiocese has covered up crimes.” He expressed confidence that any investigation would prove that the accuracy of that statement.

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