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Australian report rips Church handling of abuse

Catholic World News - November 13, 2013

A parliamentary inquiry in Victoria, Australia, has concluded with a scathing report that criticizes Catholic Church leaders for covering up clerical abuse.

The report says that Catholic bishops failed to respond to abuse complaints, protected guilty priests, hid evidence, and shuffled priests to new assignments to avoid detection.

Church leaders in Australia have acknowledged the accuracy of the criticism. “I fully acknowledge that leaders in the Church made mistakes,” said Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne. “These are indefensible.” Cardinal George Pell of Sydney—who had come under criticism for saying that the Catholic Church as an institution was not to blame—said: “Some certainly did cover that up, and I am certainly prepared to acknowledge that.”

Catholic priests in Australia have been asked to read to their congregations a statement composed by the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council, and endorsed by the Catholic hierarchy. The statement says that “the whole Church in Australia is deeply ashamed” by the historical record. In an unusually candid acknowledgment that the misconduct of bishops played a key role in the scandal, the statement says:

The Church is also ashamed to acknowledge that, in some cases, those in positions of authority concealed or covered up what they knew of the facts, moved perpetrators to another place, thereby enabling them to offend again, or failed to report matters to the police when they should have. That behaviour too is indefensible.

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  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Nov. 13, 2013 6:57 PM ET USA

    Amen, gfdsmith9280. I have heard from people down in Australia, and I have been told the anti-Catholic atmosphere down there is truly off the charts. The Church's "mea cuplas" aside, I would take this report with a grain of salt.

  • Posted by: geoffreysmith1 - Nov. 13, 2013 2:54 PM ET USA

    Just another example of crocodile tears by the Australian media, scapegoating the Catholic Church for one of society's insoluble problems. Perhaps if the Australians (and others) punished convicted pedophiles as they deserve to be punished, this crime would be reduced to negligible proportions, both inside and outside any particular organ of state, and throughout society as a whole.

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