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Australian bishop testifies he was unaware of requirement to report abuse to Vatican

Catholic World News - December 19, 2013

An Australian bishop has told the Australian government’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that he was not aware until 2006 that bishops were required to refer to the Vatican the names of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse to the Vatican, according to Australian media reports.

In 2001, Blessed John Paul II issued the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, in which he directed bishops to refer clerical sexual abuse cases to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Numerous media outlets, including Catholic World News, reported on the existence of the document when it became public in January 2002.

“I don't think there was a great consciousness of this directive to submit to the Congregation these matters,” said Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of Lismore, when asked why he waited four years to refer an abuse case to the Congregation. Bishop Lismore, who was appointed a bishop in 2000, said that some directives “may not be remembered or acted upon.”

“Any awareness of that requirement, even though it existed in 2001 ... really didn’t come to my attention until much later,” he added.

“In the context of the size of the problem, the publicity being given to it, and the Pope saying ‘these must be reported to Rome,’ it didn't get through?” said Justice Peter McClellan, the chair of the commission. “You can understand my puzzlement about how such an apparently important matter wasn't front of mind.”

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: GymK - Dec. 19, 2013 7:30 PM ET USA

    I agree! "Playing dumb" just doesn't do it. This bishop should be removed before we discover what other requirements he hasn't heard about!

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Dec. 19, 2013 7:19 AM ET USA

    No matter how we play this declaration, Jarrett loses. He's either a knave or incompetent. In neither case should he be leading a diocese anywhere in the world.

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