Melbourne archbishop rejects criticism of sex-abuse response
September 06, 2011
Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Australia, has rejected public criticism of the archdiocesan response to sex-abuse complaints.
After an editorial call in The Age for a government investigation of the Church policies, the archbishop said that the “Melbourne Reponse” said that critics had failed to produce evidence to support their charges that Church officials had discouraged complaints by ignoring or intimidating victims.
“We are familiar with these sorts of sweeping allegations,” Archbishop Hart said; “but when asked to provide evidence or details, they fall silent.”
The archbishop said that when illegal activities by priests are reported, Church officials encourage the victims to report the crimes to police. An independent Church-appointed investigator pursues the charges only when the victims choose not to file a criminal complaint.
In other words, Archbishop Hart explained, if police are not notified about a complaint, it is because the Church-appointed investigator is respecting the wishes of the victim. “To criticize the Independent Commissioner for not reporting matters to the police in these circumstances, as the ‘Collective’ has done, is scurrilous,” he said.
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