Australia abuse report blames 'catastrophic failure' of Catholic Church leadership

Frederick Owens
December 18, 2017

The 17-volume report included recommendations for a shake-up of centuries of religious tradition, calling for Catholic ministers to be required to report abuse confided to them during confession.

The decision follows the final report handed down by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Friday and would see hundreds of survivors go without financial compensation for the heinous crimes they were subjected to.

The recommendations on celibacy and confession were widely rejected by senior Australian Catholics.

The commission said there was no simple explanation for why child sexual abuse had occurred in a multitude of institutions.

The investigation, which covered abuse in state and religious institutions, concluded there were "catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities over many decades".

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, said numerous commission's recommendations "would have significant impact on the way the Catholic Church and others operate in Australia".

We must not lose sight of the legacy that their efforts have helped to achieve - including doing all that we can to ensure that the scourge of abuse is never able to take hold in Australian institutions again. With statutes of limitations applying to abuse cases in states and territories, survivors quickly found that when they finally did take this step, they were nearly always out of time to pursue a claim and to hold the institution responsible to account.

The situation in the church was described as a "serious failure" by the work - the commission also labelled the abuses as a "national tragedy".

Through his lawyers, Pell has vowed to fight the charges of sexual assault.

The law should exclude any existing excuse or privilege relating to a religious confessional, it said.

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney told the Guardian that changing the celibacy requirement is not the solution to the abuse crisis.

"The commonwealth. and the Australian public at large will be placing moral pressure on those organisations to do the right thing by their survivors", Mr Porter said.

There are recommendations created to better protect children, especially a number of recommendations directed at the Roman Catholic Church.

"We know very well that institutions who have celibate clergy and institutions that don't have celibate clergy both face these problems".

"The Holy See remains committed to being close to the Catholic Church in Australia - lay faithful, religious, and clergy alike - as they listen to and accompany victims and survivors in an effort to bring about healing and justice", the Vatican statement said.

Australian government investigators found 4,444 victims of abuse and at least 1,880 suspected abusers from 1980 to 2015, a lot of them Catholic priests and religious brothers.

Catholic clerics who testified to the royal commission gave varying opinions about what if anything a priest could divulge about what was said in a confessional about child abuse.

"The failure to understand that the sexual abuse of a child was a crime with profound impacts for the victim, and not a mere moral failure capable of correction by contrition and penance...is nearly incomprehensible".

Victims who reported abuse were often not believed, and even were sent back to the institutions where the abuse happened.

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