Nov 12, 2012

Why a royal commission into Catholic child abuse is necessary

A royal commission into child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is the only mechanism that will provide full justice for victims. But politicians will be reluctant to start it.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

In what is, these days, a rare display of bipartisanship, both major parties are running from the idea of a federal royal commission into the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse of children, its cover-up of crimes and protection of child abusers.

Undoubtedly many people calling for a royal commission are doing so because they believe it will damage an institution much reviled by progressives, regardless of whether it will assist victims of child abuse and bring the perpetrators and their protectors to justice.

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77 thoughts on “Why a royal commission into Catholic child abuse is necessary

  1. Holden Back

    There is a sense in which a Royal Commission could clear the air for the Catholic church at a grassroots level. How can individual, blameless priests stand in their communities with any certainty they are not now considered potential predators, or part of the conspiracy to shield these people from exposure? The good people in these roles deserve better than to have this stench of suspicion billowing around them.

  2. Liz45

    The fact is that the catholic church is NOT conducting itself as a responsible ‘citizen’ of the country. We’re all aware of the lack of concern for victims is still NOT a priority. We also know that the main issue for the perpetrators and the hierarchy is to avoid the legal system that the rest of us MUST abide! I find it reprehensible that the police are still finding a ‘brick wall’ when investigating these horrific crimes.

    If ANY other organisation was behaving in this disgraceful manner, there’d have been screams of outrage before this. How many peoples’ lives have been destroyed by these horrific abuses; how many victims will be driven to suicide, not only due to their traumatic abuse, but by society’s inability to champion on their behalf. It is mind boggling to say the least. It’s not as though the catholic church does NOT know of how these abuses affect people – they know! But to their shame, they have chosen to ignore the truths.

    How many deaths by suicide do we have to hear of. How many stories of abuse so violent and destructive must victims speak out about in the hope that SOME responsible government or police body will take seriously.

    I find it disgusting, that as an ‘ordinary’ member of this country, if I omitted to pass on information about a crime already committed, or indeed of a planned crime, and not inform the police, I am deemed as guilty as those who performed the act/s, and punished accordingly – even with a custodial sentence! Why has the Catholic Church and others been allowed to blatantly abuse our justice system.

    Moreover, the brave Detective Inspector, Peter Fox, who came out on Lateline and asserted of police people’s attempts to silence him deserves our gratitude. Thanks to him and his determination to tell the truth, the Federal Govt may be forced to initiate a long overdue Royal Commission. I hope I don’t hear any of the worn out platitudes re protecting peoples’ privacy etc. We all know that’s a euphanism for ‘we’re too gutless to do anything’ response’

    Isn’t it telling that Cardinal Pell has chosen to keep his mouth shut! Too many of us know of the disgraceful role that he has played for decades. Too many of us know the role the present Pope played for 25 years (at least) by covering up the horrific abuse perpetrated by pedophile priests who (allegedly) r***d little girls as young as 5 yrs old – not to mention the numbers of boys who also suffered awful crimes while young – and some were r***d for years!

    I personally know of four people who were sexually abused as young children or adolescents. Too many of us know of people who were abused. None of these people have complained about their abuse. As a person raised a catholic, there’s no way I’ll ever kneel in front of a priest ever again (for this and other reasons – misogynist attitudes also). I know of many others who feel the same way. ‘Ordinary’ catholics must demand justice for victims. Their silence only protects the perpetrators! Shame on them too!

  3. Edward James

    What is growing from the rejection of the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell watered down inquiry. Is being driven by victims and picked up by political opportunist. The Newcastle Herald site crashed for almost an hour earlier today. I have no doubt because the grass roots community of victims and families of victims who are up on their hind legs and shouting the SP! Edward James

  4. Steve777

    Well said Bernard and Holden.

  5. Edward James

    Benard While I can’t actually reject this from you; Undoubtedly many people calling for a royal commission are doing so because they believe it will damage an institution much reviled by progressives,. I will point out the calls from victims of institutionalized pedophile activity for a Royal Commission is being driven by people many of whom are politically ignorant. Starting out with those in and around Newcastle Maitland and out lying areas after the suicide of Mr Pirona. What Barry O’Farrell has offered to diffuse the growing calls for a wide ranging Royal commission is like a slap in the face of disenfranchise victims and their families. NSW parliament has attempted to open another information black hole. It should be rejected in the strongest term by everyone with an entitlement to vote. More importantly every one of our elected representatives should be overtly supporting the peoples public calls for a Royal Commission, nationally would be better but NSW will suit me just fine. Edward James 2 10

  6. gerard

    Royal Commissions have a somewhat dubious history. They are expensive and often are not empowered to enforce the directions or outcomes. Much better to charge all those involved quickly and judiciously in a Court of Law.
    In the meantime close those religious organisations that have been flouting the law so often and for so many years. Close Saint Mary’s Cathedral and charge Cardinal Pell for a start.

  7. beachcomber

    Will an Abbott Federal Government be the one forced to call a Royal Commission? He could avoid the difficulties that would pose for himself by calling for Gillard to start one now. Apart from being the right thing to do, it would tell voters that he understands the problem, and that as PM he would not be beholden to anyone.

  8. Edward James

    I think I understand the point you make Bernard with your last paragraph; It also reflects the simple political equation that the victims of abuse are relatively politically powerless, while the institution that abused them remains a potent political foe if roused. It takes a lot for justice to trump political calculation. People in my community have tasted political blood. After being encouraged to rise up get on board a supplied bus to state parliament. Winning the return of our “stolen” Rehabilitation amenity to Woy Woy Public Hospital on our Woy Woy Peninsula. I believe the Newcastle Herald on line site crashed because we the peoples are beginning to understand we give direction. Political allsorts who think they can simply refuse to take our electronic directions are on the way out! Edward James 2 32

  9. zut alors

    I can understand Mr Rabbott running from it but the PM has no vested interests in any church – consequently she’s in a position to view the Royal Commission proposal objectively.

    So, what gives…?

  10. The diving swan

    Surely it is a no brainer for the Federal Government to have a Royal Commission? What could work better than Abbott and the Parrot opposing it and being wedged by it. Can’t they get the independents to force them into convening one?

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