CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 February 2019

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Australia examines child sexual abuse

MELBOURNE (Agencies): The archbishop of Sydney, Australia, George Cardinal Pell, told an inquiry being conducted by the state parliament of Victoria into child sex abuse in the state, that he is “absolutely sorry” for the abuse committed by clerics against minors, the Vatican Insider reported on June 1.

However, Cardinal Pell said he does not believe there was ever a culture of abuse within the Church.

The Victorian inquiry is looking into the abuse of children by religious and non-government bodies. The Church has produced a report stating that at least 620 minors in the Australian state of Victoria suffered abuse from members of the clergy over the past 80 years.

Cardinal Pell, who was archbishop of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, from 1996 to 2001, reminded the inquiry that the Catholic Church in Australia recognised paedophilia as a serious issue as early as 1988.

He added that he is also aware that the Church needed to be treated just like any other institution in terms of compensation for victims. 

In his testimony, Cardinal Pell said that a number of factors have contributed to the problem of abuse in the Australian Catholic Church. He described one of them as the superficial way in which priests were chosen, as they were often inadequately prepared for celibacy.

Another he named is the number of minors the Church has under its care.

“Also… the entry procedures, the criteria, the searching, the investigation of candidates back say, in the middle of the last century, was much too loose,” he said, going on to say that the Church has been the victim of intermittent hostility from the press, but does recognise that this has helped uncover some of the Church’s own failings. 

May 31 was the final day of the public hearings for the Victorian parliament inquiry. A separate inquiry is being carried out in the neighbouring state of New South Wales, which is currently examining a series of complaints against the Catholic Church, for hampering police investigations into the behaviour of a number of priests.

A third inquiry is also being conducted by the federal government, into the activities of all Churches, charities, local governments, schools, community organisations like the Boy Scouts and sports clubs, and the police force itself.

 

The inquiries are expected to last for an extended period of time.

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