Australia: Call for church sex abuse probe

2012-11-12 11:00

Sydney - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on Monday under growing pressure to establish a national inquiry into paedophile priests in the Catholic Church, following allegations abuse was hushed up.

An inquiry was announced last week to investigate claims by a senior policeman that the Church in Hunter Valley in New South Wales destroyed evidence and silenced inquiries, but calls are growing for an Australia-wide probe.

"I think the federal government needs to have a look at this and we need to take a national overview on these issues," government backbencher Doug Cameron told ABC television, describing the allegations as a "stain on our society".

Independent lawmaker Tony Windsor also urged Gillard to establish a royal commission, or national inquiry, saying the idea of an investigation limited to the Hunter Valley was "pathetic".

"It needs to be national... [anyone] can see that," he told the ABC.

Cardinal George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, said he supported the Hunter Valley inquiry which he said had "enormous powers, very similar to those of a royal commission".

He added that the church had worked hard to stamp out abuse.


"Much of the public discussion is about how the church dealt with cases 20 or so years ago," Pell said in a statement released on Sunday.

"Critics talk as though earlier inadequacies are still prevalent."

It was unjust and inappropriate for anyone to suggest crimes were being - or had been - committed, without producing evidence, he added.

Pell was speaking after allegations by a senior police investigator that the Church had covered up sexual abuse of children in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, to protect paedophiles and its own reputation.

"I can testify from my own experience that the church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the church," Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox said.

Gillard has said she will review the latest information and then make a decision but her Trade Minister Craig Emerson made clear the government was appalled at the reports.

"Whether it is within or outside of the Catholic Church, child abuse is just completely unconscionable and terrifying for the children and leaves enduring scars, usually for the rest of their lives," he said.

  • maureen.dent.10 - 2012-11-12 11:14

    This is very worrying but not surprising. Organised religion is very dangerous.

  • coenraad.vanderwesthuizen.3 - 2012-11-12 11:23

    The facade is crumbling...

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-11-12 11:32

    Got my popcorn, waiting for the Xtians to rant.

  • cathy.dejongh.5 - 2012-11-12 11:57

    Time to end. Religion is an abomination.

  • goldd.goldfinger - 2012-11-12 12:04

    Its quite tragic and sad though, these men give up the pleasures of the woman for their God, only to end up abusing young boys whilst their God watches and is silent

  • Riaan Venter - 2012-11-12 12:13

    Chritians gmpf!!So holy and mighty try to block everything but meantime they are the criminals

  • ShotLeft - 2012-11-12 12:27

    Big difference between being a Catholic Priest and being a Born Again Christian...

      saintbruce.bruce - 2012-11-12 14:14

      Atheitis - if you don't know what being Born Again actually represents, then go and read the new testament Gospels as a reference. The Anglican church movement came out of the structures of the Roman Catholic Church anyway with both being organised along principles set up by men. I do not doubt that many in organised man made reliogious movements have been awakened to the truth of the Gospels and become Born Again but that does not change the doctrines of the organised religion one bit. There is nothing in the Bible scriptures that prohibits clergy from marriage only a dogma in the Roman Catholic religion does this specifically which is anti-christian in it's context. I am sure you are educated enough to understand how sexual frustration is then translated into abuse with such a fixed idea as celibacy. Dr Miles Munroe put it this way : "Where the correct use of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable". That statement should be able to be applied to many arenas in civil society. A life submitted to Christ is one that honours the values of God and does not violate them. Tough , yes, but true. The standard is righteousness, peace and joy - no paedophile can claim that for himself of any of his victims.

      lovell.trevor - 2012-11-12 14:16

      @atheitis, for once I agree with you. It seems Catholics always end up being fair game. Let those found guilty be punished properly and justly - all abusers regardless of race, religion or cultural background. Saying that all priests are predisposed to being abusive is like saying that all poor people are predisposed to being thieves. As much as you don't agree with religion - you must surely agree that there are many clergy of all religions and denominations that do do amazing, selfless work for others. Just as I am sure, there those who do not practise a religion but who do amazing selfless work for others. Could the religious aspect be the means to an end for those people who do wonderful work as much as it is the same means for those who seek a more nefarious end? It would logically appear then to me that the religion might not be the problem but how people choose to use their faith.

      victor.krueger.31 - 2012-11-12 14:48

      @trevor The problem comes in with the level of trust people tend to have of religious figures like priests - this will extend to the amount of time a child can spend alone with a priest before the parent becomes suspicious. Furthermore, celibacy laws adds to the problem

      victor.krueger.31 - 2012-11-12 14:50

      @trevor Watch this documentary: Very shocking but it will open your eyes with regards to this subject.

      lovell.trevor - 2012-11-12 16:18

      @victor the celibacy issue has got me thinking too at times. My thoughts always bring me back to a situation that the decision is voluntary celibacy and not imposed. I would find it hard to believe that someone who saw celibacy as a deal breaker would still continue on the path of ordination. Interestingly, I found out that certain married men may be ordained, but only if they were married prior to ordination and subject to quite a strict vetting procedure. Looking at it, celibacy might be a good thing for priests from a purely service delivery point of view: priests are literally on call 24/7. Something's gotta give and I would think it might be the family because he might take for granted that they would just always be there. I suppose it's like a workaholic parent- the kids and spouses suffer in the end. Who's sacrificing then? Priests get sent from pillar to post- especially the priests who are missionary priests. Imagine them dragging their families across the globe every time they were asked to take up a different post. Personally, I don't think I could pull off celibacy, but good on every priest who has willingly taken that vow and kept it, faithfully.

      victor.krueger.31 - 2012-11-13 07:11

      @trevor Celibacy is an unnatural state for a human being, I think if one is that serious about it one should be castrated - that would show real commitment. Watch that documentary - lots of evidence of the abuse of the trust relationship I spoke about.

      lovell.trevor - 2012-11-13 13:07

      Victor, surely by arguing voluntary celibacy as priests commit themselves to, they are declaring a voluntary form of sexual abstinence. I could then argue that any form of voluntary abstinence was unnatural. One could argue that veganism or vegetarianism- something many Hindus observe is unnatural for example. I could argue that abstaining from drugs or alcohol was unnatural. All of these examples are voluntary choices- everything necessary for me to take part in taking drugs, drinking or eating meat is available. I choose not to. Just thinking: it seems that there is this misconception that any form of sexual abstinence is seen as unnatural and especially if you're catholic. I agree with you on the trust issue and it's something that will require much work to improve I do believe though that a priest's parish congregants should help the priest in keeping up his vows much like our respective partners help us keep our different commitments to others.

  • Riaan Venter - 2012-11-12 13:29

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