Bishop issues grim warning as abuse hearings open
“The community will be appalled, outraged, angry”
Today marks the start of the first public hearings into alleged cover-ups of child sexual abuse investigations within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, reports the Maitland Mercury.
By his own admission, Diocesan head Bishop Bill Wright (pictured) said the hearings would leave the community appalled, outraged and angered. He said that above all, the stories about to be heard would be extremely grim.
“We know there will be a lot of people wishing to tell their stories and that’s going to be pretty awful,” Bishop Wright said.
“In the first instance, the community will be appalled, outraged, angry, sympathetic and all the rest of it. And for people who have not had their minds turned too much to this whole issue, I think it’s going to be very hard to avoid it in the coming time.
“There will be a lot of stories that will be very grim for people to hear and there will be a lot of anger directed, and fair enough, at the perpetrators. But this will also be directed at the church and, as time goes on, other institutions which have dealt badly with these things.”
Held in the Newcastle Supreme Court by Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC, the hearings are part of the special commission of inquiry into matters relating to the police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
The hearings will continue until May 17 and will resume again on June 24 until July 12. The special commission of inquiry will work with the National Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Sydney Morning Herald reportsthat the man who helped bring about the inquiry will give evidence on its first two days today. Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox will be the first of a long list of senior police who will be in the witness box when the inquiry begins in the Newcastle Supreme Court today.
He alleged the Catholic church had covered up evidence about pedophile priests in the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in the Hunter region of NSW.
The inquiry will look at how the church handled complaints about former priests Denis McAlinden and Jim Fletcher, both now dead.
It will also look at the circumstances in which Inspector Fox was asked to stop investigating sex abuse in the diocese.
Source: CathNews Australia
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