Church lambasted in scathing Australian abuse report

Parliamentary inquiry says senior Church leaders protected pedophiles pre-1990s

Church lambasted in scathing Australian abuse report

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Patrick Caruana for Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

November 14, 2013

Senior Catholic Church leaders protected pedophiles, allowed them to keep offending and kept Victorians in the dark about the problem.

A Victorian parliamentary report is scathing of the church's leadership prior to the 1990s, saying child abuse was trivialised and their protection of pedophiles meant abuse happened when it could have been avoided.

Archbishop Denis Hart apologised to victims and said previous responses to abuse cases were inexcusable, calling it the worst betrayal of his lifetime in the church.

"I fully acknowledge that leaders in the church made mistakes - these are indefensible," he told reporters.

"I have to accept that church leaders in the past concealed crimes and caused other children to be offended against."

The report gives specific examples in which former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns and former Melbourne Archbishop Frank Little moved known sexual offenders between parishes without reporting them to police.

However, the report says the church should not attribute all the blame to the two bishops.

"It is unfair to allow the full blame to rest with these individuals, given that they were acting in accordance with a Catholic Church policy," it says.

The committee also criticised Cardinal George Pell over his attempts to separate the actions of individuals from the wider church.

In his evidence the former Melbourne archbishop said the church was not guilty of covering up abuse.

"Some certainly did cover that up, and I am certainly prepared to acknowledge that," Cardinal Pell said.

Archbishop Hart said the church had made significant improvements since 1996, when it set up the national Towards Healing protocol and the Melbourne Response to handle abuse complaints.

Full Story: Church allowed abuse to happen: Vic report

Source: Sydney Morning Herald