Call for Catholic Church to come clean on real abuse numbers – ALA

9th Jun 2013

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is calling on Catholic Church to come clean to the Victorian child sexual abuse inquiry and reveal the accurate number of victims known to it.

“The Catholic Church confirmed on Friday that it accepted the authenticity of 849 complaints against 269 male and female clergy and lay persons of whom 114 were brothers from various unspecified Catholic orders,” ALA spokesman Dr Andrew Morrison SC said.

“That is far from the complete story because two thirds of the Victorian diocese were not included in those horrific figures and the Church is aware of at least another 90 cases,” Dr Morrison said.

“It is not acceptable to wait for the Royal Commission to call for this material and then start the process of producing it. If the Catholic Church is genuine in saying that things have changed, it will produce relevant files as soon as possible,” he said.

“Earlier this year Cardinal Pell said that he had reviewed the Towards Healing files in the Sydney archdiocese and was unaware as to whether any of the complaints upheld by the Church’s own internal inquiries had been reported to police.

"We know from the Victorian Inquiry that none of the abuse involving the Catholic Church there, including the period when Cardinal Pell was Archbishop of Melbourne, has been reported to Victorian Police. It is a reasonable assumption that a similar failure to report serious criminal conduct, accepted by the church as having occurred, has also been the case in NSW.

"We know from limited NSW inquiry, in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese alone, of hundreds of cases of abuse involving dozens of abusers,” Dr Morrison said.

He said the Australian Lawyers Alliance would like to see frank disclosure of all of the abuse and of the abusers in each of the diocese of the Church throughout Australia.

“The abusers should forthwith be reported to police in NSW whether under Section 316 of The Crimes Act or under its precursor common law provision. Only then will the church be able to credibly claim to have changed its ways,” Dr Morrison said.

Tags: Victoria Victims of crime Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse