Investigation of abuse by priests must be done by the courts – ALA
3rd Oct 2013
The Australian Lawyers Alliance welcomes today’s concession from the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council on the failure of the Church’s Towards Healing process.
The ALA remains concerned, however, that the Council is suggesting an independent body be appointed by the Church to deal properly with compensating victims of clergy abuse.
“The bitter experience of victims suggests no body appointed by the Church is truly independent,” Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Dr Andrew Morrison SC said.
“The failure of the recent Whitlam Inquiry to criticise any living churchman for his conduct in the ‘Father F’ scandal is evidence enough of that,” Dr Morrison said.
“There already exists a truly independent body to deal with compensation – it is called the court system.
All the Church needs to do is concede that its trustees (who hold its immense wealth) are its secular arm and are liable for the conduct of its priests and therefore able to be sued. That is the law in the rest of the common law world. Why not here? Why should only one church be effectively immune from suit to protect its wealth and what’s left of its reputation?” he queried.
“These are the reforms the Church should accept forthwith or the Royal Commission should urgently recommend be imposed by law.
It is now time for the Church to properly concede the reforms that the ALA and others have been advocating for so long,” Dr Morrison said.