Report claims that the Australian Catholic Church needs to change its ways in order to protect young children
Results of a thorough investigation into the Australian Catholic Church indicate that the sacred institution have a lot to answer for when it comes to the amount of unreported abuse of young children that has been going on for many years.
Unfortunately, priests, for all the good that they do, are often at the center of alligations when it comes to sexual crime against young youth and the new report just released makes many recommendations that really need to be considered in order for young children to stop being victomized by men who are supposed to be there to help, not hurt.
The report, released by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse states that celibate priest perpetrators are at greater risk of abusing children, because, along with other risk factors, of the mandatory celibacy ordered upon them by the Catholic Church and recommends that this requirement become voluntary instead.
“We conclude that there is an elevated risk of child sex abuse where compulsorily celibate male clergy or religious have privileged access to children in certain types of Catholic institutions, including schools, residential institutions and parishes,” the report said.
Another main recommendation that the report makes, is that priests should report evidence of pedophilia when heard during confession and those who do not, should face prosecution.
It found that more often than not, complaints and concerns raised over activities being conducted by Australian clerics were “remarkably and disturbingly similar.”
“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions,” said the report. “We will never know the true number. Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.”
“Our inquiry revealed numerous cases where leaders of religious institutions knew about allegations of child sexual abuse but failed to take effective action, often with catastrophic consequences for children,” the report said.
Archbishop Denis Hart would rather leave things as they are
President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, states that adopting these new recommendations would change how the Catholic Church operates in Australia. He says that this “would have significant impact on the way the Catholic Church and others operate in Australia.
Many people are of the opinion that this would be a good thing, if it means that the number of child abuse cases drop across the country.
By Hart’s remarks, it is clear that he is not a fan of the recommendations made in the report.
“I cannot break the seal. The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication; being passed out of the church,” Hart said. “I revere the law of the land and I trust it, but this is a sacred, spiritual charge before God which I must honour, and I have to try and do what I can do with both.”
As far as his view on celibacy, Hart feels that there is real value in following this practise.
“I believe that there are real values in celibacy,” he says.
Hart does say how sorry he is when it comes to all the abuse that has taken place in Catholic run institutions over the years.
“Central to this Royal Commission is the painful truth that so many children were abused, trust was destroyed and innocence lost,” the archbishop said. “They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters — this should never have happened. As a bishop I express my deepest sorrow.”
The Vatican have not yet responded to the report directly, however Catholic officials have previously gone on the record to state that there is no link between celibacy and child abuse.
This apparently is not the case, as the report reads: “It is not a case of a few rotten apples. society’s major institutions have seriously failed. In many cases those failings have been exacerbated by a manifestly inadequate response to the abused person. The problems have been so widespread, and the nature of the abuse so heinous, that it is difficult to comprehend.”
The report, is a lengthy one and spans 17 volumes and comes with 189 different recommendations, all of which aimed at protecting young children.
More than 8,000 victims of child abues at the hands of priests gave testimony for the report.
In the process of gathering evidence for their report, commissioners travelled to every state and territory in Australia, held 57 public hearings, more than 8,000 private sessions and read more than 1,300 personal accounts.
“We have concluded that there were catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities over many decades,” the report said.
“The Final Report tells the story of institutional child sexual abuse in Australia, and provides recommendations to shape a safer future for children,” states Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed.
“We have now completed our work. It’s up to governments and institutions to take the next steps and implement the Royal Commission’s recommendations.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, is a Catholic, and is urging all Australians to take the time to read the new report.
“What that commission has done is exposed a national tragedy. It’s an outstanding exercise in love and I thank the commissioners and those who had the courage to tell their stories.”
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca