The Royal Commission Into Child Sexual Abuse has again stirred emotion over horrendous acts perpetrated in God’s name.
The Commission’s latest public hearing, Case Study 50: Catholic Church authorities in Australia, found seven per cent of priests who were members of 75 surveyed authorities were alleged ‘offenders’ between 1950 and 2010.
Remarkably, the Lismore Diocese has been named as having the fourth largest number of pedophile priests in the country.
AAP reported that after the commission conducted 15 public hearings into the Catholic Church, counsel assisting Gail Furness SC said much of it included ‘depressingly similar’ evidence.
‘Documents about alleged abuse were destroyed or not kept’, she said. ‘Children were ignored, or worse, punished. Secrecy prevailed as did cover-ups.’
So what does the Catholic Church say about this?
A body set up by the Catholic Church in response to the commission – the Truth, Justice and Healing Council – released a statement on February 6.
It’s grovelling and apologetic, and contains words such as: profoundly shaken, disgust, traumatisation, hypocrisy, appalling, historic failures, indefensible, tragic…
CEO Francis Sullivan says, ‘As Catholics we hang our heads in shame …The Catholic Church should never have put itself in a position to be at the very centre and major focus of an inquiry such as this.’
Yes – but it’s nothing really new; this behaviour has most likely been happening for the last 1,700-odd years since the church rose to become a political/corporate entity.
On the bright side, it’s a relief that as a result of this commission, fewer lives may be damaged in future by the church.
Sullivan claims the internal culture has changed.
’In the modern era, at both governance and operational levels, the organisations that run the education, health and social services of the Church are [now] predominantly lay led.’
The most important question is how can those who have been abused be compensated?
Within Sullivan’s eight-page atoning reply, he says the church supports a national, independent child sexual abuse redress scheme – yet he didn’t mention any figures.
The upper limit redress amount suggested at this stage by the commission has been pegged at $150,000. A sliding scale is also suggested by the commission; if you suffered minimal fiddling by the clergy, that might get you a new car or a vacation.
Of course, nothing will heal the deep scar of sexual abuse, but cash sure does make life easier.
The church would surely agree, being a corporation that pays no tax and is able to hide its vast wealth.
And here’s the key: Sullivan wrote, ‘Broadly speaking, Catholics identify with the church not as an institution, but as a community based on a shared set of beliefs and values.’
In other words, the beliefs/values are separate from the institution of the church.
So let’s dissolve the Catholic Church institution and end world hunger. Everyone abused gets a million dollars and the rest can go toward a world of rainbows, sparkles and unicorns.
– Hans Lovejoy