+ Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney
18 Nov 2013
On Wednesday the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Abuse brought down its 700 page report. I welcome the publication of the report. It should help the victims.
While the Inquiry hearings were sometimes unconventional and emotional affairs, the report itself seems fair and reasonable. Naturally it covers the awful abuse which occurred in Catholic communities, mainly between 1960 and 1985.
The report details some of the serious failures in the way the church dealt with these crimes and responded to victims, especially before the procedural reforms of the mid 1990s. Irreparable damage has been caused.
By the standards of common decency and by today's standards, church authorities were not only slow to deal with the abuse, but sometimes did not deal with it in any appropriate way at all. This is indefensible.
The Report offers valuable recommendations to ensure that crimes are reported, children and vulnerable people are better protected, and those who have been hurt can more easily seek justice.
I strongly support the recommendations to ensure crimes are reported to the police and to establish a statutory body to monitor and audit compliance on child protection requirements; something like what we have in New South Wales already.
These recommendations should apply to all professions and all non-government and government organisations. All victims need compassion and support.
The creation of a government-established independent, alternative avenue for justice for victims of child abuse is an excellent idea, as is the proposal for some sort of government compensation scheme for all institutions to respond to victims of abuse.
The report makes some criticisms of Catholic processes. It also acknowledges they are a genuine attempt to help.
I believe that they helped many survivors and also helped to prevent abuse.
The Melbourne Response and Towards Healing have never minimised or trivialised the problem. The church is committed to making improvements wherever possible and to following the law at all times.
I am totally committed to improving the situation; I know the Holy Father is too. There are significant persons in the community who believe, rightly, that we have failed, but we have done quite a bit. I commit myself to doing whatever further is required.
Unfortunately this Inquiry only examined non-government institutions, which will be safer places after the recommendations are implemented.
So will all non-religious organisations after the Royal Commission has examined institutions across the board.