Archbishop: Church working to protect whistleblowers

Giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse in Victoria, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne has said the Catholic Church could do better to protect whistleblowers raising concerns about paedophile behaviour at its institutions.

He said the Church was working to improve its processes to help whistleblowers.

“I always think there’s room for improvement,” he said.

“I do think that one of the things that we want to do together as a community and Church is really to identify how we can do things better.”

Archbishop Hart acknowledged that the Church was too slow to act in the past when dealing with paedophile priests.

He admitted that in one case the Church took 18 years to de-frock a priest, but it was “better late than never”.

He said the Church was restricted by the fact that the law had to be changed and by the priest being in prison.

Archbishop Hart also admitted that one of his predecessors, Archbishop Sir Frank Little, had covered up abuse reports.

“Archbishop Little kept all these things to himself and there were no records,” Archbishop Hart said.

Pressed on whether there had been a cover-up, he said: “Well I have to agree with that.”

He added: “The only person who’s ultimately responsible is the archbishop at the time.

“We were too slow to realise what was going on. These awful criminals are secretive and cunning.”

He said he believed Archbishop Little simply couldn’t believe a priest could do such a thing.

Archbishop Hart admitted that the Church had been too keen to look after itself when instructing that complaints remain confidential.

”The question of confidentiality of these matters was probably kept in one sense too much in that the Church was too keen to look after herself and her good name and not keen enough to address the terrible anguish of the victims,” he said.

Questioned about compensation for victims, Archbishop Hart said he believed the payments the Church made were generous when compared with what the state paid.


ABC News

Sydney Morning Herald

The Australian

Image: ABC News

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