Church cooperation with Australian Royal Commission into clergy sex abuse helpful

Church cooperation with the Australian Royal Commission into clergy sex abuse is helping uncover the extent of child sex abuse since the 1950s.

This is the first ever Royal Commission into clergy sex abuse.

It is also the first time Church data has been opened up its sexual abuse records for judicial examination.

On Monday, the Royal Commission began hearings over allegations dating back to the 1950s.

The data disclosed on Monday is seen as the most substantial to detail the extent of child sex abuse in the Church.

It was compiled with the Catholic hierarchy’s cooperation by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Commission released data showing for the first time the extent of abuse in Catholic institutions Australia with almost 4,500 alleged victims and 1,880 alleged perpetrators over the past 35 years.

Seven per cent of priests, overall, were alleged sexual offenders.

“These numbers are shocking. They are tragic and they are indefensible,” Francis Sullivan, chief executive of the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, told the Commission.

“As Catholics, we hang our heads in shame.”

Sullivan held back tears as he described the “massive failure on the part of the Catholic Church in Australia to protect children from abusers”.

Commission research showed 4,444 people had made allegations of abuse to 93 Catholic authorities between 1980 and 2015.

Data gathered by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse show certain Catholic orders had a high proportion of alleged abusers.

These included the Christian Brothers, the Marist Brothers and St John of God.

The worst-offending institutions were the orders of brothers who often run schools and homes for the most vulnerable children.

Girl victims were aged 10.5 on average, while boys were 11.6 years old, the Commission’s research showed.

The church surveyed 10 religious institutions and 75 church authorities to uncover the abuse data on priests, non-ordained brothers and sisters, and other church personnel employed between 1950 and 2009.

Prosecutions have been launched in 27 of the 309 abuse cases the Commission has referred to Australian police, with 75 more being investigated, it says.

The hearing is due to run for three weeks.


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News category: World.