Australian Catholic leaders contract to protect children from pedophiles

Australian Catholic leaders will sign professional standards contracts holding them accountable for protecting children from pedophiles.

This is the first time the church has taken responsibility for protecting children in this way.

Through the contracts, the leaders will agree to abide by the professional standards and to be monitored, audited and subject to public reporting.

The church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive, Francis Sullivan, says church leadership’s acceptance of responsibility for children’s care and protection is “a seismic shift” and the contract is necessary to achieve consistency for survivors.

“It is the biggest learning we’ve had over this whole time – that what the church had previously put in place was rather toothless.”

Sullivan says the contracts, developed by a new company, Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, will enable better accountability, consistency and public transparency on how the church was abiding by best-practice standards in child protection.

Although the company won’t  be able to force any church authority to change the way it operates or sanction those who fail to comply with the new standards, Brisbane archbishop Mark Coleridge says its public reporting of failures would amount to a naming and shaming.

Catholic Professional Standards Ltd was launched in November, before the current child sexual abuse royal commission’s three-week final hearing into the Catholic church.

Around 4,500 abuse claims have been made, representing decades of abuse by hundreds of pedophiles. The abusers include 1880 priests, religious brothers and sisters and lay people.


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