Australian Catholic Church unlikely to reform

Australia’s Truth Justice and Healing Council vice chair, Elizabeth Proust, says she’s “pessimistic” about the Catholic Church’s willingness to reform now the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has finished.

Proust, whose role on the Council is to supervise and coordinate the Church’s response to the Commission and its recommendations, says she fears the Church will emerge only “partially cleansed and unreconstructed.

“…there’s a view that once the Royal Commission reports and the publicity around what will be a fairly dire report all dies down, that life will go back to what it was.

“I hope I’m wrong. I’d like to think that the possibility for real transformation of the Church exists, but it’s an institution that’s been very slow to change on a whole range of issues.”

Proust wants the Church to establish permanent and independent protocols to deal with future cases of abuse.

“I don’t see any sign that the lessons have been truly learned to the point where the institution of the Church is being questioned by those who’ve got the ability to change it,” she says.

The Church leadership, she said, had not made a “heartfelt apology” for decades of sexual abuse by priests.

In February, the royal commission released data showing 4,444 people had made abuse allegations against the Church between 1980 and 2015.

In the 60 years between 1950 and 2010, there were 1,880 alleged perpetrators of abuse, including 572 priests.

But Ms Proust said vocal and influential groups within the Church appeared to be in denial about the depth of the scandal.


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