The Sydney Mornig Herald
07 February 2017
The Vatican has failed to support survivors of sexual abuse in the church for decades, with prominent Catholics demanding action at a royal commission.
A whistleblower priest who was one of the first to report allegations of sexual abuse to the Vatican in the 1980s told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he was punished for speaking out.
Extent of alleged abuse in Catholic institutions revealed
A royal commission hearing has been told that almost 4500 people have made claims of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions over the past 35 years. Vision courtesy ABC News 24.
Father Thomas Doyle, an American canon lawyer, told the second day of the inquiry into Catholic Church authorities, secrecy, cover-ups and betrayal of victims were hallmarks of the institution’s response to abuse.
“One of the massive holes in the Roman Catholic Church’s approach to this issue today is a failure to completely comprehend the spiritual damage that is done to victims, to their families . . . and the community itself,” he said.Pope John Paul II in the 1980s. Photo: Peter Wells
“I have never seen anything coming out of the Holy See dealing with the spiritual damage. All I’ve seen is ‘Get them to go back to church’, which is nuts.”
Leading Sydney psychologist and former consultant to the St John of God order, Michelle Mulvihill, told the commission Australian Catholics needed to stand up to the Vatican hierarchy.
“The amount of systemic abuse inside this organisation is massive,” she said. “It’s all about power . . . all roads lead to Rome. It’s all about who’s in charge. I think it’s time for us, as Australians, to stand up to Rome.”
The commission released data showing for the first time the extent of abuse in Catholic institutions Australia with almost 4500 victims and 1880 perpetrators over the past 35 years. The analysis found seven per cent of priests, overall, were sexual offenders.Royal commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan. Photo: Jeremy Piper
Neil Ormerod, a professor of theology at the Australian Catholic University, told the commission that clerical abuse would continue.
“I don’t know that you can ever eliminate it any more than you can eliminate it in other professions,” he said.
Father Doyle told the commission he first alerted Pope John Paul II to clerical sex abuse while working at the Vatican’s US embassy in the 1980s and was sacked.
“I think they decided that there was too much heat and too much attention being given to this issue,” he said.
“I was told several times ‘We don’t air our dirty laundry, we take care of our problems in-house’. I didn’t want to do that.”
Father Doyle went on to become a consultant to Pope Francis’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. He told the commission Pope Francis’s major achievement has been the creation of tougher penalties for protecting paedophile priests.
“We have been saying all along it is wrong and now the Pope says it wrong,” he said.
The royal commission heard every bishop who has supported victims publicly has been sidelined in some way by the Holy See.
Cardinal George Pell is the most senior Australian in the Vatican and has appeared at the royal commission three times.
Lisa Flynn, abuse law principal at Shine Lawyers which represents a number of Catholic Church victims, said Pope Francis should act against Cardinal Pell.
“We have heard so much evidence but still the Catholic Church remains recalcitrant,” she said.
“Much of this abuse happened under the watch of Cardinal George Pell who remains in the Vatican. Many of our clients would have liked to see Cardinal Pell step down from his position. We hope the Pope will act where Australian Catholic leaders have not and remove him from his high ranking office.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described institutional abuse as a “national shame” while re-iterating his support for the national redress scheme in Federal Parliament.
“This is not just a history lesson,” he said. “This is not just a sad tale from times past. This is a reminder to all of us today, in every part of the nation to protect the vulnerable in our care, the children in our care in whatever context.”
The hearing before Justice Peter McClellan continues.
Blue Knot Helpline 1300 657 380
Survivors & Mates Support Network 1800 472 676
Catholic church committed ‘soul murder’ of victims, inquiry hears
The Border Mail (Australia)
7 Feb 2017, 1:30 p.m.