Abuse report scathing of Victoria Church

The parliamentary inquiry into the mishandling of abuse by the Catholic Church in the Australian state of Victoria has issued a report scathing of the local Church.

Betrayal of Trust, the final report of the cross-party inquiry, launched in 2012, covers incidents of abuse by clergy from 1960 to 1985 and details what inquiry chairwoman Georgie Crozier described as the “unimaginable harm” done to children. The inquiry resulted in 135 previously unknown cases of alleged abuse being passed to police, along with a raft of legislative recommendations to safeguard children in the future.

Among those criticised in the report is Cardinal George Pell, who gave evidence to the inquiry arising from his role as a prelate in the state of Victoria. The commission felt that Cardinal Pell’s insistence that bishops who had failed did not mean a failure for the whole Church showed a reluctance to acknowledge institutional failures.

Most serious, the inquiry team pointed out that local Church authorities appear to have yet accept the full scale of the issue.

“We found that today’s Church leaders view the current question of abuse of children as a ‘short-term embarrassment’ which should be handled as quickly as possible to cause the least damage to the Church’s standing. They do not see the problems as raising questions about the church’s own culture,’’ one commission member said.

The head of Australia’s Catholic bishops’ conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, has welcomed the report and expressed the hope that it would help “the healing” of victims.

The Victoria state parliament is now considering the recommendations submitted by the commission.